Preview: School’s nearly out for summer at Croft

Hitech GP’s Alex Dunne still holds a commanding 68-point lead in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA but, with almost half the grid having now won a race, expect plenty of fireworks on track this weekend as the series heads into the summer break at Croft.

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Blistering qualifying performances have been the key to the Irishman’s success so far in 2022, Dunne having scored five of his six wins starting from the front of the field. That, plus consistency in the face of a rotating carousel of different winners in the other six contests, have moved him clear at the championship summit.

His nearest challengers are the Carlin pairing of Ollie Gray and Ugo Ugochukwu, Williams and McLaren F1 juniors respectively. Both endured a character-building trip to Oulton Park last time out, a reverse-grid podium for Ugochukwu the only silverware between them. If they’re to keep their fight alive, they will need a statement result against Dunne this weekend. 

After two practice sessions (09:55 / 14:03 BST) on Friday, qualifying kicks off the competitive action at 10:25 on Saturday, followed by the opening two races at 13:45 and 17:15 respectively. Sunday features a further, ITV4-televised contest to round out the weekend, with lights out scheduled for 13:50.

Aiden Neate (Argenti) heads up a thrilling battle for fourth through seventh in the standings, with two first-time race winners at Oulton, Carlin’s Louis Sharp and Mercedes-AMG protégé Daniel Guinchard, hot on his heels. Georgi Dimitrov (JHR) is one point further back from Guinchard, a podium in Cheshire last time out a welcome boost as he looks to recoup lost ground.

Dimitrov’s JHR team-mate Joseph Loake left Oulton Park down but not out. After troubles in qualifying, a broken front-left suspension from pole in the second race hampered his weekend on home soil. He arrives at Croft with new resolve and looking to get his season back on track.

He will need to also be wary of Eduardo Coseteng (Hitech), just three points further back. The Filipino racer was a deserved winner of the Pirelli ‘Hardest Charger’ award at Oulton, making up an impressive 19 positions across the triple-header. A slightly higher qualifying result, and the form guide suggests Coseteng will be in the mix for victories this weekend.

Michael Shin’s flying start to the 2022 season has taken a knock over the past few races, but the South Korean still heads up his Virtuosi Racing team-mate Edward Pearson in the standings. The pair have been ever-presents in the top ten this season, and will be looking to re-gain some lost ground in Yorkshire.

Oliver Stewart (Hitech) and Joel Pearson (Chris Dittmann Racing) continue to make great strides, both in terms of their single seater experience and their championship standing. The duo, now separated by five points, sit 12th and 13th, with Noah Lisle (JHR), Adam Fitzgerald (Argenti) and Daniel Mavlyutov (Hitech) giving chase. 

Ugochukwu’s tricky Oulton weekend has given Guinchard renewed hope in the Rookie Cup stakes, a hat-trick of class wins for the latter bringing him to within 7 points at the top of the standings. Carlin similarly lead Hitech in the Teams’ Cup, 46 points to the good.

As well as the on-track action, spectators this weekend have the chance to meet the stars of tomorrow, with the official autograph session set to take place on Sunday at 10:00 at the F4 Race Centre in the support paddock. You never know where these drivers might be in a few years’ time…

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