Red Bull Junior driver Leeds given wings as he flies to maiden British F4 victory

  • TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds takes historic first victory for himself and the Red Bull Junior driver programme in British F4.
  • Caroline, Monger and Schreiner also starred with phenomenal drives through the pack.
  • Aryton Simmons records first Rookie class win on debut race weekend.

THRUXTON 8 MAY, 2016 – Luis Leeds finally broke his victory duck in scintillating fashion in round eight of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford. It was TRS Arden’s first victory of the season and the first for the esteemed Red Bull Junior driver programme in the series. In a dramatic race, Jamie Caroline came home second, followed closely by Billy Monger and Carrie Schreiner – all three drivers putting in inspired performances to battle through the field.

Leeds took no prisoners from third on the grid during the opening lap, pulling off a daring move around the outside of pole man Jack Butel, having quickly dispatched James Pull.

With a handful of second place finishes to his name already this season, Leeds was determined not to be the bridesmaid again and never looked like relinquishing the lead. He was able to build an advantage out in front at both times of asking following two safety car restarts as the drama unfolded behind him.

JHR’s Billy Monger astounded spectators, climbing from 18th to fifth in the opening laps and then benefitted from DeFrancesco and Butel’s collision to move up to third and claim his first British F4 podium. He chased home Jamie Caroline who himself scythed his way from tenth on the grid to second, avoiding the chaos and expertly defended from Monger and Carrie Schreiner in the closing stages.

As the three of them duked it out, it afforded Leeds more breathing room out front on his way to the chequered flag and a win that could prove pivotal to his championship challenge.

Said an emotional Leeds: “I knew it was going to be close at the start and I knew if I was able to brake later into the first corner I could go around the outside to take the lead and that’s what happened really. I then focused on putting in good laps to try to build a gap. It was a little frustrating as the safety car kept on wiping out my gap to the cars behind, but I was still able to control the race.

“I’ve been working so hard and full credit to Arden for setting up the car and turning things around after a difficult qualifying. I hope this is the first win of many. My goal is the championship this year and a win like this helps a lot.

“Dr Marko has given me this incredible opportunity to compete in this series and be part of the Red Bull Junior driver programme. I’m doing my best every day to repay his faith and try to win races. I’ve dedicated my whole year to this. I’ve left all my friends and family in Australia to pursue what I want I’ve wanted to do all my life. It’s Mother’s day in Australia so I think this is the best present for my Mum back home.”

Commented Jamun Racing’s Caroline: “I’ve always been at good at starts and on cold tyres. I learnt that in karting, so I’ve always had the upper hand on people in this aspect. I have so much confidence in myself and the car. I’m always pushing the limits and although there’s times when it might not come off that’s just me and I’ll keep trying. I managed to fend of Billy towards the end. It was a lot of fun with the two of us battling just like we used to in karting. I’ve had two second places this season so the win is definitely the aim now.”

Added Monger: “At the second restart Jamie made a slight mistake which allowed me to really challenge him. From then onwards it was all about the battle for second and third. This is a fantastic result though from 18th. It was a chaotic race. There was so much action. I made up a few places at the start and then stayed out of trouble as others made mistakes around me. I made a few really bold overtakes on the outside through Goodwood. I had to try to attack Jamie and defend from Carrie at the same time towards the end. It was difficult, but I’m ecstatic with the end result.”

The first appearance of the safety car occurred just four laps in to enable the recovery of Nicolai Kjaergaard’s beached car on the exit of Church corner. Prior to which Quinn out-braked himself trying to defend from Jamie Caroline, sending him into the back of James Pull. Both lived to fight another day, but they came together merely a lap later. An incident which saw Quinn receive a five place grid penalty for round nine.

With the safety car back in the pits at the end of lap six the drama resumed instantly. Whilst Leeds once again wasted no time in breaking away from the field, Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco collided with JHR’s Jack Butel in almost a carbon copy of the incident that saw Max Fewtrell roll spectacularly out of round seven.

By lap seven Florescu had made his way up to third place, but a technical problem saw him fall through the field. It forced him to relinquish his championship lead as he nursed his Carlin home.

On the penultimate lap Zane Goddard found a way past fellow Aussie Harry Hayek to claim fifth behind Double R team-mate Carrie Schreiner, by far the best result of the season for the Double R team. It was an exceptional performance from both drivers, with Zane climbing up from the last row of the grid and Schreiner from 13th.

Said Schreiner: “I was a bit lucky with other cars crashing out. It was a fun race and whenever I saw the chance to overtake someone I took it. In the last two laps third was a possibility, but I didn’t want to risk the fourth place finish. I’m really proud of this result.”

Having been overtaken by Goddard, Hayek was immediately in the firing line. Max Fewtrell was seeking redemption after yesterday’s DNF and fellow championship contender Sennan Fielding was also in maximum attack mode on the final lap. However, the trio came to grief at the Club chicane, Fielding miraculously maintaining momentum to finish sixth and Hayek in 12th.

