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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Ella Lloyd makes British F4 debut with double top-10 finish

"We had a strong start to the championship and have scored solid points to take with us to Brands Hatch" - Ella Lloyd had a stellar first round in British Formula 4, as the Welsh racer - in her rookie season in formula cars - finished both races in the top ten.

Abbi Pulling, Rodin Motorsport, British F4, 2024 Donington Park
Photo credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Ella Lloyd made an extraordinary debut in British F4 for a double top ten finish at the Donington season opener, where the Rodin Motorsport's driver battled at the front of the pack in one of the most competitive F4 championships in Europe - with just a handful of single seater races under her belt.

The 18 year old made her competitive F4 debut earlier in March, when she entered two rounds of the Formula Winter Series in Spain - and impressed straight away, with a number of hard-charging drives through the field and showing eye-catching race pace.

After her first F4 race weekend in Aragon, Lloyd left with a best result of 20th in an over 35 car grid and displayed good speed at Barcelona as well, in a Rodin Motorsport. She then moved to JHR Developments for the start of the ROKiT British F4 Championship, which would represent her first full-time formula season.

The Welsh driver in fact graduated from the GT5 class of the Ginetta GT Championship, where she was Vice-Champion last year with an impressive 10 race victories, 8 podiums and 6 fastest laps to her name. She had previously competed in the highly-competitive Ginetta Junior Championship, scoring points in 60% of the races.

With a solid testing program that started midway through last year, Lloyd continued to make leaps forward in pre-season testing and, as the season opener approached, she was consistently running in the midfield, in an incredibly tight grid.

In the practice sessions, Lloyd was 17th fastest in the only dry session, then climbed the order in Thursday afternoon's wet wsession, where she clocked a 1:18.763 that was 13th fastest. Qualifying - contested on Saturday morning - was even more promising for the rookie, as she improved once again and secured a brilliant ninth time, with a 1:05.051 which was less than three tenths from overall pole position. Lloyd ran as high as fourth during the session and her second best lap was just as good, enough for eleventh place - with 20 cars covered by one second.

“We had a decent qualifying session and the car was really good, so I can’t thank the team enough for that", Ella summed up. "We finished ninth fastest and started 12th for race one due to our second fastest lap. I didn’t have the best start, though the rest of the first lap was good, so while I dropped back a bit, I came back to seventh. I lost that spot but settled for P8 which is a good result for my first race in British F4."

A few spots of rain appeared just before the start of the first race of the season, but the track remained dry for race 1.

Alex Ninovic (Rodin Motorsport) took pole position from teammate James Higgins - but it would be third-placed Deegan Fairclough to fire into the lead at lights out. Ella Lloyd had an equally stellar getaway and gained four positions off the line, moving up from P12 to P8 over the first lap.

Ella kept making progress and was soon glued to the back of Abbi Pulling's Rodin car; she overtook the F1 Academy front-runner on lap 2, although she couldn't open a gap and Pulling remained close behind.

Meanwhile, Fairclough had opened a 4.5 second gap in front, with Higgins and Ninovic fighting for second place - and with a safe enough margin on Mercedes' junior Cui.

While Pulling also had to keep Daryanani and Abrahams at bay, the Alpine Academy driver eventually found a way past Lloyd on lap 12, when Ella made a small mistake and locked up, thus giving up seventh place with 5 minutes left on the clock.

An off track for August Raber in the closing stages brought out the red flag and the race could not resume; despite the close battles throughout the field, Ella Lloyd had survived her first race in British F4 and brought home a stellar eighth place and was the best placed JHR Developments car.

The young Welsh driver was eyeing further improvement on Sunday morning, but heavy rain forced the cancellation of the entire morning racing program at Donington. Only one race could eventually get underway in the late afternoon, featuring a partial reverse grid. The new format sees the top-12 inversion, with the rest of the grid shaped by the best lap in qualifying.

Lining up on the second row of the grid in fourth place, the JHR Development driver had another good opportunity to showcase her pace, although a challenging start put her seventh on the first lap.

An early safety car neutralized the action, but the green flag was soon out once again: Berg - who had made his way up into the lead from third - preceded Abrahams and Sherwood. Ella Lloyd followed Bergstrom closely as she tried to break into the top six, but lost one position to Higgins on the following lap.

Throughout the entire race, a big battle from third to 14th saw Lloyd initially dropping to ninth - but she was able to fight back in the second part of the race, when she clawed her way back up to seventh in the final minutes.

At the chequered flag, she led a nine-car train separated by a handful of seconds and topped her Saturday's race result with a P7 in race 2.

“I thought it would be a wet race on Sunday, but it dried up for when we went out, so it was pretty good," - Lloyd explained. She now sits ninth in the championship standings, having collected 6 points over the first weekend.

"We had a strong start to the championship and have scored solid points to take with us to Brands Hatch", she concluded. "I’ve had good results there in the past and testing has gone well, so I am looking forward to it.”

British F4 will return to the track in two weeks' time at Brands Hatch, from 11-12 May.



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