HILLSPEED'S GRAND PRIX TRACK ROOKIES IMPRESS AT BRANDS HATCH
Top Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship team Hillspeed enjoyed a very positive outing at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit over the weekend, 1st/2nd August, with first year racers Al Faisal Al Zubair and Ameya Vaidyanathan each impressing on their respective maiden outings at the 2.43-mile track.
Omani youngster Al Zubair produced yet another strong showing for the Hathersage squad during rounds 13, 14 and 15 with a best finish of ninth – equaling his previous season best – in the second contest on Sunday morning.
Indian team-mate Vaidyanathan also achieved his highest finish of the weekend in race two, taking 12th position after gaining no less than seven places from an enforced final row starting slot – the result of an unfortunate non-finish in Saturday’s contest after a tangle with Jack Bartholomew.
“Faisal had never been to Brands Hatch at all until the test on Friday morning where he had four 30 minute sessions on the shorter Indy track and then only a 20 minute session on the GP”, commented Hillspeed team boss Richard Ollerenshaw, “Every session he improved, he didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend and considering his lack of experience on such a tough track, he did a fantastic job.
“With the exception of one day in the car at Brands back in January, Ameya had zero experience of the track and produced a very good showing. He’s not at all sporadic, he’s consistent and is learning his trade well step-by-step. It’s unfortunate where the tangle with Bartholomew was concerned, it could have put a different outlook on the weekend, but it’s still been another strong showing.”
Qualifying 12th fastest for round 13, Vaidyanathan certainly had the prospect of a strong top 10 finish in his sights in race one but the aforementioned opening lap contact ruled him out of the race and resulted in the deployment of the Safety Car.
Team-mate Al Zubair, from 17th on the grid at the beginning, held 15th position at the re-start and he instantly set about challenging Zubair Hoque. Before the end of the lap, Hoque pitted and so Al Zubair moved into 14th place where he remained into the final tour.
Closing to within 0.8 seconds of James Reveler as the last lap board was shown, the Hillspeed racer was determined to gain another place before the chequered flag and after getting excellent drive out of Clearways and Clark Curve on the run to the line he managed to edge alongside Reveler and pip him by just 0.070 seconds.
In round 14 on Sunday morning, Vaidyanathan delivered a stunning first lap to gain six places as he carved his way through from 19th on the grid into 13th position. Due to a car off at Paddock Hill Bend on the opening tour, the Safety Car was deployed in time for lap two and at the restart a couple of laps later the Indian racer pressured for 12th spot.
Although edged back to 14th position on lap 10, the Hillspeed driver remained in contention with the two cars immediately ahead as a tight battle raged. Then, on the last lap at the first corner, a two car tangle elevated Vaidyanathan into the top 12.
Teenager Al Zubair began the contest in 13th place and moved up into the top 10 prior to the emergence of the Safety Car. As a result of a 10 second jump-start penalty for race leader Chris Mealin, Al Zubair moved into ninth on corrected times into lap six while also pushing hard to try and pass Sisa Ngebulana for eighth on track.
On lap nine, Mealin moved back ahead on the timing screens so Al Zubair was 10th once more and he was also passed for position on track to slip down to 11th place. Profiting from the last lap drama at Paddock Hill Bend, though, Al Zubair gained two positions to end the race a very creditable ninth.
From 13th on the grid for round 15, Vaidyanathan moved up two places on the first lap and set about trying to break into the closely packed top 10 but an unfortunate 10 second time penalty, after officials adjudged him to have made a jump-start, resulted in an eventual finish of 14th spot.
Team-mate Al Zubair impressed again with a great drive from 17th on the grid into the top 12, moving into 16th on lap one and making good progress during the early laps. Into 13th place by lap six, the Hillspeed youngster moved into the top 12 with five laps to go where he stayed to the flag.
“Both drivers have a lot of potential and it’ll be very interesting to see how they get on at Snetterton next time out, a circuit they’ve been to and have experience of”, added Ollerenshaw, “All in all, they both delivered good races this weekend and I’m very pleased with the level of performance.”
Next on the Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship schedule is a return to Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk three weeks from now, over the weekend 22nd/23rd August, for rounds 16, 17 and 18.
Provisional 2015 Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship Driver Standings (after Rd15):
16th Al Faisal Al Zubair, 113pts; 17th Ameya Vaidyanathan, 111pts; 18th Sebastian Lanzetti, 89pts