MIXED WEEKEND OF RESULTS FOR HILLSPEED’S F4 TRIO AT BRANDS GP
Hillspeed’s three BRDC Formula 4 Championship racers, Gustavo Lima, Rahul Raj Mayer and Alfredo Zabalza, each experienced a series of highs and lows at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent over the weekend, 30th/31st August, during the sixth event of the 2014 season.
While Brazilian driver Lima did post a best result of ninth position in the opening encounter on Saturday afternoon, round 16, unfortunate incidents in the two other contests badly impacted his possible points haul.
“Gustavo was very unfortunate in race three, he was on for seventh after a good run and a fantastic start”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “He raced well, attacked and did everything right but after passing [Jordan] Albert he was trying to pass [Rodrigo] Fonseca coming down the dip to Hawthorn. As Albert tried to pass back on the outside with the tow, Gus backed out and lost the car.
“He would have got away with it but [William] Palmer had nowhere to go and hit the car, it was a big accident but thankfully everyone was OK. In race two he had some misfortune as well when taking to the grass to avoid contact, which resulted in the car overheating and the electronic systems putting the car into ‘limp home mode’. It’s a real shame as we are all very impressed by Gustavo’s attitude, determination and application throughout the weekend – he deserved much more.”
Mexican rookie Alfredo Zabalza, meanwhile, continued his impressive development with a top 10 finish in round 17 on Sunday morning while Malaysia’s Rahul Raj Mayer was unfortunate to just miss out on a top 10 visit, instead posting 11th place finishes in races one and three.
“We were delighted to see Alfredo back in the top 10, especially as it was his mum’s birthday and his parents were over from Mexico”, added Ollerenshaw, “It was a great present as this weekend was the first time she’s seen Alfredo race in cars. He performed well and the pace was there for more, there’s still a lot to learn but he’s making big strides.
“Rahul had a mixed weekend, it was disappointing he took himself out of race two into the gravel but race one was pretty strong and he could have potentially taken a top 10. If he can consistently be in and round the top 10 during the last few rounds, that’ll be good and Rahul should be happy with that.”
Lima was the fastest of the Hathersage squad’s trio in qualifying, posting the ninth fastest time on his final lap of the session to end up within 0.5 seconds of the second row of the grid for round 16. Mayer had to be satisfied with the 13th quickest time, while Zabalza was 17th fastest.
Holding ninth place for the entire 14-lap duration, Lima had a highly frustrating race bottled up behind a train of cars ahead and at the flag he was just 0.4 seconds behind Will Palmer, with George Russell sandwiching the Hillspeed car.
Mayer put together an impressive first few laps and climbed through the order from 13th position into the top 10 by lap eight. Although re-passed a lap later, the Malaysian remained competitive but had to settle for 11th position at the finish within just a second of Russell.
First year racer Zabalza gained three places on the opening lap to move into 14th place and although elbowed back on lap three, he quickly climbed back into 14th again. Running steadily, he ploughed on just inside the top 15 but on lap 10 he was elbowed down to 16th place where he stayed to the conclusion – just fending off Diego Menchaca by a mere 0.1 seconds at the line.
Starting race two from ninth place, Lima held station for the first couple of tours but on lap three at Graham Hill Bend, he had to take avoiding action across the outside of the turn and with his car’s radiators clogged with grass, the engine started to overheat. Slipping to 12th position, he remained there to the finish on lap 14.
Mayer began the second encounter from the sixth row of the grid in 11th place but his hopes were spoiled after being adjudged to have made a false start. The application of a 10 second time penalty dropped him to 16th position before an unfortunate excursion into the gravel on lap eight.
Team-mate Zabalza made a storming start to climb from 15th on the grid into 11th position and was inside the top 10 by lap three. Running very competitively in ninth place, the South American was elbowed back to 10th on lap eight but held position to the end despite serious pressure.
For the final race, Lima lined-up in 10th position on the grid and made good progress to climb into the top eight over the first couple of laps. Pressuring Jordan Albert for seventh as the race entered its closing stages, the Brazilian got a good run towards Hawthorn to pass his rival.
Albert, though, attempted to hit back on the outside and Lima opted to avoid the inevitable incident from the optimistic challenge. Lifting off the throttle to avoid contact, the unloading of the car unfortunately led to a spin and he was subsequently collected by William Palmer – resulting in non-finishes for both.
Mayer, from 13th on the grid, made his way into the top 12 early on before going on to conclude the race in 11th position, just a fraction shy of the top 10. Zabalza, meanwhile, claimed a 16th place result having fought back from 18th on the opening lap.
Rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship will take place three weeks from now on 20th/21st September at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit. Before then, the team’s Ginetta Junior squad will make a return to action at Rockingham near Corby next weekend, 6th/7th September.
Provisional 2014 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd18):
10th Gustavo Lima, 194pts; 12th Rahul Raj Mayer, 161pts; 18th Alfredo Zabalza, 68pts