British F4 Esports Championship Round 8: McKeown pips Mutch in nail-biting finale

The final round of the 2023 British F4 Esports Championship was set to be a barnstormer, with the top two in the standings level on points ahead of the Brands Hatch GP finale (after post-race penalties had been applied).

Round 7 saw Luke McKeown and Gordie Mutch move clear of mid-season leader Peter Berryman, with the Northern Irishman requiring a big slice of luck at Brands to seal the title.

Although McKeown held a slight points advantage going into the event, it meant nothing considering the pace and strength-in-depth of the British F4 Esports field, replete with a partially reversed grid for Race 2.

As a result, the points battle featured several twists and turns throughout Round 8 – highly appropriate given the sweeping nature of Brands Hatch’s GP loop – setting spectators up for a dramatic denouement befitting of such a keenly-fought championship battle.

Race 1

It was first blood to JHR by 29 eSport in qualifying, as Stanley Deslandes headed team-mate Mutch on the front row of the grid. They were closely followed by the Stormforce Racing ART pair of Berryman and McKeown, with the in-form Moreno Sirica of Williams Esports just behind in fifth.

The first four remained line astern in the opening stages before Mutch made a move stick down the inside of Deslandes at Westfield Bend. Berryman, ever the opportunist, followed the Scotsman through into second, desperate to claw back some ground on his championship rivals.

In an attempt to fight back, Deslandes was unfortunate to tap the rear left wheel of Berryman at Paddock Hill Bend, delaying both and allowing McKeown into second. The chasing Sirica subsequently dove down the inside of Deslandes at Druids, sending the JHR driver off.

McKeown seized the lead of the race and was soon followed by his team-mate as Mutch dropped to third. On the final lap, Berryman launched a decisive attack on McKeown for the lead, eventually making the move stick at Sheene’s. Mutch tried to capitalise but McKeown held him off at the line.

With victory, Berryman had kept his slim championship hopes alive, and with the reversed grid draw putting him sixth for Race 2, it was very much game on. Just four points separated McKeown and Mutch in the crucial battle for top spot.

Race 2

Stanley Deslandes started from pole position and was no doubt eager to take his first win of the campaign after a streak of promising podium positions in recent rounds. For Berryman, however, his championship hopes were all but done and dusted on lap one after an off at Hawthorn Bend.

Mutch and McKeown were third and fourth respectively until the former made a bold move around the outside of Josh Lad at Hawthorn. The pair ran side-by-side through Westfield Bend and Dingle Dell before Mutch eased through at Sheene’s – impressively brave given this now moved the Lockerbie-based driver into a championship-winning position.

Even better for the Scotsman was that his JHR by 29 eSports’ team-mate Deslandes was the only other driver ahead of him, potentially offering more points if he moved aside.

Things looked even worse for McKeown as Altus Esports’ Ted Bradbaury overtook at Druids after an aggressive dive into Paddock Hill Bend. McKeown now had the recovering Berryman for company just behind.

Bradbury tapped third-place Lad on the exit of Clark Curve, which allowed McKeown back ahead but another Bradbury lunge soon reversed the positions again. After a thrilling battle between all four protagonists, McKeown was able to squeeze ahead of Lad before making a firm move stick on Bradbury.

Bradbury re-passed McKeown quickly but a poor run out of Stirling’s sealed the Altus driver’s fate, allowing both McKeown and Berryman through as the race came to a conclusion.

With Mutch gaining a point for fastest lap both he and McKeown were dead-level in the standings; although, McKeown would clinch it on countback thanks to more third-place finishes.

But if Deslandes gave up his first position and allowed team-mate Mutch to take the win then Mutch would be champion. However, in a baffling turn of events, this did not happen, and McKeown was confirmed as champion as he crossed the line in third.

