In what is the most eagerly anticipated season opener in the CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 Championship’s history, the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix will this week see a record 18 cars attack the Albert Park circuit.
At the front of the field is 2018 Champion Jayden Ojeda, who has been granted dispensation to compete for one final time with AGI Sport in recognition of the significance of the Grand Prix event.
Ojeda’s entry will feature the #1 plate aboard his Formula 4, which has not been seen since the 2015 season finale where inaugural champion Jordan Lloyd sealed the title before the final round in Sydney.
The reigning championship winning squad, AGI Sport, will field a further four entries for experienced campaigners Antonio Astuti, Luis Leeds, Josh Smith and Formula 4 debutant Jackson Burton.
Team BRM will this season be eager to wrestle the championship from AGI Sport, with the two foundation squads sharing two titles apiece since 2015.
Last season’s runner-up Ryan Suhle will make a sensational return to the championship with Team BRM, after spending the last two years between AGI Sport and Zagame Autosport. Suhle will also juggle a stint in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge later in 2019 alongside his Formula 4 program.
Lochie Hughes and Tommy Smith reunite with Team BRM in 2019 for a second stint in the championship. Hughes, the Burson Auto Parts Rookie of 2018, will be aiming high this season after dominating last year’s rookie class. Smith, who is one of seven local Victorians at Albert Park, is also fresh from a stint in New Zealand’s Castrol Toyota Racing Series.
Emerson Harvey will be leaning on his experienced teammates at Team BRM, with the teenager making his eagerly anticipated circuit racing debut at Albert Park this weekend.
Queensland squad Patrizicorse impressed in their debutant season in 2018 alongside fellow rookie driver Jackson Walls, who also returns from a stint in New Zealand over the summer.
Walls will again lead the squad in 2019, with Porsche driver Aaron Zerefos making his open-wheel debut at Albert Park after spending the last few years racing at the Bathurst 12 Hour.
A new team with an impressive pedigree in open-wheel racing will also make their Australian Formula 4 debut, with MTEC Motorsport fielding two entries for New Zealanders Taylor Cockerton and Ryan Yardley.
Well credentialed in the Toyota Racing Series, and in Australia across Australian GT, Formula Ford and Super2 Series, MTEC Motorsport is an amalgamation of Australian squad Minda Motorsport and New Zealand’s ETEC Motorsport.
JRD also make their Australian Formula 4 comeback this weekend, preparing two cars for their experienced Formula Vee campaigners Heath Collinson and Matt Holmes.
Experienced Formula Vee, Aussie Racing Cars, Toyota 86 Series and Targa campaigner Dylan Thomas will also round out the field in an independently prepared Formula 4 under the Tank Motorsport banner with support from CXC Global. Thomas joins Brenton Griguol, Team BRM, as the category’s first older drivers participating in wildcard entries for the Grand Prix event.
British F4 driver Christian Lester will make his international debut at this weekend’s opening round of the CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 Championship at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
Christian’s father Hector Lester will be familiar to many in Australian motor sport, with the Irishman previously competing in CAMS Australian GT Championship events and the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Sunday’s third and final race will determine the weekend’s podium, with FIA President Jean Todt to present the winner’s trophy. Todt will be joined by FIA Vice-President Graham Stoker and FIA Single-Seater Commission President Stefano Domenicali to award second and third places respectively.
