eSportsF4 British Championship

Lulham and Browning dominate opening rounds of inaugural British F4 iRacing Trophy

4 Mins read
Credit: Alex Wood

The inaugural two rounds of the 2020 British F4 iRacing Trophy lived up to all expectations, with previous winners and champions racing current British F4 stars as well as some up and coming youngsters in the opening meeting at Donington Park. The 14-race season will take place over seven race meetings every Monday evening at some fantastic venues like Donington, Brands Hatch and Silverstone amongst others. The winning driver of the virtual championship will receive free entry into an F4 race when real racing continues later this year, so the incentive is there to perform well.

But it was Fortec Motorsport’s Chris Lulham and Luke Browning that took the opening victories after winning both races comfortably amidst some action packed midfield and podium battles.

Qualifying

It was in fact Luke Browning that secured the first pole position for the inaugural’s British F4 iRacing Trophy after the 10-minute session with a time of 1:00.361, closely followed by Chris Lulham just .016 seconds adrift and 2020 British F4 debutant Roman Bilinksi rounding out the top three with a time less than five hundredths adrift of pole sitter Browning. The top 16 was separated by just .863 seconds in an extremely close session.

Qualifying Classification (Top 10)

  1. Luke Browning 1:00.361
  2. Chris Lulham + 0.016
  3. Roman Bilinski + 0.046
  4. Zak O’Sullivan + 0.115
  5. Abbi Pulling + 0.276
  6. Nicolas Varrone + 0.285
  7. Louis Foster + 0.457
  8. Zane Maloney + 0.489
  9. Rafael Martins + 0.522
  10. Johnathan Hoggard + 0.585

Race 1

As for the opening race itself, it was a clean getaway for the Fortec team mates of Luke Browning and Chris Lulham, and the field made it safely through redgate corner on lap one except for Arden’s Frederick Lubin who made some contact further down the pack, demoting him to the garage early on. Browning’s stronghold of the lead didn’t last long however, as Lulham made a move before the rise into coppice corner on the opening lap.

Credit: Alex Wood

Abbi Pulling had an eventful opening to the race as she made fantastic progress on the opening lap, running inside the top five before spinning out on the second lap after contact with Nico Varrone. Varrone would later receive a drive-through penalty for the incident. Regular iRacing player Zak O’Sullivan was making waves and passed Roman Bilinski for third place as Browning and Lulham made a break for it out front.

Many drivers fell foul to disqualifications or game technical difficulties early on, and Maloney, Mansell, Skelton, Lubin, Kremers and Martins were out of the race, leaving just 14 runners on track with after the opening five minutes of the race. Second place driver Luke Browning would fall down to fourth place with about eight minutes to go after a small mistake getting two wheels on the edge of the track at coppice corner, allowing team mate Chris Lulham to build a comfortable six second lead.

And that was a lead he wouldn’t surrender, as Chris Fulham that took a resounding victory, with Zak O’Sullivan coming home in second with Arden’s Roman Bilinski right on his gearbox to take the final podium spot. The most disappointed driver will most likely have been Luke Browning, who finished in fourth place after starting on pole position but a mistake cost the 18-year old podium honours. The most notable drives came from Johnathan Hoggard who was the biggest genuine mover finishing fifth after starting tenth, and Abbi Pulling recovering well from an early spin to cross the line in a fantastic sixth place.

Race 1 Classification (Top 10)

  1. Chris Lulham
  2. Zak O’Sullivan + 5.815
  3. Roman Bilinski + 6.063
  4. Luke Browning + 6.991
  5. Johnathan Hoggard + 15.832
  6. Abbi Pulling + 29.743
  7. James Hedley + 40.601
  8. Nicolas Varrane + 55.805
  9. Ollie Bearman + 1 Lap
  10. Mikkel Grundtvig + 1 Lap

Race 2

With the top 12 finishers in race one being reversed for the second race of the evening, it was Kiern Jewiss that took pole position, with Carlin new boy Matias Zagazeta alongside him on the front row – the British F4 scholarship runner-up looking to stake his claim in this championship. Race one winner Chris Lulham started in eleventh place however due to Mikkel Grundtvig leaving the game after the initial race due to a technical difficulty.

As for the start, Jewiss got a fantastic launch and led Ollie Bearman into turn one after relegating slow stating Zagazeta to third. The midfield was bunched up close through the craner curves on the opening lap and there was a massive incident involving Nico Varrone, front row starter Matias Zagazeta and Rafael Martins. Race one winner Chris Lulham was also caught up in the melee but was able to continue.

So after a chaotic opening lap, it was Jewiss that was leading from Ollie Bearman and 2019 Ginetta Junior champion James Hedley in third before he himself would spin at redgate corner, relegating him to the back. This would promote race one pole sitter Luke Browning into third place and then eventually second place as he passed Bearman a few laps later.

Credit: Alex Wood

2019 British F4 champion Zane Maloney was having a better race however, running in fifth place after starting 15th and avoiding the early drama. Battle was commencing for the lead, with Jewiss and Browning switching places all the way through the craner curves before contact was made at the top of the circuit, leaving Browning to take a deserved lead. At the halfway point we would also lose race one star Johnathan Hoggard after a spin at the final chicane.

The battle for the final podium place was where the action was, with 14-year old Ollie Bearman doing a very impressive job of holding off 2019 Ginetta Junior runner-up Zak O’Sullivan and Euroformula graduate Zane Maloney until Bearman lost the place to O’Sullivan after continued pressure, but it was Maloney that made an error behind, driving across the grass and almost collecting the drivers ahead in what was a rather dangerous but exciting move nonetheless.

At at the line however, it was Luke Browning that took victory and avenged his mistake in round one to take the maximum 25 points. Kiern Jewiss came home in second place with Zak O’Sullivan taking another podium to mark a very impressive opening race day for this inaugural iRacing championship.

Race 2 Classification (Top 10)

  1. Luke Browning
  2. Kiern Jewiss + 4.424
  3. Zak O’Sullivan + 8.506
  4. Ollie Bearman + 11.047
  5. Zane Maloney + 12.018
  6. Sebastian Priaulx + 12.920
  7. Marijn Kremers + 15.316
  8. Josh Skelton + 26.527
  9. Frederick Lubin + 27.722
  10. Chris Lulham + 42.335

Rounds 3 & 4 will take next place next Monday evening at 7:30pm at Brand Hatch (Indy), with the qualifying and race being streamed live on the British F4 Youtube channel as well as the Twitch streaming platform.

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British Formula 4 correspondent and occasional F1 reporter for The Checkered Flag.
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