After a heavy weekend of racing not just around the UK, but in all corners of the globe, you’d be forgiven to have forgotten about the support races on the BTCC calendar, but while under the radar, the F4 British Championship again delivered a spectacular weekend of racing with the British drivers coming out on top. Despite only picking up one podium, Ayrton Simmons remains the points leader.
It was Kiern Jewiss and Johnathan Hoggard who collected the wins at Donington Park, with the latter securing a double trip to the top step. Having taken pole with a last lap effort in qualifying, Hoggard was determined to make a mends for his disastrous weekend at Brands Hatch. He was far from dominant in the opening event, but still secured the victory by the narrowest of margins, while race three saw him dispose of polesitter Patrik Pasma by the first corner, winning by over eleven seconds… after a safety car.
His speed may have been on another level compared to the opposition, but if there was one driver who could challenge him it was Jewiss. The Double R driver didn’t cover himself in glory after a collision with Ayrton Simmons ended race one early, but shocked the opposition by winning from the back of the grid in race two. He had been helped by the fact Dennis Hauger had been handed a 5 second penalty for track limits, only to go head-to-head with Hauger and Pasma in race three where he was forced to settle for third after some aggressive driving from the Finnish driver.
Results from the weekend can be found here.
Major Talking Point
Qualifying had not been kind for the Double R Racing driver. He had been quickest in testing, breaking the circuits lap record and looked set for an untouchable weekend, but it wasn’t to be, come Saturday morning. A broken roll bar eventually leaving him over a second behind polesitter Hoggard and seventh on the grid.
It got worse in race one as a battle for fifth with three other cars ended in disaster when Simmons and himself made contact. He was beached in the gravel and out for Saturday.
What followed though was arguably the drive of the ToCA season so far. Starting on the back row with teammate Paavo Tonteri, he scythed his way through the order, skillfully dodging the first lap pile-ups that spun round race one winner Hoggard. He was fifth by the third lap and from there broke away with fourth placed Jack Doohan to catch the leaders.
Having overtaken Doohan and polesitter Hampus Ericsson, only Simmons and Hauger stood in his way. The Red Bull Junior crossed the line first, but was demoted to fourth for corner cutting. This left Jewiss with an excellent move around the outside into the first corner that, if the first two rounds are anything to go by, could be the start of a season long battle between these two.
By winning the second race, he gave himself the commitment he need in the final event, and from again towards the back came through to take third, having been forced to the grass twice by Pasma in the TRS Arden.
His fans will be hoping this was not just a Weekend Wonder from the 15-year-old.
Star of the Show
In my last Winners and Losers, I listed Hoggard as one of my disappointments of the weekend. Clearly this wasn’t going to last and if the end of last season was anything to prove, the Fortec Motorsports driver had the raw pace in the races.
Pole was a sweet way to start a weekend where he had been 40 points behind championship leader Simmons and managed a late safety car in race one, caused by Jewiss’ crash, to hold off Seb Priaulx for his maiden F4 victory.
In race two he was forced to regain his starting position after being spun around on the opening lap, but still clawed it back to fifth. This ensured that a clean start in the final encounter saw him rocket off into the distance for the most dominant British F4 victory of the season. The result brings him to fourth in the standings, 24 points behind leader Simmons and back into play for the championship.
While I could just easily give this award to Jewiss… after all he probably deserves it. I have spoken enough about the Ginetta Junior rookie champion and felt like pointing out a driver few were keeping their eye on.
Jack left the weekend with one podium and the only driver to finish in the top four in every race. While the young Australian may still be finding his feet, it’s proven to be a successful learning curve for the 15-year-old so far. He remained out of trouble in all three races and when he was required to race wheel-to-wheel the Arden driver was more than happy to get stuck in.
He was in the thick of the action at the start of race two, but was the first driver to settle in and break away from the pack, something Priaulx and Simmons were unable to do, while another potential podium was only denied by his teammate Pasma in race three. He remains top rookie and now the highest placed non-British driver in fifth.
Meeting to Forget
Considering I picked Fortec for this role at Brands, I feel bad effectively handing it to Ericsson for two rounds in a row, but luck was not on the Swede’s side. He held ground for a fifth in race one, but in failing to keep up with the leaders on the restart had proven that his raw speed was not up at the front, at least for this round.
The result had handed him a reverse grid pole but it would be here his weekend behind bogged down. Losing the lead at the start was not his biggest faux par and had been running fourth for much of the race, but an unforced error saw him career into the barrier late on, costing him valuable points when he didn’t need to take the risk.
A similar diagnostic could be assigned for race three when and aggressive defense saw him beached in the gravel on the final lap after a race he’d spent rather anonymously in the lower half. He may be the reigning Challenge Cup champion, but on points alone appears to be the best of the backmarkers rather than a race win candidate for this season.
List is determined by the current championship order and scores will be given according to how well they performed compared to past experience, reputation and championship position.
Ayrton Simmons: 6/10
Kiern Jewiss: 8.5/10
Seb Priaulx: 7/10
Johnathan Hoggard: 9/10
Jack Doohan: 8.5/10
Dennis Hauger: 5/10
Patrik Pasma: 7/10
Paavo Tonteri: 4/10
Hampus Ericsson: 2/10
Josh Skelton: 6/10
Jamie Sharp: 7.5/10
Lucca Allen: 5/10
Manuel Sulaiman: 3/10
Sebastian Alvarez: 4/10
The next round will see British F4 head to Thruxton, where some of the closest action of the season happened last year.