Chris Dittmann Racing officially made its debut in the F4 British Championship at the weekend (April 23/24), heading to Donington Park in Leicestershire with youngster Joel Pearson behind the wheel.
Joel, new to both the team and the series, had a fight on his hands after a hanful of test days and minimal time in the new Tatuus T-421 car introduced for this season, but coped well and brought home a top ten finish and his first points.
In a championship in which the single qualifying session sets the grid for all three races – with the fastest times counting for race one, second fastest for race three, and the top ten being reversed for race two – a quick lap time would serve him well. At the end of the session, he was classified 11th quickest with his two best times, just half a second off from the top five.
With a late deal to race with the team and thus reduced testing time in the car, each session continues to be a learning experience for the teenager. Race one started with an unfortunate stall off the grid, which meant he dropped four positions down to 15th on the opening lap. However, in a quick recovery, Joel found himself in a wheel-to-wheel battle with Daniel Mavlyutov as they switched positions several times before eventually building a steady seven second lead on the Hitech GP driver, crossing the line 14th.
With lessons learned, Joel had a strong start to race two as he flew up from 11th to seventh within the first four laps. A steady run in came to an end when namesake Edward Pearson fought past, but with a comfortable run to the flag from that point, his top ten finish meant bagging four points in the championship.
The Yorkshire native made another good start in race three as he immediately gained one place into tenth but found himself wheel to wheel with Oliver Stewart. The rivals enjoyed a good battle, getting alongside each other multiple times but ultimately the Scot gained the advantage, pushing Joel down to 11th. Remaining in the mix for a points finish, Joel battled with Noah Lisle and Daniel Guinchard, however falling just behind both meant running in the dirty air and he was unable to grab another top ten finish.
Coming from the Ginetta Junior Championship, and with a year away from racing, the opening weekend of the F4 British Championship was a great opportunity for Joel to learn more about the car and continue to make progress for himself and the team, with everyone positive about the remainder of the campaign.
While the team will be back on track over the weekend of May 7/8 in the GB3 Championship, Joel and the F4 side of the workshop will next tackle the challenging Brands Hatch Indy circuit in Kent one week later, with live coverage once again on ITV4, with three hours also broadcast on ITV1, boosting viewership numbers even more.
Joel Pearson, #29
G1 – 11, R1 – 14
G2 – 11, R2 – 8
G3 – 11, R3 – 13
Championship: 11 (4 points)
“I’ve learned so much from this weekend that I’m going to carry on and bring into the next round. Free Practice was about me still learning in the car – learning more about the brakes and trying to get to grips with it all. Considering everything, qualifying went pretty well and P11 in all three races wasn’t bad for my first time in single seaters and first qualifying session in a year!
“Race one wasn’t how I wanted it to go. Stalling at the start just happened – I haven’t had time to practice any race starts pre-season, so that was basically me still learning how to do them. I learned a lot, which I carried into the next one where I got a decent start, and I think that race went pretty well, coming in P8.
“In race three I just got stuck in at the beginning but was a bit unlucky with catching people and some dirty air and then dropped back a bit. From then on it was like follow the leader, with no overtaking. On the whole I’ve learned a lot this weekend, I’m still gaining knowledge every time I get in the car. Every race weekend you just get better and better.”
Chris Dittmann, Team Owner
Teams’ Championship: 6 (1 point)
“There was a lot learnt for Joel. Coming into the weekend he was very limited in testing compared to most, so we knew it was going to be very much a learning weekend for him. I’m really pleased with his progress over testing and the two days of racing and it’s really, really encouraging to be honest. There was a huge amount of learning in the races; attacking, defending, and getting off the line as well, which is good. We’re really pleased with his progress and already looking forward to Brands Hatch next month.”