F4 British Championship

Zagazeta dominates Friday’s running amidst mixed conditions at Oulton Park

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Matias Zagazeta topped both Friday session by no less than two tenths. (Credit: Jakob Ebery Photography)

The 2021 British F4 Championship was shocked back into life today at Oulton Park after a five week break, with Phinsys by Argenti’s Matias Zagazeta topping both of Friday’s free practice sessions, mastering both damp and drying conditions to lay down an impressive marker for the rest of the grid to chase for the remainder of the weekend.

The first session in the morning was a tale of two affairs, with the Oulton Park circuit continually drying as the session went on. And at the chequered flag it was the Peruvian that set the fastest lap on the drying surface, lapping the island circuit in 1:25.365, a whole two tenths faster than Fortec Motorsport’s Joel Granfors.

A large portion of the 25-minute session was spent under red flags however, with two rookies Thomas Ikin and Eduardo Coseteng having offs at the same Island corner hairpin just a few minutes apart. But when the session resumed it was initially a Carlin lockout at the very summit of the timesheet, with Roman Bilinski, Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak and Dougie Bolger trading fastest times and promising rookie Kai Askey slotting in fourth place.

It was Abbi Pulling who became the first driver to dip below the 1:30 barrier however, with the JHR Developments racer recently coming off a starring weekend in W Series at Silverstone just two weeks ago. Bilinski briefly returned back to the top of the times before Matias Zagazeta put his Phinsys by Argenti machine at the top where he would be remain until the end of the session.

Pulling eventually finished her session in fourth place behind Marcos Flack, with the Australian showing some great pace in the mixed conditions at a weekend where a good result is definitely needed. Main title contender Matthew Rees rounded out the top five for JHR Developments, once again backing up the pace of the Derbyshire based squad as of late.

Promising Fortec Motorsport rookie Oliver Gray was in sixth, a tenth ahead of Arden’s Zak Taylor. Carlin’s Roman Bilinski was in eighth with championship leader James Hedley in ninth and JHR’s Joseph Loake rounding out the top ten.

Free Practice 1 Classification (Top 10)

1Matias ZagazetaPhinsys by Argenti1:25.365
2Joel GranforsFortec Motorsport+ 0.203
3Marcos Flack (R)Phinsys by Argenti+ 0.380
4Abbi PullingJHR Developments+ 0.637
5Matthew Rees (R)JHR Developments+ 0.832
6Oliver Gray (R)Fortec Motorsport+ 0.965
7Zak TaylorArden Motorsport+ 1.071
8Roman BilinskiCarlin+ 1.151
9James HedleyFortec Motorsport+ 1.157
10Joseph LoakeJHR Developments+ 1.342

The afternoon session was much drier, but that didn’t stop Zagazeta from showing that his first session time wasn’t a fluke, with the Peruvian gapping the field impressively by over three tenths from Fortec rookie Oliver Gray and the rest of the top ten being separated by just two tenths. A definite warning shot by the Argenti second season driver.

Matthew Rees was in third, showing consistency in posting two top five fastest times in the day’s running. The session was brought to a premature end by our fourth place runner – Roman Bilinski, who’s Carlin machine ground to a halt out on circuit. Arden’s Zak Taylor rounded out the top five to back up his strong seventh place in session one in the morning’s mixed conditions.

The Fortec duo of Joel Granfors and James Hedley followed closely in sixth and seventh, with Joseph Loake showing further improvement in the second highest running JHR Developments car.

The biggest and most pleasant surprise of the session was from Argenti’s Aiden Neate, with the relative season newcomer finishing the day in ninth place, and Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak appearing to come to terms with his machinery and posting a tenth fastest time.

Free Practice 2 Classification (Top 10)

1Matias ZagazetaPhinsys by Argenti1:23.818
2Oliver Gray (R)Fortec Motorsport+ 0.328
3Matthew Rees (R)JHR Developments+ 0.345
4Roman BilinskiCarlin+ 0.354
5Zak TaylorArden Motorsport+ 0.386
6Joel GranforsFortec Motorsport+ 0.396
7James HedleyFortec Motorsport+ 0.433
8Joseph LoakeJHR Developments+ 0.451
9Aiden Neate (R)Phinsys by Argenti+ 0.518
10Tasanapol InthraphuvasakCarlin+ 0.529
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British Formula 4 correspondent and occasional F1 reporter for The Checkered Flag.
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