eSportsF4 British Championship

Chris Lulham wraps up British F4 iRacing Trophy after hectic finale at Brands Hatch

4 Mins read
Credit: Alex Wood

So here we had it, the final round of the inaugural British F4 iRacing Trophy. The championship has provided many thrills and spills, with some standout performances from many current and formers F4 drivers as they all searched for the honour of winning the championship as well as a coveted free entry to one real-world race in the 2020 British F4 championship round. But as we entered the final round at Brands Hatch, it was Fortec Motorsport’s Luke Browning and Chris Lulham that had a substantial advantage and would go head-to-head to see how would be take home the virtual crown.

Qualifying

Heading into the final qualifying session of the season, it was Luke Browning that seized the initiative and grabbed pole position with a 1:16.836, and Fortec team mate Johnathan Hoggard joining him on the front row. Championship leader and arch rival of Browning, Chris Lulham would start race one from sixth place with an uncharacteristically low profile qualifying session. Last week’s race two winner Rafael Martins would start in third place, further continuing the Brazilian’s solid end to the season for Arden. Zane Maloney qualified in seventh after missing the last round at Silverstone. The championship was finely poised.

Qualifying Classification (Top10)

  1. Luke Browning 1:16.836
  2. Johnathan Hoggard + 0.030
  3. Rafael Martins + 0.147
  4. Zak O’Sullivan + 0.366
  5. Nico Varrone + 0.370
  6. Chris Lulham + 0.373
  7. Zane Maloney + 0.520
  8. James Hedley + 0.606
  9. Abbi Pulling + 0.691
  10. Luke Whitehead + 0.723

Race 1

At the race start, it was Browning that got away cleanly and into an early lead. Contact ensued behind with Abbi Pulling and Christian Mansell on the exit of Paddock Hill bend, giving the JHR Development car some damage. Marijn Kremers was also wide at turn one, causing some damage. Chris Lulham appeared to have a solid start from sixth place, and even appeared to make some ground until some contact with Zak O’Sullivan halted his progress and dropped him down outside the top ten and giving the championship leader a lot of work to do. The safety car was brought out yet again after more contact on lap one.

Credit: Alex Wood

On the safety car restart, Browning led away well closely followed by Hoggard. But the battle for third place into Paddock Hill between Martins and Maloney ended in tears, with the carlin returnee sending Martins into a spin and destroying all four corners of the Arden car in a spectacular accident. Chris Lulham restarted down in fourteenth place and needed to make quick work of the cars head if he wanted any chance of retaining his title advantage going into the final race.

Lulham was carving his way up to the top 10 until he reached Nico Pino and contact with the Chilean sent the Fortec title hopeful into the barriers on the exit of Surtees corner. Lulham managed to carry on, but was down in 13th place and over half a lap off the leader Luke Browning. The contact didn’t stop there however, with Marijn Kremers seeking redemption after his turn one spin and challenging Frederick Lubin going under the bridge, and making contract with the Brit hopeful and causing even more damage to the Arden team.

The final five minutes were fairly quiet in comparison, and it was Luke Browning that took a vital victory to claim the 25 points and thus an 11-point advantage heading into the final race of the season. Chris Lulham finished outside the points after a bad race and sacrificed his championship advantage. However, the reverse grid should benefit Lulham, with Browning starting somewhere near the rear of the field for race two. Johnathan Hoggard finished second, with Nico Varrone snatching the final podium spot from Zane Maloney.

Credit: Alex Wood

Race 1 Classification (Top 10)

  1. Luke Browning
  2. Johnathan Hoggard + 2.453
  3. Nico Varrone + 4.291
  4. Zane Maloney + 7.729
  5. James Hedley + 7.864
  6. Alex Connor + 8.366
  7. Marijn Kremers + 15.677
  8. Christian Mansell + 16.176
  9. Alexey Nesov + 27.252
  10. Abbi Pulling + 47.808

Race 2

Onto race two, and Chris Lulham was starting in fifth place, with Luke Whitehead taking the reverse grid pole position and Rafael Martins starting alongside after his massive shunt at Paddock Hill bend in race one. Luke Browning was down in fourteenth, and just needed to keep Lulham in sight without the drama that his team mate’s opening lap in race one. Lap one did see one of the biggest accidents of the season, with Abbi Pulling going wide at turn one and spearing into the inside wall and destroying her car – a sad end the an otherwise promising season for the JHR Developments youngster. Browning had a demon start, launching up to seventh as the safety car came out again. Lulham was up to fourth.

Lulham and Browning got away well on the safety car restart and began to make their way forward. Lulham eventually managed to carve his way past Whitehead for the lead, furthermore adding to the pressure on Browning who had to makes moves and get on the podium to reduce the deficit. And when he was attempting a pass on Christian Mansell on the outside of Hawthorn, the Brit ran slightly wide and just when he was attempting to make amends he collided with Carlin’s Zak O’Sullivan and was left to rue his mistake in the gravel that would cost him the championship after a season long fight with his team mate.

Credit: Alex Wood

This allowed Fortec’s Chris Lulham to cruise home to another victory and more importantly the inaugural British F4 iRacing Trophy championship. Luke Whitehead finished a very commendable second place and Rafael Martins rounded off the podium finishes with a solid third place after his big accident at turn one in race one. Chris Lulham now has free entry to one real-world round of the 2020 British F4 championship which is worth ¬£1,000.

Race 2 Classification (Top 10)

  1. Chris Lulham
  2. Luke Whitehead + 1.398
  3. Rafel Martins + 2.079
  4. Zak O’Sullivan + 9.478
  5. Johnathan Hoggard + 25.186
  6. Marijn Kremers + 25.466
  7. Christian Mansell + 39.192
  8. Nathan De Villiers + 42.451
  9. Alexey Nesov + 44.859
  10. Nico Varrone + 51.023

The 2020 British F4 real-world season is now due to begin on the first weekend of August at Donington Park, after a rescheduling due the COVID-19 pandemic.

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