By Mick Palmer
The British Formula Four Championship returns to Croft a week after a two day test at the venue as the new for 2022 cars really begin to stretch their legs. The new to the UK Halo enclosed Tatuus chassis, powered by an Abarth engine, and running on Pirelli tyres, continued to deliver an improved performance over the previous generation of machines.
The fastest lap in the two day test was put in by championship leader Alex Dunne. His 1m 16.915 was around 2.7 seconds quicker than the outright fastest time from the category at the circuit in 2021 and adds to the average two second per lap gain seen across the year for pole position. The time on the day two morning session pipped Aiden Neate by 0.087s, with the son of former BTCC racer Andy Neate taking the top slot in the Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon sessions.
Williams F1 junior Oliver Gray set the fastest lap in the opening session. His Argenti team mate Daniel Guinchard (part of the Mercedes F1 junior programme) was also on the pace as the team had former BTCC race winner and Formula Three ace Warren Hughes on hand to guide the drivers. Along with McLaren protégé Ugo Ugochukwu, the trio are heading the charge from the championship to become the destination development series for F1 juniors. The trio have been outclassed by Irish racer Dunne so far this season however, with the Hitech GP driver claiming six wins from the 12 races held so far.
CHECK OUT OUR F4 VIDEO DISCUSSING HOW THE UK SINGLE SEAT LANDSCAPE IS CHANGING:-
Second placed Gray has yet to top the podium with third placed Ugochukwu taking the flag first in the third Brands Hatch race. Neate in fourth has one victory as does fifth placed Louis Sharp. The Kiwi racer was not of age to race in the opening round and has made a huge impact, especially at Oulton Park where two podiums preceded his win.
“I’m speechless to be honest; it all feels a bit surreal,” the Carlin racer said after his victory. “Coming here to Oulton Park, I never expected to have three podium finishes let alone a win, so I’m so happy with how this weekend had panned out. When I got the lead off the start [in race three] I knew I had a fantastic chance as it is hard to overtake round this circuit and to bring the car home in front is a great feeling. I have to credit the team because they gave me a fantastic car and I’m delighted with the results.
“This is a track that I’ve really enjoyed and I think it suited my driving style, but I also feel that this is a weekend where things have started to come together for me a little bit more. We’ve been playing catch up after missing those first three races at Donington Park, but I’ve now had more time in the car and my confidence has been growing and growing.
“I’m really looking forward to now going to Croft to see what we can achieve there.”
Motor Racing UK Magazine was launched by former F1 and Endurance engineer Mick Palmer in 2019 to tell stories from the British national and club scene. The growth of the magazine, and a growing focus on Touring Cars, means that the time has arrived to re-launch the magazine website to carry stories and news from across motor racing, instead of just being a place to find out about the latest issues of the magazine. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to find more great content from MRUK.