F4 British Championship

Aiden Neate leads the way in British F4 pre-season testing

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Kanato Le leads Gustav Jonsson in a wet pre-season test session.
Credit: F4 British Championship

Newly-signed Alpine Academy driver Aiden Neate was in commanding form having led the way in the first 2 of 5 pre-season test sessions for the 2023 ROKiT F4 British Championship at a sodden Thruxton Circuit and looks set to build upon his duo of F4 victories from 2022 as he moves up to Formula Regional for 2023. Despite the tricky conditions on a dry yet green circuit, Neate managed a best time of 1:10.893 in the second session, which left him nearly four-tenths clear of his nearest rival, New Zealander Louis Sharp, and was fast enough to place him fifth, relative to the 2022 qualifying pace.

Although strong across all 3 sectors, Neate’s comfortable margin was entirely built within the first sector. Of the twenty-two strong-field, the Fortec Racing driver was alone in dipping below a 23.8 with an impressive 23.682. Kanato Le came close to breaking the 23.8 bubble with a confidence-building time of 23.801, but all behind Neate will surely be impressed by his experienced pace and will be eyeing his lines and braking points to figure out where that time came from.

Carlin Rodin’s Louis Sharp and Hitech GP Pulse-Eight Racing’s William MacIntyre will be buoyed by their performances, also reasonably clear of their fellow rivals, having set a 1:11.255 and 1:11.277 respectively to place them nearly two-tenths up over the tight grid and as the fastest of the registered competitors for 2023. Meanwhile, fourth through twelfth were separated by only 3 tenths of a second during the dry running.

Kanato Le hops a kerb in his Hitech Tatuus-Abarth at Thruxton Circuit.
Credit: ROKiT British F4 / Facebook

Amongst the rookies, it was Gabriel Stilp, a prolific driver in British karting, who set the pace with a 1:11.654 for Hitech and was followed by Carlin’s Josh Irfan, a former Kartmasters champion, who set a marginally slower lap time of 1:11.716. Their times would leave them tenth and twelfth, respectively, and the pair should be pleased with their performances as they take their first steps out of karting. Nonetheless, they will need to keep an eye on the rest of the rookie field who also showed some great form in the unforgiving conditions.

During the third session, running was limited as the heavens opened and left the circuit soaked – a new challenge even to some of the established racers after a 2022 season that saw little-to-no wet running. Carlin was the only team to send their drivers out for more than a sighting lap with Indian driver Dion Gowda (competing under a Singaporean license) leading the session from Sharp and Irfan, having set their laps prior to the deluge. Surprisingly, Sharp actually managed his fastest lap nearly twenty-five minutes into the session and will be a driver to watch should rain fall later this year.

Australia’s James Piszcyk and teammate MacIntyre also made an impression in the wet, leading the way in session four from Sharp. Only three-tenths separated the top five, which was rounded out by Le and Chris Dittman Racing’s Daniel Guinchard, whilst Stilp and Irfan impressed again to lead the rookies in sixth and ninth respectively.

With plenty of talent to watch out for, impressive performances from all 7 of the registered teams, and a grid of 19 drivers tightly packed from front to back, fans should be well excited when the 2023 season officially commences at Donington Park on 22 April.

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