- Simon Paice
Damage Limitation For Priaulx During Bruising Thruxton Weekend
Sebastian Priaulx salvaged some crucial championship points from the latest rounds of the 2018 Formula 4 British Championship at Thruxton this past weekend (19/20 May) after seeing contact derail his challenge in both of the opening two races. The 1st Central Insurance supported driver secured a best finish of sixth position over the course of rounds seven, eight and nine in Hampshire, with two more top ten finishes ensuring he ended the weekend only one point shy of the championship top three. The annual visit to the fastest circuit in the UK provides some unique challenges for drivers and teams, with a single free practice session on Friday afternoon allowing Priaulx to get reacquainted with the 2.36 mile circuit in his Arden Motorsport machine. Unfortunately some brake problems in that session would put the Guernseyman firmly on the backfoot heading into the weekend, which would show in qualifying as a frustrating session saw him end up eleventh on the grid for races one and three. The opening race of the weekend that afternoon would start in nightmare fashion for the Ravenscroft backed racer. A brilliant launch off the line propelled him into a gap between the two drivers in front, however some questionable defending from one of them led to contact. Priaulx was left with a broken front wing and therefore had to pit for a replacement, which left him in a distant eleventh position when he returned to the action. With no-one to battle with on track, it was a lonely drive to an eventual finish of tenth place. The seventeen year old headed into Sunday determined to bounce back strongly in races two and three, both of which were televised live on ITV4, and a strong start to the second race saw him rise from tenth to seventh on the opening lap alone. Following a short safety car period, Priaulx’s challenge for the front would sadly unravel when an overly aggressive move from another driver heading through the complex sent him spinning down to the rear of the field in eleventh place. Fortunately the reappearance of the safety car shortly after allowed him to close onto the back of the pack, and from there a strong fightback saw him rise to seventh position at the chequered flag – a confidence boosting result heading into race three. Priaulx would produce his best performance of the weekend in the final encounter, with a mature, calculated drive seeing him overcome some continued issues with the car to climb from eleventh on the grid to a seventh top six finish of the season so far. The weekend’s results have maintained Priaulx’s position in the top four of the championship standings heading into the fourth meeting of the season at the picturesque Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire in three weeks’ time (09/10 June). Sebastian Priaulx: “It’s been a really tough weekend and it quickly became apparent that it was a case of damage limitation and trying to come away with as many championship points as possible, so I was satisfied to get three top ten finishes in the end. “We just didn’t have the performance in the car over the weekend that we expected, which meant I never really got the chance to attack in the races, but I gave it my all and I feel sixth place in race three was a solid way to end the weekend. “Myself and the Arden Motorsport team both want to win, so we’re going to be working hard to find and solve the problems ahead of Oulton Park, so we can get back on-form and be battling at the front of the field once again.”
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.