Louis Sharp remains the man to beat in the race for the 2023 ROKiT F4 British Championship Certified by FIA title after the Rodin Cars-backed racer retained his points lead at Oulton Park.
The rapid New Zealander made the trip to Cheshire seeking to add to a double podium finish at Thruxton, with the Rodin Carlin driver aiming to try and repeat the results he had gained on his first visit to the circuit twelve months earlier – where he scored his first win in the series.
The key moment of the weekend would arrive before racing had even got underway, with a tricky qualifying session on Saturday leaving Louis on the back foot going into Rounds 13, 14 and 15 at one of the most difficult circuits on which to overtake.
Although his fastest lap in the session would be only 0.279s away from pole, it would leave Louis sitting in ninth place – which is where he would then start race three – with his second-best time leaving him to start race one from fifth.
Louis retained his place at the start of the opening race before an incident elsewhere forced officials to halt the action and would again run in fifth after the restart, aware that his main championship rivals were running behind on track. Moving up a spot when Aiden Neate ran off the road, Louis took the flag in fourth spot to extend his championship lead.
The reverse grid second race was always going to be a case of damage limitation, with Louis lining up in 13th place for the start. With a focus on trying to score bonus points for making up places, his hopes would be ended on just the second lap when he was hit from behind at the hairpin, damaging the rear wing and forcing him into the pits.
Although fine work from the crew in the pits allowed him to rejoin the action, a lap was lost in the process, with Louis focusing on scoring the bonus point on offer for fastest lap. A storming lap three-tenths of a second quicker than anyone else was able to manage meant mission accomplished by the time the chequered flag flew.
From P9 on the grid for the weekend finale, Louis would battle his way up to sixth place to add more vital points to his championship tally, and ensure he will take a five point lead into the next event on the schedule, which will see him make his debut on the iconic Silverstone Grand Prix layout.
“Having shown solid pace in practice, I felt confident of fighting for pole going into qualifying but I made a few small mistakes and didn’t quite get a lap hooked up,” he reflected.
“That was ultimately the key moment of the weekend given how difficult it is to overtake at Oulton Park, and it was all about making sure we scored the maximum we could from the three races with our focus on the championship.
“I was pleased to take P4 in the opening race, and could potentially have pushed for the podium but I knew the guys I’m fighting in the championship were all behind me and I didn’t want to take too many risks. I’ve learned this season already that sometimes when the race is running in your favour, you don’t have to take those risks, and settling for the points was the right way to go.
“There was nothing I could do in race two when someone decided to drive over the back of my car, and huge credit to the team for getting me back out so we could set the fastest lap. It might only be worth one point, but that is a point that could be crucial when it comes to the end of the season so their effort was greatly appreciated.
“Race three we made up places again to finish in the top six, so whilst we haven’t been where I hoped to be, we have been able to limit the damage from where we qualified and have retained the championship lead.
“I’m looking forward to Silverstone next up as I haven’t raced on the Grand Prix circuit before, and I’m sure it will be a fantastic experience to compete at such on such an iconic layout.”
Header Image: Rodin Cars