THE RUNNERS WHO KEPT THE LEADERS HONEST
Adam Morgan finished in ninth place in the standings and was the first double winner of the campaign when he backed up his triumph at the opening meeting at Brands Hatch with another success at Thruxton.
His real low point came at the same time as Shedden’s, when he was twice forced to retire the Ciceley Racing Mercedes-benz with suspension damage at Croft. He’d struggled at Oulton Park too, where the rear-wheel-drive cars come to the fore.
Engineering changes behind the scenes at Ciceley worked very well, and Morgan was driving as well as at any time in his tin-top career.
His Laser Tools Racing-backed team-mate Aiden Moffat continued his upward career trajectory. He started on the front row at Thruxton but was soon in the wars as the cars concertinaed up into the complex. He would have to wait until the very end of the season for his next shot at a top result, which came in the final meeting of the season at Brands, where he landed a career-best second place to sign off the year with 14th in the points.
There was very little to separate Triple Eight Racing MG6 partners Josh Cook and Ashley Sutton in terms of pace in the cars which were a mixture of the new RML parts and the older GPRM kit. The 2015 Renault UK Clio Cup champion Sutton was a race winner in his maiden season and lifted the Jack Sears Trophy for top rookie. Sutton took to the BTCC with ease, and there is a future champion here. Cook was unlucky not to win but in every other aspect, he was a match for Sutton and finished one position ahead of his partner with 12th in the standings.
Just in front of that was Jack Goff, who was one of the disappointments of the year in the WSR BMW 125i M Sport. The switch to rear-wheel-drive was always going to be a big ask, but despite some early promise with a podium at Brands, he seemed to struggle to get on top of the car. He was resoundingly beaten by both of his team-mates.
The opening win of the year went to Tom Ingram, who controlled the pace beautifully in the Speedworks Toyota to fend off champion Gordon Shedden in the Honda. He struggled to string together a meeting with three strong results after getting caught up in some unnecessary incidents. He had ironed those out by the mid-point and went on to take a second victory at Silverstone, but only after both MGS ahead of him had been penalised for a rear wing issue. He was 10th in the points.
The 12th different race winner of 2016 was Aron Smith in the Team BKR VW CC. He was using the chassis raced by Colin Turkington in 2015, but the outfit only got the green light to join the competition just a couple of weeks before the official media day. Frantic work by the squad got the cars, which were still fitted with GPRM parts, to the grid and Smith used it well. The team made a strong impact too.
British F4 was another series where the title battle went down to the final race. Unlike 2015 when Lando Norris had already sealed the crown in the penultimate contest, this was a nail-biting affair with six drivers heading into the Brands Hatch weekend still with a shot of the title.
It had certainly been a topsy-turvy season. To begin with, Carlin’s Romanian driver Petru Florescu was the man to beat. Then came a moment of madness at Knockhill. He collided with team-mate Devlin Defrancesco in race two before brawling with the Canadian, earning him an exclusion from the weekend and effectively ending his title hopes.
Another Carlin driver then came on strong with Max Fewtrell assuming the points lead thanks to an incredibly consistent season. But the vastly more experienced Sennan Fielding stole the advantage heading into Brands after a strong Silverstone weekend.
That set up an intriguing finale, but Fewtrell held the upper hand thanks to his better qualifying performance. He started the last race from pole, while Fielding was down in sixth. The JHR racer set about climbing up the order, pulling brilliant moves to rise to third. But then he got stuck behind rookie Ayrton Simmons while Fewtrell took an impressive win up front, sealing the title by just seven points.
While Fewtrell scored comfortably more podiums than any other driver, that Brands victory was only his third of the year. But while his rivals all enjoyed varying fortunes throughout the season it was his consistent performances – save for a collision with fellow Carlin racer James Pull at Thruxton that rolled him onto the barriers – that netted him the title.
As for Fielding, he was devastated to miss out in that final race. “I gave it my all but I was just really gutted for my team and family,” he says. “It was heart breaking. I’ve just got to take the positives – we did well to compete against Carlin and there were times that the car was the quickest on the grid.
“I think people recognised the job we did with the car we had and it’s taught me how to develop the car, which is important to become a professional racing driver.”
Besides Fielding and the Carlin quartet, there were a host of other drivers to take victories in what was a very competitive season. Double R’s Zane Goddard had a brilliant second half of the year with four wins, while Fortec’s Alex Quinn and Jamie Caroline and Arden’s Luis Leeds and Rafa Martins were all victorious too. JHR’S Billy Monger should also have joined the winners’ circle but was cruelly denied a maiden victory in the final race at Rockingham when oil pressure troubles dropped him to third.
That was just one of a number of moments that will linger in the memory from an exciting second year of the FIA F4-spec formula.
Consistency is very difficult to achieve in a category as unpredictable as Ginetta Junior. The races are often dramatic and it’s very easy for the top drivers to get caught up in scrapes. But one racer managed to avoid this and consistently deliver strong results.
It’s therefore no surprise that Will Tregurtha ended the year as champion. The 16-year-old HHC Motorsport driver demonstrated remarkable consistency this season. Only once did he finish outside of the top six and those metronomic performances ensured he sealed the crown early at Silverstone, meaning he could sit out the Brands Hatch finale.
Tregurtha ( right) is quick to point out how key his consistency was. “The one time something did go wrong I still finished inside the top 10 [after contact at the first corner in race one at Croft],” he says. “It was being able to do fast laps everywhere and be as consistent as possible.
“At the start of the year it was very hard because everyone was still very close and trying to find their feet. Once I got going properly, for example at Oulton Park, that was when we started to pull ahead. Once that started happening I didn’t have to push as hard and take as many risks and that made it a little bit easier.”
After that double win at Oulton ended a six-race barren spell, Tregurtha picked up further victories at Croft, Knockhill and Rockingham to then seal the title in Northamptonshire.
“It means everything to me because I worked really hard to get that and it took a lot of effort and commitment,” he says.
A lack of consistency proved key for Tregurtha’s closest rival Stuart Middleton. The Douglas Motorsport driver actually took more wins – seven to Tregurtha’s six – but a difficult second half of the season left him on the back foot, despite topping the standings mid-year.
He endured brake troubles at Snetterton, was penalised for a jumped start at Knockhill, had a scruffy Rockingham weekend and then had more caliper issues at Silverstone. These problems dropped him out of title contention but he at least ended his year on a high with a win in the penultimate race at Brands after dramatically passing Lewis Brown exiting the final corner.
Brown and Dave Wooder ended up third and fourth in the points but also lacked consistency, while a number of rookies put in strong performances, with Daniel Harper, Harry King and Sebastian Priaulx all taking wins. ■