It was Ayrton Simmons who claimed the first pole position of the year in the F4 British Championship. It was a tight affair around the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, with Simmons’ time of 46.494 seconds only 0.031 ahead of his nearest rival.
Entering the year with almost two years in the championship, Simmons was the most experienced man on the grid, with positive pre-season pace proving that he was still a title contender. Qualifying took place in mixed conditions with JHR Developments sending Simmons out in time to make the most of the drying track. With the exception of Jamie Sharp, the entire field was eventually split by a single second.
As the lights went green on a new season, it was the Double R Racing team that made the first impact. Kiern Jewiss topped the session during the early stages. Both of his teammates would join him at the top with Paavo Tonteri catching up with Jewiss’ time in the closing stages.
Many of the drivers, including Seb Priaulx had remained out on the wet tyres in the early stages, only to be forced to switch to slicks towards the end. Simmons had been one of the first to make the switch and along with Dennis Hauger found himself battling at the front.
With a few minutes left to run, Jewiss was in a four-way battle for pole with Simmons, Hauger and teammate Tonteri. Sadly for the Ginetta Junior Rookie champion, it would be Simmons who secured his place at the top with two late laps ensuring the JHR driver took a double pole.
Jewiss settled for second for race one ahead of Hauger, though the two will be swapped for race three. Tonteri eventually settled for fourth despite being just 0.065 seconds behind the leader.
Fifth would go to Priaulx with Friday pace setter Johnathan Hoggard in sixth. Rounding out the top eight would be the TRS Arden boys of Jack Doohan and Patrik Pasma.
“This is my first pole in a single-seater and it feels amazing,” said Simmons. “It was tricky on circuit too with the mixed conditions so that makes it extra special. I had to be spot on at every single corner and I was! Jewiss was in front of me so I had a good reference, but I saw him squeeze in another lap at the very end so I was worried he might go faster.”