Luke McKeown took full advantage of an ‘off night’ for chief rival Josh Lad to seize the upper hand in the ROKiT British F4 Esports Championship title race at Snetterton.
Apex Academy racer McKeown wasted no time in asserting himself around the technical, 2.99-mile Norfolk circuit, storming to pole position by 0.011 seconds ahead of Apex Racing Team’s Peter Berryman and Jamie Fluke.
Race 1: Lights-to-flag triumph for new points leader McKeown
Off the start, McKeown came under threat from a fast-starting Berryman on the outside into Riches corner, but stood his ground and retained the lead. From there, the 17-year-old went unchecked at the front of the field, storming to a 2.7-second winning margin.
That wrapped up a third win of the season and, with William Esports-backed star Lad only fifth, he inherited the championship lead. McKeown’s speed helped Berryman and Fluke, second and third at the flag, escape the close attention of JHR’s Georgi Dimitrov, who took fourth.
Race 1: What they said
McKeown: “I think it was the tyres, mainly [that led to victory over the more experienced ART pairing]. Me, Peter, and Jamie have been really close [in practice] all week, but in these cars the tyres are really sensitive.
“It’s really easy to have a small slide or lock up, and you start losing a lot of time per lap. I’m pretty happy from my side with the race, and especially qualifying – it’s nice to put a good lap in, for once.”
Berryman: “Once we got into 1-2-3, we were pretty much going to sit in line and finish [there]. It’s a bit worrying that my tyres completely went towards the second half of the race there, not too sure what the deal is there. It’s probably best for Luke to get the Drivers’ Championship points anyway.”
Fluke: “Luke’s speed at the front was phenomenal and he was able to carry me and Pete through to dropping Dimitrov. I was content with sitting with third, as Pete said, we’re not too fussed about who wins the Drivers’ Championship, it’s all about team points, so there’s no point fighting my team-mate on this one.”
Race 2: Berryman and Fluke bring home emphatic 1-2 finish for ART
With the random selector choosing five cars to be reversed for the second and final race of the night, Lad was presented with the perfect opportunity to re-take top spot from pole.
Unlike McKeown, however, Lad’s charge to victory in race two unraveled within the first two corners, the Munster Rugby Gaming driver the victim of contact from Dimitrov behind into the Wilson Hairpin on the opening lap.
Dimitrov continued at the front, but only survived for a further lap until Berryman made full use of the slipstream down the main straight to brake late on the inside into Riches and take the lead. Fluke followed his team-mate through, eventually beating Dimitrov for second on the outside at Agostini after three corners running side-by-side.
The two ran nose-to-tail for the rest of the 30-minute contest and crossed the line 0.3 seconds apart, with McKeown and Lad eventually coming through for third and fourth at the flag.
Race 2: What they said
Berryman: “What a result for the guys. Again, we just managed the gap to the guys behind. Some night for us. “The mood is just going up and up, it seems everything we touch at the moment, we’re at the front of, or winning. Coming into this round, we knew we were strong, we found some setup tweaks that we felt a bit better with, and it definitely seemed to pay off here.
“We’ve just got to keep our eyes on the prize and hopefully we’ll be alright.”
Fluke: “The plan was just to try and get ahead of Josh [Lad]. I wasn’t expecting it to be quite as sharp as that, but we’ll take it.
“A good points day for the team, all round. We’re in the hunt, aren’t we?”
The championship picture changes once again…
In the Teams’ Championship, McKeown’s efforts keep Apex Academy a mere two points ahead of ART, despite a bumper points haul for Berryman and Fluke at Snetterton.
McKeown leads the way in the Drivers’ Championship, with a 16-point cushion back to Lad in second. Fluke and Berryman are now third and fourth, 14 and 18 points respectively back from Lad.
Silverstone’s National circuit hosts Rounds 9 and 10 of the championship on Friday, 25 November, with live coverage starting at 19:00 on the RaceSpot TV YouTube channel.