- Rising star scored third top three finish of the season
- Kiwi racer misses out on potential win in abandoned opener
- Rodin Carlin-run teenager stays on top after first three of ten race weekends
Louis Sharp remains the man to beat in the ROKiT F4 British Championship Certified by FIA after the Rodin Cars-backed youngster picked up his third podium finish of the campaign at a sunny Snetterton.
Despite a tricky weekend at Brands Hatch during the second meeting of the season, the rapid New Zealander arrived at the longest circuit on the calendar for the latest three rounds of the season sitting pretty on top of the standings and with confidence high of adding to his victory tally.
A busy week leading up to the event saw Louis on track for a day of running on Wednesday before the traditional pre-meeting test on Friday, where he would end up posting the seventh-best time as the team worked through a pre-determined set-up programme rather than chasing a headline-grabbing fast lap.
Come qualifying, Louis would be right back at the sharp end of the field in what proved to be an astonishingly close session, with the Rodin Carlin racer setting the third-quickest time, just 0.051s away from pole. His second best time was even closer to pole, earning him a place on the front row of the grid for the weekend’s opening race.
Getting away well when the lights went out, Louis hit the front on the opening lap before an incident involving two cars further back in the field saw the race red-flagged after just two laps.
Taking the restart from pole, Louis retained his lead when the action got back underway but a further incident, which resulted in damage to the trackside barriers, resulted in another stoppage. Given the time required to repair the barriers, the race was abandoned and will now take place at Donington Park later in the year.
The reverse grid second race started with Louis in 19th place on the grid, and he avoided trouble ahead to make up six spots on lap one and move to the fringes of the top ten.
Holding station on the restart after an early caution, Louis saw his hopes of a strong result end when contact going into turn one saw him forced off track before he had to return to the pits to have a new nose section fitted to his car.
Rejoining the train of cars circulating behind the safety car, called out to recover another car caught up in the same incident, Louis pushed hard in the final three laps of racing that were available to climb up from 17th place to 13th – ensuring he picked up six valuable points.
The final race of the weekend saw Louis line up in third place on the grid and, after an early safety car period, would hold his position throughout, with overtaking proving to be a challenge at the head of the pack, where the leading seven drivers all finished where they started.
The points scored from the two races that were run allow Louis to retain his place at the head of the championship standings ahead of round four at Thruxton – a circuit where he scored three podium finishes in six starts last year.
“It was hard to be disappointed with qualifying considering that I didn’t quite get the lap hooked up and made a small error at the final corner. It didn’t cost me a lot, but when the margins are so tight, it probably meant we missed out on pole – which would have been nice.
“I got a good start to take the lead in race one before the red flag, and then again I was in front after the restart, so it’s a shame that it had to be abandoned. I believe we would have won – I had the lead and was looking fast. In those circumstances, though, safety has to come first and we’ll have to chance get that win when we go to Donington Park later in the year.
“The reverse grid race was crazy, and what happened was unfortunate as once again we had good pace and made up a lot of positions at the start. Then I got crashed into a few times which isn’t ideal. We had to change the front wing and got back out, and I feel we did well to make up places in the final laps – but it could have been a lot better.
“The podium in race three was a good way to finish things off and I don’t think I could have expected much more given how challenging it is to overtake. It means we remain in the championship lead, and I’ll be pushing for the top step at Thruxton in a few weeks.”
2023 ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA
(Points after 8 of 30 races)
1. Louis Sharp (NZL) 103
2. Dion Gowda (IND) 97
3. William Macintyre (GBR) 83
4. Kanato Le (JPN) 76
5. Noah Lisle (AUS) 72
6. James Higgins (GBR) 71
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
** Plus race 7 rescheduled from Snetterton