AL ZUBAIR AND VAIDYANATHAN BOTH CRACK SNETTERTON TOP 10 FOR HILLSPEED
Omani racing rookie Al Faisal Al Zubair equaled his best result of the Duo BRDC Formula 4 season on his return to action with Hillspeed at Snetterton over the weekend, 11th/12th July, with a well-deserved ninth place in round 10 backed-up with another top 10 finish in a rain-affected round 11.
On a strong and productive weekend for the Hathersage team, fellow first year racer Ameya Vaidyanathan also produced a series of impressive race drives and the Indian youngster delivered a best result of ninth in round 11 where the squad’s wise choice to run wet tyres paid dividends.
“I’m very pleased with the weekend as a whole”, said Hillspeed boss Richard Ollerenshaw, “Faisal had been out of the car for two months before this weekend, so to finish ninth, 10th and 14th in the three races was very good. Ameya was strong too and raced well, if it hadn’t been for one mistake in race one it could have been much more.
“Had Ameya and Faisal been second year drivers, then we would have gone with slicks for race two but it was the sensible decision for us to run wets and that proved the correct choice. Our set-up wasn’t aggressive on the tyres and that showed towards the end of the race with them both picking up pace relative to the others. All in all, I’m very satisfied with the outcome this weekend.”
Qualifying wasn’t quite as successful as Hillspeed wanted with Vaidyanathan the quickest of the team’s drivers with the 15th fastest time in the red flag affected session, while Al Zubair was 18th quickest on his return to action following time away recuperating from a leg injury.
Race one on Saturday afternoon started in dramatic fashion with a handful of incidents shaking up the order and Indian star Vaidyanathan took full advantage, sensationally storming through into the top five on lap one.
Maintaining the place until lap five, an excursion for the first year racer resulted in a bitterly disappointing slip back to 15th but he was able to recover to 13th before the chequered flag on lap 10. After the race, however, a time penalty for Sisa Ngebulana hoisted Vaidyanathan into the top 12.
Omani youngster Al Zubair faced a tough challenge from the ninth row of the grid but he performed very impressively to equal his previous season-best of ninth position, thanks to a consistently strong and competitive drive.
Gaining six places on lap one, after smartly picking his way through the incidents, Al Zubair took 11th on lap five and moved into the coveted top 10 a lap later where he stayed to the finish. As a result of Ngebulana’s penalty, though, the Hillspeed racer was eventually credited with a deserved ninth.
Round 11 on Sunday morning delivered a quandary for drivers and teams with earlier rain having left the circuit very slippery, although not totally wet. Hillspeed elected to run with treaded Pirelli tyres and it was the correct decision, with Vaidyanathan heading home team-mate Al Zubair in the top 10.
Lining up ninth on the grid, Al Zubair was edged back to 11th position on the opening lap behind his team-mate – who was up from 12th on the grid – but during the early laps a lot of position changing meant by the halfway point, Vaidyanathan was back to 12th and Al Zubair in 15th place.
The Indian racer moved back into the top 10 on lap eight and then claimed ninth on the final lap, while Al Zubair held 13th until the penultimate tour when he moved up into 11th before breaking into the top 10 on the last lap.
Round 12 took place in fully wet conditions with Vaidyanathan starting in eighth position and Al Zubair in 15th spot. On a busy opening lap, both Hillspeed drivers were edged back down the order, to 16th and 19th respectively, but they each raced strongly as they endeavoured to make amends.
Vaidyanathan climbed back into the top 14 on lap three before eventually finishing the 10 lap contest down in 16th, losing a couple of positions late on, while Al Zubair battled through to finish ahead of his team-mate in 14th position. Holding 17th at mid-distance, the Omani broke into the top 15 on the penultimate tour and completed a determined drive by taking 14th on the last lap.
Hillspeed now turns its attention to the start of the second half of the Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship season, which will commence on 1st/2nd August at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. Ahead of the fifth event of the season, the team is in discussion with several drivers regarding its now vacant third seat which was previously filled by Sebastian Lanzetti.
Team principal Richard Ollerenshaw is also keen to hear from any other drivers considering testing or racing in BRDC F4 – he can be contacted on:
Mob: +44 (0)7966 650400
Email: [email protected]
2015 Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship Driver Standings (after Rd12):
15th Ameya Vaidyanathan, 95pts; 16th Sebastian Lanzetti, 89pts;
18th Al Faisal Al Zubair, 84pts