Van Amersfoort Racing’s Josh Dufek showed why he can be a contender for honours in this year’s various national F4 championships with some impressive pace at the ADAC series opener in Austria, but knows that he will need better fortune to make his mark in another closely-matched field.
The Swiss-based youngster was a constant in the top ten during the opening practice sessions as he built on experience already gleaned from pre-season testing at the Red Bull Ring, but really came to the fore in the two qualifying runs on Friday evening, claiming second and fourth fastest times to put himself in position to chase podiums over the weekend.
Unfortunately for Dufek, a poor getaway from the lights in race one undid his opportunity to challenge for a first win of the year, dropping the #13 VAR car, initially, to third place before a brush with the barriers after running wide at the final corner midway through the 20-lap encounter edged him out of the top ten.
Undeterred, the 16-year-old showed his true mettle in race two late on Saturday afternoon, retaining fourth place off the line and subsequently holding his nerve through a safety car period to withstand the pressure of a multi-car battle in his wake. Able to pull out a slight gap in the final stages, Dufek eventually finished where he had started, his late pursuit of a potential podium thwarted by the chequered flag.
With Sunday morning’s finale lining up with the top eight from race two reversed on the grid, Dufek again had a good chance to chase some silverware, his orange-and-black machine starting from the inside of row three. However, whilst in the thick of the action, a collision with one of his VAR team-mates not only forced the #13 machine through the Turn 4 gravel, but ultimately into retirement, bringing an untimely end to his weekend.
“This obviously isn’t the way we wanted to begin our ADAC F4 campaign,” Dufek sighed, “Things looked so good after qualifying, especially recording my first front row start of the season, but it just goes to show how closely-fought this year is going to be — the slightest mistake is going to cost multiple positions, and that’s what happened to us this weekend.
“Fortunately, I don’t have long to dwell on it as the next round of the Italian F4 Championship is already on the horizon and I aim to pick up from where we left off at Misano.”
Dufek’s next action will come in round three of the Italian F4 Championship, at Vallelunga, over the weekend of 25-27 June.