After a near-perfect weekend in the ROKiT F4 British Championship, certified by the FIA at Donington Park, Alex Dunne arrives at Brands Hatch with a 37-point lead and as the championship-starting favourite. But he will have to be wary of the chasing peloton…
Despite the 16-year-old Irish talent only confirming his place at Hitech GP in the days leading up to the season opener, he was in excellent form at the East Midlands venue, claiming a hat-trick of podium finishes, including two wins, to go down a marker for the rest of the field.
His closest challengers, Carlin’s Oliver Gray and Argenti’s Aiden Neate, both enjoyed a silver-laden start to their own respective campaigns, but a clash between the pair at Redgate in the reverse grid race lost them crucial ground early in the title race. Just three points separate them in second and third place, with a similar margin back to fourth-seeded Ugo Ugochuwku (Carlin).
Lightening the timesheets during qualifying at Donington, McLaren junior Ugochuwku was the only man to beat Dunne at a one-lap pace, taking the inaugural Omologato Pole Position by just 0.02 seconds. He converted that into a maiden podium the following day and looks like ‘one to watch’ as the season – and his experience – develops.
Dunne’s two triumphs saw a win on the reverse grid ahead of Georgi Dimitrov, the JHR racer who resisted pressure from teammate Joseph Loake to take a fourth career win in the reverse grid competition. The pair are fifth and seventh in the standings, shared by Eduardo Coseteng (Hitech), who no doubt had the pace to compete further down the field in Donington, but still finished with three solid points.
Edward Pearson leads Michael Shin in a completely virtuoso battle for eighth place, with Mercedes junior Daniel Guinchard (Argenti) rounding out the top ten.
The battle for every point has been hard fought in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series thus far, resulting in five cars: Chris Dittmann Racing’s Joel Pearson, Oliver Stewart (Hitech), Noah Lisle (JHR), Adam Fitzgerald (Argenti) and Daniel Mavlyutov (Hitech) are just two points in the standings.
This weekend also marks the debut of Louis Sharp, the Carlin racer who is finally old enough to compete in a race weekend. Sharp, supported by Rodin Cars as compatriot and F2 star Liam Lawson, has been quick in testing and will try to get off to a good start and make up for lost time.
Two practice sessions on Friday kick off the action around the 1.2-mile Indy circuit at 12:05 and 17:20 (BST) respectively, before an all-important qualifying session at 09:00 on Saturday morning.
It’s then racing action until the end of the program, with two races on Saturday afternoon (13:25 and 17:10), the second of which will have the partially inverted grid.
Sunday’s live, live ITV final rounds out the action, which is scheduled for 13:20.
images credit Jakob Ebrey Photography