Olli Caldwell continued his impressive pace in the British F4 Championship with three more Challenge Cup podiums at Rockingham. Added to that was a fastest lap and some overall championship points on what was Olli’s Rockingham debut.
Rockingham is technically one of the most challenge circuits on the British F4 calendar. A mixture of slow and fast corners with a banked first and last corner make it perhaps the trickiest circuit to tackle on the British F4 calendar.
However, a positive test day just days before the event left Olli confident heading into the weekend and on the hunt for more Challenge Cup podiums. The weekend got off to a pretty good start in qualifying with Olli finishing the session 11th and 8th. The 8th place, for the second quickest time, was particularly good for Olli as it made him the quickest Challenge Cup driver!
Going off 11th for race one Olli was hoping for a clean getaway but the long run around to turn one can sometimes keep the British F4 field a little close for comfort and lead to incidents. Thankfully Olli negotiated the first lap without any issues and roughly held position before an incident on the second lap saw him drop all the way to the back of the field.
Now 22 seconds behind the pace and 13 seconds behind the next driver many would have thought that was race over for Olli but he refused to give up and started putting in some impressive lap times. Olli was on average within half a second of the leader’s lap times, closer than what he was in qualifying and after just seven laps he was starting to make places!
With just five laps to go Olli was able to catch and pass two of his fellow competitors and set the fastest lap of the Challenge Cup drivers in the process! Overall Olli finished 12th and was 2nd in the Challenge Cup class. More impressively he lost just 12 seconds to the race leader after the incident despite the two passes. Impressive considering the circumstances and how beneficial the tow can be around Rockingham.
Race two from 12th Olli was able to get a clean getaway and made a couple of places ending the opening lap in 10th. A lap later and Olli was 8th after picking off two drivers before making a further position the next lap! Now in 7th Olli had a few seconds to the next driver having been busy overtaking. However, consistent lap times saw the young Arden Motorsport driver drop any threats from behind as he began to close the drivers ahead down.
Olli was at times on par with the top three on lap times and was even quicker than his race winning teammate Ayrton Simmons! The driver ahead in sight for Olli was Challenge Cup rival Hampus Ericsson and despite closing the gap down to less than one second he just ran out of laps to get his chance to take a Challenge Cup win. It would instead be a 2nd with fastest lap and a very impressive 7th place overall!
Race three was similar to race two in Olli’s performance although the end result was very disappointing. Starting from 8th Olli made a brilliant start to run 6th place at the end of lap two. That’s where Olli would stay for the next six laps and his impressive and consistent lap times saw him stay within five seconds of the race leader. Olli then lost a place, but things were still looking good heading into the last third of the race before disaster struck and Olli was forced to pit.
It was a real shame as Olli was on track to take Challenge Cup victory and he was just three tenths off the fastest lap of the race! Although that last result never quite went his way Olli’s impressive progress continues and many may be looking at him as the one to watch next season!