It was a landmark race for Ayrton Simmons. In only his second competitive British F4 outing he finished inside the points and took a fantastic Rookie class win following team-mate Jack Martin’s exclusion from the results for an incident during the safety car period.

Provisional results Round 8, Thruxton 8 May, 2016
12 laps / 28.27 miles
1 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden 20m 06.547s / 84.35mph
2 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR / Jamun +2.683s
3 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR +3.073s
4 Carrie SCHREINER / GER / Double R +3.325s
5 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +4.722s
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +9.784s
7 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +9.261s
8 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR / Arden +9.920s
9 Ross MARTIN / GBR / Fortec +9.940s
10 Patrik MATTHIESEN / DEN / JTR +23.130s etc

Fastest lap Fielding 1m 15.304s / 112.63mph

Rookie class 1 Simmons ; 2 R Martin; 3 Quinn

Full results

Provisional championship standings
1 Leeds 103 points; 2 Florescu 101; 3 Fielding 99; 4 Fewtrell 89; 5 Pull 83; 6 Quinn 67; 7 Caroline 65; 8 Martins 45; 9 DeFrancesco 35; 10 Monger 29 etc

Rookie Class 1 Quinn 176;  2 R Martin 112; 2 J Martin 97; 4 Kjaergaard 72; 5 Simmons 33

Round 9 grid order
Florescu – Fewtrell – Fielding – DeFrancesco – Monger – Pull – Caroline – Leeds – Goddard – Matthiesen etc

DeFrancesco sets the pace in Ford MSA Formula test at Thruxton

  • Devlin DeFrancesco maintains Carlin’s run of form in Thruxton test.
  • Luis Leeds and Max Fewtrell prove to be Canadian’s closest challengers, with Rafael Martins and Billy Monger also impressing.

THRUXTON 07 APRIL, 2016 – Devlin DeFrancesco took advantage of the best of the day’s weather to top the times for Carlin in Ford British F4 testing at Thruxton. The test was beleaguered by damp and cold conditions, as drivers sought to lay down a marker ahead of the Thruxton race weekend on 7-8 May.

After a quiet start, the Canadian bettered his morning time by over a second to post a 1:13.500 in the dying minutes of the second session. It was a time that would remain unbeaten as more inclement weather set in at the 2.4 mile Hampshire circuit.

His closest challengers were TRS Arden’s Luis Leeds who was within two tenths of the DeFrancesco’s time and Max Fewtrell who once again impressed in the final session when the track was at its wettest.

There was drama 20 minutes into the second session as Ayrton Simmons, who had just recorded his fastest time of the day, got caught out while pushing on slick tyres through Goodwood on the damp asphalt. The Essex-based driver hurtled into the tyre barriers but walked away unscathed, testament to the safety of the FIA F4 homologated Ford EcoBoost-powered racer.

A number of drivers elected to sit out the final session due to the bad weather, including pacesetter DeFrancesco. JHR’s experienced pairing of Jack Butel and Sennan Fielding also followed suit, the former breaking into the top 10 overall and 2016 race winner Fielding finishing the day a strong sixth.

Fellow JHR Developments driver Billy Monger caught the eye throughout, ending both the morning and late afternoon sessions in third. Whilst TRS Arden’s Rafael Martins was star of the show in the first session going fastest and ending the day fourth, with Carlin’s James Pull less than a tenth away in fifth.

It was a difficult day for Fortec Motorsports, with early leader in the Rookie Cup Alex Quinn posting their fastest time of 1:14.334 to go ninth. Team-mate Ross Martin found himself stuck in the pits for much of the first session due to technical problems, while Frank Bird had a frustrating end to the test, bringing out a red flag after making contact with the barrier at Club.

Ford British F4 teams now have a week’s respite before testing at Donington Park gets under way on Thursday, 14 April, ahead of the next three rounds of the Ford EcoBoost-powered series.

Leading testing times Thruxton 7 April 2016 (Sessions 1 / 2 / 3)
1 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CAN / Carlin 1:14.887 / 1:13.500 / No time set
2 Luis LEEDS / AUS / TRS Arden 1:15.012 / 1:13.665 / 1:21.248
3 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin 1:14.803 / 1:13.713 / 1:20.030
4 Rafael MARTINS / BRA / TRS Arden 1:14.683 / 1:13.909 / 1:21.666
5 James PULL / GBR / JHR 1:16.053 / 1:13.995 / 1:20.141
6 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 1:14.945 / 1:14.047 / No time set
7 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R 1:15.148 / 1:14.065 / 1:21.298
8 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR 1:14.859 / 1:14.120 / 1:20.455
9 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec 1:16.738 / 1:14.334 / 1:21.565
10 Jack BUTEL / GBR / JHR 1:15.990 / 1:14.404 / No time set etc.

