Middlehurst and Maini claim wins as title race takes another twist
Chris Middlehurst and Arjun Maini were victorious in today’s two BRDC F4 races on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, with Maini moving up to second in the title race after taking three podiums across the weekend.
Middlehurst claimed the victory in race two this morning, which proved the most eventful race of the weekend. The MGR Motorsport driver started second on the grid, but slipped to sixth at the end of lap one as Will Palmer, Sennan Fielding and Jordan Albert headed the early running, separated by fractions.
The race turned on its head on lap three though, when an incident involving Palmer and Fielding sent them down the order and delayed Albert, allowing Maini to take the lead, with Middlehurst following suit.
Maini held the lead and was pulling away gradually until a spin at Sheene curve on lap eight allowed Middlehurst to capitalise. Maini quickly recovered in second place, and began to close in on Middlehurst, but the British driver was able to absorb the pressure to take his first BRDC F4 victory by 0.325s.
George Russell recovered from 10th on the grid to take third place, while title rival Raoul Hyman finished fourth, holding off Albert, with Struan Moore taking sixth.
Palmer recovered to finish seventh, having dropped to eighth in the lap three drama, making a late move on Tom Jackson who finished eighth, while Fielding climbed to ninth having dropped to 15th. Hillspeed’s Alfredo Zabalza completed the top-10.
The top three drivers on the podium received their trophies from BRDC member Adam Carroll, who currently races in the British GT Championship, having previously raced and won in GP2 and A1GP.
Middlehurst commented: “I’m really pleased. I didn’t get the best of starts and dropped down to sixth on the first lap. They all seemed to collide at Druids, which meant I got a few places back and climbed up to second.
“I tried to push Maini as hard as I could, and he span on the exit of Sheene. I narrowly avoided him but kept my foot in to gain as much time as possible as I knew he was pulling away when he was in front of me, so I needed to get as much of an advantage as I could.”
With the grid for the final race of the weekend decided by fastest race lap times, Lanan’s Maini started from pole, having set a fastest lap just 0.008s quicker than race one winner Gaetano di Mauro.
Maini led the third race from lights to flag, but it wasn’t easy, as the vivid yellow Petroball car of di Mauro kept him in close check, with the gap never more than 0.8s. Maini kept his cool to take his third win of the year, adding the victory to his third and second placed-finishes already secured this weekend.
Moore claimed his second podium of the weekend with third, ahead of Fielding and Russell, who stretched his championship lead further to nine points. The top five were covered by just 2.4s at the chequered flag, having raced in close formation throughout the 14 lap contest.
Rodrigo Fonseca claimed a strong sixth place finish, with Albert completing easily his best F4 weekend with seventh place to add to his two fifths.
Douglas Motorsport’s Charlie Eastwood took eighth place after a last lap incident forced Gustavo Lima and Palmer to retire, promoting Middlehurst and Jackson into the top-10.
The top three drivers received their trophies on the podium from BRDC member Alexander Sims.
Maini commented: “It’s been a great weekend for us with third, second and now a win, and I’m really happy to get the win after the mistake in race two.
“It was an intense race as Gaetano applied a lot of pressure, and I couldn’t afford to back off. I managed to get a small gap and every time Gaetano got close to me I was able to slightly stretch the lead.
“I’ve made a big jump in the championship this weekend, and hopefully we can keep this form up at the final two rounds.”
Russell continues to lead the championship standings with six races remaining, while Maini’s treble podium at Brands Hatch moves him up to second in the championship standings ahead of Raoul Hyman who has dropped to third. The top three are now covered by just 13 points, with Sennan Fielding 29 points off the top in fourth with Palmer and Moore fifth and sixth overall, within 60 points of Russell.