McLaren junior to victory at Brands Hatch

2022 ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA McLaren F1 Carlin

McLaren junior Ugo Ugochukwu triumphed in a wet weather blockbuster with CEO Zak Brown looking on, leading home a Carlin 1-2-3 finish in the final ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by the weekend’s FIA race at Brands Hatch.

Ugochukwu moved to the second row and got off the line well, passing a slow starting Alex Dunne (Hitech GP) to finish second behind teammate Oliver Gray in the early exchanges.

The gap between the pair ebbed and flowed to a mid-race safety car to retrieve Edward Pearson’s stranded Virtuosi Racing challenger at Druids, closing the gap again. Although Gray held onto the lead at the restart, a big moment in Clearways gave Ugochukwu a chance, and the American grabbed it with both hands and pushed through on the inside to take the lead.

2022 ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA McLaren F1 Carlin

From there, he expertly led the race in tricky conditions, which ended two minutes early after a spin in front of Eduardo Coseteng’s slick car at McLaren. That confirmed Ugochukwu’s first single-seater win, with Gray classified 5.1 seconds behind.

“It was a great race from the start,” said a delighted Ugochukwu after the race. “We started P3, had a good start, managed to go straight to P2 and from there the pace was great.

“Ollie made a little mistake, I got through and then I just pushed as much as I could. The pace was great so I want to thank the whole Carlin team.

“The conditions were very difficult there, quite slippery. I was fully focused on the race and did a really good job.”

“I’m still a little disappointed,” teammate Gray admitted in parc ferme. “I made a small mistake in the last corner after the safety car and let Ugo through.

“But this 1-2-3 result is a big boost for the team. We’ve been working so hard lately after Donington to get to that top step of the podium. I’m looking forward to the next round at Thruxton.”

2022 ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA McLaren F1 Carlin

After a slow breakaway, Dunne’s race went from bad to worse after a spin on Clearways as he finished third. That caused the field to crumble and Louis Sharp to make his way through the eye of the storm to wrap up the last spot on the podium, a fitting end to a promising debut for the Kiwi rising star.

“Going into this round with limited testing and limited mileage in this car, I didn’t really know what to expect,” explained a delighted Sharp. “We finished on the podium twice, but of course I had to have that yesterday. to have that podium taken off because of a penalty, so to get another one back today I’m really happy about it. †

Dunne dropped to P12 as a result of his spin, but the Irish talent undaunted, making his way back into the top five with a damaged front wing, before another across the grass at Surtees removed the remains of the wing, and forced him to dig for a new one. He eventually took the flag one lap down in the 14th.

That result means Dunne’s lead at the top of the championship has been reduced, with Gray’s podium taking him within 15 points of his main title rival after six out of 30 rounds. Ugochukwu’s win takes him to third in the overall standings, six more markers back.

For team principal Trevor Carlin, the team’s performance is a deserved reward for hours of hard work at their Farnham HQ since the season opener.

“I’m really proud of how Ugo, Ollie and Louis raced all weekend and this last race really proved how hard they worked,” Carlin beamed. “It’s always special to get a 1-2-3 in motorsport, and it feels even sweeter when it’s in such a competitive championship.

“Everyone in the team puts in everything they do, and they really deserved this result today.

“Ugo, Ollie and Louis should be proud of what they have achieved and enjoy this feeling.”

Joel Pearson (Chris Dittmann Racing) took a career-best fourth after storming through the field. The Briton took the checkered flag in sixth, an eight-place gain, before post-race time penalties for Daniel Guinchard (Argenti) and Oliver Stewart (Hitech) for false starts pushed him further up the rankings, in his first wet weather experience of the new Tatuus T-421, no less.

Aiden Neate survived a skirt across the grass at Graham Hill Bend to finish fifth, with race two winner Michael Shin (Virtuosi) sixth to maintain his near-perfect points scoring record in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series.

Guinchard and Stewart were eventually classified seventh and eighth, and Edward Pearson did well to recover from his spin at Druids to finish ninth. Joseph Loake (JHR) rounded out the points-paying positions in tenth place.

Georgi Dimitrov (JHR) and Adam Fitzgerald (Argenti) followed in 11th and 12th place, with Coseteng eventually classified 13th after the result was counted back one lap, in accordance with the regulations. All three were given time penalties after the race, but their positions remained unchanged.

The aforementioned Dunne and Daniel Mavlyutov (Hitech) round out the 15 cars that won the flag, with Noah Lisle (JHR) the only retiree. The championship heads to Thruxton, Hampshire over the weekend of May 28-29.

images © Jakob Ebrey Photography