A stirring wet weather drive helped Ecurie Ecosse Young Driver Ciaran Haggerty recover from 14th on the grid to score his third BRDC Formula 4 Championship podium of the season at Snetterton on Sunday (July 12).
Third position in the final race of this year’s fourth meeting would be the highlight of a weekend typified by fluctuating fortunes for the 18-year-old Scot, who also finished fourth and seventh in the other two contests.
With each driver’s fastest lap from the opening race – in which an accident compromised his car’s performance – deciding grid order for Sunday’s final encounter, Haggerty had his work cut out fighting through most of the 20-strong field.
Heavy rain just before the start certainly played to his strengths, though, and a lightning getaway helped him recover five positions before the first corner. Two more were retrieved when rivals span in the treacherous conditions, before making short work of four others before the finish.
“I couldn't see anything when the race started, not even the rain lights of the cars in front!” revealed Haggerty. “The start was fantastic – probably one of my best ever, actually – and then it was a case of fighting my way through the field. I really couldn’t see all that much but, before I knew it, I was in third! I just tried to keep cool and not make any mistakes. I had a few hairy moments as you’d expect in those conditions but managed to wrestle the car to my first podium at Snetterton.”Having shown good pace during Thursday and Friday’s test and practice sessions, Haggerty was a little disappointed to only line-up seventh for the weekend’s opening race on Saturday after suffering from excessive oversteer during qualifying.
Being boxed in at the start ensured that immediately became ninth, but worse was to come at Turn 2 where the Renfrewshire teenager was swiped. Not only did the impact drop him to 14th but it also ripped off the Graham Brunton Racing-prepared F4 car’s right sidepod, as well as damaging the same front corner’s wing and suspension.
While most drivers might have thrown in the towel, Haggerty remarkably manhandled the battle-scarred machine back up the order over the remaining nine laps to come home seventh, despite suffering through Snetterton’s right handers. Not only were the points valuable but the result also meant he’d be starting Sunday morning’s partially reversed grid race from second.
An early rain shower had left everyone in a quandary over tyre choice but, given the conditions, wets appeared the safest option. Ciaran, like all of the frontrunners, agreed but initially slipped to fourth at the start before re-taking third at Turn 2.
Haggerty was revelling in the tricky conditions and moved into second on lap two before chasing after Jordan Albert. A sweeping move around the outside at Riches soon gave him the lead and, not long after, a healthy advantage.
But as the track dried those further down the order that had gambled on slick tyres began to make inroads. And their pace was such that Haggerty had little chance of maintaining his lead over the closing laps, although he did at least hang on to take fourth and finish as the highest-placed wet-shod runner.
“All in all it was a great weekend,” he said. “We scored some good points and moved up to seventh in the championship. It was amazing to end the weekend with a podium after coming so close in the second race. We showed how good our wet pace is in comparison to the rest and, were it not for others further down the grid gambling, would have picked up a first win of the season. GBR deserve a lot of credit for that.”
The 2015 BRDC Formula 4 Championship continues at Brands Hatch on August 1/2.