It’s been a bizarre season in so many ways, but there’s nothing unusual about the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost title fight going down to the wire at Brands Hatch.
For the second year in succession, two of Ford’s rising stars will arrive at the iconic 1.19-mile Kent circuit tied level on points, with Carlin’s Zak O’Sullivan currently ahead of Fortec’s Luke Browning by virtue of countback; the pair each have 369 points, but crucially O’Sullivan has eight race victories to Browning’s six.
The pair can’t afford to just focus on each other however, with the late-season form of Argenti Motorsport’s Casper Stevenson propelling him into the mix, 48 points back with 75 still on offer across this weekend’s triple-header of races.
O’Sullivan certainly arrives with the momentum, having closed Browning’s lead from 57 points to zero over the last three race meetings, but there’s little doubting the mid-November weather conditions could well play into the rain master’s hands.
For Stevenson, continuing his recent record-equaling run of podium finishes could hold the key; any wrong moves for the pair ahead and that form could well give him an opportunity to take the crown away at the last hurdle.
It would also mean an impressive title success for series newcomers Argenti Motorsport at the first attempt.
O’Sullivan and Browning’s battle at the championship summit is also reflected in the Teams Cup, with their Carlin and Fortec outfits heading into the weekend vying for the honours.
Carlin currently hold a 28-point advantage as they look to depose the absent Double R Racing from their perch, whilst Fortec are chasing a maiden title in Britain’s FIA Formula 4 series, in either case.
Their bid has been boosted by the news that Brazilian rising star Roberto Faria will return to the grid for the season curtain-call, allowing Fortec to field the maximum two cars able to score points for the Teams Cup, as per the rules.
It could be a championship hat-trick for Carlin, as Australian Christian Mansell arrives in Kent with a reasonable 44-point advantage over Arden Motorsport’s Frederick Lubin.
A crucial victory in class for Lubin in the final race at Snetterton has kept their battle alive, and he’ll need to outscore Mansell right from the get-go to keep the fight going beyond the opening race.
Each of the title contenders will need to be wary, however, with a whole host of Ford-powered rising stars waiting in the wings to throw a spanner in the works.
JHR’s James Hedley and Arden’s Alex Connor have been regular front-runners, and race winners, in 2020, and despite dropping out of title contention at Snetterton remain locked in a thrilling dice for fourth overall.
Hedley holds the upper hand by 15 points and will be hoping a return to the rostrum at Snetterton gives him the momentum to get across the line.
An equally fascinating battle rages on behind between Hedley’s JHR team mate, Abbi Pulling, and the final ‘Red Arrow’ of Roman Bilinski.
Both have enjoyed their share of silverware and solid points hauls across the campaign, with Pulling 21 points to the good over Bilinski with three races left to run.
Matias Zagazeta is guaranteed to finish third amongst the Rookies, and the Peruvian will be keen to head into the winter on the front foot; just 15 points separates him from the absent Rafael Villagomez in the outright standings, giving the Carlin racer the perfect motivation to end the year on a high.
His recent on-track battles with Argenti’s Reema Juffali have been enthralling, and the Saudi Arabian will no doubt be looking to extend her recent run of points-scoring form – nine in the last eleven races – to close the 7-point deficit between them.
Viewers based in the UK can catch all the action from Rounds 25 & 26 on Sunday live on ITV4 as part of their live, free-to-air coverage of the entire British Touring Car Championship package.
The field will also additionally benefit from a championship-organised test day on the Wednesday [11th] prior to the weekend, as well as the usual practice sessions on Friday [13th].
Twenty-three down, three to go. Get ready folks, this is going to be a good one.