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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Personal best finish in British F4 for Chloe Chong in Brands Hatch

"We've learned so much this weekend that we can bring to Snetterton and give it our all" –Despite a tricky qualifying in an extremely tight field, Chloe Chong moved up in all races and topped her best finish in British F4 with her first top-15 results of the season at Brands Hatch.

Chloe Chong, JHR Developments, F4 British, Brands Hatch 2024
Photo courtesy: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Chloe Chong topped her best finish in British F4 with her first top-15 result of the season at Brands Hatch – claimed in both race 1 and 2 – improving on a P16 secured at the season opener in Donington two weeks ago. The 17 year old racer, who made her race car debut only one year ago in F1 Academy, stepped up to the highly competitive British F4 in 2024 and is making big progress at each round, despite the results are still not representative of her pace and potential.

Chong scored two points on debut in Donington courtesy of a good recovery in the reverse grid race – and often showcased enough speed to contest for the top half of the field in testing, although a challenging qualifying paired with an extremely difficult track where to pass on made the second round a more tricky one to capitalize on her pace.

Nevertheless, the British-Canadian driver still continued her learning progress and moved up in all races, making the Brands Hatch weekend still a productive one.

Despite a transponder issue on the first day of the weekend, Chloe had positive sessions in an extraordinarily close field, with eight tenths covering the entire grid.

“Through free practice we had some really good pace but unfortunately, I wasn't able to show it in qualifying, but that was my fault", Chong explained, as a small mistake with such minimal gaps proved costly, with a two tenth improvement resulting in almost a 10 place gain. She would line up 18th on the grid of race 1, shaped by the second-best lap of qualifying.

Deegan Fairclough held on to the lead at lights out but the stalled car of Mika Abrahams was unfortunately collected by Ella Lloyd, who ended her race at the start but was fortunately unhurt. With a great start, Chloe Chong had meanwhile moved up to P15 before the neutralization.

The safety car led the pack for most 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. Chloe has some good speed, held position and chased teammate Robinson, while also keeping Nina Gademan at bay. The JHR Developments driver improved her times with consistency but couldn't quite find a way past the driver of the #33 machine, as the whole field, separated by a handful of tenths, struggled with aero wash.

"In the first race, we did whatever we could", Chloe said. "It's so hard to overtake around Brands Hatch because it's all fourth and fifth-gear corners, and it was really hard to follow in the aero wash."

"At the start, we made up three positions, and after the race got going again, we stuck to the back of Leo [Robinson]. I think we had the pace to get by quite a few people in front, but unfortunately, the aero wash made it tough for everyone."

At the end of a rather uneventful race 1, Deegan Fairclough took victory in race 1, preceding Ninovic and Campbell-Pilling. Chloe Chong improved her best finish of the season to date with her first top-15, having made up three places from the start.

On another sunny day at the Kent-based race track, Chong would line up on the tenth row of the grid in P19 for both Sunday's races based on the fastest qualifying laps.

From the reverse grid pole, Abbi Pulling was off to a good start and retained the lead after a hectic first lap, 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 deployed.

Chloe Chong had a blistering start and was already up to 15th when she found herself squeezed and, with nowhere to go, she was involved in a contact that resulted in her progress coming undone. Nevertheless, she survived the first lap and still slotted into P17 before the neutralization.

The race resumed on lap 7 and, now determined to continue her charge, Chong started to put pressure on Yuhao Fu. She continued to run at close distance for the remainder of the race, while also keeping Berg at bay and crossed the finish line in a comfortable P16. Unfortunately, she would later receive a penalty for a jump start caused by a clutch issue that demoted her to P20, thus denying her of the extra three points for the recovered positions.

“Race two we had a really good start but unfortunately, the clutch was already burned, so I struggled to keep it on the line as the bite point was fluctuating", Chong recalled. "In the first corner I made up around four places and then I got squeezed and there was nothing that I could do, so I lost all my progress."

Race 3 later in the afternoon would be another chance to showcase her pace – and Chong delivered another strong start, gaining one place to settle into P18; the driver of the #11 Tatuus was on a mission and tried to find a way past Nina Gademan – who was also battling Bergstrom and Daryanani. It was another race of promising pace with little chances to overtake, with the entire midfield running on almost identical lap times; Chloe set her personal best on lap 12 in 46.397, and tried to build a buffer to Virtuosi's Fu right behind.

Ahead, Ninovic and Fairclough – who had lost the lead at the start – pulled away and battled for the win; more duels right behind them eventually resulted in several track limit penalties. Chong kept it clean and drove smartly, with her pace again coming alive towards the end.

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 made contact and Ninovic found himself into the barriers. Fairclough led a Hitech 1-2-3, with Abrahams and Seewooruthun completing the podium.

Chloe Chong recovered four positions after another strong run, securing another top-15 in the third race of the weekend.

“I knew people would get a bit desperate for places and try to use track limits as an advantage, so kept it clean, kept it safe, kept pushing, but I made a mistake and lost a place in the last corner", she commented. "It was a consistent race for me."

While she had pace to contest for positions higher up the field, the second round of the season was another step in the right direction, as she already looks ahead at the next race meeting.

"I'm a bit disappointed, but Snetterton is a track I really like", she added. "We've learned so much this weekend that we can bring to Snetterton and give it our all. Qualifying is what really matters and it's really what set me back this weekend, because the pace and the car was mega.”

Snetterton Motor Racing Circuit will play host to the third round of the ROKiT British Formula 4 Championship on May 25-26. 



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