Successful Snetterton sojourn for
JHR Developments enjoyed five superb podium finishes at Snetterton in the F4 British Championship, for rounds 16, 17, and 18 of the 2019 season.
All three of its drivers showed impressive speed and racecraft, with Josh Skelton taking a second and third place, Carter Williams a second place, and Alex Walker securing two third-place finishes in the Rookie Cup, on just his second weekend in the series.
It was American Carter, celebrating his 21st birthday, who was quickest out of the traps, qualifying second for the first race of the weekend and fending off pressure from championship leader Zane Maloney to hold on to that spot at the flag.
Unfortunately, the Californian was forced to retire from the second contest after contact caused his rear wing to come off, but he bounced back in race three, shooting into third place. He made a move for second, but lost momentum and fell back to fifth, where he finished.
After finishing sixth in race one, Josh started on pole for race two but lost the lead when avoiding Sebastian Alvarez who ran wide when trying to pass the Cumbrian.
Josh eventually finished an agonising 0.099s away from what would have been his second victory of the season. He crossed the line third in the final race of the weekend, an even more miniscule 0.034s behind the car ahead.
For Alex, the jubilation of a maiden Rookie podium on his debut weekend last time out was blown away with a two third place finishes in Norfolk, where he scored a best overall finish of an impressive eighth place in race two.
There is a swift two-week turnaround for the team now, before a second visit this season to the UK’s fastest race circuit, Thruxton, over the weekend of August 17/18.
Grid 1 – 7, Race – 6
Grid 2 – 1, Race – 2
Grid 3 – 7, Race – 3
Drivers’ Championship: 5 (172.5 points)
“We were looking good in practice, though we struggled a bit on fresh tyres with the grip. In qualifying I didn’t get a good lap in so only finished seventh, so I knew I had to get my head down for race one. It was a bit of a boring one, I made up a place off the line but nothing else happened.
“That gave me reverse grid pole, but I struggled at the start. I was defending for my life with people attacking from all directions. I was run wide when Alvarez tried to pass but then something clicked, and I found lots of time. I reeled in Tommy Foster and almost got him across the line.
“I thought I would be happy with a top-five finish in race three. I got my head down and made two places into turn one, and we had so much pace it was unreal. I could put the car where I wanted. I picked two more people off and put a charge in on Bart [Horsten] but couldn’t get through. It was smarter to come away with the points rather than crash. I’m heading into Thruxton where hopefully we can carry the pace over. It’s a lively circuit in these cars!”
Grid 1 – 2, Race – 2
Grid 2 – 5, Race – DNF
Grid 3 – 5, Race – 5
Drivers’ Championship: 9 (99 points)
“From free practice one onwards the pace felt good, coming off the back of the test last week. We had good pace in FP1 even when we didn’t have new tyres on. In FP2 we put on new boots and were second quickest, so we were confident. In qualifying we swapped places a bit with Alverez for fastest times and to so be P2 and P5 for race three was good.
“In race one we started off in second and drove a decent race, defending from Maloney. We didn’t have any trouble from the cars behind and it felt good. Race two lasted four corners, despite having started fifth, so that was disappointing. Alex Connor missed his braking point, ran into the back of me, and took off the rear wing and crash structure.
“We had a good start to race three and got up to fourth. I felt I could attack all race and got up to third, passing Maloney. I tried to get past Bart and got put off the track a few times, but the car felt good. The pace was strong, so I think we’re in a good place. With Josh third as well we’re both up there. I’m feeling positive going into Thruxton as the pace was good last time.”
Grid 1 – 12, Race – 11 (Rookie: 4)
Grid 2 – 11, Race – 8 (R: 3)
Grid 3 – 12, Race – 9 (R: 3)
Rookie Cup: 5 (79 points)
“We were quick in practice having made good improvements. In qualifying something broke on the engine and I only had around half the power, so I was last on the grid. In the first race I made some places but also made some mistakes so stayed where I was. Race two was tough and I made a bad start but gained some places on the opening lap. There was some contact between me and another driver but I pushed hard and caught the pack. I got a bit lucky and made some places, finishing eighth and took a Rookie podium.
“I fell back to last in race three and made some positions but then I’d come off worse in battles and fall back again. Once I got through, I made up a few more places and passed Roberto Faria around the outside of the first corner for third in the Rookie Cup, which boosted my confidence. With one more lap I think I could have got past Louis Foster too but ran out of time.
“I think we could have got three Rookie podiums this weekend. Things are becoming more and more natural when I get in the car and I feel more confident and I’m improving and moving in the right direction.”
Steven Hunter, Team Manager
“It was a good weekend overall. Carter was excellent in the first race but unfortunately, race two was ended after one lap when someone ran into the back of him. In race three he got up to second but made a couple of errors and fell back, but he still bagged some good points across the weekend.
“Josh struggled a bit in qualifying. He drove an excellent defensive race in the second contest and unfortunately, one moment cost him a couple of positions. In race three he had a fabulous race with some excellent driving. Second could have been on the cards but he made no mistakes.
“Alex had an unfortunate situation in qualifying when he ran wide, and it pulled a plug out of the engine, so he started at the back of the grid. But to come home with two Rookie podiums is showing his progression in learning his craft. He is moving forward at all times and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for him.”