Victorian Antonio Astuti has won the second race of the CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 Championship, in a thrilling final lap on Saturday at the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
The AGI Sport driver drew inspiration from Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo’s popular catch phrase “you’ve gotta lick the stamp and send it”, and did just that to snatch the win from Team BRM’s Tommy Smith on the second to last corner at Albert Park.
Astuti was ecstatic to win in front of a home crowd in Melbourne, his first career win in Australian Formula 4.
“The race win feels immense. I can’t put into words what it feels at the moment,” Astuti said.
“That last lap was just all about pushing as hard as I could. I didn’t get the best of launches off the last corner on the safety car restart, it was maximum push trying to catch Tommy.
“Throughout the lap I slowly closed the gap and just in those couple of corners. He broke a lot earlier than I expected, the room was there, I got up beside him onto the corner and managed to grab the win.”
The race was marred by two safety car interruptions, the first for another turn three tangle with Jayden Ojeda locking up and tagging the rear of former teammate Ryan Suhle, and JRD’s Matt Holmes another unfortunate casualty.
The safety car appeared immediately after the restart, with Josh Smith making contact with the tyre barriers after damage to his front wing saw him bounce through the turn one astroturf.
With a strict time-certain finish of 20 minutes, only one lap remained to decide the race. Tommy Smith was at the front of the field for the majority of the race until Astuti’s move, and was disappointed with dropping to fourth but happy with a best career result.
“The race is over, but it’s still my best result in Australian F4. I’m still happy, but it could’ve been better,” Smith said.
“I didn’t expect Astuti to lunge that far back. I saw him as I glanced in the mirrors before and he was quite a way off, then I saw he was gone and I thought ‘oh no he’s sent it in’, and then he sort of ran me off the track but I was quite surprised actually.”
Debutant team MTEC Motorsport were thrilled to make their first appearance on the podium, and a double one at that with Ryan Yardley and Taylor Cockerton finishing second and third respectively.
“To grab a podium on the first weekend in the car was pretty cool, and do it here at the Australian Grand Prix is even better,” Yardley said.
“Driving this track is pretty awesome, it’s fast and flowing. A lot of these guys are pretty aggressive over here, so it’s nice to get up and close with some of the Aussies here.”
Though the race was limited with racing laps, Cockerton is confident of the MTEC prepared Formula 4 around him.
“It was a pretty chaotic race. There was only two or three racing laps we got in the end, I was out trying to make no mistakes and get to the finish line really,” Cockerton said.
“Huge thank you to MTEC, the car has been really fast all weekend. If we can get some clean air, we can hopefully challenge for a win.”
Patrizicorse’s Jackson Walls recovered after yesterday’s retirement to finish sixth, just behind CAMS Rising Star Lochie Hughes.
Dylan Thomas clinched his first Australian Formula 4 points in seventh, ahead of Suhle and Luis Leeds who recovered after the first lap melee.
Jackson Burton claimed the final solitary championship point in tenth position.
Brenton Griguol, Heath Collinson, Christian Lester, Emerson Harvey and Aaron Zerefos just missed out on the top ten to be the final 15 classified cars.
Sunday will see the eight lap finale from 12:20pm AEDT, with live television coverage on 10 and Fox Sports.
Race Two Results
1. Antonio Astuti
2. Ryan Yardley +0.7216
3. Taylor Cockerton +1.4240
4. Tommy Smith +1.5630
5. Lochie Hughes +1.8223
6. Jackson Walls +2.2787
7. Dylan Thomas +3.0197
8. Ryan Suhle +5.4189
9. Luis Leeds +5.8117
10. Jackson Burton +7.4072
11. Brenton Griguol +9.5333
12. Heath Collinson +9.8060
13. Christian Lester +11.9692
14. Emerson Harvey +13.6145
15. Aaron Zerefos +17.2596
DNF. Josh Smith
DNF. Jayden Ojeda
DNF. Matt Holmes