In an intense five-way fight for victory in the final F4 British Championship race at Thruxton, 16 year old Devlin DeFrancesco kept his cool, to lead home a Carlin dominated top four in a race that saw three drivers lead at various points.
Another topsy-turvy weekend for Jamie Caroline saw him start from the pit lane, just a few hours after he’d stepped on the podium. A loose nose cone saw his team forced to rebuild part of the car, demoting him from his grid spot.
Petru Florescu has had a habit of winning from pole position this year and he was hoping to repeat the feat after another clean start saw him keep the lead into the first complex. Behind him Sennan Fielding was up to second, splitting the Carlin quartet.
Fielding looked for the pass into the Chicane at the end of the first lap, but lost momentum, allowing the other Carlin’s of Max Fewtrell and DeFrancesco to attack. They made the move stick as Fielding was soon demoted to fourth, only three corners after almost taking the lead. DeFrancesco wasn’t content with content with settling though, using his momentum to get into second.
At the back, Caroline was making progress but was soon edged onto grass by a TRS Arden car. His front wing, which had already become loose, was now fully dislodged as he bounded over the grass. He’d later pit, retiring his car and putting an end to his day.
Behind the breakaway four, race two winner Luis Leeds was clearly holding up drivers as Alex Quinn went for the overtake into the final chicane. He ran wide though, losing him a place to Leeds and the advancing Zane Goddard.
It soon became clear that Florescu was struggling under pressure, going wide at chicane and dropping to fourth. The Romanian wouldn’t recover and a lap later made another mistake, spinning on the exit of the corner and dropping him down to the lower reaches of the points.
This left Fielding, who’d disposed of Fewtrell to chase DeFrancesco as a quietly advancing Billy Monger caught the leading group. Having made a strong start, Monger had got past James Pull on the lap before as the two joined the leading trio.
DeFrancesco was clearly feeling the same pressure as Florescu, jumping chicane and allowing Fielding into the lead. The Canadian wasn’t prepared to give it up though and used his Carlin’s superior straight line speed to take the lead back, one lap later. This left Fielding and Fewtrell to dice for a few more laps as DeFrancesco failed to build a gap.
The intense fight allowed Monger and Pull to catch the leaders. Fewtrell lost momentum out of the first corner and dropped to fifth, but got a place back on Pull soon afterwards.
Monger meanwhile, got into Fielding slipstream and calming slid into second with 2 minutes to go. With his tyres reaching their limit, Fielding lost momentum and dropped behind Fewtrell and Pull, settling for fifth.
All this had allowed DeFrancesco to break away and take victory a relatively large gap of 1.476 seconds over Monger, with Fewtrell rounding out the podium. Both Pull and Fielding will be disappointed to have not come away with more.
Goddard and Leeds ended their race long battle as they’d spend the majority of it; side by side. It was the Australian who edged his rival over the line as Quinn once again took the rookie victory after finishing eighth.
In the championship, Fielding now leads with 109 points, while Leeds sits two points behind. A double retirement for Fewtrell cost him dearly as he sits third with 104, while team-mates, Florescu and Pull complete the break away top five with 103 and 95 points respectively.