Home Formula 4GB4 Liam McNeilly quickest in USF Juniors test as GB4 return is announced

Liam McNeilly quickest in USF Juniors test as GB4 return is announced

by Ida Wood

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Liam McNeilly was going fastest in USF Juniors’ Mid-Ohio test on Thursday as it was announced he will return to racing on the other side of the Atlantic next weekend.

The 18-year-old came third in Britain’s Formula 4-spec GB4 series last year with Fox Motorsport, taking two wins and eight other podiums.

He then did some tests in the USA before deciding to relocate his career there by joining Jay Howard Driver Development in USF Juniors. After round two of the season he sits third in the standings with a win, two other podiums and two poles.

Before round three, McNeilly will reunite with Fox Motorsport in GB4 to race at Donington Park.

“My next USF Juniors race isn’t until the middle of June, so the chance to get back behind the wheel in racing conditions was just too good to miss,” said the 18-year-old, a protege of former IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe.

“Donington’s a great track and I’ve had some of my best wins in both GB4 and Ginetta [Junior] there. Helping the Fox drivers this year has been a new experience for me and one I’ve enjoyed, but nothing beats racing so I’ll be aiming for the podium at the very least and trying to have as much fun as I can.”

USF Juniors scheduled in a two-day test in the big gap between race events, but the action at Mid-Ohio this Wednesday was disrupted by heavy rain. There were 12 drivers on track for the opening session, but only five actually set laptimes. McNeilly’s 1m44.9313s put him 2.0382 seconds ahead of team-mate Timothy Carel, with Zanella Racing’s Leonardo Escorpioni almost six seconds behind in third.

The field grew to 13 cars for session two, and McNeilly improved to 1m40.4451s. His advantage was reduced to 1.0764s by Velocity Racing Development’s Sebastian Wheldon, whose team-mate Max Taylor was 0.1547s slower than him in third. Session three was cancelled due to the weather.

Laptimes were 12s faster in session four on Thursday morning, and it was a lot more competitive as 18 drivers made use of a dry track. McNeilly set a 1m27.5871s to be quickest, and Wheldon was his closest rival once more, 0.1763s behind.

DEForce Racing’s drivers filled the next five positions, with Jeshua Alianell 0.3469s off top spot in third. There were nine drivers who were within a second of McNeilly. Carel did not set a laptime, and his team-mate Hudson Potter and Zanella’s Diego Guiot were absent.

Wheldon lowered the pace by 1.5451s in session five, leading McNeilly by 0.429s. VRD’s Christian Cameron, DEForce’s Bruno Ribeiro and Exclusive Autosport’s Jack Jeffers were the only other drivers among the 17 on track (although Taylor did not complete a lap once he headed out) within a second of him.

McNeilly returned to first place in session six, topping the test with a 1m25.058s. Wheldon and Ribeiro were 0.268s and 0.2888s behind, with Taylor and International Motorsport’s Augusto Soto-Schirripa trailing by 0.7386s and 0.8014s in fourth and fifth.

Test results

Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 Liam McNeilly JHDD 1m25.0580s 68
2 Sebastian Wheldon VRD 1m25.3260s +0.2680s 60
3 Bruno Ribeiro DEForce Racing 1m25.3468s +0.2888s 56
4 Max Taylor VRD 1m25.7966s +0.7386s 45
5 Augusto Soto-Schirripa International Motorsport 1m25.8594s +0.8014s 47
6 Leandro Juncos DEForce Racing 1m26.0602s +1.0022s 47
7 Brady Golan DEForce Racing 1m26.1651s +1.1071s 65
8 Jack Jeffers Exclusive Autosport 1m26.2002s +1.1422s 53
9 Ariel Elkin International Motorsport 1m26.2428s +1.1848s 63
10 Jeshua Alianell DEForce Racing 1m26.2698s +1.2118s 64
11 Patricio Gonzalez DEForce Racing 1m26.2776s +1.2196s 62
12 Joao Vergara Exclusive Autosport 1m26.2880s +1.2300s 47
13 Christian Cameron VRD 1m26.4010s +1.3430s 61
14 Timothy Carel JHDD 1m26.4443s +1.3863s 47
15 Rodrigo Gonzalez DEForce Racing 1m26.9293s +1.8713s 54
16 Leonardo Escorpioni Zanella Racing 1m27.1538s +2.0958s 55
17 Michael Suco VRD 1m28.1903s +3.1323s 35
18 Diego Guiot Zanella Racing 1m28.8019s +3.7439s 38
19 Anthony Martella Exclusive Autosport 1m29.2574s +4.1994s 27
20 Hudson Potter JHDD 1m52.6348s +27.5768s 4