It was a surprising error from JHR by 29 eSports that cost Mutch a certain championship victory, but they could at least console themselves with a dominant one-two finish in the final race of the season. It certainly bodes well for 2024, but it will take some effort to wrest the crown from 2023’s dominant team, the Stormforce Racing ART outfit of McKeown and Berryman.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been in a championship [that was] so close,” said the now double British F4 Esports Championship winner Luke McKeown.

“[That race] was so tricky: I ended up with a broken front wing [and it] felt like I had steering damage, so to come out on top is amazing,” he concluded, delightedly.

UK FF1600 Esports Cup, Round 8

Once again Henry Moore stamped his authority all over the championship by claiming pole position for the final round. Surprisingly, however, it was Jason Cooper alongside him on the front row, with Moore’s closest challenger in the championship, Dan Amor, only mustering fifth.

The race quickly settled into a dramatic seven-way fight for the lead, with Moore, Cooper and Amor joined by Isaac Phelps, Connor Skudal, Simon Ball and Ronnie Smith, with Brands Hatch’s Grand Prix loop lending itself well to close slipstreaming battles.

Appropriately, however, the race win came down to a head-to-head fight between Amor and Moore on the final straight, with Moore edging ahead by just 0.005s at the line after a scintillating battle, cementing his position as the inaugural UK FF1600 Esports Cup champion.

For the reverse grid second race, Amor and Moore started seventh and eighth respectively with Leigh Britten drawing pole position. Within four corners Ronnie Smith had made his way to the front with both Moore and Amor hitting trouble on lap one.

In a chaotic race, Smith and Jack Badger made a significant break at the front of the field, with Moore succumbing to more bad luck after collecting a wayward car on the racing line. He pitted for repairs but his race was effectively over. Smith managed to hold on out front, though, securing third in the standings with a hard-fought win..

As champion and vice-champion, Moore and Amor are guaranteed to be on the British F4 Esports Championship grid in 2024. And with Moore’s incredible 2023 form catching the eyes of several top teams, a championship push cannot be ruled out.

British F4 Esports Championship, Round 8 Brands Hatch GP Race 1 results

  1. Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART
  2. Luke McKeown, Stormforce Racing ART, +0.275s
  3. Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSports, +0.470s
  4. Josh Lad, Williams Esports, +0.631s
  5. Remy Gilbert, Guild Racing, +1.247s

British F4 Esports Championship, Round 8 Brands Hatch GP Race 2 results

  1. Stanley Deslandes, JHR by 29 eSports
  2. Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSports, +4.375s
  3. Luke McKeown, Stormforce Racing ART, +15.531s
  4. Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART, +15.902s
  5. Matt Emery, Veloce VEXT, +16.703s

Final driver standings

  1. Luke McKeown, Stormforce Racing ART, 244 points
  2. Gordie Mutch, JHR by 29 eSport, 244 points
  3. Peter Berryman, Stormforce Racing ART, 222 points
  4. Moreno Sirica, Williams Esports, 120 points
  5. Stanley Deslandes, JHR by 29 eSports, 96 points
  6. Josh Lad, Williams Esports, 95 points
  7. Matt J Caruana, Kimura Racing, 85 points
  8. Remy Gilbert, GUILD Racing, 82 points
  9. Lucas Müller, Dörr Esports, 71 points
  10. Matt Emery, Veloce VEXT, 57 points

Final team standings

  1. Stormforce Racing ART, 466 points
  2. JHR by 29 eSports, 340 points
  3. Williams Esports, 215 points
  4. Dörr Esports, 92 points
  5. Kimura Racing, 82 points

Calendar: British F4 Esports Championship 2023

Media Day, Silverstone National, 20th September 

Round 1, Brands Hatch Indy, 27th September 

Round 2, Donington National, 4th October 

Round 3, Snetterton 300, 11th October 

Round 4, Oulton Park International, 25th October 

Round 5, Silverstone GP, 8th November 

Round 6, Knockhill, 15th November 

Round 7, Donington GP, 22nd November 

Round 8, Brands Hatch GP, 29th November

Images courtesy of Rhys Caryl / RC Sim Photography.

Our partners