Woman power in GB4: Megan Gilkes & Logan Hannah claim victories at Donington
The women of the inaugural GB4 Championship season continued to write history as the fourth round at Donington saw two female victories: Megan Gilkes won from pole her second race in the series, while Logan Hannah claimed her maiden win in a spectacular race 3.
GB4 Championship – the brand-new British-based series that is establishing itself as a cost-effective F4-level platform to young drivers – immediately made headlines in its inaugural weekend at Snetterton, where former W Series driver Megan Gilkes took an historic win in Race 3.
With four female drivers on its grid – approximately one third of the field – GB4 proved to be a great learning ground for its young racers in the following three rounds, where Logan Hannag, Jessica Edgar and Chloe Grant showed impressive improvements at Oulton Park, Silverstone and Donington.
After her first win, Gilkes went on to score four more top-five finishes before last weekend’s triple-header, as the Canadian kept momentum in the Hillspeed Tatuus. After her 2019 debut in W Series – where she claimed the spectacular win in Assen in the non-championship reverse-grid race – raced on home soil in 2020, finishing second in the F16000 Ontario championship, before returning to the UK in Formula Ford.
Racing for Graham Brunton Racing under the banner of Laser Tools Racing, Logan Hannah had some previous experience of F4 machinery thanks to partial campaigns in the UAE-based winter series. Her teammate Chloe Grant, on the other hand, was at her single-seater racing debut – just as karting star Jessica Edgar (Fortec Motorsports), who is tackling her first season in racecars.
Edgar would step on the podium at Oulton Park, with a remarkable second place finish in Race 3. To continue GB4’s trend of female drivers always finishing on the podium, Logan Hannah was second in Silverstone’s third race, which gave the young Scottish lady good confidence going into the Donington fourth round.
And the venue that hosted the 1993 European Grand Prix indeed turned out to be friendly ground for the women of the championship.
Megan Gilkes was among the drivers to beat in qualifying, as she set the second fastest time for the grid of Race 1 and clinched pole position for Race 2, based on the second fastest lap of the session. Gilkes lined up alongside Nikolas Taylor (Fortec Motorsports), with just 12 thousandths of a second separating the two. Championship leader Alex Walker was third, only a further second adrift.
Megan Gilkes' remarkable effort gave the Canadian her maiden pole position, while Logan Hannah also had positive runs with two top-10 on the grids of both race 1 and race 2, respectively with P10 and P8. Jessica Edgar and Chloe Grant were P11 and P12 in both starting grids.
Taylor held the lead after the first metres of Race 1, before having to defend from the great getaway of Walker who went around the outside of Turn 1. In doing so, the championship leader had to back off and allowed Marzorati past into second place. Megan Gilkes had a difficult start off the line and was down to fourth, but then recovered to third after a few corners.
Two laps in, Gilkes would drop to fifth, as Walker got past the Hillspeed driver, bringing Mills with him. Megan had to defend also from the attacks of DeLeon, who eventually got past with 12 minutes to go.
Meanwhile, Hannah and Edgar had maintained positions from the start. Grant was demoted to P12 after exceeding track limits in qualifying and dropped one place at the start, making her race a bit more challenging.
Taylor initially opened a gap, but Marzorati and Walker were able to close in again and remained within one second throughout the first half of the race. Following a mistake at Turn 4, Walker lost touch with the leading duo. He ended up in a group of battling cars that saw DeLeon moving up to third with a brilliant move in the closing stages, as the Filipino racer claimed his firt podium in race cars.
Taylor held off Marzorati and crossed the finish line to take an important victory that also gave him the lead in the points' standings.
Megan Gilkes showed some great defending driving in the final laps to keep behind Jack Sherwood and finished sixth. Logan Hannah was P10, just ahead of Jessica Edgar, with Chloe Grant in P13.
Despite her pole position, Megan Gilkes had not an easy task on Sunday's Race 2, as she dropped to second after a perfect getaway from Taylor and she had to fight back the attacks of Mills on the opening lap.
From the front row, Alex Walker stalled on the grid and had a mountain to climb to catch back the pack.
Gilkes, though, never let Taylor break away and was soon right in his gearbox. On the fourth lap, her pressure paid off and when Taylor made a mistake at the chicane, Gilkes was quickly back in the lead at the Melbourne Hairpin.
Megan kept her cool and showed again her brilliant pace from qualifying, as she pulled away being the fastest on track.
