Weston Hills teenager Johnathan Hoggard scored his maiden British F4 Championship point after overcoming a host of mechanical issues in his first race meeting at the Snetterton race circuit in Norfolk last weekend.
Taking his place on the grid for the sixth round after securing sponsorship late in the day, Hoggard and the Fortec Motorsport race team had high hopes of a strong result after he posted the fastest lap time in the testing session at the beginning of July.
Friday’s first practice session showed Hoggard was straight on the pace, posting the fourth fastest lap time in the 20-minute session.
However, his second practice session was cut short by mechanical issues – forcing him into the pits with 10 minutes remaining.
The mechanical problems continued into Saturday’s race day as Hoggard was unable to take part in the 20-minute qualifying session, meaning he would start in 18th and last place in races one and three – a huge disappointment given his strong pace on Friday.
The Fortec engineers worked tirelessly to overcome the mechanical problems and with only minutes to spare, Hoggard was able to race – albeit starting from the pit lane.
Released onto the race circuit after the rest of the grid had passed turn one and instructed to nurse the car in the first couple of laps, Hoggard found himself more than 40 seconds behind the rest of field.
Given the go-ahead to ‘race’ at the end of lap three, a string of fastest laps allowed him close to within four seconds of the last place runner and prove that the mechanical issues had been overcome.
A light shower welcomed the start of race two on Saturday in Hoggard’s first standing start in a race car.
He made steady progress up to 14th position before the safety car was deployed with seven minutes of the race remaining.
For Johnathan to finish in the points in his first-ever race meeting, given everything he had to contend with, is truly remarkable.
This resulted in the field bunching up again, meaning it would be a sprint to the chequered flag.
With two minutes of the race time remaining, the safety car pulled back into the pits and the field was back racing.
Hoggard passed three cars to claim 11th place on the final lap and closed to within 4/10ths of a second of 10th place which would have secured his first championship points.
Race three took place on Sunday afternoon with bright sunshine in ideal race conditions.
A near perfect start saw Hoggard pass four cars to race in 14th by the end of lap one.
A series of clean overtakes saw him make progress up to 11th by lap six.
With clear air, he started setting his fastest lap times of the race to move into the points-scoring 10th position – crossing the line to score a championship point in only his third ever car race.
A spokesman for Fortec said: “For Johnathan to finish in the points in his first-ever race meeting, given everything he had to contend with, is truly remarkable.
“He stayed calm and positive while the engineers were working on the car up to the start of race one. When on track he remained focussed, followed instructions and didn’t overdrive the car.
“His pace and lap times over the entire race meeting were consistently in the top eight which bodes well for any future race meetings Johnathan enters.
“As a team we really couldn’t be more delighted with his attitude and performance over the weekend.”
The next round of the British F4 Championship takes place at the Knockhill race circuit in Scotland on August 12 and 13.
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