GB4: Jessica Edgar on the podium at Oulton Park
Second weekend of GB4 Championship - and second female podium: after Megan Gilkes' victory at Snetterton, Jessica Edgar claimed her first podium in the series with a second place at Oulton Park. Gilkes was again in contention for top positions; Logan Hannah and Chloe Grant made good improvements during the weekend.
The all-new GB4 championship went underway at Snetterton two weeks ago, with four female drivers on the grid. Three of them - Jessica Edgar, Logan Hannah and Chloe Grant - were announced for the whole season, while former W Series race winner Megan Gilkes joined Hillspeed in a last minute deal and went on to score a race win in Race 3. The other female racers showed great progress during the whole weekend collecting points and experience in F4 machinery.
The GB4 Championship is a new platform aimed at the new generation of racing drivers with a prize money of £ 50.000, created by Jonathan Palmer. Over the season, we will see 24 races at 8 rounds across the UK, including Snetterton, Oulton Park, Silverstone, Donington Park and Brands Hatch.
Each weekend includes one 15 minute qualifying and three 18 minute races. The grid for the first two races are shaped by the quickest lap for race 1 and the second-quickest lap for race 2. The third race has a full reverse-grid, with extra points for positions gained and for each driver finishing.
Among the announced drivers are four women - currently one fourth of the field.
Jessica Edgar steps up from karting to single-seaters with Fortec Motorsport. She is part of a racing family and is the cousin of Red Bull junior and FIA F3 racer Jonny Edgar; Jessica was karting Rowrah Club Champion in 2017, before amassing more victories in the Mini X30 category. Edgar made history in 2019, when she became the first female to win more than one round in the LGM Championship and ultimately finished runner-up.
Logan Hannah had a remarkable karting career before stepping up to single-seater cars 2018. Since then, she has been a regular in Formula Ford events, as well as the Walter Hayes Trophy on home soil. Furthermore, in 2018 and 2019 Logan competed in the UAE-based Formula 4 championship, including the Trophy Round at YAS Marina in support of the Abu Dhabi F1 GP. She was the first female racer to be announced in the series.
Chloe Grant comes from the Junior Saloon Car Championship, in which she won the scholarship to compete in this year´s season of GB4 Championship with Graham Brunton Racing and is Logan Hannah's teammate.
At the first round, Megan Gilkes joined the grid at Hillspeed: she is no newbie to motor racing: she raced mainly in National Formula Ford 1600, as well as in the Canada-based F1600 in 2020. She famously won the W Series reverse-grid race in Assen, Netherlands, after a photofinish ending beating Alice Powell by three thousandths of a second and returned at the all-female championship for the 2022 pre-season tests at Barcelona.
Megan was initially only set to race the first weekend of the championship, but luckily returned for the second round: "Very excited to announce that I will be racing in round 2 of the GB4 championship this weekend at the iconic Oulton Park with Hillspeed", she announced just before the weekend.
"Awesome to be back racing in the very competitive series at one of my favourite tracks, coming off of a win at the last round. Snetterton was meant to be a one-off race in the series for me, but thanks to the fantastic media coverage that GB4 offers its teams, drivers and partners, I’ve been able to secure sponsorship to compete this weekend!"
Here's what happened at Oulton Park.
The qualifying session was topped by Elite Motorsport's driver Alex Walker, with both pole positions for the first two races after Nicholas Taylor (Fortec Motorsports) led the most time of the session before Walker could improve his lap times. Taylor started both races in second position. In race 1, Megan Gilkes showed her potential and signed an outstanding lap to start race 1 in third, while in race 2 Elias Adestam (Fortec Motorsport) was third fastest.
Walker easily led from the start of Race 1 and pulled away. Taylor - alongside him on the front row - stalled at the start, but was able to continue from the back of the grid.
Megan Gilkes lost a position at the start but was able to put some pressure on Max Marzorati (Hillspeed) before she lost the third place to Jarred Waberski (Kevin Mills Racing).
Walker scored the first victory of the weekend with more than a 9 second gap to Marzorati, Waberski and Megan Gilkes. Logan Hannah was attempting to pass George Line (both Graham Brunton Racing) on the final lap but went off and finished 11th, behind Chloe Grant and Jessica Edgar - who brought home a 9th and 10th place respectively.
"Starting off P11 and finishing P9 with a really good start in race one today, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made from Friday testing - especially on such a technical circuit that I hadn’t visited before this weekend." explained Chloe Grant.
Race 2 saw Walker again breaking away from pole, while Taylor once again had a bad start and dropped down the order. Walker pulled away quickly, helped by the hard battles behind him. For the second time this weekend, Walker crossed the finish line in first, ahead of Tom Mills (Kevin Mills Racing) and Taylor who had made his way back on to the podium.
Megan Gilkes had a close battle throughout the race to finally pass her teammate Marzorati at the beginning of the final lap of the race and came home in 5th.
Logan Hannah had her best result in the series so far with an 8th place; her teammate Chloe Grant was eleventh across the line. Jessica Edgar stalled at the start of the race, was pushed back into the pitlane and drove a lonely race to cross the finish line in P12.
The reversed grid of Race 3 saw a female front row, with Logan Hannah starting from pole next to Jessica Edgar. And it was a three wide battle with Waberski grabbing the lead from Logan Hannah: the latter defended hard but ran wide and dropped a few positions.
Waberski started to pull away in the lead, followed by Jessica Edgar - who benefited from the battle behind. Five to six cars fought for the final podium spot, which went to Marzorati at the end of the race, behind Waberski and Jessica Edgar.
During the battle for the final podium position, Megan Gilkes made a small mistake, ran out of track and dropped down the order. She would finish 11th but scored the fastest lap of the race.
"I made a decent getaway but got boxed in and ended up holding position", she commented. "On the second lap, the cars in front of me went three wide and I was a bit unsighted going into Island, and was too busy focusing on setting up to overtake into the corner after. I missed my apex and spun! Oops!"
"I kept the car running and got going again, 11 seconds back from the next car", she continued. "I chased after them and treated every lap like a qualifying lap. I caught up to and overtook the car in front, and got onto the back of the next two but ran out of laps to do anything with it. In the process, I got the fastest lap of the race by over two tenths of a second."
Chloe Grant slowed down after contact with Gilkes and came home in 12th position. Logan Hannah took the chequered flag in 9th place.
The next race weekend will take place from 7th to 8th May at Silverstone.