SENSATIONAL DOUBLE PODIUM FOR HILLSPEED AND VAIDYANATHAN AT DONINGTON PARK
Motor racing rookie Ameya Vaidyanathan produced his most successful outing of the 2015 season so far during the penultimate event of the Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship at Donington Park over the weekend, 12th/13th September, with two superb podium results for leading squad Hillspeed.
Continuing his impressive development in his very first year of racing at any level, the 18-year-old scorched to a fantastic third place finish in round 19 on Saturday afternoon at the Hathersage team’s ‘home’ venue and went on to add another top three result in round 20 on Sunday.
Team-mate Hernan Fallas, meanwhile, almost made it a Hillspeed podium in all three contests during the final race on Sunday afternoon – which was screened live on Motors TV – but had to settle for a, nonetheless excellent, career-best top four result just a couple of seconds shy.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend for both Ameya and Hernan, we’re absolutely delighted”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “Ameya has made huge improvements in his first year and to take away two more podiums really is a fantastic effort from him, and shows there is so much more to come.
“Obviously, it’s only Hernan’s second weekend with the team but he was quick from testing on Thursday and we knew he had the pace to run near the front. It’s just unfortunate qualifying and race one didn’t work out for him, but race three was fantastic and fourth was a superb result.”
Vaidyanathan delivered a season best performance in a very tricky qualifying session on Saturday morning to secure a superb fifth on the grid for race one. Following overnight rain, the track surface was very slippery but all competitors opted for slick tyres on the drying track and Vaidyanathan was one of those to deliver a star showing while team-mate Fallas had to settle for 14th fastest.
At the beginning of race one, Vaidyanathan exploited a tricky start for Will Palmer to move into fourth out of Redgate and although elbowed back to sixth on lap two he fought back impressively. Taking fifth position a lap later, as a result of Tom Jackson dropping down the order, the Hillspeed driver closed up behind the group ahead and ran within just a few tenths of Chris Mealin.
With nothing to separate third to fifth, the final few laps were very keenly contested and on the penultimate tour Vaidyanathan pounced. When Omar Ismail ran wide, Vaidyanathan sliced past and also usurped Mealin for third which he held to the flag to make a deserved return to the podium.
Fallas, after holding position initially, moved into 13th place on lap two and then climbed into the top 12 on the seventh tour. Frustratingly though, on lap nine, he had to visit the pits after sustaining damage and despite great work from the team he re-joined the race a lap down. Eventually finishing in 16th position, post-race he was elevated into 15th after a rival was excluded.
With a third row start for round 20 on Sunday morning, Vaidyanathan again aimed to be a challenger in the lead pack and he delivered on his clear promise with his second podium of the weekend after another impressively competitive drive.
Although aided by time penalties for pole position starter Jordan Albert and fellow front-runner Ismail, Vaidyanathan raced very well indeed. Edged back to seventh on lap one, the Indian rookie moved into the top six on corrected times when Albert’s penalty was applied on lap three and then took fifth overall into lap four following an excursion for Mealin.
When Ismail’s penalty was applied, Vaidyanathan was classified fourth on corrected times and on the final lap he made sure of more Donington Park silverware after passing Ciaran Haggerty to take a richly deserved third place, the third podium of his maiden campaign.
Fallas was due to begin the race from 15th on the grid but he dived into the pits at the end of the green flag formation lap with an eye on enjoying some clear track from a pit-lane start, enabling him to push for one of the fastest lap times.
With the grid for the third contest set from each driver’s best race lap time from the opening two races on any given weekend, Fallas ensured a good starting slot for round 21 by securing third on the grid with a time of 1m30.428 seconds. He also ended the race in 17th position.
Determined to make the second row starting slot count in the televised race, the Argentinean was edged back to fourth at the beginning but remained close behind Harri Newey in the fight for the podium, while also fending off close attention from behind. In a race punctuated by two Safety Car periods, Fallas held onto fourth under increasing pressure to post his best ever result in BRDC F4.
Vaidyanathan had a relatively quiet final race, slipping to seventh from sixth at the start and going on to end the contest in that position – albeit in the thick of a very tightly bunched back queuing up behind Fallas. At the flag he just managed to hold seventh by a mere 0.061 seconds.
Hillspeed’s third driver, Omani youngster Al Faisal Al Zubair, was absent from this weekend’s race meeting due to educational commitments at his new school in Switzerland. The podium finisher is due to be back behind the wheel of his BRDC F4 car during the season finale at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent a fortnight from now, over the weekend 26th/27th September.
Provisional 2015 Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship Standings (after Rd21):
11th Ameya Vaidyanathan, 187pts;
15th Al Faisal Al Zubair, 160pts;
19th Sebastian Lanzetti, 89pts;
20th Hernan Fallas, 84pts