VERNON REJOINS HILLSPEED FOR F4 WINTER SERIES DEBUT
Highly rated British driver Kieran Vernon will make a surprise debut in the BRDC Formula 4 Winter Series finale at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit next weekend, 23rd/24th November, after concluding a deal with race winning squad Hillspeed to join Jake Cook and Dimitris Papanastasiou.
Having spent over a year on the racing sidelines due to financial constraints, the 23-year-old from West Chiltington will get his first taste of Formula 4 machinery with the Hathersage team next week during the build-up to the last four races of the Winter Series.
Vernon, of course, has strong links with Hillspeed having competed with the team in the Protyre Formula Renault Championship in 2012. Despite missing the first three rounds of the campaign, the West Sussex racer still managed to end the season fifth in the title chase with four podiums.
“We’re delighted to be able to continue our relationship with Keiran”, said Hillspeed’s Richard Ollerenshaw, “The intention, if the budget could have been found, was for him to have contested the main Formula 4 season this year but things just didn’t come together.
“Although he’s been away from racing for a year and the F4 car is completely new to him, we’re confident he’ll be on the pace very quickly. Kieran is a quality driver, as he’s proven in every category he’s raced, and if all goes to plan we’d love to get a deal together with him for F4 in 2014.”
Although budgetary issues haven’t helped Vernon’s career progress, he is undoubtedly one of the UK’s top young motor racing talents and has a wide spread of experience. Graduating from karts to cars in 2007, he went on to win the Ginetta G20 Winter Series title the following year before making the move into single-seaters in Formula Ford where he was Scholarship Vice-Champion in 2009.
Finishing fourth overall in Formula Palmer Audi in 2010, racing to three victories along the way, he then entered – and won – that year’s Porsche Carrera Cup GB Scholarship but was unable to take-up the prize drive the following season due to the familiar story of budget difficulties.
Provided with an opportunity to debut in Porsche Carrera Cup GB part-way through 2011 by double champion Tim Harvey, after he elected to vacate his seat in the series, Vernon achieved a best finish of fifth place from the 12 rounds he contested. He also dovetailed that programme with eight races in Protyre Formula Renault, winning one of them and claiming two other podiums.
Although he will be very much leaping in at the deep end next weekend at Brands Hatch, Vernon is confident of getting up to speed quickly and is looking forward to renewing his partnership with the Hillspeed squad.
“The opportunity came up and I have a good relationship with the team, having raced with them in Formula Renault BARC in 2012”, he commented, “I haven’t raced this year so I’m really looking forward to getting back out in a car again.
“It’s a new car for me, I’ve never driven with a paddle shift gearbox before, so I’m excited to get out and learn it in testing. Hillspeed will put out a good car, as they always do. I’m confident in myself and sure we can target four strong results next weekend – hopefully we can get on the podium.”
Going into the second event of the BRDC Formula 4 Winter Series, Hillspeed is in a fantastic position to challenge for the championship title with Rotherham’s Jake Cook second in the driver standings following the first four rounds – a mere two points shy of the top of the table. London-based Greek driver Dimitris Papanastasiou, meanwhile, is eighth in the championship ahead of Brands Hatch.
Round five qualifying will take place at 09.00 next Saturday, 23rd November, with the opening race set to start at 11.20 and round six scheduled to follow at 14.25. On Sunday, 24th November, second qualifying will begin at 09.20 with rounds seven and eight following at 11.40 and 14.20 respectively.
2013 BRDC Formula 4 Winter Series Standings (after Rd4):
2nd Jake Cook, 91pts; 8th Dimitris Papanastasiou, 40pts