16 Nov Barnicoat claims Duo BRDC F4 Autumn Trophy title with stunning Sunday double
BRDC F4 media release:
Fortec Motorsports Ben Barnicoat clinched the 2015 Duo BRDC Formula 4 Autumn Trophy title with two victories at Brands Hatch on Sunday (November 15), as he overhauled an 11-point deficit to Douglas Motorsport’s Harrison Scott. The 18-year-old took lights-to-flag wins in both races but was forced to work hard to fend off the challenges of his rivals to claim the crown.
Dry but windy conditions greeted the drivers for qualifying and it was six minutes into the session before any real action took place. Barnicoat, Scott, Lando Norris and Sisa Ngebulana all spent time at the head of the field before Barnicoat laid down a real marker with a lap time of 43.293s, with less than five minutes remaining in the session. HHC Motorsport’s Norris gradually improved his time but could only get within 0.026s to ensure he lined up on the front-row alongside Barnicoat. Then championship leader Scott qualified third for the first race of Sunday, and third of the weekend, with Ngebulana fourth and Faisal Al Zubair fifth.
As the lights went out to start the race, Barnicoat made a good getaway to lead into Paddock Hill Bend but Norris was forced to cover of the challenge of Harrison Scott, who found more traction off the line in third. Barnicoat’s lead over Norris fluctuated between half-a-second and one second in the opening laps as Scott kept in touch with the duo, with Ngebulana and Al Zubair dropping off in fourth and fifth respectively. With five laps remaining however, Barnicoat saw his advantage diminish as Norris moved to with 0.431s of the leader, with Scott closing up too to create a dramatic finale. Barnicoat had Norris filling his mirrors and the gap dropped to just 0.229s with less than one second covering the top-three.
Heading on to the final lap, Norris looked for a way past at Paddock Hill and into Druids but couldn’t get the job done. However, the 2015 MSA Formula 4 Champion got a better exit coming out of the final corner Clearways and pulled alongside down the home straight as the trio raced towards the chequered flag. Unfortunately for Norris, he ran out of tarmac and Barnicoat clung on to cross the line a nose ahead in a stunning photo finish, with Scott in third.
That brought Barnicoat level on 176 points with Scott and created a stunning showdown in the final race of the Autumn Trophy, with Barnicoat starting on pole position by virtue of claiming the fastest lap in race three of the weekend. The HHC Motorsport pairing of Norris and Ngebulana lined up second and third with Scott only fourth, ahead of Fortec Motorsports Faisal Al Zubair in fifth.
Barnicoat, who is backed by the Racing Steps Foundation, made a good start to lead into the first turn, with Norris forced onto the defensive with a slightly tardy getaway, but he held off Ngebulana and Scott to maintain second.
In the opening laps, Barnicoat held a slender lead over Norris with Scott crawling all over Ngebulana but the Johannesburg-born driver resisted well, as Faisal Al Zubair ran in a lonely fifth. With the laps ticking down, Barnicoat eased away from Norris and his lead stretched to over two seconds, as Harrison Scott’s hopes of claiming the title began to slip away. The Fortec man eventually came home 2.191s clear of Norris to claim the Autumn Trophy title. Norris took his fourth podium appearance from four races at Brands Hatch with second, as Sisa Ngebulana finished third. Scott claimed fourth, and finished 14 points behind Barnicoat in the overall standings, with Faisal Al Zubair in fifth.
Speaking on the podium, Autumn Trophy champion Ben Barnicoat said: “It’s a great feeling! I had a bit of a tough time at Snetterton, with a few incidents, which I thought had ruled me out of contention for the title but Harrison made a mistake in race one yesterday and this weekend evened it back out. It’s been a hard weekend, Lando Norris has been on top form, so I had to give it my all and at no point could I give it just 95 per cent. We did a great job and it’s great to win so a massive thank you to Fortec Motorsports for their help.”