As the 2019 F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost descended upon Oulton Park for its final race before the month-long summer break, Zane Maloney was once again insurmountable as he secured yet another double pole position and became the first driver this year to win all three races inside a weekend.
Qualifying day was set fair with the backdrop of the hottest day of the year so far which can lead to problems of its own for racing cars. Fortunately though, no such issues occurred for the 14-strong field of motorsport’s next generation of racing drivers.
Josh Skelton took control of the early turns of the session in his JHR Developments machine but Maloney had another tenth and a half stowed away to blitz the opposition come the end of the session, meaning his fastest two laps were enough to land the Barbadian with double pole position.
Skelton secured second on the grid for both races one and three whilst Arden‘s Bart Horsten and Maloney’s Carlin team-mate Joe Turney were separated by just over a hundredth of a second for third and fourth respectively.
Teams Cup leaders Double R Racing struggled for pace in Friday practice and were still off the mark on Saturday morning with Sebastian Alvarez their best-placed driver in fifth ahead of JHR’s Carter Williams in sixth.
Alvarez’s team-mate and title-contender, Louis Foster, could only manage seventh on the grid for race one but his second fastest lap was enough to secure a fifth-place spot for race three.
Eighth fastest was Luke Browning, the sole Richardson Racing entry putting on a show for his home crowd. Behind him were the remaining two Arden cars of Alex Connor and Tommy Foster respectively.
Roberto Faria claimed 11th spot in his Fortec car for race one, three tenths clear of championship newcomer Alex Walker in the third JHR machine in 12th.
The final row on the grid was occupied by Mariano Martinez in the second Fortec and Reema Juffali in the final Double R entry.
The opening race of the weekend beckoned and in a fashion most are becoming accustomed to, Maloney made an excellent launch off the line to maintain a lead he would never relinquish.
As the Barbadian posted fastest lap after fastest lap, a scrap for second place behind saw Horsten challenge Skelton in the opening few tours of the Cheshire circuit and again towards the latter stages of the race but Skelton had just enough pace to keep ahead at the checkered flag.
Turney celebrated his 18th birthday with a fourth place finish and 12 points to boot with Alvarez leading home Louis Foster in fifth and sixth respectively.
Seventh on the road went to Williams in his #54 JHR with Tommy Foster a further five seconds behind in eighth, just ahead of Roberto Faria in ninth.
Walker took the sole remaining point on his debut in the series, keeping himself out of trouble and able to capitalise on the misfortune suffered by those around him.
Juffali claimed 11th place which was ultimately just ahead of Martinez who accrued a five-second time penalty for a false start.
There were two non-classified runners; Browning was pitched into the gravel trap owing to a mechanical failure which halted his charge in spectacular fashion and Connor who lost drive with just four laps to go.
The second race of the weekend was one of high drama. Louis Foster took reverse-grid pole and pulled away nicely from the rest of the field, bridging a 2.5 second lead over his rivals.
They were busy squabbling amongst themselves; Turney, Alvarez and Horsten all entered the right-hander of turn one three abreast and, with space a luxury, contact was inevitable. The Carlin of Turney bounced his way over the kerbs and emerged relatively unscathed but Horsten wound up scraping the barriers and Alvarez was relegated to the very back of the field.
All that excitement meant Maloney, who started from the third row of the grid in sixth, was able to carve his way through the chaos and up to third spot just behind the JHR of Williams. Turney slotted back nicely into fourth behind his team-mate.
Luck would then deal race leader Foster a very cruel hand indeed as a gearbox issue saw the 15-year-old drop back into the jaws of the chasing pack behind him. He was able to recover with the fault eventually sorting itself out but the damage was done as both Carlin cars and Williams were able to scythe their way past.
Behind the podium trio, Tommy Foster also capitalised on the misfortune for his namesake Louis to rise from eighth on the grid to fourth at race end, leading a spectacular four-car battle all the way down to seventh separated by just 1.2 seconds.
Browning made a spectacular comeback from 13th on the grid to snatch fifth ahead Louis Foster, who managed to hold on and take sixth as a small form of damage limitation. Behind them was Alex Connor in seventh, less than two tenths further back.
Both Horsten and Alvarez still saw the checkered flag despite their early dramas, claiming eighth and ninth respectively.
Martinez took the final points-paying position in 10th, ahead of his Fortec team-mate Faria.
Juffali occupied 12th spot, elevated by a late trip to the pitlane for newcomer Alex Walker, who eventually finished 13th and a lap down.
Skelton suffered an issue pre-race and was unable to take the start.
Still basking in the sunshine on Sunday afternoon, the Oulton Park track played host to the final race of the weekend.
Maloney made another strong start but was pressured early on by Skelton, out for justice after missing race two.
Drama is never far away though and a safety car intervention was required after a first lap scuffle with Louis Foster saw Turney close his weekend out in the barriers as well as Faria and Tommy Foster also ending up in the wall and out of the race further behind.
With the restart looming, Maloney again managed Skelton behind – who began to drop back during the middle stages of the race before ramping up the speed of his JHR to chase the title leader down, crossing the line only half a second behind on his way to his second podium of the weekend.
Alvarez kept his nose clean and take the final podium spot after losing touch with the top two after the safety car restart.
Then came an amazing five-car battle for fourth place. A battle eventually topped by Browning just a mere two thousandths ahead of Louis Foster in fifth with the pair making slight contact as they went about their business.
Connor then crossed the line a further two tenths behind in sixth, edging out team-mate Horsten after also making contact with one another.
Walker rounded off his debut British F4 weekend with a well-deserved eighth place with Martinez three seconds behind to claim ninth, less than a second ahead of Juffali who netted the final point in tenth.
Williams was forced off the circuit on the opening lap, dropping the American from sixth on the grid to 11th at race end whilst Tommy Foster was last of the classified finishers in 12th.
The two retirements came from Turney and Faria after their incidents during the opening exchanges.
Maloney’s indomitable run of form means he’s now won a record-breaking seven races on the bounce, a streak started at Thruxton over a month ago. Alongside that, he also netted the £10,000 Ford Triple Crown award for winning all three races of the weekend.
The icing on his cake is he now leads the drivers championship by a whopping 55 points from Louis Foster as the series enjoys a well-earned break before it all gets underway once more at Snetterton, on the 3-4 August.