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British F4: Chloe Chong battles through adversities at Snetterton

JHR Developments driver Chloe Chong continued her learning-oriented season in British F4 with a challenging weekend at Snetterton, as a series of misfortunes prevented the British/Canadian talent from capitalizing on her potential.

Chloe Chong, JHR Developments, 2024 British F4, Snetterton
Photo credits: Roberts/JEP

JHR Developments driver Chloe Chong endured a challenging weekend at Snetterton, as a series of misfortunes prevented the British/Canadian talent from capitalizing on her potential. Chong nevertheless faced adversities with determination and battled through changeable weather conditions, contacts with no fault of her own and an ill-timed red flag in the final contest to complete all three races at the Norfolk-based circuit, continuing her learning-oriented season.

Coming off a personal best of 15th at Brands Hatch two weeks ago, Chloe headed to Snetterton aiming to keep up the progress, making her way up in the midfield.

Drivers had all sorts of weather thrown at them in the third round of the season, with dry practice, wet qualifying and mixed weather races.

In only her second season of car racing, the former F1 Academy driver built up speed over the practice sessions, finishing the day 17th fastest in FP2, a little over a second from pace-setter Deagan Fairclough and running on par with fellow JHR Developments teammates.

Conditions changed on Saturday morning, with a wet qualifying: Chong showed good speed in tricky conditions and, despite a red flag that disrupted the session, she could set a 2:11.792 that placed her P16, barely 10 thousandths of a second from the top-15.

Her second fastest lap was also good enough for P16 - rounding out a promising session despite she couldn't put all her best sectors together.

Taking the start from the eighth row in race 1, Chloe had a challenging first lap and lost a couple of positions, although she soon regrouped and started chasing August Raber. As she tried to find a way past the Swede, Chong also had to deal with the recovering Nina Gademan, who had stalled on the grid. Both gained a position on lap 3, when Bart Harrison dropped down the order.

Chong's pace improved through the race and she continued to set personal best laps as the race progressed; the safety car was deployed to recover Mika Abraham's stranded Hitech car. The green flag waved again with a handful of minutes to go and, having recovered to 16th, Chong aimed for more progress. Unfortunately, she fell down to 19th on the final lap after battling with Kai Daryanani.

The reverse grid race on Sunday morning was another chance to make up ground and score points from 17th on the grid; she would have to tackle wet weather again, as rain had fell overnight. Robinson started from reverse grid pole, ahead of Cui and Abrahams; the pole sitter dropped to third at the start and then fell behind Harrison as well on lap 2, as Cui now led Abrahams.

Chong held position at the start - but was then tagged into a spin and off the track by Reza Seewooruthun on the second lap. She could rejoin and set competitive laps in clear air, before she had the chance to catch back the pack once the safety car was deployed to recover Zack Scoular's car.

In the very difficult conditions, many cars went off when the race went back underway; Chloe kept it clean and picked up four positions, getting past Higgins, Harrison, Berg and Abrahams in the closing stages - thus recovering her starting position.

Ahead, Cui had stretched his legs in the lead and survived a chaotic race to take his first win in the series, ahead of Sherwood and Fairclough. Chloe Chong battled with Higgins on the final lap and eventually took the chequered flag in P17.

While the track had again dried just in time for the third and final race of the weekend, menacing clouds welcomed the drivers onto the grid of race 3.

Front-row starters Alex Ninovic and Deagan Fairclough battled for the lead - and the latter was squeezed onto the grass, went off and damaged his rear wing, which forced him to a pit stop. Robinson also went off and brought out the safety car.

At the neutralization Chong was running in P17, just behind Nina Gademan and August Raber. When the rain started to fall, Chloe's pace switched on: despite being on slicks, Chloe made up positions at the restart and was navigating through the field when Alex Berg hit Ella Lloyd, sending her through the gravel. The incident brought out the red flag as conditions had significantly worsened.

Unfortunately, the stoppage with 5 minutes and a half to go also meant that the result was taken one lap back - and Chloe Chong was classified P17.

"Sadly, because of the red flag, we didn’t get to keep the places we’d made, as the result rolled back, but I think we did a good job adapting", Chloe commented.

“In the wet I felt we had some good pace, but I didn’t manage to put my sectors together in qualifying, and then in the races I just struggled", she said, summing up the weekend. "It felt like one of those weekends where it wasn’t going to go our way."

"It was new conditions for me in the races and in the final one I was going well in mixed weather on the slicks, so while everyone else was making mistakes and slowing down, we were pushing hard and passing people. It was a shame about the first few races, so I need to work on things with the team.”

While she couldn't ultimately showcase her potential, her rookie season in British F4 - a significant step forward compared to her previous experiences - is a learning process that will pay off in the long run. With every race completed, Chong is putting valuable miles under her belt, learning to adapt quickly to the changeable British weather and on new circuits in one of the most competitive F4 grids in the world.

With her trademark determination, Chloe Chong will resume her campaign on 8-9 June at Thruxton Circuit for the fourth round of the 2024 season.



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