Britain’s hopeful Ben Jelf this weekend (16/17 June) headed to the small mountain village built on the shores of Lake Barcis, located at the foothills of the Dolomiti mountain range for the opening two rounds of the UIM F4 World Championship.
Twelve racers representing 11 different nationalities descend on the beautiful shores of Lake Barcis looking to dominate in the shadow of the Dolomiti mountains and get their championship campaign off to a colossal start.
Amongst the world class fleet British hopeful Ben Jelf looked to fly the flag for his country and return with a World medal to celebrate his 18th birthday. As Saturday’s qualification sessions got underway things seemed to be going to plan the first of three qualifying sessions saw Ben comfortably in 5th position and with a second separating the top five boats everything was to play for.
Qualifying session two saw Ben pushing his boat and getting to grips with the graceful waters of the lake. Retaining his position he made it through to the top six boat shoot out which’s would see each Boat take to the water for a warm up lap them the fastest lap possible to see who could claim pole.
With another mix up in the proceedings Ben found himself in a strong 3rd place after the 6 boat shoot out and with a quick start the youngster had everything to play for heading into the day’s race.
Finland’s Tuukka Lehtonen sat in pole with France’s Quentin Dailly in second and Sweden’s Morgan Jernfast hot in Ben’s wake in 4th. As the lights went out for the first Grand Prix race the world class Fleet powered away from the lights all looking for the best start and best line around the turns. Disaster struck when British hopeful, Ben made an error taking too close a line to the turn buoy he became entangled and had to watch the rest of the race from the course as Finland’s Tuukka Lehtonen powered home to the first Grand Prix of the World Championship campaign.
Not one to dwell on, on water errors Ben and the Jelf Racing set about preparing both driver and the boat for the next day’s racing. A disappointing start to his 18th birthday celebrations Ben arrived in the pits with a cool and collected persona around the birthday boy. The team quickly set about readying the boat for the first qualifying session and remaining calm and determined throughout the session Ben quickly claimed pole.
One down and two to go Ben remained focussed as he headed into the second qualification session and despite some immense pressure kept his nerve into the 6 boat shoot out. Remaining clam and focussing on his skill, as the times came in the Birthday boy celebrating his 18th birthday had managed to claim pole position in the second round of the World championship and despite Saturday’s misfortunes was ready to launch his world crown campaign.
As the turquoise waters of Lake Barcis glistened between the sunshine and showers they were faced with eighteen year old Ben Jelf remained cool and collected waiting for the start lights to go out. From pole position he knew his best line to the first turn and as the lights went out Ben and the chasing fleet powered away.
Ben took an early lead and despite pressure from a familiar foe in the shape of Sweden’s Morgan Jernfast, Jelf was not going to yield his lead without an epic battle. Ben kept his cool and as the youngster began to celebrate his 18th birthday he decided to do it in style leading the second round of world championships from start to finish claiming himself his first World championship F4 gold medal.
Reflecting on a busy weekend the birthday boy had this to say “I made a mistake yesterday, I took the turn too tightly and never gave myself enough room. It was a disappointing result for the team but I only had myself to blame so I was determined today to reward their hard work with a win.”
He continued “it’s going to be a really close championship this year and I will be fighting for every inch of every race to try and claim that crown. I have the best team and sponsors behind me and I want to win to do them proud. However this win on my 18th birthday must be dedicated to my mum and dad especially on father’s day! But I’d also like to dedicate the win to my fantastic girlfriend Aimee who is currently very ill in hospital.”
The next two rounds of the UIM F4 World Championship will be fought out in Rother Valley Country Park over the 1st & 2nd of September before the final event of the season in Macon, France on the 22nd & 23rd September.