- Rising star grabs two impressive wins as British F4 campaign begins
- Kiwi secures stunning back-to-front win in reverse grid affair
- Rodin Carlin-run racer earns early championship lead
Louis Sharp kicked off his second season in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA with a fine double win in the opening round of the year at Donington Park, earning the Rodin Carlin driver the early championship lead in the process.
The rapid New Zealander was competing at the circuit – home to the UK base of Rodin Cars – for the first time having missed the corresponding event last season due to the fact that he wasn’t old enough to take his place on the grid.
That didn’t stop him from going on to earn fourth in the championship standings, having scored two races wins, with the talented teen going into the opening rounds of 2023 amongst the favourites for title glory.
Louis missed out on pole by the smallest of margins in a frenetic qualifying session on Saturday, ending up second to Rodin Carlin team-mate Noah Lisle by just 0.006s having just failed to take pole when his quickest lap was annulled when a red flag ended the session literally one second before he crossed the line.
Undeterred, when the lights went out Louis battled ahead of Lisle at the opening corner to grab the lead, before the action was halted to allow a stricken car to be recovered.
Taking the restart from pole position, Louis was able to control proceedings from the front to secure the opening victory of the year and a good haul of points to take into race two – which featured a grid fully reversed from qualifying times.
With bonus points for making up places, Louis was focused on simply climbing as high as possible but, in now challenging wet conditions, he was able to far exceed expectations with a mesmerising drive that saw him come from the penultimate position on the grid to take a stunning race win.
Climbing up into 13th place on the opening lap alone, Louis had worked his way up into fifth by the time the safety car came out mid-way through the race and then rocketed up into second at the restart as cars squabbled ahead.
Hitting the front by lap eleven, Louis raced away from the pack behind to take an incredible victory by more than five seconds – giving him four successive F4 race wins after two impressive victories over the winter on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix bill in the Middle East.
The final race of the weekend – again run on a wet track – would see Louis back on the front row. Another good start saw him going side-by-side with Lisle into Redgate before a small error resulted in him running wide on the exit and through the gravel.
Returning to the circuit back in 18th place, Louis would charge through the field to cross the line in sixth spot, with the weekend results leaving him top of the championship standings ahead of round two at Brands Hatch next month.
“After a frustrating qualifying session, where we lost pole through no fault of our own, I knew I needed to try and get ahead quickly in race one,” he said. “I made a good move at turn one at the start and then kept the lead on the restart, and it was all about building a gap. We’d set the car up to be quick early on so I knew the final laps would be tricky, but a win was a great start to the weekend.
“Going into race two, the goal was just to make up as many places as possible and I knew the wet conditions could work in our favour. However, I didn’t expect to make up 19 places and come away with another win! It was one of the craziest races I’ve ever done and in the early stages I couldn’t see a thing with the spray. I just had to keep my nose clean and pick up places when I could, and it was insane to hit the front after the restart and bring it home.
“Race three wasn’t the way I wanted to finish but I just made a mistake going into turn one and locked up. It’s one of those things that can happen and I won’t dwell on it as it’s been a fantastic weekend as a whole and we leave here leading the championship – which is where we wanted to be.
“The fact this weekend was my first time racing at Donington Park, and that it’s the ‘home track’ for Rodin, just makes it even more special and I have to thank the team for giving me such a great car.”
2023 ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA
(Points after 3 of 30 races)
1. Louis Sharp (NZL) 59
2. Noah Lisle (AUS) 51
3. Dion Gowda (IND) 41
4. Deagen Fairclough (GBR) 26
5. Aiden Neate (GBR) 22
6. James Higgins (GBR) 22
2023 ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by the FIA*
22/23 April Donington Park (National)
06/07 May Brands Hatch (Indy)
20/21 May Snetterton
03/04 June Thruxton
17/18 June Oulton Park (Island)
23/25 June Silverstone (GP)
29/30 July Croft
12/13 August Knockhill
26/27 August Donington Park (GP)
07/08 October Brands Hatch (GP)
*Three rotunds at all 10 meetings