Manxman Chris Mealin and Silverstone-based Jordan Albert claimed their first-ever victories in the Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship at a sun-drenched Oulton Park on Easter Monday, as Ecurie Ecosse/GBR racer Ciaran Haggerty took a podium finish in his first weekend in the series.
It was a drama-filled second race of the weekend as track action resumed following the traditional Easter Sunday break at Oulton Park. Pole-sitter Sisa Ngebulana contrived to spin on the warm-up lap and was relegated to the back of the field, leaving Chris Mealin and Ecurie Ecosse Young Driver Ciaran Haggerty to line up on the front row.
21-year-old Mealin raced into an early lead, whilst behind him, Haggerty, having made a slow getaway, was being pressured by Jack Bartholomew. The rookie Lanan driver was caught unawares by those chasing him however and was overtaken by Tom Jackson and the fast starting Will Palmer, who had made his way up to fourth from eighth on the grid.
Mealin opened up a gap on Haggerty, who receives mentoring support from both three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti and three-time Le Mans 24 Hours victor Allan McNish, as the young Scot made a mistake going into Cascades. On lap eight, Jackson was relegated to fifth having been passed by both Palmer and Bartholomew and the trio would finish in that order at the end of the 12-lap race. Palmer’s HHC Motorsport teammate Harri Newey fought his way to sixth whilst Jordan Albert took pole position for the final race of the weekend as he posted the fastest lap across the first two races of the season.
The trophies were presented to the top-three drivers by Haggerty’s mentor Franchitti who could not hide his delight at his protege’s success.
Race three saw Albert climb the top step of the podium for the very first time in BRDC F4 but he was made to work hard as he came under sustained pressure from Harri Newey initially and then Ciaran Haggerty. Newey, the son of legendary Formula One designer Adrian, attempted an over-ambitious overtaking manoeuvre but ran out of road, spun and was left to resume his race in 16th.
That promoted Haggerty to second who then proceeded to sit within 0.5s of Albert for the first half of the contest. Behind, race one winner Will Palmer had progressed up to sixth with Jackson, Rodrigo Fonseca and Chris Mealin ahead of the HHC Motorsport man.
Haggerty, in his pursuit of victory, made a mistake going into Lodge and spun, quickly resuming and re-joining fractions ahead of Mealin in third. He compounded his error entering Old Hall Corner running wide and conceding the position to the Manxman. As the chasing pack closed on him with just two laps to go, Haggerty committed another error and was relegated to seventh with Lanan Racing’s Rodrigo Fonseca claiming the final place on the podium.
Jordan Albert crossed the line 7.882s ahead of the rest of the field and took his first-ever BRDC F4 victory. Speaking after the race, he said: “I had an off in qualifying, which was no fault of the team, so I was at the back for race one and it was almost impossible to progress from there. We went for the fastest lap in race two and managed to snatch pole position. You can defend easily around Oulton Park as it is narrow and there are only two real overtaking opportunities. My pace was good however and I managed to take the win.”
Chris Mealin, who claimed back-to-back podiums on the day, added: “It has been a great weekend and I really love this circuit. I tried hard to catch Jordan (in race three) and gave it my best shot but my tyres were starting to wear and I saw my teammate Rodrigo Fonseca catching me. I just had to keep focused and I managed to hold on.”
Will Palmer, younger son of Jonathan and brother of Lotus F1 Team Third and Reserve Driver Jolyon, leaves Cheshire with 74 points and the championship lead, just five points ahead of Chris Mealin and Tom Jackson with 58 points in third.
Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship, Oulton Park, round 2 result:
1. Chris Mealin, Lanan Racing, 12 Laps 2. Ciaran Haggerty, Ecurie Ecosse/GBR, +0.592 3. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, +4.071s 4. Jack Bartholomew, Lanan Racing, +5.831s 5. Tom Jackson, Chris Dittmann Racing, +7.794s 6. Harri Newey, HHC Motorsport, +8.458s 7. Sebastian Lanzetti, Hillspeed, +13.717s 8. Rodrigo Fonseca, Lanan Racing, +14.014s 9. Jack Lang, Lang Sport, +21.941s 10. Akhil Rabindra, Douglas Motorsport, +28.948s
Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship, Oulton Park, round 3 result:
1. Jordan Albert, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, 12 Laps 2. Chris Mealin, Lanan Racing, +7.882s 3. Rodrigo Fonseca, Lanan Racing, +8.421s 4. Tom Jackson, Chris Dittmann Racing, +8.885s 5. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, +9.856s 6. Jack Bartholomew, Lanan Racing, +12.292s 7. Ciaran Haggerty, Ecurie Ecosse/GBR, +15.477s 8. Zubair Hoque, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, +19.769s 9. Harri Newey, HHC Motorsport, +21.032s 10. Fernando Urrutia, Douglas Motorsport, +33.388s
Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship standings after race 3 of 24*
1. Will Palmer, HHC Motorsport, 74 points 2. Chris Mealin, Lanan Racing, 69 points 3. Tom Jackson, Chris Dittmann Racing, 58 points 4. Harri Newey, HHC Motorsport, 56 points 5. Jack Bartholomew, Lanan Racing, 54 points 6. Ciaran Haggerty, Ecurie Ecosse/GBR, 54 points 7. Rodrigo Fonseca, Lanan Racing, 49 points 8. Jordan Albert, Sean Walkinshaw Racing, 43 points 9. Sebastian Lanzetti, Hillspeed, 38 points 10. Fernando Urrutia, Douglas Motorsport, 31 points