MOTORSPORT: Hoggard celebrates maiden podium finish
Weston Hills teenager Johnathan Hoggard continued his hugely impressive debut in the British F4 Championship by securing his maiden podium finish at Silverstone – the home of British motorsport.
After being forced to sit out the round at Rockingham due to a lack of funding, he set the fastest time in the morning session of testing.
Hoggard finished eighth fastest in a dry morning free practice and 10th in the wet afternoon session.
In Saturday’s 20-minute qualifying session, Hoggard was quickly on the pace by setting the third fastest lap time in the early part.
However, in attempting an overtake Hoggard hit a wet patch on the track and touched the slower car – pushing it offline and into the gravel track.
Losing valuable track time for minor repairs, Hoggard was only able to post a time quick enough to take eighth position on the grid for race one and sixth position for race three.
He dropped down to 10th place midway through race one.
As drivers slowed for the wet conditions, Hoggard seized his opportunity to gain two places.
With only three laps remaining, the heavens opened and all drivers were forced to slow dramatically as they attempted to stay on track on slick tyres.
At the chequered flag, Hoggard maintained eighth position – securing four championship points and pole position on the partially reversed grid for race two.
As a rookie, for Johnathan to race wheel-to-wheel with the major championship challengers and secure his maiden podium is an outstanding achievement in British F4.
The conditions proved so bad that racing was suspended for more than an hour and the final race of the day was postponed to Sunday.
Starting from pole position for the first time on a drying track, Hoggard generated too much wheel spin – meaning he was beaten to the first corner by experienced championship challengers.
On lap three, Hoggard was looking to pass when the third-placed driver turned into the rear of his car, destroying his rear suspension and ending his race when in a podium position.
A sixth-placed grid start for the televised race three of the weekend offered the possibility of gaining more championship points.
A strong start meant he completed lap one in fourth position.
The Fortec rookie pulled off a brilliant overtaking move on the sixth attempt to take third on lap seven.
However, looming large in Hoggard’s mirrors was his Fortec team-mate who having saved his tyre allocation for the final race was significantly quicker.
Hoggard’s resolute defence was broken on lap 18 of 21 – but the drama was not to end there.
Losing momentum after being overtaken, Hoggard found himself under attack from the fifth-placed driver who attempted an over-optimistic overtake and span out.
Hoggard was able to keep going with slight damage and on the penultimate lap his Fortec team-mate was forced into the pits with a technical gremlin, promoting Hoggard back up to a well deserved third place and his maiden podium finish.
He said: “I wanted to put on a good show for everyone watching at home, live on television, and I think I did that.
“This is a result I can build on and gives me a lot of confidence. It’s a weight off my shoulders to get this first podium. I’ve had some bad luck in my previous two race weekends, when I could have been right up there, but it’s come good.”
A spokesman for Fortec added: “As a rookie, for Johnathan to race wheel-to-wheel with the major championship challengers and secure his maiden podium is an outstanding achievement in British F4.
“It wasn’t just the result, it was the maturity of the drive, under so much pressure, which was so impressive.
“He showed he has both the ability, maturity and confidence to race at the front of the grid against the best young talent from across the world.”
The final round of the British F4 Championship takes on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit from September 29 to October 1.
Hoggard needs to raise £15,000 to enter the meeting. Any companies interested in giving support should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org