Home Featured Kevin Foster masters drying track to take pole for the Pau GP

Kevin Foster masters drying track to take pole for the Pau GP

by Ida Wood

Photo: Ida Wood

Kevin Foster made the most of a drying track to claim pole position for the Pau Grand Prix, which is part of this year’s French Formula 4 championship.

The 26-car field was split into two 13-car groups as in practice, with drivers in odd-placed positions in the championship standings (first, third, fifth…) in the first group and those in even-placed positions (second, fourth, sixth…) in the second.

The first group encountered a wet track, with rain hitting the streets of Pau minutes before the start of qualifying, and points leader Evan Giltaire adapted to it quickest to lead the early running while rival Romain Andriolo hit the turn nine barriers.

Giltaire was fastest by over two seconds a quarter of the way into the 25-minute session, then improved his pace to put 3.245s between himself and an improving Pol Lopez.

There was then yellow flags as Jason Leung hit the guardrail at turn seven but rejoined, and once the track was green again Giltaire improved his pace at an ominous rate that was unmatched on the drying track surface.

He was still fastest by over a second going into the session’s second half, with Lopez in second, then Leonardo Megna became a surprise threat and got within 0.373s of Giltaire.

Both improved their pace a few more times, with Giltaire breaking the 1m30s barrier with over seven minutes to go. However he did not then improve again until after the chequered flag, with Megna getting within 0.555s of him. But Giltaire’s final lap was another step above, putting him 1.089s clear.

Louis Schlesser was a further 0.895s behind in third, and just ahead of Yaroslav Veselhao who improved at the finish along with Lopez. There was yellow flags late on after Finn Wiebelhaus hit the turn nine tyre barriers.

The sun came out for Q2 and rapidly dried the track, but the improving conditions actually caught drivers out.

Foster was fastest at first despite spinning at turn three, with he and Enzo Peugeot the only drivers finding the limits at first.

Peugeot was already in the 1m29s in the first nine minutes, and fastest by over three seconds before Foster snuck in a 1m31.764s to regain second place before the session was red-flagged due to Gabriel Doyle-Parfait crashing at turn three.

The restart only lasted two minutes before Edouard Borgna hit the turn eight guardrail and caused another stoppage, and with the clock paused it meant the extension of the session enabled the track to dry even more.

The second restart did not even last two minutes before Frank Porte Ruiz hit the turn three guardrail, and on the next restart the track was dry in many areas.

Hiyu Yamakoshi went fastest by two seconds with a 1m27.788s lap, then Peugeot set a 1m27.028s. Yamakoshi responted with a 1m27.459s, but was shuffled to third as Foster then set a 1m26.880s and Peugeot a 1m26.935s.

Peugeot and Yamakoshi went one-two on their nxt laps, then Peugeot broke into the 1m25s as Yani Stevenheydens jumped to second.

Foster reclaimed pole by setting a 1m25.147s with three minutes remaining, which was bettered by Peugeot’s 1m24.867s set with 100 seconds left on the clock. But Foster followed him across the line with a 1m24.426s, and just before the chequered flag Peugeot improved but came 0.119s short of Foster.

That meant each time had one more lap, and Yamakoshi actually went top by breaking into the 1m23s. But Foster then went 0.224s faster, and Peugeot improved but stayed third.

The drying of the track meant pole for race three, the grand prix, would inevitably go to a drivet in the second group and Foster managed the feat. Giltaire will at least, by being fastest in group one, get to start on the front row.

Qualifying round-up
Second-best laptimes
1 Kevin Foster 1m24.426s
2 Enzo Peugeot +0.119s
3 Hiyu Yamakoshi +0.658s
4 Yani Stevenheydens +0.924s
5 Garrett Berry +0.953s
6 Adrien Closmenil +1.338s
7 Edgar Pierre +1.340s
8 Tom Kalender +1.559s
9 Andrei Duna +3.601s
10 Evan Giltaire +5.029s

Best laptimes
1 Foster 1m23.725s
2 Yamakoshi +0.224s
3 Peugeot +0.387s
4 Stevenheydens +0.659s
5 Berry +1.002s
6 Closmenil +1.129s
7 Pierre +1.844s
8 Kalender +2.051s
9 Duna +3.445s
10 Giltaire +5.196s