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Formula Ford contenders complete GB4 shoot-out

Tuesday, October 18 2022

The on track assessments for GB4's National Formula Ford shoot-out took place at Snetterton today (Tuesday), with Brandon McCaughan, Colin Queen and Lucas Romanek getting behind the wheel of Fortec Motorsport GB4 cars.

The trio, who were the leading three teenage drivers in this year's National Formula Ford Championship, enjoyed plenty of track time with an individual car designated to each of them for the assessment. They ran in exclusive sessions to maximise clear running and enable them to make the most of the opportunity.

Under perfect blue skies, each driver was able to gain significant knowledge of the Tatuus F4-T014 GB4 car and make improvements, whilst learning to push the cars closer to their limits with each stint behind the wheel.

The performances of each driver will now be analysed by Fortec with the winner, who receives a £20,000 sum towards a GB4 drive in 2023, to be revealed on Friday evening at Brands Hatch ahead of this year's Formula Ford Festival.

Fortec Motorsport Team Principal Richard Dutton was impressed with each driver's adaptation to the cars, and outlined what he wanted to see from the three contenders during the assessment.

"They all did really well, they're very close on times and it's been a good day for them all, and for us as well," he said. "We wanted to see how well they listened and how much they learned, raw speed is important, but we're looking for an overall package of a young professional racing driver.

"We'll go through all the data tomorrow to compile a report. All the drivers have been on our simulator as well, they had an hour each so we're also able to see how they reacted to the sim and then applied that to the real world. But they've all done very well and done a good job.

"It also shows that Formula Ford is still capable of feeding drivers into championships like GB4. It was cold to start off with this morning so it was difficult first thing, but the guys adapted to the car really quickly."

For McCaughan, it was a slicks-and-wings debut, the youngster having raced in Formula Ford competition in Ireland and the UK for the past two seasons.

"I've really enjoyed it, that's my first time out in a slicks and wings car, and it was unreal," he said. "I was surprised how easy it was to get on top of the car and I felt comfortable in it. At the end of the day I'd say with more time in the car I could be up there.

"It was a lot more forgiving than I'd expected, and it also had a lot more grip when you leant on it, more than I was expecting anyway! It is a completely different league of car to the Formula Fords I'm used to; the grip at high speeds and trying to wrap my head around the fact that carrying more speed into a corner means you have more grip, it was hard to get my head around, but I enjoyed it anyway.

"I definitely want to drive one of these next year. I enjoyed it and I'd imagine racing it would be great competition, so it's the way forward for me in my opinion."

Queen had prior experience of F4-style machinery, but this was his first taste of such a car for several years.

"I really love the car," he enthused. "It's nothing like the US F4 car that I drove back in the States. It has way more power and a bit less grip which makes the car more on edge, which I certainly like.

"The biggest aspect that I hadn't considered was the turbo, I thought it was going to be really small and contribute just a bit of horsepower, but it was actually more powerful than I'd thought, so it was a bit hard to get used to but I'd figured it out quite early on.

"It was fun pushing the braking zones as hard as possible and rolling as much speed into the corners and it's just been a blast. Right now I think GB4 is a good possibility for me at the moment."

Romanek meanwhile has already raced in GB4, and took a win at Silverstone earlier this year, so today's shoot-out allowed him to re-acquaint himself with the car.

"The Fortec Motorsport team really helped me to improve my driving and get to grips with it again," he commented. "I feel I've really enhanced my driving and overall it's been a really good day, lots of fun and hopefully we can win the shoot-out, but we'll have to see what happens.

"I think I've improved with confidence levels, and overall just learning how the car works, especially with just being smooth as a driver. With more seat time I think I'd be able to work further on my commitment and the team will be able to teach me how to get there.

"Today has opened my eyes again to GB4 and it will be an amazing opportunity if we win it, to race GB4 next year."

For more championship information, visit www.gb-4.net