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  • Chris Beck

Priaulx Makes Top Six Return With Battling Croft Display

Sebastian Priaulx has brought the first half of his maiden F4 British Championship campaign to a close with a return to the top six, as a strong race three performance provided a positive end to an otherwise challenging weekend at Croft (23/24 June). The 1st Central Insurance driver would find himself with an uphill struggle following a difficult qualifying session on Saturday, but he responded well with some battling displays in the races to secure a hat-trick of top ten finishes. Priaulx would produce some strong pace during an official two-day test at the circuit at the start of the month, and he further hinted at a competitive weekend ahead as he stormed to third fastest overall during the second free practice session on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately a change in the car’s balance for qualifying the next day would stop Priaulx from maximising his potential in the session, as he came away with eighth and seventh on the grid for races one and three of the weekend, the first of which followed that afternoon. Priaulx got a great launch off the line in his Arden Motorsport machine to rise to seventh, although it was sadly short-lived as he got run out wide across the gravel at the first corner, with the subsequent loss of momentum leaving him powerless to prevent himself dropping to tenth. Settling into a rhythm from there, Priaulx closed onto the tail of the driver ahead and gave it everything he had to try and get the place, however despite his best efforts he would have to settle for tenth position at the chequered flag. Some changes to the car overnight left the Guernseyman confident there would be an upturn in performance during races two and three on Sunday, both of which would take place live on ITV4 and in front of a huge trackside crowd. Priaulx would make some strong progress in the opening race of the day as he climbed three places over the first half of the race, however following a short safety car period, he was unable to gain further ground and brought the Ravenscroft machine home in seventh. The seventeen year old would start the final race from the same position and a brilliant start saw him move up to fifth place on the opening lap. Immediately pulling clear of the pack behind, his attention turned to challenging title contender Ayrton Simmons for fourth. Unfortunately the introduction of the safety car slashed his near four second gap to those behind, and at the restart he soon found himself in the difficult position of trying to defend and attack at the same time as he fought with Simmons and team-mate Jack Doohan. After losing out to Doohan, Priaulx would maintain the pressure on Simmons throughout the remainder of the race, however a clear overtaking opportunity would not present itself and he took the finish in sixth. With an eighth top six finish of the season so far under his belt, Priaulx now heads into the championship’s mid-season summer break focused on ensuring he’s back fighting at the front of the field in the next rounds at Snetterton in Norfolk on July 28/29. Sebastian Priaulx: “After showing so much promise in free practice on Friday it is obviously very disappointing that we couldn’t be battling at the front this weekend, but we pushed hard throughout and I’m pleased we could end on a positive note with a top six finish. “Unfortunately the car felt different on Saturday and I couldn’t quite get to grips with it across qualifying and the first race, however the team worked hard to find a solution and it feels like we made some great progress with the car in the final race. “The summer break has come at an ideal time for us. We want to be back fighting for podium finishes, so we’ve got five weeks until Snetterton to work with the team to ensure we have the best package possible to take into the second half of the season.”

Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography

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