CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD FOR HILLSPEED & MORRIS ON F4 DEBUT
Hillspeed made a remarkable start to the season-opening BRDC Formula 4 Championship event at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 27th/28th April, with teenage ace Seb Morris racing to a hat-trick of podiums to take the lead in the driver standings
On a week which started with the Hathersage squad counting the cost of a road accident involving its race transporter, following a serious tyre blow out, the team showed incredible spirit to bounce back in the best possible style – with Morris achieving one third place and two runner-up spots.
Jersey driver Struan Moore, embarking on his first full season in single-seaters, raced to highly competitive seventh and eighth place finishes in the opening two rounds but unfortunate contact from a rival in race three meant he ended the weekend 10th in the championship.
Malaysia’s Rahul Raj Mayer, competing on UK soil for the first time in his short career, rounded out the event in 16th position in the points table. Posting a series of solid finishes, Mayer was 14th in round one, 18th in round two after an excursion and 15th in the last race despite front wing damage.
“What a weekend!”, said principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “There has been a lot of hard work to get here, especially after the trials and tribulations of how the week started for us, and all three drivers have performed fantastically for us – especially with a very limited amount of testing.
“The team pulled together so well after the unfortunate incident on the way to the Media Day at Snetterton last Tuesday, everyone showed true character and spirit and we’ve come away with some exceptional results.”
Welshman Morris produced a superb drive from seventh on the grid to finish on the podium in the first ever BRDC Formula 4 Championship race on Saturday, with Moore only just missing out on the top six and Mayer coming through the order well from 17th on the grid into 14th position at the flag.
Moore and Morris each made good getaways at the start, taking fourth and fifth respectively, while Mayer put together a sensational opening lap to rocket into 13th place on his competitive UK debut. Morris usurped Moore for fourth on lap two and on lap six he benefited from contact between the two leaders at Luffield to snatch third place.
Moore, meanwhile, held on to fifth position well until the last few corners of the race when he was bundled back to seventh following an attack from Charlie Robertson – which also allowed Jack Barlow through. Mayer ran strongly in 13th until lap six, when he slipped behind James Greenway, but 14th place marked a strong run for the 16-year-old.
In round two on Sunday morning, Moore – from second on the grid – jumped pole-sitter Diego Menchaca at the beginning to edge into the lead on the run to Copse but at the exit of the turn he was pushed back to third with Morris moving up to second after a sensational start from sixth.
At the start of lap two, Morris ran in second with Moore fourth and Mayer holding onto 14th and just a lap later Morris made his bid for the lead with a fantastic move at Village. Moore, meanwhile, was elbowed back to fifth and Mayer dropped to 17th position.
Morris punched in some fastest laps to try and extend his lead but on the penultimate lap, exiting the fast, sweeping Maggotts and Becketts turns, he was edged back to second where he stayed to the finish. Moore found himself shuffled back to eighth before the finish with Mayer having to settle for 18th following his lap three moment.
For the final race of the weekend, round three, Morris again led the way for Hillspeed by moving up from third on the grid into second at Maggotts and he remained in the runner-up spot throughout to conclude the first ever weekend of BRDC Formula 4 racing as the championship leader. He also set the fastest lap of the race into the bargain and was presented with his trophy by FIA Formula One World Championship star Mark Webber.
Both Moore and Mayer suffered from contact in the concluding race, the former collected by a rival while dicing at the tail of the top 10 on lap two and forced to retire to the pits. Mayer, who had climbed as high as 12th place halfway through, unfortunately sustained front wing damage and had to settle for 15th position at the chequered flag.
“Unfortunately we picked up a bit of damage in race three with Struan and Rahul’s cars, Struan was just a victim of another driver trying a move which wasn’t on the cards while Rahul was unlucky to pick up front wing damage which spoiled an otherwise excellent drive for him”, added Ollerenshaw.
“All in all it’s been an exceptional weekend, for Seb to be leading the championship is just the start we wanted to make. Rahul and Struan have both done superbly well, Rahul had only had one day in the car before coming to Silverstone and Struan only had a day and a half. In fact, Seb only had a couple of days so we’ve probably got the three drivers who had the least amount of testing.”
Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent will host the second event of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship season on 18th/19th May. Before then, Hillspeed’s Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup and Ginetta Junior squads will be racing at Thruxton in Hampshire next weekend, 4th/5th May, and its Protyre Formula Renault Championship team will be in action on 11th/12th May at Snetterton 200 Circuit in Norfolk.
Provisional 2013 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd3)
1st Seb Morris, 70pts; 10th Struan Moore, 27pts; 16th Rahul Raj Mayer, 16pts