Home Formula 4Chinese F4 Tiago Rodrigues takes Chinese F4 lead with three wins at Ningbo

Tiago Rodrigues takes Chinese F4 lead with three wins at Ningbo

by Ida Wood

Photo: Chinese F4

Tiago Rodrigues moved into the lead of the Chinese Formula 4 championship last weekend with three wins in round two at Ningbo, which was postponed by a week.

The Champ Motorsport driver was not fastest in either of the qualifying sessions, but still managed to get to the front in the races.

Smart Life Racing’s Kaishun Liu claimed race one pole in Q1, setting a 2m07.009s to lead Champ duo Hongyu Zhang and Rodrigues. Jing Zefeng was 1.529 seconds off the pace in fourth, and Shi Wei was 3.689s back in fifth.

In Q2, Zhang’s 2m06.174s lap earned him race three pole by 0.047s over Liu and Rodrigues qualified fourth.

Race one started in chaotic fashion, with four cars retiring in incidents in the opening two laps on a very wet track. Among those were Wei, who lost their rear-left wheel.

That led to the race being red flagged and the renaining drivers having to line up on the grid again. There was less 16 minutes left on the race clock when the restart eventually took place, with a lap run behind the safety car before racing resumed.

Liu led Rodrigues through the spray, with the gaps between the rest of the field quickly opening up.

Rodrigues managed to take the lead at turn two on the lap following the restart as both he and Li slid through the first corner, and a few moments later Jing Zefeng spun out of third behind them.

That promoted Zhang to third, and he managed to close in on Liu. On the final lap he passed him as they navigated lapped traffic, and finished on team-mate Rodrigues’s tail.

The track was still wet for Saturday’s reversed-grid race two, with Vivian Siu starting from pole.

They immediately plummeted down the order when the lights went out and Wei Jiang led, but he was then passed by Zefeng, Liu and Zhang in quick succession.

Zhang passed Liu for second on lap two before the safety car appeared. Racing resumed several laps later and Rodrigues passed Liu for third after several corners of battling, while Patrick Tsang spun.

Zefeng built a lead of 8.594s through the second half of the race as Zhang held off Rodrigues to finish second.

Drivers faced a dry track on Sunday, but still under cloudy skies. Liu took the lead at the start of race three, with Zefeng and Rodrigues giving chase. Rodrigues moved into second when Zefeng ran deep, then with a late-braking move almost passed Liu too on lap one.

On lap four he attacked Liu several times and finally got ahead, then it briefly became a four-car lead fight. Zhang passed Zefeng for third at the hairpon lap five, and it took until later in the race for Rodrigues to pull away while Zhang closed in on Liu late on.

Tsang had reversed-grid pole for race four but was spun around exiting turn one by Wei, whose front wing broke. Sixiang Lu moved into the lead ahead of Wei and Zefeng.

Zhang and Rodrigues passed Zefeng on lap one, then Wei too when they ran deep at turn one. By the end of lap two it was Zhang in the lead, with Zefeng third, Lu fourth and Wei fifth.

Rodrigues passed Zhang a third of the way into the race, and later Zefeng also overtook him, and went on to win.

Meanwhile Wei, despite the broken wing, pressured Yang Shengwei for fourth until Liu passed both with a few laps to go. Wei kept up the attacks until they and Shengwei collided.

Wei did get ahead by doing so, but dropped back behind on the next lap as their car became increasingly difficult to control and finished a very distant sixth.

Scoring points in all four races on his first weekend of car racing was Blackjack Racing’s Zhang Yu, who is more commonly found rowing.

Results round-up
Race 1 (9 laps)
1 Tiago Rodrigues Champ Motorsport 32m07.638s
2 Hongyu Zhang Champ Motorsport +0.593s
3 Kaishun Liu Smart Life Racing +2.257s
4 Jing Zefeng Ningbo Team +25.327s
5 Sixiang Lu LEO Geeke +29.076s
6 Yang Shengwei Chengdu Racing +32.514s
7 Wei Jiang Pointer Racing +50.671s
8 Zhang Yu Blackjack Racing +52.851s
9 Ka Kham Chui Henmax Motorsport +1m02.587s
10 Vivian Siu Henmax T-1 Racing +1 lap
Pole: Liu, 2m07.009s
Fastest lap: Zhang, 2m05.887s

Race 2 (13 laps)
1 Zefeng 30m14.371s
2 Zhang +8.594s
3 Rodrigues +9.206s
4 Liu +25.368s
5 Lu +31.482s
6 Shengwei +33.219s
7 Marco Lau Champ Motorsport +1m03.576s
8 Yu +1m07.756s
9 Shi Wei LEO Geeke +1m08.260s
10 Chui +1m21.728s
FL: Zefeng, 2m05.588s

Race 3 (17 laps)
1 Rodrigues 31m38.884s
2 Liu +4.095s
3 Zhang +6.183s
4 Zefeng +8.822s
5 Shengwei +39.285s
6 Wei +54.537s
7 Lu +1m04.236s
8 Yu +1m25.610s
9 Chui +1m36.032s
10 Patrick Tsang Champ Motorsport +1m39.357s
P: Zhang, 2m06.174s
FL: Rodrigues, 1m50.635s

Race 4 (17 laps)
1 Rodrigues 31m48.131s
2 Zefeng +8.438s
3 Zhang +8.902s
4 Liu +31.690s
5 Shengwei +48.020s
6 Wei +1m01.999s
7 Yu +1m13.223s
8 Jiang +1m24.088s
9 Lau +1m25.007s
10 Fu Zhenjiang Blackjack Racing
FL: Zefeng, 1m50.903s

Championship standings
1 Rodrigues 135   2 Zefeng 117   3 K Liu 109   4 Zhang 98   5 Riqui Liu 83   6 Fukang Jiang 64   7 Shengwei 58   8 Lu 26   9 Jiang 21   10 Yicheng 20