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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

Cup of­fers in­cen­tive to com­pete at lower cost

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