The opening round of the championship will see a single practice session prior to the Castrol Pole Position qualifying session on Thursday, with all three races spread across Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Entry List (18)
#1 – Jayden Ojeda – AGI Sport
#5 – Ryan Suhle – Team BRM
#9 – Taylor Cockerton (NZ) – MTEC Motorsport
#11 – Jackson Walls – Patrizicorse
#12 – Josh Smith – AGI Sport
#14 – Matt Holmes – JRD
#15 – Lochie Hughes – Team BRM
#16 – Tommy Smith – Team BRM
#21 – Christian Lester (GBR) – Rossoverde Racing
#23 – Luis Leeds – AGI Sport
#29 – Aaron Zerefos – Patrizicorse
#31 – Heath Collinson – JRD
#39 – Antonio Astuti – AGI Sport
#57 – Jackson Burton – AGI Sport
#68 – Dylan Thomas – Tank Motorsport
#69 – Brenton Griguol – Team BRM
#76 – Emerson Harvey – Team BRM
#99 – Ryan Yardley (NZ) – MTEC Motorsport
Thursday 14 March: 9:55am – Practice (20 minutes)
Thursday 14 March: 2:30pm – Castrol Pole Position Qualifying (20 minutes)
Friday 15 March: 10:55am – Race One (20 minutes)
Saturday 16 March: 11:50am – Race Two (20 minutes)
Sunday 17 March: 12:20pm – Race Three (20 minutes)
Jayden Ojeda (2018 Champion): “I’m so stoked to be racing the Formula 4 at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix, especially with my old team AGI Sport. The chance to compete at the Australian Grand Prix is special, racing on the same track as the F1 cars will be amazing”.
Ryan Suhle (2018 runner-up & Team BRM driver): “A change in team this year to Team BRM was unexpected. We initially planned to only run GT3 Cup Challenge this year, but the opportunity to also run F4 cropped up. With the Grand Prix and a really exciting calendar, we really couldn’t say no.”
Lochie Hughes (Burson Auto Parts Rookie of 2018): “After last season winning the rookie title, my focus obviously turns to the next step. I’m aiming for this season to win races and ultimately the championship. To have round one at the Australian Grand Prix is a huge boost and I can’t wait to get underway in 2019.”
Antonio Astuti (Victorian & AGI Sport driver): “I really missed it over the Christmas break. I enjoyed the races I did, travelling, and the car is awesome fun with close racing. I’m looking forward to making the most of it with these AGI Sport guys and that we can bring home a good result.”
Jackson Burton (Debutant AGI Sport driver): “It’s an awesome feeling that I’ll be sharing the same turf with Formula 1 and the likes of Ricciardo, Hamilton and Vettel. I’m really looking forward to getting out on track at the famous Albert Park circuit.”
Heath Collinson (Victorian & JRD driver): “Racing at the Grand Prix will be my first event in a wings and slicks car, so it’s going to be tough, but it’s a challenge I am looking forward to.”
Emerson Harvey (Victorian & debutant Team BRM driver): “Making my circuit racing debut at the Australian Grand Prix is going to be super special. To race on the same track as the same drivers I watch each weekend is a real honour.”
Matt Holmes (Victorian & JRD driver): “As a passionate and lifelong Formula 1 fan, racing at the Grand Prix has been a dream for a long time and an opportunity I never thought I would have. So when presented with the chance, I jumped at it. I can’t wait for the weekend to arrive.”
Luis Leeds (Victorian & AGI Sport driver): “I couldn’t think of a better way to start the Australian Formula 4 season, and racing on the same lines as the F1 cars will be extra special. The privilege of racing in front of a home crowd too coming from Melbourne will be extra special.”
Josh Smith (Victorian & AGI Sport driver): “My heart starts racing thinking about it. I’ve got to jump home on the PlayStation and cut a couple of laps around Albert Park. That’s going to be an awesome round, I cannot wait.”
Tommy Smith (Victorian & Team BRM driver): “My expectations are much higher than last year since I now have more experience. Hopefully I can challenge for podiums, race wins, and hopefully be in a position to be in the championship title hunt.”
Dylan Thomas (Tank Motorsport): “The Australian Grand Prix is a must-do event for any driver, and I’m keen to push the F4 car around a proper Grand Prix circuit. We’ll be out there to enjoy ourselves for the weekend, but hopefully keep some of the younger guys honest and race hard.”
Jackson Walls (Patrizicorse): “Driving at the track where I’ve spectated, and watch my dad racing Australian GT, since I was seven will be pretty cool. Expectations will be pretty high being in front of the world stage with the amount of people that will be attending.”