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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Abbi Pulling produces spirited comeback drives at Silverstone

"I had the pace for the top five, so if only qualifying was a little bit better, we could have been fighting up there for a few more points" - Abbi Pulling displayed her overtaking skills at Silverstone as she bounced back from a difficult qualifying to make progress in all three races. Although the safety car periods limited her progress, Pulling used her experience to move forward while displaying frontrunning pace.


Nina Gademan, Fortec Motorsport, British F4, 2024 Silverstone
Photo credits: JEP

Abbi Pulling overcame a challenging qualifying session to make significant progress in the latest round of the British F4 Championship at Silverstone. Conditions were challenging for qualifying as drivers struggled for tyre temperature on a damp track with the Rodin Motorsport driver setting the 16th quickest time. Moving forward in all three races, Abbi achieved a best result of 10th in race two, while finishing 11th in both races one and three.


Heading into Silverstone with significant momentum behind her, Abbi was aiming to continue her strong run of form at the home of British motorsport. As well as leading the F1 Academy standings, Pulling sat fifth in the British F4 Championship with one victory and a further podium finish to her name. Targeting an improvement in qualifying to convert her testing speed into one-lap pace, Pulling and her Rodin Motorsport team were confident of further progress in all conditions.


Pre-event testing was held on Friday with wet conditions for the opening practice session of the weekend. Pulling’s classification of 19th was not representative of her speed, with Abbi setting the second fastest first sector time of any driver. Session two was also held in wet conditions with Pulling showing her pace to end the day fourth fastest, just a quarter of a second away from Rodin Motorsport teammate and pacesetter Alex Ninovic.


Saturday morning’s qualifying session provided equally difficult conditions for the drivers, with tyre choice pivotal. The majority of the drivers fitted the Pirelli slick tyre despite damp conditions and therefore worked on building tyre temperature during the session. Finding peak performance, coupled with a clean lap, was a challenge and the Rodin Motorsport driver could only set the 16th fastest time.


"Tough weekend here at Silverstone", she commented. "Quick in free practice, I didn't quite maximise qualifying and didn'0t adapt to the grip that we got at the end of the session."

Pulling's second fastest lap was fast enough for 13th on the grid and she would therefore be aiming to make progress in the three races to follow.


Race one of the weekend was held early on Saturday afternoon with Abbi lining up from 12th position. All drivers fitted the slick drivers with a dry track at Silverstone, albeit some damp patches remained.


Pulling initially made a good start and was looking to move towards the top-10, before an off-track moment at Abbey saw her end the opening lap in 15th position. Her forward momentum was then further thwarted by a safety car period which allowed the marshals to retrieve the stricken car of Jack Sherwood.


As the racing got back underway, Abbi made a fast restart and was immediately challenging her rivals. Overtaking Fortec Motorsport driver Alex Berg with a move into Stowe, Pulling was up to 14th and setting sector times which matched the frontrunners. She was able to convert this speed into forward progress and as a result, passed Matus Ryba for 13th on lap five.


Continuing to make progress, Abbi moved ahead of Maxwell Dodds on lap seven and Martin Molnar on lap eight. Now closing in on a top-10 position, Pulling was applying pressure to Mika Abrahams and just ran out of time to make a move on the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver, taking the checkered flag in 11th position.


" I went off on the first lap in Abbey, I got a massive snap and had to go off a bit of off-roading, and lost all the places that I eventually then gained back", she recalled. "I think it was about five or six places."


The second race of the weekend took place on Sunday morning with fully dry conditions for the drivers. Lining up 16th on the grid, it was an excellent start for Pulling who gained six overall positions at the end of lap one to move inside the top-10. Her progress was then halted by a lengthy safety car period which was caused by four drivers finding the gravel trap at the Maggots and Becketts complex.


As a result, it would be a three-lap shootout to decide the results for race two with all the drivers eager to make progress. It was a good restart for Abbi who was applying pressure to Mika Abrahams, with the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver once again the next target. Cutting the gap to just a few tenths of a second, it was a spirited effort by Pulling who was unable to make any further progress and therefore took the checkered flag in 10th position.


"In race 2 I gained six places on the first lap, but then all the race was under safety car, so that kind of halted our progression", she said. "I finished P10."


The grid for the final race of the weekend was based on the fastest times from Saturday’s damp qualifying session with Abbi lining up from 16th. Pulling made a good initial start, however a small incident on the opening lap dropped her to 17th as the safety car was called for. The interruption was only short and when the racing got back underway on lap four, the Rodin Motorsport driver was on the move as she overtook fellow F1 Academy driver Carrie Schreiner and JHR Developments racer Chloe Chong.


Continuing her charge forward, Pulling moved ahead of Yuhao Fu on lap five while showing excellent speed in the final sector of the lap. After overtaking Alex Berg and then Zack Scoular, Abbi was now up to 12th place at the conclusion of lap seven and was targeting back-to-back top-10 finishes. The racing in the midfield continued to be intense in the closing stages, with Abbi finishing the weekend with a 12th place finish, later promoted to 11th following a penalty for Yuanpu Cui.


"In race 3 I started 16th, got caught in a bit of a first lap incident. Unfortunately I dropped probably to nearly dead last and then worked my way back through to P12."


Abbi displayed her overtaking skills at Silverstone as she bounced back from a difficult qualifying session to make progress in all three races. Although the safety car periods limited her progress, Pulling used her experience to move forward while displaying frontrunning pace.


"I had the pace for the top five, so if only qualifying was a little bit better, we could have been fighting up there for a few more points", Pulling summed up. "But onwards and upwards, Barcelona is next weekend, I'll keep my chin up and really looking forward to getting back out with the F1 Academy crew."


The Rodin Motorsport driver will now look ahead to the next round of F1 Academy where she will aim to maintain her championship lead at Circuit de Barcelona.

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