Josh Dufek rewarded the decision to contest the rescheduled final ADAC German F4 round at the Nurburgring, coming away with two podium finishes to help his Van Amersfoort Racing team clinch another teams' title.
Having comfortably added the Italian F4 crowns to its bulging trophy cabinet — a haul aided by Josh's maiden series win at Mugello — VAR needed a strong weekend in the Eifel mountains to overcome US Racing in the ADAC standings, and found its entire line-up in good form despite the late autumn date limiting track time for the entire programme. With Josh also missing Thursday's opening session due to testing commitments elsewhere, and red flags interrupting proceedings in FP2, the youngster's fifth place overall was notable. It was a similar story in qualifying, which initially saw the Swiss native slip down the order as the first session ran in unfamiliar dry conditions and have to settle for a spot on the inside of row four for the opening race on Saturday, before bouncing back with a massive improvement in the remaining 15-minute session to steal third fastest time late on and wind up just a tenth off pole position.
A good getaway as the lights went out to start race one left Josh in good position to capitalise on the chaos around him, vaulting the #13 VAR machine into the top three by the end of the opening lap. From there, the 16-year-old harried Vlad Lomko for second spot, eventually putting enough pressure on the Russian to sweep past and set up a late challenge to leader Tim Tramnitz. The series veteran, still in with a chance of taking the drivers' title, defended mightily however, taking the victory by just 0.59secs.
Race two the following morning was delayed for nearly two hours by some typical Eifel fog and then run in wet conditions, but appeared to offer the same opportunity for Josh as he immediately moved up a place from his third spot on the grid to slot in behind VAR team-mate — and champion-elect — Oliver Bearman on the run to Turn One. Although he had to fend off early advances from Tramnitz and Victor Bernier, Josh continued to chase the leader until three laps from home when, with both cars sliding on the greasy track, he reluctantly yielded position to the charging Luke Browning. Tramnitz, however, remained sufficiently adrift that Josh's second podium of the weekend was never in doubt, edging VAR closer to its title goal.
With the top eighth finishers in race two reversed for the season finale, Josh would line up on the outside of row three, but his hopes of climbing through the field to claim a podium hat-trick were dented at the first corner, spinning Tramnitz across his bows and earning himself a drive-through penalty that left him unable to improve on 12th place at the chequered flag, and seventh in the final championship standings.
"Race three wasn't the way I wanted to finish the season obviously, but getting two more podium finished this weekend justified coming here," Josh reasoned. "The car definitely had the pace to be a contender in the final race and I was hoping to make up early places as I had in race one. Unfortunately, it didn't work out.
"What went before was great, however. I got a good start to race one and was able to make the most of everything going on around me to add extra places to the ones I gained off the line. From there, it was just a question of applying enough pressure to Lomko before trying to chase down Tramnitz at the end. Race two looked just as promising, despite the tricky conditions, and it was fun to go side-by-side with Browning through the complex, even if he came out on top that time.
"This really is the end of my season as far as racing is concerned, but I'm looking forward to continuing to test over the winter with an eye on 2022."