Junior Formulae

Title decider build up: Challenge Cup contender Ericsson

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Fortec’s Hampus Ericsson currently lies, tied with Harry Webb, at the top of the Ford F4 Challenge Cup standings heading into the final round of the championship.

The Challenge Cup, new this year, ran as a separate class during each F4 race. Challenge Cup competitors could compete for points in the overall championship, but only raced at seven of the 10 meetings, with Knockhill and Brands Hatch Indy mandatory events.

Ericsson joined the F4 grid at Donington Park, where he finished ninth, 10th, and 11th overall. He was the last of the four Challenge Cup entrants in race one and third in races two and three (with JHR Developments retiring from both races).

It wasn’t the best of starts, putting him last in the Cup standings, but Ericsson had managed to break into the points in his first ever car race.

In the 15-year-old’s next meeting, Croft, Ericsson took a hat-trick of third place Cup finishes: 11th, ninth, and 11th overall.

Ericsson was now third in the standings but those ahead of him, Harry Webb and Oliver York, had raced in every event up until that point, meaning they only had the mandatory Knockhill and Brands rounds left. Ericsson had time to catch up.

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Olli Caldwell and Lucca Allen joined Ericsson on the Challenge Cup entry list at Snetterton. Caldwell claimed victory in race one, whilst Ericsson held off attacks from Allen to finish second, 12th overall.

Ericsson was running 10th overall in the second race of the weekend, fighting to find a way past the Double R Racing’s Karl Massard. The pair collided, causing Massard to leak fluid over the track. Ericsson remained 10th through the majority of the race, only to tumble down the order on the final lap. He crossed the line 13th overall, the second Cup racer, but was later excluded for causing the collision with Massard.

Starting seventh for the final race of the weekend, Ericsson made a strong start to move up to fifth by the end of lap two. He battled with Arden’s Ayrton Simmons for the position, the more experienced driver eventually finding a way past Ericsson. Ericsson crossed the line sixth, his best finish of the season at that point and his first Challenge Cup.

The victory took Ericsson to within 130 points of Webb in second, but he would be back for the mandatory Knockhill round the following weekend.

Ericsson would start 11th for the first race in Scotland and slowly worked his way up through the order before the mid-race safety car when Lucas Alecco Roy and Jamie Sharp collided.

On the restart, Ericsson made up another position, finishing seventh, two places ahead of the next best Challenge Cup entrant.

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Not only did Ericsson take his second class win, he also earned pole on the reverse grid for race two.

Team-mate York – who had by this time switched from the Challenge Cup rota – passed Ericsson at the start of the race, leaving him to battle with the Carlin car of Logan Sargeant. Ericsson defended well, but Sargeant eventually found a way past. Alex Quinn, Jamie Caroline, and Simmons were soon on Ericsson’s tail, but he Swedish racer held firm, keeping Quinn behind him to finish third, his first overall podium and third Cup victory of the season.

He took 10th overall in the final race of the weekend, third in class.

Webb had extended his gap to Ericsson at Knockhill, but a hat-trick of victories at Rockingham put Ericsson back in the fight in Webb’s absence.

Heading to Silverstone last weekend, Ericsson was now only 65 points behind Webb, who would again not be racing. He took a pair of class wins in the opening two races, but was caught in an opening lap collision with Quinn in race three and as forced to pit.

Ericsson didn’t retire, managing to rejoin the race a number of laps down. He finished four laps behind the leader, Oscar Piastri, but was classified as the third Challenge Cup entrant.

It was just enough to bring him alongside Webb in the championship standings heading to the final round of the championship, where Webb will be back.

The pair are also together in the overall standings. Ericsson currently lies 11th, 13.5 points behind Webb.

Image credit: Caroline Rhea

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