Zagazeta extends his advantage on turbulent weekend for title contenders at Silverstone

  • Zagazeta, Dimitrov and Loake share the spoils on dramatic weekend at Silverstone.
  • Chief title rivals all hit trouble in eventful, ITV4-televised finale to set up six-race showdown for the honours.
  • Donington Park, Leicestershire hosts next event on 9-10 October.

Matias Zagazeta was able to extend his advantage out front in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost to 17 points, despite a turbulent weekend (25-26 September) for the chief title contenders at Silverstone.

Ford’s rising stars arrived at the 1.6-mile Northamptonshire venue for the only back-to-back event on this season’s schedule, with Phinsys by Argenti racer Zagazeta having moved into a slender championship lead over Matthew Rees (JHR) at Croft a week prior.

The Peruvian left it late to secure pole position in one of the hardest-fought sessions of the season to-date, a benchmark time of 56.090 seconds enough to narrowly beat team-mate Aiden Neate, with Rees and McKenzy Cresswell occupying the second row.

Rees made the best start from third in the opening race, out-dragging Neate before mounting a challenge on the inside line at Copse for the race lead versus Zagazeta. The pair ran side-by-side for virtually the entire opening tour, with Rees forced to eventually concede and slot into second.

The Welsh teenager kept the pressure up, but Zagazeta weathered the worst of the storm and kept his cool out front to take the chequered flag 0.9 seconds clear and register a fourth victory of the campaign, with Neate third to mark a second successive trip to the rostrum.

That boosted his advantage over Rees in the standings to 11 points, which he was able to extend further by virtue of six overtaking points in a reverse grid race won by Arden Motorsport’s Georgi Dimitrov.

The British-Bulgarian racer was able to use experience to get the better of pole-sitter and team-mate Cameron McLeod in the opening exchanges, the Australian enjoying a spell up front on his debut weekend in the series.

Passing the newcomer had been one thing but staying ahead proved to be entirely another; Dimitrov was kept honest for the duration by McLeod, but ultimately the two Red Arrows finished line-a-stern, Dimitrov annexing his second win of the campaign, and a first for his new team.

Kai Askey (Carlin) claimed the final step on the podium, and the Brit’s late-season charge up the standings would receive a further boost with more silverware in an action-packed, ITV4-televised finale.

Once again, Rees made an excellent start, this time from the front row and the 15-year-old ran side-by-side with Zagazeta on the run through Copse. Their battle allowed Cresswell to buy in on the inside line heading towards Becketts, but contact on the apex dropped the trio back, and allowed Marcos Flack (Argenti) to storm into the lead, albeit briefly.

He was passed a few corners later by a charging Joseph Loake (JHR), the Macclesfield racer making a move stick on the inside at Luffield to secure the race lead.

He would have to endure race-long pressure and two safety car restarts to notch up his third victory of the campaign by 0.3 seconds from Flack and Askey, but behind every major championship contender hit yet more trouble.

The first of the two safety car interventions came about after a collision between a recovering Rees and Fortec’s Joel Granfors; the Swede attempted a bold pass around the outside at Brooklands, ran over the kerb and vaulted onto the engine cover of Rees’ JHR machine at the apex of Luffield, before coming to rest in the gravel trap.

Both were ruled out of competing further. Advantage Zagazeta? It would seem not.

Brooklands was once again the stage as the Peruvian was tagged on the inside by David Morales (Arden), spinning Zagazeta’s car round and breaking the front-left suspension. Oliver Gray (Fortec) was also caught up the incident, putting him on the sidelines prematurely.

Cresswell was able to recover from the opening lap tussle via the pit lane and score points, but could only manage ninth, with a bonus point for fastest lap.

And so victory for Loake moves him into sixth in what is now a seven-driver battle for the honours with six races left to run, starting at Donington Park, Leicestershire on 9-10 October.