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Abbi Pulling takes maiden victory in British F4

"I want to show that I'm a good all-round driver and I can compete in whatever against whoever." - Abbi Pulling joined an elite group of female racing drivers to win in mixed-gender F4 series as she took a historic win in the ROKiT British Formula 4 Championship at Brands Hatch, only one week after a dominant weekend in F1 Academy at Miami.


Abbi Pulling, Rodin Motorsport, F4 British, Brands Hatch 2024
Photo credits: Jakob Ebrey

Abbi Pulling joined an elite group of female racing drivers to win in mixed-gender F4 series as she took a historic win in the ROKiT British Formula 4 Championship at Brands Hatch, converting a pole position in race 2 to step for the first time on the podium in the series - only one week after a dominant weekend in F1 Academy at Miami.


Pulling, 21, made her F4 debut in the British series in 2020 and made an outstanding impression with four podiums to her name on her rookie season in race cars. Her first victory was at arm's length on a couple of occasions, but never materialized. One year later, she returned with the clear intent of claiming the title - but a lack of funding cut her season short, before she was picked up by W Series and ultimately by Alpine Academy.


Her W Series stint was also marked by several podiums and pole positions - and at the series demise she joined the newly-launched F1 Academy, thus making her return to F4 machinery. The inaugural season was one of promise with plenty of speed but also severely hampered by bad luck; Abbi stepped seven times on the podium but again missed out on her first win and was fifth in the championship. Her sophomore campaign, though, is proving to be the redemption year.


Pulling returned to Rodin Motorsport for a dual campaign - in F1 Academy as well as in British F4, where she would make her return since 2021 - and the British racer claimed three victories out of four races to date in the all-female championship promoted by F1, including her first win in single seater at Jeddah, before an utterly dominant round at Miami International Autodrome, where she took two pole positions, two race wins and a fastest lap.


Her first round of the season in British F4 at Donington had been a mixed one - with a seventh place in race 1, before an unlucky second race saw the Rodin motorsport driver dropping outside the point scoring position. She was nevertheless aiming to bounce back at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, where testing times showed that Pulling had everything it takes to be competing at the front.


In Friday practice, Pulling was fourth fastest in FP1, two tenths off the pace setter Alex Ninovic. The nature of the track - the shortest of the calendar with times in the range of 45s - meant that gaps were minimal throughout the field, and 15 cars were covered by less than half a second. Pulling was up to third fastest in FP2, two tenths faster than the morning session. Eight tenths now covered the entire field.


On Saturday morning, though, Pulling couldn't quite put a lap together in the crucial qualifying session: her 45.245 put her 12th on the grid of race 1. At the same time, the new format meant that she would line up in pole position for the reverse grid race - which features a top-12 inversion from the qualifying fastest lap. Deegan fairclough took pole position from Alex Ninovic by mere 0.060 of a second.


Race 1

At the start of race 1, Fairclough held on to the lead but the stalled car of Abrahams on the second row caused mayhem behind as he was collected by Ella Lloyd, who ended her race at the start but was fortunately unhurt.


While the safety car was soon deployed, Pulling had meanwhile seized the opportunity to quickly climb the order before the neutralization: she moved from ninth - thanks to the second-fastest lap in qualifying - to seventh.

The pace car led the pack for most of the first part of the race during the clean-up on the start finish straight; the green flag waved again with 9 minutes to go and Fairclough retained the top spot from Ninovic and Campbell-Pilling; Abbi Pulling had a clean restart and held position, as the race settled and drivers struggled to get close enough to overtake.


At the end of an uneventful race 1, Deegan Fairclough took victory in race 1, preceding Ninovic and Campbell-Pilling. Abbi Pulling crossed the finish line in seventh, scoring six points.


Abbi Pulling, Rodin Motorsport, F4 British, Brands Hatch 2024
Photo credits: Jakob Ebrey
RACE 2

After a solid recovery on Saturday, Pulling aimed higher in the second race on Sunday morning: she would in fact line up from reverse grid pole, with the clear aim of securing her first podium of the season. Pulling held on to the lead after a hectic start, holding off Sherwood and Robison after Raber dropped from second to sixth.


A contact at Druids saw Daryanani going off in the gravel and the safety car was once again deployed in the early stages of the race. The race resumed on lap 7 and the Alpine Academy driver retained the top spot with a perfect restart and, having set the fastest lap in 45.943, she extended the gap to Sherwood to almost two seconds.


Abbi was comfortable in the lead and stretched her legs as Sherwood battled with Robinson for second - and Scoular was also in the mix for the podium. However, nothing and nobody could challenge Pulling, who improved the fastest lap of the race and continued to pull away: she was the only driver in the 45s pace, and never looked back.


With great tyre management also when her competitor started to struggle, Abbi took the chequered flag and claimed a dominant win by 5.5 seconds over Sherwood and Scoular.

In doing so, she became the first female winner in British F4 and only the tenth female driver to have won a race in F4 machinery in a mixed gender series.

She also scored the Motul Fastest la award and the extra point.


"I feel I'm a bit on a roll there!" - Pulling said. "It's been great. We were really quick in free practice, then made a little bit of a mistake in qualifying, changing the car a bit and didn't quite work. We went back for this race and we were three tenths quicker on the fastest lap - it just shows we've got the pace and I've got to get it in qualifying the next time", she explained.


"I was looking at the dash over the line and every lap was within a tenth - I knew that's what I needed to do to keep the position. I feel I had it all under control and even the safety car restart, it all worked in my favour really nicely."


"The team did an amazing job with the car, it was a dream to drive and I can't thank them enough for turning it around", she added.


Abbi Pulling, Rodin Motorsport, F4 British, Brands Hatch 2024
Photo credits: Jakob Ebrey
RACE 3

Later in the afternoon, the drivers of the ROKiT British F4 Championship field lined up for the third and final contest of the weekend; Faiclough preceded Ninovic, Campbell-Pilling and Abrahams on the grid based on results from the qualifying fastest times. Abbi Pulling would be starting from P11 after a grid penalty for Leo Robinson.


Abbi immediately made up two places and slotted into ninth, as Ninovic took the lead from Fairclough and Abrahams. She then gained one more spot as she passed Scoular on lap 6 after a big battle just ahead of her that saw Sherwood and Scoular banging wheels.


Ahead, Ninovic and Fairclough pulled away and battled for the win; Sherwood would receive a penalty for the earlier contacts which would play in Pulling's favour.

Overtaking proved again difficult throughout the field and, as the race was approaching its final laps, Fairclough and Ninovic collided at the final corner with a minute left on the clock; the Rodin Motorsport driver, who had led all race, went wide and Fairclough dived on the inside. The leaders ended up making contact and Ninovic found himself in the barriers.


Fairclough led a Hitech 1-2-3, with Abrahams and Seewooruthun completing the podium.

Abbi Pulling completed another strong race in P6, scoring again good points for the championship in a breakthrough weekend that saw the Alpine racer moving up to seventh in the standings.


Pulling will now have three more weekends in the British series before returning to F1 Academy: her next race will be at Snetterton in two week's time, while she will tackle the Circuit de Catalunya next month in the all-female championship.


"The car, although it looks the same as the F1 Academy car, you drive it quite differently, so being able to adapt weekend after weekend", Abbi explained. "It's gonna be tough going forward but I'm up for the challenge."


"It's really important for me to be competitive in both championships - I don't want to be quick in only one of them, I want to show that I'm a good all-round driver and I can compete in whatever against whoever. Getting this result here is really important. I want to do it in the main races and not just the reverse grid, but I think we've shown the pace today and that I have the capability, I just need to sort out qualifying the next time."

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