Jordan Albert secured his maiden BRDC Formula 4 Championship race victory in style at Oulton Park International Circuit on Easter Monday, 6th April, to also take Chipping Norton’s SWR back to the top of the podium for the first time since September 2013.
Starting the third and final race of the weekend from pole position, the 18-year-old soaked up huge pressure over the course of the first 10 laps before then motoring away to a substantial eight second winning margin after chief challenger Ciaran Haggerty spun while attempting to stay in touch.
After a very challenging season-opening event up to that point for the Silverstone teenager, Albert more than made up for the difficulties to claim a famous victory and get his championship moving in the right direction.
Team-mate Zubair Hoque, meanwhile, bounced back impressively from a midweek testing accident, which necessitated a rebuild of his car prior to the weekend, to post a best result of eighth place during the third and final encounter.
“Jordan drove really well, soaked up a lot of pressure and didn’t put a wheel wrong – it’s a fantastic win and great for the team to be back on the top step of the podium”, said Mick Gomme, SWR commercial manager, “Our tyre strategy for race two got us this result, we chose to put Jordan on new tyres and start from the pitlane so he could try and get fastest lap and pole for race three.
“Fastest lap was traded a few times, but he made sure of it and then put together a great drive in the last race to get his first win. After a tough weekend, it’s the best way to finish and brings some good confidence. Zubair produced some good performances all weekend and each time he’s in the car he gets better and better. It’s easy to forget how little experience he has, he’s doing a good job.”
Things didn’t begin especially well for Albert in qualifying on Saturday, 4th April, when a mechanical failure pitched him off the circuit on only his second lap – resulting in a back of the grid start for round one. Team-mate Hoque, meanwhile, secured the 13th fastest time with a strong performance at the wheel of his rebuilt chassis.
With a tremendous amount of work to do, Albert got things off to a good start in race one by gaining three places immediately. Much quicker than his immediate rivals, the SWR racer was determined to make up ground as quickly as possible but on lap six he slipped back to 18th position and got stuck behind a slower car for the duration.
Cheshire racer Hoque was shuffled back to 17th position off the start but managed to progress back through the order into the top 15 by the finish. Moving into 16th place at mid-distance, he gained an extra position a lap later at the expense of Hernan Fallas.
Round two on Easter Monday began in dramatic fashion with pole-sitter Sisa Ngebulana spinning on the formation lap, therefore meaning Hoque would start an improved 14th on the grid. In the hope of securing pole position for race three by setting the fastest lap in round two, the team fitted new tyres to Albert’s car and he started from the pitlane to benefit from some clear track.
Posting a series of fastest lap times, Albert did indeed end up with the best of the race on lap eight, a time of 1m35.211 seconds, while finishing in 16th place. Hoque slipped back to 17th by lap three but made good progress back up the order and eventually ended the encounter in 14th position, running in the middle of a tight multi-car battle on the fringe of the top 10.
For Albert, everything came down to the third and final race of the Easter weekend with his pole position start and he didn’t disappoint. Remaining calm and composed, the second year BRDC F4 racer didn’t put a wheel wrong throughout the 12 lap duration to secure a superb win.
From the fifth row of the grid, Hoque also enjoyed his best race of the weekend with a great eighth place finish. Climbing up from 10th position into the top eight on the first lap, he reeled off very consistent lap times and made no mistakes on his way to an impressively competitive result.
Rockingham in Northamptonshire will host rounds four, five and six of the Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship season over the weekend 2nd/3rd May.
2015 Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship Driver Standings (after Rd3):8th Jordan Albert, 43pts; 13th Zubair Hoque, 26pts