Logan Hannah also had a great run and always battled within the group of the front runners, keeping eighth through the first laps. She was then under pressure from DeLeon and the recovering Walker and dropped to P10, while Grant and Edgar battled for P11.
In the lead, Gilkes extended her gap to over 5 seconds and won her second race of the season in dominant fashion. The new championship leader Nikolas Taylor had to settle for second, ahead of Jack Sherwood.
“Nikolas made a bit of a mistake in the chicane and I was able to get alongside going into the hairpin and took the lead and never looked back" - said Megan after her second win.
"I just thought I was going to drive to my gap, set certain lap times, and if he stayed with me I knew I may have to defend but I put my head down and went. I managed to get away and from there it was just controlling the pace I was doing", she continued.
“Thank you so much to Quattro Group for their support, without them I wouldn’t be racing this weekend" - said Gilkes, who had initially entered the series on a round to round deal. "They’ve been giving me some fantastic support ever since Oulton Park and I really appreciate it, so thank you to the guys at Quattro for making all of this possible for me."
“Every race I win, for me, is special but this one is extra special because I qualified up there and put myself up there with a good qualifying performance and was then able to hold on for a win. And in a championship like GB4 as well with all the fantastic media coverage that we get, this is a great profile boost for me. So I’m really over the moon with this race result.”
Logan Hannah was P10 across the line - in her ninth top-10 finish of the season. Chloe Grant finished ahead of Jessica Edgar in eleventh place, with Christian Lester rounding out the field.
The full reverse grid on Sunday afternoon saw Lester starting from pole, alongside Jessica Edgar and the two Laser Tools Racing's teammates Chloe Grant and Logan Hannah on the second row. But Lester's lead was over as soon as the lights went out, as he stalled and the race got underway. Chloe Grant and Logan Hannah had brilliant launches and moved into the top positions, before Logan took the lead with a confident move through the high-speed Craner Curves on the first lap, in an all-female 1-2-3. On the second lap, Waberski was able to get ahead of Grant, while Edgar couldn't hold on to her podium spot and dropped to sixth - meanwhile, Gilkes had managed to gain a few positions and was already up to P10. Waberski and Sherwood - who also made a move stick on Grant with 13 minutes left on the clock - hunted down Logan Hannah and, while they managed to get almost within the one second margin, they started to battle for second, allowing Logan Hannah to manage her lead from afar. Marzorati also caught up with the fight for the podium; Sherwood got ahead of this group of cars with 5 minutes to go and led the chase to Hannah. Meanwhile, another exciting battle saw Mills, Walker, Taylor and Gilkes trading places for fifth. Megan Gilkes had in fact another really strong race and set the fastest lap of the race, recovering to eighth from the back of the pack. After an action-packed third race at Donington, Logan Hannah secured her first win in GB4, preceding Jack Sherwood and Jarrod Waberski. “I got a massive launch at the start and hung it round the outside", Logan explained. "It was mine to lose at that point if I started making mistakes and I kept pushing. I saw the group behind kept fighting a bit more, but at the end there it was still mine to lose. I’m so happy, so happy!"
“The pace hadn’t been there for us from earlier in the weekend", she continued. "Having not had new tyres in testing, at least on Thursday, we were struggling to find the perfect set up, but it’s all come together at the end there."
With a win and a second place to her name so far, is now ninth in the drivers' standings. “I can’t thank Laser, my family and everyone on the car for everything they’ve done to get us to this point and GBR for pushing through the problems that we’ve had to eventually get to this point. Next one is to do it based on a qualifying position.” Sixth at the chequered flag, Nikolas Taylor maintained his championship lead and was able to hold off the pressure of Walker and Gilkes. The Canadian now sits 6th in the championship, just two points behind Tom Mills. After a great start off the line, Chloe Grant had a tricky second part of the race, when she was run wide and then received a 5 second penalty for track limits that resulted in a P11, just behind Jessica Edgar. "This weekend was productive when you look at the pace progress relative to my previous rounds" - Chloe wrote. "Unfortunately, we still weren’t up to speed with the guys at the front enough to battle for better positions, however, the reverse grid gave us the opportunity to prove I can hold my own on a big grid with so much experience and skill." After an outstanding weekend for the women of the GB4 Championship - where they claimed all the pole positions, race wins and fastest laps on Sunday - Gilkes, Hannah, Grant and Edgar will be back on track on 25–26 June, for the fifth round of the season at Snetterton.