LIMA & MAYER CLIMB FORMULA 4 STANDINGS AT SNETTERTON 300
Single-seater racers Gustavo Lima and Rahul Raj Mayer gained some important ground in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship standings at Snetterton 300 Circuit over the weekend, 21st/22nd June, with the Hillspeed pairing each posting three consistently strong points finishes.
Brazilian star Lima, who claimed his maiden F4 victory for the Hathersage team during the previous event, moved into seventh in the title race – only seven points shy of the top six – with a best result of fourth position coming during round eight on Sunday morning at the Norfolk track.
Mayer, meanwhile, climbed into the coveted championship top 10 having recorded a season-best finish of seventh in the same encounter. Accruing more than 30 points across the three races, the Malaysian enjoyed his most successful weekend yet.
“It’s good to move up the championship with both drivers, that’s always the aim, although we are disappointed not to have been on the podium with Gustavo this weekend”, commented Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “He had two decent results in rounds seven and eight, although we were prevented from more in round nine through an inconsistent judicial decision.
“This week has been the first time Rahul has managed to come over to the UK to do some testing and that’s shown with a very strong weekend. He’s made a big step forward, taking a season-best finish is as much as you can ask – we’re very pleased with his performances.”
Beginning Saturday’s race from seventh on the grid, Lima quickly moved into the top six and initially pressured Sennan Fielding before the latter managed to get ahead of Nicolas Beer on lap three. Lima hoped to also make gains at the expense of the Danish driver, but the Hillspeed racer spent the rest of the 10-lap encounter bottled up behind the fifth placed runner.
Mayer delivered one of the most competitive races of his career and although unlucky to miss out on a coveted top 10 result, his pace and racecraft were mightily impressive. Having qualified 12th on the grid for round seven, the Malaysian gained a position on the opening lap and, not dissimilar to team-mate Lima, spent the race staring at the rear wing of a rival’s car for the duration.
Punching in quick and consistent lap times, Mayer pressurised reigning Protyre Formula Renault Champion Chris Middlehurst impressively and ran within just half a second of the experienced single-seater racer for most of the contest. Closing to within only 0.3 seconds by the start of the final lap, Mayer had to settle for 11th position in the end with pace good enough for the top five.
Lima started round eight on Sunday morning from third on the grid and held position through the first turn. Edged down to fourth prior to a Safety Car period, he climbed back into the top three at Montreal Hairpin following the re-start on lap five but was then dive-bombed for fourth at the Esses on lap seven, an attack which ultimately cost two places and dropped the Brazilian to fifth.
From the inside of the sixth row, Mayer again produced consistently strong race pace and managed to move into the top 10 prior to the Safety Car. Climbing into ninth on lap six, Mayer then moved into the top eight on the penultimate tour to secure his best result of the season. Post race, though, the Hillspeed drivers were each elevated a position when a rival was excluded from the results.
The second of Sunday’s races, round nine, proved frustrating for the Hillspeed team with Lima forced to take a three place grid penalty having been adjudged to have ‘failed to comply’ with a yellow flag zone on the last lap of the day’s earlier race.
Dropping the category race winner to 14th on the grid, he produced an impressive start to move into 11th place and strong pressure on Nicolas Beer then told on lap seven at Riches when Lima was able to slice past for 10th position – where he remained to the flag.
“This just shows how one decision off track can ruin a weekend and that’s something which needs to be reviewed, we seem to be spending more time in judicials than we do on the track”, commented a frustrated Ollerenshaw, “Penalties are fine when they’re consistent, this wasn’t and it had an impact on what Gustavo could have achieved in race three if he’d started where he should.”
Mayer again chalked-up a healthy haul of points with a top 12 result in race three of the weekend, having been elbowed back to 13th place on lap one. Following an early Safety Car period, the second year driver ran in a closely packed bunch of cars in the midfield and managed to move into 12th at the end of lap eight when Beer pitted after an excursion.
Mexican youngster Alfredo Zabalza wasn’t able to contest this weekend’s three Snetterton races due to schooling commitments back home in South America, but he will return to action for the next event at Oulton Park International Circuit in Cheshire on Friday, 18th July, and Saturday, 19th July.
Hillspeed will be back on track before then in the Ginetta Junior Championship which resumes this coming weekend, 28th/29th June, at Croft Circuit near Darlington in North Yorkshire.
Provisional 2014 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd9):
7th Gustavo Lima, 132pts; 10th Rahul Raj Mayer, 90pts; 22nd Alfredo Zabalza, 17pts