Sennan Fielding leapfrogged up the points table with another win for JHR Developments in the 2016 Ford MSA Formula 4 championship rounds 4, 5 and 6 at Donington Park. While JHR’s Ginetta Junior championship squad were in the thick of the action again.
Chesterfield racer Fielding’s home race weekend began on a wet track starting 4th in bad spray, “On the first lap I had contact and spun down the field to 13th. I managed a recovery drive to 7th”. Now in championship 6th place, handily, the result meant he would start the partial reverse grid round 5 on pole position.
JHR’s rookie Billy Monger set an amazing qualifying 4th place, but was unable to follow-up, finishing two places behind Fielding in 9th.
The Dronfield-based team’s third single-seater driver, Jack Butel came unstuck on lap 3, having to retire due to a technical problem after starting in 14th.
Making the most of his round 5 pole position start, Fielding stormed away at the lights, in a perfect getaway, driving a textbook race from the front he proceeded to pull away from the pack, easily establishing a comfortable lead.
With clear air ahead, Fielding had a 2.4 second lead within 2 laps, but an incident-packed race brought out the Safety Car and neutralised it for 5 laps.
Only seven minutes of the race remaining, Fielding kept a cool head making a textbook restart, just as he had when winning at Brands Hatch, and put sufficient daylight between himself and the pursuing Petru Florescu.
It took only 3 laps for Fielding to have a 2.821 seconds lead, and with no challengers he counted off the remaining 8 laps to claim a popular second 2016 victory in front of adoring fans at his home circuit, as he bounced into championship 3rd-place.
Smiled Fielding, “The race was fantastic for me. I got the perfect traction off the line with no wheel spin which meant I was well ahead into the first corner and then I knew had to get my head down and put in some quick laps. I built a good gap and could control the race from here, but then the safety car came out. I thought, ‘oh no...’”
“This made it a lot more challenging, but the marshals did a great job to recover quickly all the cars that went off during the race and when the safety car went in we had a great re-start. I knew I could just bring it home by being consistent without making any mistakes - I had to push again to rebuild the gap and managed to pull out a few seconds on the first lap. I think it was a fantastic race for Ford MSA Formula”.
“With it being my home circuit it gives the weekend added meaning. All my friends and family are here. I cannot thank enough all my sponsors, Amigos Beer, CBS, Bluebell Wood hospice and obviously the JHR team. Without them I wouldn’t be here. It just shows that you can race in this championship on a tight budget and be the best”.
Teammate Monger made a decent start too, from 9th he was running in 6th place within two laps and challenging for 5th, only to be hampered by the long Safety Car period.
One place behind him, JHR’s Butel put in his best performance so far this season to score the first points of his campaign, by making his way from last on the grid to 7th.
Starting round 6 in grid slot 5th, Fielding briefly took 4th place at the start before holding 5th place to the flag in a five-car train chasing the leader. As the championship-2nd placed driver failed to score, crucially Fielding’s points gave him equal number two spot in the championship table.
Through a round 5 penalty, Monger lost his 3rd on the grid, starting five places back, repeating the round 5 finishing order with him taking the flag in 11th and Butel one place behind.
JHR Developments’ Simpson Race Products 2016 Ginetta Junior Championship squad have still to get a podium finish this season, but they were closer in the three races at Donington.
Seb Perez had a ‘home race from hell’ plagued by engine problems all weekend. Teammate Cameron Roberts made ‘light contact’ in round 3 with the Chesterfield 16 year-old and both retired with broken wheels. Another crash in round 4 caused him to retire again. At least he managed to finish round 5, moving from 21st to 16th place.
Roberts and Geri Nicosia started 1-2 for the team in the partial reverse-grid round 5 but neither managed to stay within the top-3 finishers, ending up 5th and 9th respectively.
17 year-old Roberts declared, “I need to do better than undoing all my qualifying hard work in about three corners - my plan is to stop losing places and keep on the track!”, but round 4 saw him make 13 places climbing from 19th to 6th.
While 16 years old Nicosia confided, “I am still learning race-craft...”, his best result of the weekend was 5th in round 4.
With a best result of 8th in round 3, Kyle Hornby regretted, “The pace is there – it got me up to 3rd (briefly) - if I can avoid others – my rear bumper is ruined!”
The first of JHR’s rookies, 15 year-old Sebastian Priaulx seems to be getting the hang of things, he qualified 5th for round 3, finishing 7th, ending rounds 4 and 5 in 8th place, and he was 3rd highest rookie in each race.
Their other rookie, Dhyllan Skiba, an American 14 years old with an amazing ethnic mix of Italian/Indian Punjab/Polish genetics is commuting across the Atlantic while taking his High school final exams, “I’m on a steep learning curve (of all the UK circuits), but I’m getting better each practice session and race: I am faster in races than in qualifying”. Finishing 17th in rounds 3 and 4, he was taken out in round 5.