Home Formula 4French F4 Taito Kato and Chester Kieffer share French F4 poles at Ledenon

Taito Kato and Chester Kieffer share French F4 poles at Ledenon

by Ida Wood

Photo: KSP Reportages

Chester Kieffer and Taito Kato took pole for races one and three respectively in French Formula 4 qualifying at Ledenon.

The 25-car field featured one change from the season-opening round, with junior karting graduate Alexandre Munoz replacing Pacome Weisenburger.

Honda junior Kato laid down the first benchmark, a 1m21.403s, in the 25-minute qualifying session and improved to 1m21.087s on his next lap to lead Jules Caranta by 0.348 seconds and Rayan Caretti by 0.486s.

Kato and Caretti then pitted, while Caranta went fastest with a 1m20.870s and Augustin Bernier also broke the 1m21s barrier. Caranta was only on top for 20s before Yani Stevenheydens set a 1m20.522s, with Jason Leung jumping to second as he lapped within 0.23s of the new pace.

Once Kato returned to track he put himself back in pole contention, and just before the session’s 10-minute mark he went fastest by 0.096s over Jules Roussel as Bernier and Caretti improved in fourth and fifth.

Caranta then returned to first place by an even slimmer 0.047s, and improved again to 1m20.127s on his eighth lap.

Caretti went third fastest halfway through qualifying, and Kato improved but remained in second as other drivers pitted to end their first runs.

Languishing in 24th place was Kieffer, but on his seventh lap he jumped up to third place with a lap only 0.177s slower than Caranta’s benchmark. Two laps later he did even better, setting a 1m20.001s to top the times.

He was usurped with seven minutes to go by Karel Schulz, who went an astonishing 1.24s quicker than anyone else had managed while Roussel improved in fifth place.

Kato rose to third, 0.084s behind Kieffer, with just under four minutes remaining but the pair found themselves in the top two positions when the chequered flag waved as Schulz’s lap had been incorrectly record. It was in fact a 1m21.151s rather than a 1m18.761s, meaning he qualified 19th and 1.15s off the pace while Kieffer claimed his maiden F4 pole.

Caranta and Roussel therefore qualified third and fourth, with Caretti fifth. The top 17 were covered by 0.985s.

Drivers’ second-best laptimes were used to determine race three’s grid, and track limits violations proved costly here as many suffered from deleted laps that could have boosted their grid position. In the end Kato claimed pole with a 1m20.239s, with Caranta and Kieffer just 0.06s and 0.065s slower than him. Roussel was fourth, and Stevenheydens completed the top five.

Qualifying round-up
Race 1 grid
1 Chester Kieffer 1m20.001s
2 Taito Kato +0.084s
3 Jules Caranta +0.126s
4 Jules Roussel +0.263s
5 Rayan Caretti +0.432s
6 Augustin Bernier +0.459s
7 Yani Stevenheydens +0.462s
8 Alex O’Grady +0.474s
9 Montego Maassen +0.558s
10 Frank Porte Ruiz +0.593s

Race 3 grid
1 Kato 1m20.239s
2 Caranta +0.060s
3 Kieffer +0.065s
4 Roussel +0.192s
5 Stevenheyens +0.242s
6 Bernier +0.308s
7 Caretti +0.350s
8 O’Grady +0.368s
9 Porte Ruiz +0.371s
10 Maasen +0.389s