Will Palmer and Sennan Fielding took their first victories in the BRDC Formula 4 Championship during Rounds 5 and 6 of the 2013 Winter Championship at Brands Hatch.
The two Ginetta Junior Championship graduates shared the spoils on the opening day of action in Kent, while chief championship rivals Matthew Graham and Jake Cook both took a pair of top four finishes to sit five points apart heading into the final day.
In the morning qualifying session, HHC Motorsport’s Palmer stunned his more experienced single-seater rivals to take pole position for the opening race, with Graham only 0.069 seconds adrift to join him on the front row.
The duo ran side-by-side into Paddock Hill Bend at the start of the 25-lap encounter, with Palmer just maintaining his advantage from the Douglas Motorsport racer. Cook made a good start to launch past Pietro Fittipaldi for third, the Brazilian going on to spin down the order at Druids.
Palmer came under consistent pressure from Graham over the early stages, with his lead reaching a height of just one second by the end of lap six, though it was slashed when the safety car was introduced to recover Malgosia Rdest’s stranded car from Clearways.
The top four ran in formation for the first few laps after the restart, with Fielding joining the action, however a developing battle for second between Graham and Cook soon allowed Palmer to begin to edge clear.
The 16 year old, who only took his maiden car-racing win in the Ginetta’s ten weeks ago, went on to take victory by 1.5 seconds in only his fifth BRDC F4 race.
Graham held off the challenge of Cook to take second, extending his lead at the top of the points standings in the process, with Fielding a close fourth after setting the fastest lap of the race, giving him pole for race two.
F4 newcomer Kieran Vernon enjoyed a solid run to fifth on his category debut, while an impressive recovery drive from Fittipaldi saw him fight back to sixth ahead of Matteo Ferrer and Falco Wauer.
A great start to race two from pole saw Fielding lead the field into Paddock Hill Bend, with fellow front-row starter Vernon slotting into second. As a slow-starting Palmer slipped back to sixth, Graham briefly held third before slipping behind Cook.
Fielding quickly established himself as the class of the field, setting fastest lap after fastest lap en-route to a comfortable lights-to-flag victory, crossing the finishing line 3.4 seconds clear of his closest rival to move up to third in the championship standings.
Vernon had his Hillspeed team-mate Cook in his mirrors throughout the 25-lap encounter, but held firm to take a podium finish in just his second F4 race. Cook held off Graham for third, trimming some points from the latter’s points lead in the process.
Fittipaldi enjoyed a relatively comfortable run to fifth ahead of Palmer and Ferrer, while Rdest bounced back from her first race dramas to take a top eight finish. Wauer was the driver in the wars this time around meanwhile, finishing his race in the Clearways gravel on the opening lap to effectively end his championship chances.
Provisional 2013 BRDC Formula 4 Winter Championship Standings (After Rd. 6 of 8):
1. Matthew Graham, Douglas Motorsport – 136pts
2. Jake Cook, Hillspeed – 131pts
3. Sennan Fielding, HHC Motorsport – 127pts
4. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport – 115pts
5. Falco Wauer, Enigma Motorsport – 104pts
6. Pietro Fittipaldi, MGR Motorsport – 97pts