Weston Hills teenager Johnathan Hoggard found out what it takes to race at the front of the British F4 Championship at Scotland’s Knockhill circuit.
Buoyant after securing his maiden championship point at the last round, despite a host of mechanical issues, Hoggard showcased his talents in the free practice sessions.
In driving rain, Hoggard demonstrated his mastery of both the car and conditions to post the second quickest lap time in the 19-car field.
In the second session, he continued to impress – posting the fifth fastest time in drying conditions.
On a dry track, Hoggard finished the day four-10ths of a second from the fastest time in sixth position overall.
The 20-minute qualifying session was interrupted by two red flags caused by cars needing to be recovered from dangerous positions on track.
This meant Hoggard was only able to post a single quick lap in both of his qualifying runs.
However, these two laps proved quick enough to take sixth position on the grid for race one and race three ahead of a number of the major championship challengers on only his second British F4 Championship weekend.
As the formation lap took place for race one, light drizzle started to fall – making the track surface slippery for the slick dry tyres.
At the start, Hoggard created wheel spin when the lights turned green meaning he lost a place.
We couldn’t be more delighted with the massive improvements we see every time he sits in the carFortec Motorsports
He had worked his way back to sixth before the safety car neutralised the race following an accident further down the field.
At the restart of the race, with everyone bunched together on cold tyres on the slippery track, one of the front-runners went sideways at the last corner resulting in those following needing to stand on the brakes.
Unfortunately, Hoggard was left with nowhere to go, running into the back of the car in front – destroying his front wing. Though he tried to continue, the officials deemed the front-wing dangerous and called him into pits – resulting in a P16 finish.
Race two saw Hoggard start in 15th following the exclusion of another driver. He made progress to 11th by the end of lap three.
The safety car was deployed on lap seven following another accident, causing the field to close up again.
Following the re-start, Hoggard attempted to overtake a slower car which resulted in contact and the total loss of his front-wing which significantly affected the handling of the car.
He slipped to the back of the field posting times half a second off the pace.
At this point, Fortec called him into pits, replaced his nosecone and sent him out again.
With a clear track he proceeded to set the fastest sector one time in the race on his way to the fourth fastest lap time. But this was little compensation for the 17th race finish.
His strong qualifying meant a sixth-place grid start for the televised final race.
Hoggard showed mastery of the standing start by getting off the line quicker than drivers in grid positions three and five.
Those cars moved, leaving Hoggard no space and two options, hit the pitwall or hold the racing line and accept the contact.
His right front wing bent at a 60° angle, meaning his race was effectively ended before turn one. A further spin in the middle of the race resulted in a 16th-place finish.
Fortec Motorsports commented: “Johnathan’s pace in free practice was truly impressive and to qualify in P6 for both races and be the fastest Fortec driver was a remarkable achievement for a rookie in only his second weekend.
“He has already shown he is fast enough to race for podium finishes over the remainder of the season.
“The experience of racing wheel-to-wheel with the drivers challenging for championship honours can only fast-track his development.
“He needs to reflect on the incidents that cost him a significant championship points haul this weekend and learn from the mistakes and come back stronger next time – we know he can do this.
“We couldn’t be more delighted with the massive improvements we see every time he sits in the car.”
The next round of the British F4 Championship takes place over the bank holiday weekend at the Rockingham race circuit in Corby, Northamptonshire.
Hoggard is attempting to raise £15,000 to enter the meeting. Local companies who would be interested in showing support should email firstname.lastname@example.org