Momentum with O’sullivan and Stevenson as Browning struggles
Momentum counts for a lot in a championship fight and right now it seems to be slipping away from Luke Browning in British Formula 4, as his main rivals Zak O’sullivan and Casper Stevenson again took a significant chunk out of his lead.
The first Croft race was held in the wet conditions that Browning normally thrives in. But that was not the case in North Yorkshire as he made a slight mistake at Clervaux at the start, running wide and allowing O’sullivan and Abbi Pulling through. Browning then lost out further at Tower as the Arden machines of Frederick Lubin and Roman Bilinski got ahead to leave him sixth – and that was where he stayed to the finish.
Up front, polesitter Stevenson led initially but was soon under attack from O’sullivan, who pounced through the chicane on lap two. O’sullivan built a gap of a couple of seconds before Stevenson reeled him in and was right with the Carlin driver at the flag.
“I was just a bit tentative at the start and O’sullivan passed me and then I ran out of laps,” admitted Stevenson, while O’sullivan said he struggled for pace a little as the track began to dry.
Perhaps one of the clearest indications that it was not going to be Browning’s weekend came in qualifying. Stevenson and Browning’s second fastest times were both 1m19.595s but, as Stevenson set his first, it was he who started from pole for race two, the reversed-grid race not taking place as each British Touring Car Championship support category has a reduced amount of track time at one of the final three scheduled meetings.
“It’s crazy when you think about it,” said Stevenson about the pole times. “One turn of the wheel could’ve been the one thousandth [Browning needed].”
Argenti Motorsport racer Stevenson managed to stay ahead throughout this time to bag his second series win and a record-equalling ninth consecutive F4 podium, while all eyes were on the battle for second. O’sullivan made a brilliant dive down the inside of Browning at the hairpin on lap three of 15, only for Browning to fight back across the start/ finish line, but he ended up cutting across the chicane and lost the place.
Browning remained right with O’sullivan for the remainder of the contest, and did try a move around the outside of Tower late on, but he had to settle for third as Stevenson and O’sullivan once again gained the upper hand to reduce his points lead to 13.
JEP Stevenson leads O’sullivan, while Browning (far right) is being caught up in points