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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Chloe Chong claims personal best result in British F4 at Thruxton

Chloe Chong continued her development in British F4 with her strongest showing to date, having secured her personal best finish in the series so far, with a top ten within reach - and having made significant steps forward in qualifying at the fourth round of the season at Thruxton.

Chloe Chong, JHR Developments, British F4, 2024 Thruxton
Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

British-Canadian Chloe Chong continued her development season in British F4 with her strongest showing to date, having secured her personal best finish in the series so far, with a top ten within reach - and having made significant steps forward in qualifying at the fourth round of the season at Thruxton.

Chong has made consistent progress throughout the first part of the championship, in what is only her second season of car racing and the first in British F4.

The 17-year-old has so far struggled to capitalize on her pace in the race meetings, but has continued to make steady improvements and the latest weekend was proof of that, starting from a highly positive performance in qualifying, up until a encouraging third race, where she had been knocking on the doors of the top ten before a safety car halted her progression.

Despite two unlucky races at Thruxton, either for technical issues or small mistakes, the triple-header at UK's fastest circuit was a clear proof that Chong is heading in the right direction.

Chloe built up speed in the pre-event test sessions, where she familiarized with the track and gained confidence - and she put the progress into practice on Saturday's morning qualifying. She set the 14th fastest time in the early stages of qualifying, before improving with a P13 that saw the JHR Development driver significantly closing the gaps to the front runners.

Despite a few spots of rain with 10 minutes to go, drivers pitted to bolt on a fresh set of slick tyres mid-way through the session. Everyone was back on track for the final five minutes and Chloe further improved on her first push lap, clocking a 1:11.557 and holding P13.

While times dropped throughout the field, Chloe continued to improve her times at each round and eventually finished 15th fastest, in one of her best qualifying performances to date that also placed her 13th among the second-best laps classification. However, a few lap times previously deleted for track limits were later reinstated, and she would be accredited with P15 on the grid of all three contests of the weekend.

“It was quite an eventful weekend", Chloe said. "Qualifying could have gone a bit better as I messed up the final sector, so a top 10 was definitely there."

It would unfortunately be a technical issue to mark the first race of the weekend for Chong, who had to nurse the car home with a clutch issue.

A difficult start saw in fact the JHR Developments driver dropping down to P20. Pole sitter Deagan Fairclough led Jack Sherwood and Reza Seewooruthun.

The safety car was deployed at the end of the second lap when Zack Scoular and August Raber were involved in a big accident that eventually resulted in a red flag. Chloe had meanwhile passed Abrahams and was up to P17 just before the stoppage, although she had to start again.

Racing resumed for the final 7 laps; the red flag, though, meant that Chloe would need to start all over from scratch, with the clutch problem making for a challenging restart. Settling in P18, Chong followed closely Nina Gademan - and she gained a position when Martin Molnar fell down the order.

Gademan caught Campbell-Pilling and Dodds - as Chloe waited for her chance to get in the mix of this group of cars, running one second behind.

While Molnar eventually got back ahead in the final laps, Chloe Chong came home with a positive P15, equalling her best finish in the series following a few post-race penalties.

"Race one I lost the clutch on the first lap, so getting to the finish was a challenge and I had to nurse the car home" - Chloe explained.

The reverse grid race of the weekend featured Alex Berg and Mika Abrahams sharing the front row, having set the 11th and 12th times in qualifying. Chong lined up in P15 and had realistic chances to push forward towards the top ten.

Berg retained the lead from Abrahams and Ninovic, but the race was short lived as the red flag was soon out for a multiple-car accident involving Sherwood, Pulling and Scoular.

The stoppage gave Pulling the chance to rejoin the field having fitted on a new front wing.

Chloe had a good second start of the race and moved up one position, settling in P14, just ahead of teammate Ella Lloyd. Chong was faster than a few cars ahead and, having caught Maxwell Dodds, she was fighting with the Virtuosi Racing driver when she had to take evasive action for a mistake by her competitor - and was then collected by Lloyd, luckily getting away without a puncture. However, she lost a position to Pulling, who was charging through the field after the first lap accident.

Chong continued to put pressure on Dodds, but a mistake at the final chicane resulted in a spin without consequences. Chloe rejoined and, while the safety car was deployed, she didn't quite have the chance to catch back with the pack for the restart.

Running without the help of the slipstream in the closing minutes, she defended from her teammate Ella Lloyd, who made a last corner attempt on the final lap which resulted in another collision. Chong still made it across the line ahead in P16.

"Race two was a bit better", she summed up. "I struggled a bit at the start and made some mistakes which dropped me back, but I am learning and pushing and that’s the reason I am having these moments. The speed was there but I struggled without the tow, though I held my own and finished 16th."

The third and final race of the weekend was a shortened one, contested in the late afternoon after delays in the racing program.

From 15th on the grid, Chong finally got to showcase her potential with a strong race that saw the British-Canadian moving up the field.

Holding position at the start, Chloe had good pace and comfortably led Gademan and Lloyd throughout the first part of the race. She gained one position on Yuanpu Cui on lap 5 and had started to log competitive laps as she closed in on the cars fighting for the top 10.

Unfortunately, a safety car on lap 7 put a halt to her ambitions: race leader Deagan Fairclough had grinded to a halt and the race eventually ended behind the safety car.

Despite the missed opportunity for a potential top ten which clearly looked realistic thanks to her effective tyre management, Chloe Chong was classified in P13 and thus secured her best finish of the season to date.

“The last race was positive, but it was a shame we didn’t have a standing start", she said at the end of the weekend. "I made up a few positions, but the Safety Car stopped any more progress."

"It was one of those 'what ifs' as the top 10 was on the cards with our mid-race pace and how I nursed the tyres, which we did well as a team", she continued. "There are positives to take away and we can move onto Silverstone next week, which is a track I really like.”

Chloe will be aiming to carry momentum in a few days' time, as British F4 tackles the Silverstone GP circuit on 15-16 June.



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