BIRMINGHAM, U.K. -Johnathan Hoggard was flawless from start to finish to convert pole into a maiden victory in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost at Donington Park.
Having taken his first pole position in the series just hours earlier, Hoggard followed up with a sublime lights-to-flag win around the wet Leicestershire circuit.
A clean getaway saw him escape the clutches of the chasing pack into turn one and he quickly set about building a margin over second place man Sebastian Priaulx (Arden). The latter making an excellent move at the first corner to swoop past team-mates Patrik Pasma and Dennis Hauger.
A Safety Car to enable the recovery of Kiern Jewiss’ stricken racer following contact further down the field on lap seven saw Hoggard’s two second lead wiped out. However, he continued to not put a foot wrong, mastering the restart to put daylight between himself and Priaulx and take the chequered flag several laps later.
“It feels great to get pole and the win in the same day,” said Hoggard. “I’m over the moon with the result.
“Brands Hatch was a bit of a heartbreak really, finishing first on the road, but losing out on the win due to a time penalty for a false start.
“It was tricky out there today. I had to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes, but push at the same time to try to build a gap.
“The Safety Car restart made things harder, bringing everyone closer to me, but I managed to pull a little bit of a gap again and hold it.
“Getting this first win is definitely a weight off my shoulders and hopefully there will be a lot more wins to come.”
Added Fortec Motorsports team owner Richard Dutton: “Brands Hatch was disappointing because Johnathan went off the track in qualifying which meant he was down the order and on the back foot; even though he won a race on the road, but lost out due to a penalty.
“It was very frustrating so it’s nice that Johnathan has been able to win the first race this weekend and I’m sure there will be many more.
“He has progressed a lot over the winter. He has come on leaps and bounds and he has been quick everywhere he’s been.
“As long as he can qualify like he did this morning, then the race weekends should be a lot easier for him.”
“I had a good start,” commented Priaulx. “I went around the outside and I wanted to try to keep the others tight on the inside. I stuck to the outside, had grip and just powered around them to take P2.
“It all comes down to feeling in situations like that. I didn’t want to run anybody onto the grass and I was fair with the room I gave. I’m really happy with the move and my race.
“Hoggard and I were pretty close in terms of pace so it was hard to pass and I didn’t want to risk making a move that would take us both out.
“It’s all about finishing and scoring strong points. It’s not always about winning every race. To win the championship you need to be consistent and constantly up there. The wins will come.”
It was an unfortunate end for Jewiss (Double R Racing) who had lit up the timing screens throughout in his efforts to climb up the order from ninth, having dropped a couple of places from seventh on the grid. The MB Partners-backed rising star recording the fastest lap of the race, a 1m 20.988s, on lap six.
Front row starter Patrik Pasma had been running in third for much of the race, but lost out in the skirmish that ensued after the Safety Car restart. The Finn was forced to retire, cruelly taking away his chance of what would have been a hard-earned podium.
It left Arden’s Red Bull Junior Team duo of Jack Doohan and Dennis Hauger to battle it out for the final podium spot and the Rookie class win. The pair swarming all over each other and swapping positions repeatedly in the closing stages. Doohan ultimately got the better of Hauger on the penultimate lap and fended him off to take the spoils.
“At the start of the race I had to contend with Ericsson who was defending really well and made it hard to get past,” explained Doohan.
“After I got past him and the Safety Car came out I knew it was my time to shine and that I had to take advantage of it.
“I got a run around the outside of Hauger into turn four at the restart and got pretty close to Pasma in turn eight, but he ended up pushing the entry a bit and dropping a wheel on the dirt which gave me the upper hand.
“Then I had Hauger coming back alongside me down the main straight so it was really close and we battled it out until the end which was exciting.
“It was a really good battle with lots of fair racing and it feels great to get another podium.”
Hampus Ericsson (Fortec Motorsports) scored his best result of the season so far with fifth at the circuit at which he made his car racing debut a year ago, and in doing so achieved pole position for the partially reversed grid race on Sunday.
Championship leader Ayrton Simmons was able to bring his JHR Developments-prepared racer home in sixth to score valuable points in his quest for the title, recovering well from 10th on the grid.
As had been the case at Brands Hatch, Jamie Sharp had it all to do after a difficult qualifying. The Sharp Motorsport racer once again rose to the challenge. He picked his way through the order to take seventh despite starting from the back of the grid and going off the track at the first corner with Josh Skelton. Meanwhile Paavo Tonteri (Double R Racing) was a first lap casualty after being forced to take to the gravel at McLeans.
Lucca Allen ensured all Fortec Motorsports runners achieved top 10 finishes by crossing the line in eighth, while the sole remaining Double R Racing driver Sebastian Alvarez finished ninth ahead of the JHR Developments pair of Manuel Sulaiman and Josh Skelton.
Round five of the season gets underway at 0925 tomorrow. At 1520 the lights will go out for round six which will be shown live on ITV4.