Billy Monger steps up to Ford MSA Formula with JHR

  • 16 year-old switches to Ford British F4 with JHR Developments.
  • Monger underlined credentials with impressive test performance on only his second day behind the wheel of a single seater.

3 March, 2016 – Ginetta Junior race winner Billy Monger makes the move to Ford British F4 this season with JHR Developments. He completes the team’s line-up for 2016 in the Ford EcoBoost powered series which also consists of Sennan Fielding and Jack Butel.

After an extremely positive test at Brands Hatch last week where he finished less than three tenths off of the fastest time and his rate of improvement grabbed the attention of many, he had this to say: “Testing at Brands was really enjoyable. It was only my second day in the car, so to be that quick is really encouraging.

“I know the circuit well from my Ginetta Junior days, but it takes on a different dimension in the Ford British F4 car. Different lines and braking points are required. The car is awesome and it’s a great way for me develop my understanding of slicks and wings racing.

“There’s definitely more to come from both the car and I. I’ve got a lot of learning to do, but with a few more test days under my belt I’ll be all set for the season ahead.”

Monger is also confident that he’s got the best people around him to ensure his fledgling single-seater career makes a flying start: “I raced last season with JHR Developments so I know the team really well. It’s a great environment to be in. I wouldn’t want to be in any other team at the moment because it’s made up of such a high calibre of people.”

JHR boss Steven Hunter added: “I’m delighted to have signed Billy to our Ford British F4 team. We had Billy racing with us last year and he certainly showed some serious promise. Then he tested a Ford British F4 car and his pace was at that of a very experienced single-seater driver. I’ve no doubt that Billy will be very quick this year.”

Leeds shines at Brands Hatch Ford MSA Formula test

  • Australians Luis Leeds and Zane Goddard led the way in opening test of the 2016 season
  • Less than a second covered incredibly competitive field

24 February, 2016 – Arden’s Luis Leeds came out on top of the timesheets in 2016’s first MSA Formula, powered by Ford EcoBoost, collective test session at Brands Hatch. However, he was far from having things his own way, with a host of drivers taking turns to star at the top of the times. When the chequered flag finally fell, the ultra-competitive field was covered by less than a second, suggesting that this year’s Ford British F4 season is one no one will want to miss.

Red Bull Junior Team driver Leeds was in fine form, demonstrating speed and consistency out on track. His morning time was enough for third fastest and he was the only driver to break the 46 second barrier with a 45.974s lap.

Fellow Formula 4 Australia graduate Zane Goddard was similarly impressive for Double R Racing. Both Australians were clearly able to take advantage of their experience gained in the MSA Formula sister series, which uses the same 1.6 litre Ford EcoBoost engine and Mygale chassis. Indeed, Goddard ended the morning session with the outright quickest time which only he and Leeds were able to better late in the afternoon.

2015 Ginetta Junior champion Jamie Caroline was quickest of the British contingent in third. An achievement made all the more remarkable given that his running was severely limited due to two off-track excursions on the exit of Paddock Hill Bend (both of which damaging his Jamun Racing prepared car).

Another former Ginetta Junior driver caught the eyes of many up and down the paddock with his rate of improvement as the test progressed. JHR Developments driver Billy Monger came alive in the afternoon to record the sixth fastest time.

Meanwhile, MSA Formula returnee Sennan Fielding made amends for a morning mired in the pits due to technical difficulties; to set a time that would see him leave the Kent circuit fourth fastest.

The next collective Ford British F4 test session will take place on 16 March at Donington Park.

Testing times Brands Hatch 24/02/16 (am/pm)
1 Luis LEEDS / AUS Arden / MSA Formula-Ford EcoBoost / 46.064s / 45.974s
2 Zane GODDARD / AUS Double R / MSA Formula-Ford EcoBoost / 46.040s / 46.008s
3 Jamie CAROLINE / GBR Jamun / MSA Formula-Ford EcoBoost / 46.063s / 54.064s
4 Sennan FIELDING / GBR JHR / MSA Formula-Ford EcoBoost / 46.667s / 46.131s
5 Ross MARTIN / GBR Fortec / MSA Formula-Ford EcoBoost / 46.197s / 46.246s
6 Billy MONGER / GBR JHR / MSA Formula-Ford EcoBoost / 47.147s / 46.214s
7 Ayrton SIMMONS / GBR Arden / MSA Formula-Ford EcoBoost / 46.258s / 46.225s
8 Rafael MARTINS / BRA Arden / MSA Formula-Ford EcoBoost / 46.819s / 46.399s
9 Jack BUTEL / GBR JHR / MSA Formula-Ford EcoBoost / 46.700s / 46.438s
10 Patrik MATTHIESEN / DAN JTR / MSA Formula-Ford EcoBoost / 46.939s / 46.485s etc.

Full TSL timesheets