JHR Developments leaves Donington Park as F4 British Championship leaders
JHR Developments had further podium success in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost, and the Dronfield-based outfit left a cold and wet Donington Park with the lead in both the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championship standings.
Hoping for a dry qualifying session, the weather refused to play ball and the cars headed out onto a wet circuit. This hampered the progress of the team with Cumbrian Josh Skelton finishing the best of the trio in eighth place. Sadly for Josh he wasn’t able to convert this into a strong race finish as he was touched into a spin into the first corner, sustaining damage. He battled in race two to finish tenth and rebounded from falling to 11th in race three to recover to eighth.
Ayrton Simmons produced a strong drive to climb up to sixth in race one and in race two, showing why leads the Championship, he drove masterfully to lead the race, making a move down the Craner Curves to emulate namesake Ayrton Senna’s exploits in the 1993 European Grand Prix. The Epping-native battled valiantly to hold off the rapid Kiern Jewiss but wasn’t able to hold on for a birthday victory, coming in a strong second.
Simmons was in the wars during race three as he came upon a slow Hampus Ericsson at the Old Hairpin and collided with the Swede, sending both off track. Despite being well behind the pack when the race re-started after a safety car, he clawed his way to a second sixth-place finish of the weekend.
For Manuel Sulaiman it was a weekend to forget. The Mexican had pace in testing and practice but struggled with the performance of the car in the colder and wet conditions on Saturday and Sunday, which was compounded in race three when he was taken out while trying to overtake Sebastian Alvarez.
Race one: Grid 10, Race 6
Race two: Grid 6, Race 2
Race three: Grid 8, Race 6
Championship: 1 (102 points)
“Free Practice was good. We were a bit off the pace, but we knew what to work on if qualifying was dry. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and we struggled with the conditions and didn’t find the right balance. Race one was also in the wet, but we massively improved the car and ended up finishing sixth from tenth which I thought was reasonable.
"Race two was dry and it was tricky because we had new tyres and they take a few laps to get to optimum grip levels, so it was about who could open the biggest gap in the first few laps. I had a good start and made up two places off the line in race three but had contact with Ericsson as he was much slower than I expected him to be and both of us ended up spinning. I was waved past the safety car, but the race re-started while I was still 10-15 seconds behind the pack. We had pace, we improved the car again, and ended up finishing sixth. It was good, but I could have snatched a podium. It wasn’t our best weekend, but we scored good points.”
Race one: Grid 8, Race 12
Race two: Grid 11, Race 10
Race three: Grid 6, Race 8
Championship: 10 (15 points)
Rookie cup: 3 (83 points)
“Qualifying started off well and in the wet race on Saturday we got touched which made me spin. It caused some damage and we didn’t really recover from that. In race two we had a tricky race from 11th and made some positions back. For race three there was an incident on the first lap, dropping us down to 11th and we fought back to finish eighth at the flag. It was my first wet experience in cars, but it was good, just tough with the damage to the car.”
Race one: Grid 11, Race 10
Race two: Grid 10, Race 13
Race three: Grid 11, Race DNF
Championship: 13 (5 points)
“We had an official test on Monday and Free Practice on Thursday and I was quite quick in the dry. Qualifying on Saturday wasn’t really what we wanted, and it made the weekend quite difficult. In race one we gained some places, but the conditions were tricky and in race two we didn’t do particularly well. For race three the car felt really good. I had an okay start and made up three places. There was an incident when I tried to overtake Sebastian Alvarez. I went on the inside and he turned in on me and that was it really. It wasn’t a great weekend. I’m looking forward to Thruxton now.”
Steven Hunter, Team Principal
“The weekend could have been better. It started off tough as qualifying wasn’t great, so we’ve ground out results. We’d like to have extended our advantage instead of maintaining it, but I’ll settle for that at this point of the season. Josh’s qualifying was really good, and we just need to work on some of the racing and his starts. Ayrton’s overall race craft has been exceptional. Manuel had a bad weekend but I’m sure he’ll bounce back for Thruxton and he’ll be back on the pace.”