BEST FINISHES OF SEASON SO FAR FOR MAYER AND ZABALZA AT DONINGTON
Malaysian driver Rahul Raj Mayer and Mexican team-mate Alfredo Zabalza saved the best for last at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 21st September, with their respective performances for Hillspeed during the final BRDC Formula 4 Championship race of the weekend.
With Mayer scorching to a fantastic top six result and Zabalza just a couple of places further back in eighth during round 21 of the season, the former concluded the penultimate event of the campaign 12th in the championship with first year rookie Zabalza in 17th position.
“It’s been a good weekend all told, especially race three where Rahul and Alfredo both raced very impressively”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “We know Rahul has got the pace to be in among the top half dozen on a regular basis, his top six finish was confirmation of that and hopefully he can build on it further for the final round at Snetterton next month.
“Alfredo is improving all of the time, he’s had a lot to learn in his first season in the championship and his first year in the UK but everything is coming together very nicely now. Eighth in race three was a fantastic result, we’re very pleased.”
Zabalza starred in race one of the weekend, round 19, with a determined drive which certainly warranted a top 10 finish. Beginning Saturday’s race from 15th position, the Mexican climbed two positions on the opening lap – one coming at the expense of team-mate Mayer who was forced to retire early on after his driveshaft failed – and was into 11th place on lap two.
Catching the next group of cars, Zabalza was on the verge of breaking into the top 10 at mid-distance but was instead shuffled back to 13th position on the seventh tour. Passing fellow South American Diego Borrelli three laps from the finish, Zabalza then held 12th position to the conclusion.
Determined to make amends for his disappointing lap one retirement in the opening race, Mayer had a lot of hard work to do in round 20 from the back of the grid in 18th position but after a superb first lap the Malaysian climbed into 14th position and he then moved into 13th place when Borrelli pitted following an excursion.
Mayer’s next target was team-mate Zabalza who started in 12th position and had climbed into 11th before being nudged back a place on lap five. Running nose-to-tail, the Hillspeed drivers circulated like that for a couple of laps before Mayer made a successful move to pass Zabalza on lap eight – the Mexican ultimately finishing in 14th position after losing another spot on the penultimate tour.
For the weekend’s final encounter, round 21, Mayer started on the fifth row in 10th position with Zabalza at the head of row seven in 13th place. Both drivers unfortunately lost a place on the first lap but as several front-runners came to grief the Hillspeed duo took their chances – Mayer moving into ninth on lap two and Zabalza back into the top 12.
Into lap four, Mayer had made his way into seventh with Zabalza a couple of places further back and they remained like that until the eighth tour when Mayer broke into the top six and Zabalza claimed eighth. Mayer remained in sixth to the finish to secure his best result of 2014, while Zabalza also celebrated a superb finish with eighth, having been as high as seventh three laps from the end.
“We’re certainly happy enough with the weekend, just a bit disappointed with the driveshaft problem in race one as the car has been faultless all season”, added Ollerenshaw, “It was a real shame for Rahul but he definitely hit back strongly in the two subsequent races.”
There is now a lengthy five week break in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship calendar ahead of the season finale, at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk, over the weekend, 25th/26th October.
Provisional 2014 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd21):
12th Rahul Raj Mayer, 187pts; 17th Alfredo Zabalza; 97pts