F4 INTRODUCES CHALLENGE CUP
British F4 series organisers have introduced a new Challenge Cup for 2017 for drivers who don’t have the budget to complete a full season.
The Challenge Cup will replace the current rookie class and has been designed to allow drivers to compete for less than £100,000.
Instead of taking part in all 10 race weekends, Challenge Cup drivers will contest seven. They must race at the Knockhill and Brands Hatch GP rounds and will nominate their other five chosen weekends at the start of the year.
The sporting and technical regulations will be exactly the same as the main series and they will score points for the overall championship as well.
Some of the finer details of the Cup are still provisional but drivers are set to have a £1000 prize fund per weekend and a separate podium, with the first Challenge Cup driver to take an overall win getting a one-off £5000 prize.
In-season testing will also be restricted to keep costs down, with drivers only allowed to take part in Friday test days before race meetings and seven other official test days after February 1.
“There are drivers out there that have got cash and some that haven’t and we want to try and introduce a way so that other drivers [with a smaller budget] can have a fair crack of the whip as well,” said championship manager David Lowe. “We’re reducing costs with the Challenge Cup by drivers just doing seven of the 10 rounds. The technical regulations will be exactly the same so it makes it a level playing field.
“The Challenge Cup helps to let the drivers build themselves up before going for the main championship. It’s good for drivers to come in from karting with a two-year programme – they can get to know the circuits and get used to the cars.
“It’s all looking great, we’ve had lots of interest from drivers and new teams.”
If a Challenge Cup driver has a strong start to the season, or finds extra budget, they can also switch to the main championship during the year.
Lowe added that the Challenge Cup idea has proved popular among teams. JHR Developments boss Steve Hunter – who runs points leader Sennan Fielding – is supportive of the concept.
“I think it’s a good idea as it brings the budget down,” he said. “I’d be open to running drivers in both championships.”
There will also be a testing ban from December 21 to January 31 for all British F4 drivers contesting both the main series and the concurrent Challenge Cup.
Junior OK (14 laps) 1 Chris Lulham; 2 Max Jeanne +0.85s; 3 Morgan Porter; 4 Mark Kimber; 5 Bradley Barrett; 6 Kyle Connolly. Heat winners Porter, Kimber. Fastest lap Kimber 58.23s (53.10mph). Pole Kimber. Starters 9. Final 2 (14 laps) 1 Porter; 2 Kimber +0.56s; 3 Jeanne; 4 Lulham; 5 Roman Haskett; 6 Barrett. FL Jonathan Hoggard 57.66s (53.62mph). Senior OK (14 laps) 1 Oliver Hodgson; 2 Jamie Flynn +1.83s; 3 Jacob Stilp; 4 Tom Gamble; 5 Archie Tillett; 6 Sam Faulkner. HW Hodgson (x2). FL Dean Macdonald 55.42s (55.79mph). P Hodgson. S 15. Final 2 (14 laps) Hodgson; 2 Stilp +4.05s; 3 Macdonald; 4 Gamble; 5 Nicholas Scholl; 6 Flynn. FL Macdonald 55.44s (55.77mph). Cadet IAME (12 laps) 1 Harry Thompson; 2 Joshua Rattican +0.02s; 3 Joseph Taylor; 4 Jonny Wilkinson; 5 Georgi Dimitrov; 6 Taylor Barnard. HW Thompson x2, Bray Kenneally. FL Taylor 1m07.57s (45.76mph). P Rattican. S 40. Final 2 (12 laps) 1 Thompson; 2 Dimitrov +0.25s; 3