Ethan Ischer dominated Formula 4 Central European Zone’s first ever race at Balaton Park, reducing Reno Francot’s championship lead to two points with two races remaining.
It was the inaugural competitive event at the new circuit near Lake Balaton in Hungary, part of a planned leisure complex led by Channoch Nissany, father of Formula 2 racer Roy.
Ischer led away from pole position, holding off fellow front-row starter Michael Sauter, racing for the family Sauter Engineering+Design team, and managed to pull out a gap at the front.
Francot made it a Jenzer one-two after getting past Sauter on lap two but was unable to make any inroads into his team-mate’s lead. Indeed, Sauter stuck resolutely to the Dutchman’s tail and began to challenge for second in the final laps, forcing him to defend his position.
Francot crossed the line 0.247 seconds ahead of Sauter but a two-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage at turn 13 dropped him to third in the final classification.
Behind the front three, two single-seater debutants, Thomas Gore (replacing Mathias Bjerre Jacobsen who was absent due to school priorities) and Shimo Zhang, both in Jenzer entries, fought over fourth place throughout the race.
Although Gore made his racing debut at Donington in September, taking a win in the Radical Cup, it was, incredibly, his very first time at the wheel of a single-seater, having had no opportunity for any testing.
Within hours of learning of the availability of the seat for this weekend on Wednesday evening, Gore was on a plane from Jamaica to Europe. He told Formula Scout that he had first met most of the team on the flight to Hungary.
Zhang, who has recently been testing with Jenzer in Italy, took fourth on lap nine but could not shake off his team-mate. Onto the final lap, Zhang locked up into turn one as Gore looked for a way past. Coming into the last chicane, Gore “had to set it up and make sure I was there going into it, and did some late braking to get by”.
Max Karhan held off local driver Oliver Michl for sixth, ahead of Miroslav Mikes, while Roman Roubicek, who had brought out a red flag in qualifying with a spin into the gravel, was lapped by Ischer on the final tour.
Race 1 (16 laps)
1 Ethan Ischer Jenzer Motorsport 26m20.830s
2 Michael Sauter Sauter Engineering+Design +4.657s
3 Reno Francot Jenzer Motorsport +6.410s
4 Thomas Gore Jenzer Motorsport +14.240s
5 Shimo Zhang Jenzer Motorsport +14.976s
6 Max Karhan Jenzer Motorsport +19.102s
7 Oliver Michl Gender Racing Team +20.128s
8 Miroslav Mikes SAPE Motorsport +27.922s
9 Roman Roubicek JMT Racing +1 lap
Fastest lap: Francot, 1m38.244s
Pole position: Ischer, 1m37.905s
1 Francot 228 2 Ischer 226 3 Sauter 161 4 Mathias Bjerre Jakobsen 106 5 Michl 104 6 Mikes 65 7 James Egozi 50 8 Niko Taylor 43 9 Karhan 40 10 Jiri Safranek 30