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British F4 Esports title fight heats up at Silverstone

by Ida Wood

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Chris Lulham and Rafael Martins won on Silverstone’s International layout in the Dallara F317-based British Formula 4 iRacing Trophy Esports series.

Fortec Motorsports’ title-fighting duo Luke Browning and Lulham diced for the entirety of the 20-minute long first race, with their battle beginning in qualifying when Browning pipped Lulham to pole.

Their rivalry was interrupted on lap one by the safety car, but once let loose again they were quick to get fighting. Browning set several fastest laps while on Lulham’s gearbox, but didn’t fully commit to an overtake until the race entered its second half.

After a strong run through The Loop and down the Hangar Straight, Browning dived down the inside of Lulham into Stowe in a perfectly judged move.

Lulham responded on the next lap at Village, and while a late-braking effort through The Loop briefly put Browning back ahead it then compromised his run onto the Hangar Straight and ensured Lulham did keep first place.

Browning tried again on the next two laps, but his time ahead was shortlived once more as Lulham got back past on The Loop’s switchback. Behind them, Carlin’s Zak O’Sullivan had been passed by SMP F4 regular Alexey Nesov and had brought Arden’s Rafael Martins onto their tail and they ended up going three-wide into Stowe.

They avoided crashing there, but O’Sullivan spun at Club on the next lap after being hit by Nesov, and Nico Varrone took his place in the battle for third. A netcode error then led to Martins and Varrone clashing, and Carlin’s Marijn Kremers came through to fourth behind Nesov.

Lulham ended up just holding off Browning to win, and the dominant pair were rewarded with starting spots towards the back for the reversed grid race two.

That race also had an early safety car intervention, and started badly for Lulham as he retired from the race in a major crash with JHR Developments’ James Hedley.

Arden’s Martins strode away from the field up front, while his team-mates disputed second place for the first third of the race. Once that got messy it enabled Browning to move into fourth, and he moved into third when Arden’s Bart Horsten got a slowdown penalty.

His pursuit of second-placed Christian Mansell went badly, as it ended up in him tapping the Carlin driver into a spin. Fortec’s Johnathan Hoggard and Nesov got past Browning as a result, and finished some six seconds behind winner Martins.

Lulham leads Browning in the points going into the Brands Hatch season finale next week.