Just a fortnight after TRS Arden’s first front row lock out in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost, the Banbury outfit was at it again in qualifying at Knockhill. Oscar Piastri stormed his way to a double pole just as he had done two weeks ago, with team-mate Alex Quinn set to start alongside him on the front row.
On a drying track drivers boldly elected to leave pit lane on slick tyres and they danced their way around the 1.27-mile Fife track. However, two drivers succumbed to the tricky conditions causing red flags which played a pivotal part in the session.
With just under half of the 20 minute session remaining Lucca Allen’s off brought out the first red flag with Quinn on provisional pole. A delay of several minutes ensued while Allen’s car was recovered with the track going green with just over seven minutes on the clock. It resulted in a stampede of Ford EcoBoost-powered racers as the field dived out onto the track, and left many caught up in traffic.
Piastri did brilliantly to find himself plenty of clear air, waiting a
fraction longer than the majority of the field to take to the track. As
others jostled for space while trying to better their lap time, Piastri
was able to pump in his fastest times unhindered just before a final red flag brought an early end to proceedings.
Quinn was just 0.038s just behind in 2nd overall, Simmons took a strong 4th on the grid and Caldwell took 2nd in the Challenge Cup Positions, 11th overall.
Race one saw the Arden duo off the front row make a good clean start with Piastri maintaining the lead from Quinn in the opening stages. Championship leader Caroline vaulted to 3rd from his fifth position start and went with the two YRDA Arden drivers. On lap eight, as Quinn was hounding the back of Piastri, Caroline made a late lunge into the hairpin, forcing Quinn almost to the grass - demoting him to 4th as teammates Simmons went through with Caroline.
Piastri gained sufficient breathing room after a safety car restart when his rival made a mistake at the hairpin. The Aussie held on to take the
chequered flag by a margin of 0.321s despite having had to manage a wounded car in the final two
laps after clattering a kerb.
Simmons took 3rd position on the podium just ahead of Quinn in 4th. Caldwell came home 9th position and 2nd overall in the Ford F4 Challenge Cup class after a tight midfield battle.
Oscar Piastri "I had to work really hard for that win! Alex was catching me a little bit in the early stages and then I saw Jamie put a move on him. I had a bit of a gap, but the safety car destroyed all that. I got a really good restart. On the second-last lap I clipped the sausage kerb at the chicane and something broke at the rear of the car. It meant the last couple of laps were pretty interesting and I just hoped the car wouldn’t let me down. Thankfully it didn’t!"
Ayrton Simmons "It was a really tricky race,. At the start I got on the grass a bit which meant I lost a position to Jamie. The conditions were so difficult. One lap it was spitting with rain and the next lap it wasn’t. I tried to drive calmly and stay steady. When I saw Jamie make the lunge on Alex, I knew it was my opportunity. I got past Alex and nearly overtook Jamie too.
At the Safety Car restart Jamie locked up into the hairpin, but I couldn’t pass him because we hadn’t crossed the line yet.In the second half of the race we were really strong and hopefully we can get some more silverware this afternoon.”
The second race was the rescheduled round 12 from Oulton Park. Piastri started from 2nd on the grid, with Quinn 4th, Simmons 8th and Caldwell was sadly unable to race, due to not being old enough to compete in the championship at that time.
The race began under drying track conditions with damp patches still on the circuit. Quinn made the best of the Arden trio at the start as the race to move himself up into 3rd position and in pursuit of Logan Sargeant. Piastri fell back at the start and was tucked in just behind teammate Quinn, whilst Simmons had moved up to 7th early on.
Disaster struck Quinn on lap 5, when a gear selector issue at the hairpin prevented him from changing gear - forcing him into the pits to retire. Piastri likewise began to struggle with mechanical gremlins, as an intermittent loss of power saw him fall to 7th position as Simmons benefited up to 6th position.
Up ahead, the battle for the Challenge Cup victory saw Harry Webb damage his front wing - allowing Simmons and Piastri through to gain a position each. A late safety car bunched up the field, Simmons came home the lead Arden in 5th position - whilst Piastri nursed his car home to finish in 6th and bag some valuable points.
The F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost has another two races tomorrow at Knockhill. Race three will take place at 10:15 and Race four will take place at 15:40 - the latter will be live on ITV4 as a support race to the British Touring Car Championship.