Zane Maloney has found another gear as he blitzed the opposition at Croft last weekend to launch himself to the summit of the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost table.
The Carlin driver stormed to double pole position on Saturday morning on his way to winning both races to equalise 2017 F4 champion, Jamie Caroline‘s, record of four wins in a row.
The weekend wasn’t without disruption however, as Storm Hector battered its way across the UK and meant race stewards had no choice but to abandon race two after just one lap thanks to the worsening weather conditions.
Qualifying was a suitably speedy affair owing the recently-resurfaced 2.1 mile North Yorkshire track. Times tumbled during the test days a week prior and drivers continued to slash them as the Croft weekend progressed.
Maloney appeared commanding during the test and was the driver to watch come the start of qualifying. His fastest time of the session, a 1:19.547s, was a clear three tenths faster than anything his rivals could deliver and smashed the previous circuit lap record.
The Double R Racing duo of Louis Foster and Sebastian Alvarez had no answer to the Barbadian’s pace as they lined up an alternating second and third for races one and three respectively.
Arden‘s trio of Bart Horsten, Tommy Foster and Alex Connor sat line astern in fourth to sixth respectively, finding consistently solid pace to be best-enabled to challenge the title-fighters ahead of them.
Seventh place then went to Maloney’s team-mate Joe Turney ahead of JHR Development‘s Josh Skelton.
The sole Richardson Racing entry of Luke Browning occupied ninth place on both grids ahead of Skelton’s American team-mate Carter Williams.
Completing the grid were the two Fortecs of Roberto Faria and the third Double R machine of Reema Juffali.
Maloney aced his race start to pull a gap to the squabbling Double Rs behind him. Alvarez promptly defended his second place from team-mate and erstwhile title-leader Foster but that, in turn, gave Horsten all the incentive he needed to relieve Foster of the final podium spot.
Before long, the race was turned on its head for Alvarez after he received a five-second penalty for jumping the race start.
Behind the Mexican, a five-car tussle for third place was developing, with Horsten defending with all his might against Louis Foster, the two Ardens of Tommy Foster and Alex Connor and JHR frontman Skelton.
Skelton pushed on to try and claim fifth place, utilising Alvarez’s penalty but a string of qualifying laps from Alvarez left Skelton sixth after all – but with reverse-grid pole for the ill-fated second race later that afternoon.
Further back, a scintillating race-long battle developed between Faria, Turney and Browning with the trio trading places trading places up until the checkered flag.
Martinez, Williams and Juffali rounded out the field, on the fringes of the points with Juffali also receiving a penalty for a false start.
With race two having been aborted after just a single lap because of torrential rain, all attention turned to race three on Sunday afternoon.
Maloney once again started from pole owing to his second-fastest lap time from qualifying with the rest of the grid also relatively unchanged.
Another perfect getaway off the line, a topic of contention for the 15-year-old at Thruxton, and a similar safety car restart allowed him to bridge another gap to his title-rivals, with Foster claiming second place on the road.
Disaster struck for Alvarez however as he outbraked himself heading into turn one and skated off into the gravel trap, halting the Mexican in his tracks.
Where misfortune strikes for some, it’s often to the betterment of another; Bart Horsten rounded off a remarkable weekend to take his second podium finish of the weekend in third.
Turney made light work of progressing through the field to fourth place after starting in seventh, aided by the attrition ahead of him. The karting star very nearly snatched third place off Horsten at race end.
Fifth and sixth on the road went to the Ardens of Tommy Foster and Alex Connor respectively, with Browning and Williams close behind in seventh and eighth.
Both Fortec cars made the points with Martinez leading home Faria at the checkered flag.
That meant every car that took the flag also scored points, with the remaining three drivers retiring at various points during the race. They included the aforementioned Alvarez, Josh Skelton after he made contact with Faria and Reema Juffali who was unable to take the race start after an issue on the formation lap.
The weekend’s excitement means Maloney has toppled Louis Foster off the top of the championship standings and now holds a five-point advantage over his title rival whilst a dismal weekend for Alvarez puts him 33 points adrift.
Series organisers plan to rerun race two at a later event after the weather proved too unsafe to continue.
The championship will now head to Oulton Park next weekend.