STRONG END TO BRDC FORMULA 4 SEASON FOR MAYER AND ZABALZA
Malaysian single-seater racer Rahul Maj Mayer and Mexican team-mate Alfredo Zabalza produced a strong conclusion to the 2014 BRDC Formula 4 Championship season for Hillspeed at Snetterton 300 Circuit over the weekend, 25th/26th October.
With a hat-trick of top 10 finishes from Mayer, including a best of seventh position during round 23 on Sunday morning, the second year BRDC F4 driver managed to consolidate 12th place in the standings – only 10 points shy of the coveted championship top 10.
Zabalza, meanwhile, ended his first year of car racing and maiden season outside Mexico and the Americas in 17th position in the championship. Although just missing out on a top 10 result in the first race of the final weekend, Zabalza achieved his aim in the second encounter before rounding off the event with 15th position in the last race of the campaign, round 24.
“All in all it’s not been a bad weekend”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “It would obviously have been nice to see Rahul end the season in the championship top 10, his pace definitely warranted that, but a few unfortunate races over the course of the year meant he missed out. Rahul did a good job this weekend, though, and performed well – particularly in the second race.
“Alfredo has been developing strongly during the second half of the year, his consistency and overall level of performance has improved. It’s always tough for a young driver fresh from karting to come into a championship as competitive as BRDC F4, even more so when that means you’re leaving home to race in a different country. Alfredo should be pleased and very satisfied with his development.”
Qualifying on Saturday morning certainly wasn’t straightforward, with clear skies but a wet track surface. Mayer was the fastest of the Hillspeed drivers with the sixth quickest time while Zabalza was 13th but, due to penalties for a couple of drivers, the Malaysian lined-up for race one in fifth place with Zabalza in 11th position.
Unfortunately slipping back to seventh and 14th respectively on the opening lap, the team-mates set about trying to recover their lost ground. While Zabalza was able to break into the top 10, Mayer went in the opposite direction and was elbowed back to 14th place but at the end of the second tour, the red flags were shown after a tangle involving Will Palmer and Jordan Albert at Montreal Hairpin.
When the race re-started, over a distance of just six laps, Zabalza lined-up in eighth position with Mayer 13th on the grid and it was the latter who enjoyed the best getaway, climbing into 10th on the first lap with Zabalza pushed back to 11th place. Bottled up behind the slower car of Connor Jupp throughout, Mayer frustratingly had to settle for 10th position just ahead of his Mexican team-mate.
Starting race two on Sunday in those positions, the finishing order from the opening encounter setting the grid, Mayer and Zabalza both made good starts with the Malaysian, in particular, putting together a terrific opening lap. Slicing his way through into the top eight, Mayer ran very competitive times and by lap four he was right on the tail of the group ahead.
Seeing off mid-race attention from Charlie Eastwood, Mayer then moved into seventh on lap six and finished the race on lap 10 within just 0.3 seconds of Gaetano Di Mauro. Zabalza, meanwhile, broke into the top 10 on the first lap and after fending off Michael Claessens he comfortably pulled away from the Dutchman to secure one of his best results of the season.
Beginning race three, the final round of the BRDC Formula 4 season, from seventh position, Mayer climbed into the top six after a strong run through the first couple of corners and latched onto the tail of the lead quintet for the first couple of laps as he sought to match his season’s best.
On the third tour, though, an excursion dropped him down to 13th position and he had to mount a determined recovery. Profiting from some close action ahead during the closing stages, Mayer delivered a sensational final lap. Grabbing two positions in almost as many corners to exit the infield in 11th position, he then pinched 10th place on the sprint to the line by a mere 0.082 seconds.
Zabalza, starting the final round from 16th on the grid, made a great start to rocket into 14th place and pressured Jordan Albert heavily before being nudged back to 15th spot on lap two. Moving back into 14th position on lap four, the Mexican then ran close in the wheeltracks of the recovering Mayer for a few laps before ultimately finishing in 15th place after an unfortunate moment on the final tour.
Final 2014 BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings:
12th Rahul Raj Mayer, 223pts; 14th Gustavo Lima, 194pts; 17th Alfredo Zabalza, 124pts