SENSATIONAL DEBUT PODIUM FOR LANZETTI IN BRDC F4 AT OULTON PARK
Hillspeed’s Sebastian Lanzetti made a major impact on his competitive debut in the Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship at Oulton Park International Circuit over the weekend, securing a podium finish in his first race on UK soil.
During round one of the season at the Cheshire track on Saturday, 4th April, the dual South African and Italian national produced a superb performance to finish inside the top three, having already starred in qualifying with the third fastest time.
Omani rookie Al Faisal Al Zubair and Indian team-mate Ameya Vaidyanathan each enjoyed a strong opening weekend in BRDC F4 too. The highlight was a fantastic inter-team battle in the third and final race of the weekend on Easter Monday, 6th April, which Vaidyanathan shaded by 0.5 seconds.
Hathersage-based Hillspeed was also in action this weekend at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit for the first two rounds of the Ginetta Junior Championship. Running the returning Harry Mailer and Benjamin Wallace, the former took a best finish of 12th position in round two on Easter Sunday, 5th April, while Wallace posted a best of 18th position in race two on his first weekend at the Indy Circuit.
“It’s been a massive effort by the Hillspeed staff this weekend to run the F4 team at Oulton and the Ginettas down at Brands Hatch, everything ran faultlessly with the cars and we had 100% reliability at both tracks”, commented team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “Being rewarded with Sebastian’s podium in F4 was fantastic, the aim now is to continue and also grow that level of performance.”
Competitive start to BRDC F4 season for championship newcomers
After posting the third quickest lap in BRDC F4 qualifying, Lanzetti didn’t disappoint in the first race on Saturday with a great drive. Making a terrific getaway, he leapt into second place but was edged back to third on lap three before ending the race only 1.4 seconds adrift of the runner-up spot.
Al Zubair qualified a strong 12th fastest for round one, with Vaidyanathan 17th on the grid, and the Omani had a largely uneventful first race in the UK. Slipping to 14th off the start, he remained there throughout while Vaidyanathan managed to finish in 16th position having lost ground early on.
Following a day of inactivity at Oulton on Easter Sunday, racing resumed on Monday with Lanzetti starting round two in sixth place, Al Zubair lining-up in 14th position and Vaidyanathan two spots further behind in 16th place.
Following a spin for pole-starter Sisa Ngebulana on the green flag lap, the Hillspeed trio all gained a place before racing even began and Vaidyanathan made the best of the opening tour. Climbing into 13th position, the Indian ran well for the first half of the race but a spin on lap six led to retirement.
Lanzetti, although dropping back to sixth on lap one, again delivered super-impressive pace and traded fastest lap times early on. In a very close scrap just outside the podium placings, the BRDC F4 rookie held sixth until three laps from the finish when he was nudged back to seventh at Old Hall.
For Al Zubair, a consistent drive during the first half of the race meant he ran untroubled in 14th position but when team-mate Vaidyanathan retired he moved into 13th where he stayed to the finish on lap 12.
Round three wasn’t the end to the weekend Lanzetti hoped for with an unfortunate retirement on lap one at the first corner after contact. Team-mates Vaidyanathan and Al Zubair, however, served up a great scrap with a real see-saw battle featuring plenty of position changing.
At the flag on lap 12, Vaidyanathan just managed to see off his Omani team-mate by a mere 0.5 seconds while also crossing the line only 0.1 seconds behind Ngebulana who defended stoutly from the Hillspeed pair during the latter stages.
“Sebastian is a very talented young driver and to start the season with a podium shows we have a quick car and a quick driver”, said Ollerenshaw, “Ameya and Faisal loved their battle, it’s always a bit nerve-wracking when you’ve got two of your cars swapping places like that but it was a very clean race and they both did a very good job. There is a lot of potential there to work with.”
Mailer battles back strongly from tough qualifying at Brands
At Brands Hatch in Kent, Ginetta Junior Championship racer Harry Mailer and team-mate Benjamin Wallace both had a mountain to climb in the season-opening races after qualifying turned into a bit of a nightmare for the Hillspeed youngsters.
With an excursion early in the grid shoot-out preventing Mailer setting a time, he had to begin round one on Saturday from the rear of the grid in 25th place. Determined to make as much progress as possible, the 15-year-old quickly broke into the top 20 and eventually finished 17th.
Wallace, starting the race in 20th position, lost a little bit of ground initially after being elbowed back but he mounted a strong recovery from 25th to join his team-mate inside the top 20 in 19th spot, the duo each producing good pace.
Round two was halted as soon as it started due to a multi-car incident at Paddock Hill Bend. When the race got underway at the second time of asking, Mailer made good early progress by climbing into the top 15 from 17th on the grid as Wallace unfortunately went the other way, slipping to 23rd.
Mailer raced well and by lap six he was on the cusp of the top 10. On lap seven, though, a spin for Dave Wooder at Paddock Hill Bend meant Mailer had to take avoiding action but, although caught out, the Hillspeed driver recovered well and eventually finished the race on lap 11 in 12th position.
Wallace was just outside the top 20 when the lap seven incident occurred, but did gain two extra places over the final couple of laps to end the encounter in 18th place with some consistently strong driving in his Ginetta G40.
“Harry did a very good job in the races”, added Ollerenshaw, “He made a mistake in qualifying and he knows that, he should have been much higher up the grid, but he passed a lot of cars and raced well. This weekend was Ben’s first at Brands Hatch Indy, it was a big challenge and qualifying was very close. His true pace didn’t show but, again, he raced well and has clear potential.”
Hillspeed will be back in action a fortnight from now, over the weekend 18th/19th April, at the team’s ‘home’ track, Donington Park National Circuit, for rounds three and four of the Ginetta Junior season. The Duo BRDC F4 Championship will resume on 2nd/3rd May at Rockingham.