- Devlin DeFrancesco takes memorable maiden victory
- Super-close racing and a masterclass in wheel-to-wheel racing cements the Ford EcoBoost-powered series’ standing as the world’s toughest FIA F4 championship to win.
THRUXTON 8 MAY, 2016 – Round nine of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford will live long in the memory; with a five-way battle for the lead and wheel-to-wheel action throughout the field. It was Carlin’s Devlin DeFrancesco who triumphed, taking a popular victory ahead of Billy Monger, Max Fewtrell, James Pull and Sennan Fielding. The quintet’s battle for glory provided a spectacle which firmly puts British F4 on the map as arguably the most entertaining single-seater series in the world.
The start was all about Petru Florescu who leapt away from pole with JHR’s Fielding in his wheel tracks, getting the jump on Fewtrell to move into second. Fewtrell responded a lap later in tandem with Carlin team-mate DeFrancesco, as both drivers dived down the outside of Fielding along the back straight.
With the bit between his teeth DeFrancesco then proceeded to blast past Fewtrell on the subsequent lap and apply serious pressure to Florescu with the lead now firmly in his sights. It immediately took its toll on the Romanian, who made an uncharacteristic mistake by taking too much kerb on the exit of Club to see not only DeFrancesco, but also Fielding and Fewtrell go by.
The situation deteriorated further two laps later for the race one winner. A spin sending him down to ninth immediately after DeFrancesco out-braked himself into the final chicane allowing Fielding to take the lead.
The Canadian made amends the following lap, judging his braking perfectly into the same chicane to retake control at the head of the field. The battle at the front was soon joined Monger and Pull who closed up to Fielding and Fewtrell. It set up a captivating five-way showdown for the win and a masterclass in wheel-to-wheel racing as the quintet jockeyed for position lap after lap.
The highlight of which taking place on the penultimate lap, as DeFrancesco found his mirrors full of the JHR pairing of Fielding and Monger, as well as team-mate Fewtrell. The three drivers were three abreast across the pit straight and it was Monger who seized the initiative. He dared to brake latest into turn one to take second, with Fewtrell squeezing past Fielding, who moments later succumbed to Pull’s attack.
A jubilant DeFrancesco stated: “It feels unbelievable to get this win. What a race! What a fight at the front! There was so much respect amongst all the drivers, with good overtaking and clean moves. I cannot wait for what the rest of the season has in store. There were so many touch-and-go moments out on track and the key was just trying to keep focused.”
Said second place man Monger: “It’s not the top step, but we’re getting closer. I’m not here to make up the numbers. I wanted to prove to people that I deserve to be here and I think I have done that this weekend. We’ve had two podiums this weekend and I want to take this momentum into Oulton Park and get my first win. There was so much respect out there between all the drivers. It enabled such close racing. I think it’s the best racing in Europe and that’s why this is such a highly rated championship.”
Whilst Fewtrell was in a philosophical mood after his Thruxton trials and tribulations: “To grab a podium after a really tough weekend and the big incidents in races one and two is a good confidence booster. I hung in there and kept going. I think that last race wasn’t really about pace because of the slipstream effect around here. It’s all about using that slipstream to your advantage and timing moves to perfection which is what I tried to do.”
Messrs Luis Leeds, Alex Quinn and Zane Goddard added further drama with a fantastic tussle for sixth. Quinn and Goddard went either side of Leeds as they hit the pit straight at the end of lap five leaving the crowd speechless; swallowing up his TRS Arden prepared racer following his slow exit from Club. Quinn’s seventh place was enough to see him record an impressive sixth Rookie class win of the year.
Commented Quinn: “It could have been a lot better this weekend. We were a bit unfortunate, but I’m already looking forward to Oulton Park. It was really tough battling with Luis and Zane. We all drove really well and it was such a tough race. It just demonstrates how competitive British F4 is.”
Added Goddard: “I didn’t get the start I would have liked, but I came through and somehow got past Luis on the outside. At the last corner I locked up and the rear stepped out on me. I was just able to hold it together. It was such a close finish and it’s nice to get the Aussie bragging rights over Luis on this occasion.”
Patrik Matthiesen once again held on valiantly to finish in the last points paying position for JTR, just as he had in race two.
Meanwhile, a collision between Jack Butel and Rafael Martins in the closing stages left the former at the back of the field and brought an end to Martins’ race. A frustrating finish to a weekend that promised so much for both drivers, after strong showings in testing and Butel’s pole position start in the race two.
There was also disappointment for Jamie Caroline whose race was fated before the lights went out due to contact on the lap to the grid. He elected to start from the pit lane, giving his Jamun team the chance to repair a damaged front wing, but their efforts were in vain as Caroline was forced to retire with the wing hanging precariously from the nose of his car.
Despite both missing out on the podium in round nine, it is Fielding who leaves Thruxton at the top of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford standings. Leeds, Fewtrell, Florescu and Pull lie within touching distance of the leader however and as this weekend has proved there are sure to be plenty more surprises at Oulton Park in four weeks’ time.
Provisional results Round 9, Thruxton 8 May, 2016
16 laps / 37.69 miles
1 Devlin DEFRANCESCO / CDN / Carlin 20m 16.559s / 111.54mph
2 Billy MONGER / GBR / JHR +1.476s
3 Max FEWTRELL / GBR / Carlin +1.659s
4 James PULL / GBR / Carlin +1.929s
5 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR +2.187s
6 Zane GODDARD / AUS / Double R +4.366s
7 Alex QUINN / GBR / Fortec +5.818s
8 Luis LEEDS / AUS / Arden +6.420s
9 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin +6.910s
10 Patrik MATTHIESEN / DEN / JTR +7.095s etc
Fastest lap DeFrancesco 1m 14.713s / 113.52mph
Rookie class 1 Quinn; 2 R Martin; 3 J Martin; 4 Kjaergaard; 5 Simmons
Provisional championship standings
=1 Fielding 109 points; 2 Leeds 107 points; 3 Fewtrell 104; 4 Florescu 103; 5 Pull 95; 6 Quinn 73; 7 Caroline 65; 8 DeFrancesco 60; 9 Monger 47; 10 Martins 45 etc
Rookie Class 1 Quinn 201; 2 R Martin 130; 3 J Martin 112; 4 Kjaergaard 84; 5 Simmons 50