In changeable conditions at Croft for the seventh race meeting of the 2020 British F4 Championship, it was Carlin’s Zak O’Sullivan that took a resounding victory ahed of Casper Stevenson as championship leader Luke Browning struggled down in sixth place.
And as the lights went out, Stevenson got away well from pole and held the lead into turn one as Browning ran wide, allowing O’Sullivan into second place and Abbi Pulling making a fantastic start into third place, relegating championship leader Browning down to fifth place after a torrid first lap.
But O’Sullivan was harrying Stevenson for the lead and eventually passed the Argenti Motorsport scholarship winner on the second lap. Frederick Lubin was up into fourth place and therefore the lead rookie, comfortably ahead his counterparts of Christian Mansell, Rafael Villagomez and Mathias Zagazeta.
Pulling and Lubin were now pressuring Stevenson for second place as O’Sullivan was pulling away out front, with the Carlin driver now up to a 1.2 second lead on the partially damp circuit.
James Hedley was now all over Browning for fifth place, as the title leader was not showing the pace shown in qualifying as the four cars ahead were slowly pulling away.
Rafael Villagomez was slicing through the field, who managed to pass Hedley and Alex Connor in what was very closely contested midfield battle. Meanwhile, the gap out front was almost two seconds as Zak O’Sullivan was gaining confidence in the ever changing conditions – this result could prove to be a turning point in the championship in his battle with Fortec Motorsport’s Luke Browning.
At the halfway mark, it was O’Sullivan leading Casper Stevenson with JHR Developments’ Abbi Pulling holding down a very impressive third place, and the two Arden Motorsport drivers of Frederick Lubin and Roman Bilinski in fourth and fifth respectively, with Luke Browning trailing back in sixth place.
The gaps in the top half dozen were remaining fairly equidistant with just under seven minutes remaining as Browning was beginning to pile the pressure on Bilinski in fifth place, perhaps showing some frustration from dropping down as his title rivals O’Sullivan and Stevenson were scarpering away up front, trading fastest laps.
The gap was slowly coming down for the lead, as Casper Stevenson was within a second of O’Sullivan’s lead with just under three minutes remaining. – the Argenti man setting continuous fastest sectors. Alex Connor and James Hedley were now battling hard for sixth place in the battle behind Luke Browning, with the Arden driver coming out on top for seventh place.
But as the chequered flag fell, it was Zak O’Sullivan that took his sixth win of the season and Casper Stevenson finishing third and scoring his twelfth podium in an incredibly consistent season, and Abbi pulling scoring another podium in third place. Championship leader Luke Browning came home in sixth place after a disappointing opening lap to allow O’Sullivan and Stevenson to further tighten the battle for the title as we head into the final race two at Croft tomorrow.
Race 1 Classification:
|1||Zak O’Sullivan||Carlin||14 Laps|
|2||Casper Stevenson||Argenti Motorsport||+ 0.448|
|3||Abbi Pulling||JHR Developments||+ 3.839|
|4||Frederick Lubin||Arden Motorsport||+ 8.646|
|5||Roman Bilinski||Arden Motorsport||+ 11.492|
|6||Luke Browning||Fortec Motorsport||+ 11.851|
|7||Alex Connor||Arden Motorsport||+ 12.169|
|8||James Hedley||JHR Developments||+ 12.752|
|9||Rafael Villagomez||Fortec Motorsport||+ 12.957|
|10||Christian Mansell||Carlin||+ 13.809|
|11||Reema Juffali||Argenti Motorsport||+ 24.759|
|12||Mathias Zagazeta||Carlin||+ 26.463|