Having enjoyed a weekend off, Chris Dittmann Racing returned to action feeling refreshed and ready to take on the next rounds of both the F4 British Championship at Thruxton and the GB3 Championship at Donington Park in a double team effort.
Hot from his best British F4 result yet, last time out at Brands Hatch, teenager Joel Pearson headed to the Hampshire venue with hopes of continuing the positive momentum. After a tricky day on Saturday, the team left with two top ten finishes and a solid haul of points.
With an extremely limited run of testing in F4 machinery around Thruxton in particular, and the usual Friday practice sessions having been over a month prior, the team struggled with finding the ultimate car set-up heading into qualifying and race one.
Qualifying around the fast-paced circuit would prove highly competitive, with only eight tenths of a second splitting the top ten. A red flag halted the action early on after Argenti’s Aiden Neate took his car off track, with the session resuming shortly after. Joel crossed the line 13th fastest, setting the races up to be a tough contest through the pack.
After making up one position on the opening lap of the first race and passing namesake Edward Pearson, Joel did well to run in 11th for much of the contest. Unfortunately, some moves from other drivers in the closing laps meant the 16-year-old slipped down to 15th at the chequered flag.
With a fresh perspective and building confidence in the car with every session, Joel headed into Sunday ready to take on races two and three. Getting a good start off the line, he found himself up three places and into the final points scoring position within the opening three laps. It was a great defensive drive from the youngster from that point onwards as he fought off Hitech GP’s Ollie Stewart and Argenti’s Adam Fitzgerald as they battled for tenth place, with the point scoring finish setting the tone for the rest of the day, serving to boost his confidence in the car.
Avoiding drama up front, Joel had another good start in the final contest, making it around three cars to run in tenth at the end of lap one. Getting stuck in with the action, a bold move around the outside of JHR’s Georgi Dimitrov at Noble paid off as he secured ninth place, but at half distance, a close encounter with Fitzgerald meant taking evasive action and running onto the grass to avoid a collision.
Losing only one position, Joel quickly got back up to speed. Going wheel to wheel with Noah Lisle to defend the last point scoring position, he was set to bring home another tenth place finish before contact ahead caused rivals to drop down the order. Taking advantage of the open positions, Joel powered through to cross the line an excellent seventh.
Coming to Thruxton on the back foot, Joel and the team turned a tough Saturday into a positive, point-scoring Sunday with lots learned to take forward into Oulton Park for rounds 10, 11, and 12 of the F4 British Championship over the weekend of June 11/12.
Joel Pearson #29
G1 – 13, R1 – 15
G2 – 13, R1 – 10
G3 – 13, R3 – 7
Championship: 12 (25 points)
“On Saturday, we struggled quite a bit with getting back up to speed after not having done much testing here. Qualifying didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to as I had only done one day around the circuit over a month ago, and the opening race wasn’t where we wanted to finish either.
“We made a few changes to the car overnight, but it was more in myself, my confidence, and bringing a different mindset to the day. Every time I step in the car, I get more confident, so I think every round should get better and better, so Sunday was a really positive day with two top 10 finishes, a good number of points, and a lot learned.
“Race two wasn’t too eventful. It was about picking off a few people and holding onto my position with a bit of defending. I overtook two cars, and one person came off in front of me. The plan was to get in front, make the car as wide as possible, and not let anyone past. I kept defending until the line and that gave us a good points finish.
“Race three, I just got stuck in, doing a lot of moves, and defending. It was an eventful race but a fun one. Into the chicane I got up onto the grass once, but I stayed on. I was left with no room and had no other option but I’m glad it came out alright as I’ve had a moment there before. I really enjoyed the race. Overall, it was a positive weekend. We struggled in qualifying and in race one, but I’m coming away with a smile on my face.”
Chris Dittmann, Team Owner
Teams’ Cup: 6 (23 points)
“It was a good end to the weekend. It was difficult for Joel to have no testing session and go straight into qualifying. It’s the same for everybody but with the limited testing we’ve done it was a tall ask for him to jump straight into it. In all three races he did a solid job, built up over the weekend, and to come away with P7 in race three was a great result.
“We’ve got a bit of a testing planned between now and the next round. Joel knows Oulton Park well, so I think we’re going there with further improvements for him and we’ll see what we can do.”