Petr Ptacek Jr underlined his growing reputation in European motorsport by winning the Italian F4 Championship Rookie Cup title at Vallelunga this weekend (14-16 September).
The 15-year-old travelled to the penultimate round of the season with a healthy lead in the rookie standings and, despite an early set back in race one, his bid to secure the title at the 4.08km circuit was never in doubt. He eventually took Rookie Cup honours with an 82-point advantage.
“Whenever a driver comes into a new racing category, the first objective is always to win the rookie championship. That was definitely the case for me coming into F4 this season and I’m so happy I hit my target this weekend,” Petr said. “It’s a great feeling and I owe special thanks to everyone in my BhaiTech Racing team for their support and hard work.”
Petr’s pace was on point as soon as the on-track action got underway at Vallelunga and securing P3, P2 and P2 qualifying slots showed the Corum Watches-supported driver meant business.
But his push for points suffered a setback during Saturday’s first race when he was tapped and spun by a rival on the first lap. That dropped him to the back of the pack. Although he recovered strongly, he was forced to retire before the end of the race with a broken front wing.
“The truth is I made a pretty bad start and then I got some contact from a rival that spun me around,” he explained. “I then touched one of the guys at the back as I came through the field and that broke my wing.
“It was frustrating but I’m human and I make mistakes like everyone. What was important for me was how I recovered in the second and third races.”
If Petr’s team was looking for a positive response in race two, that’s exactly what it got as he finished P3 overall and secured his 10th Rookie win of the season.
And even better was to follow in race two on Sunday afternoon. Petr quickly slotted into P2 and left the chasing pack behind as he comfortably established a 9.4sec gap over the third-place driver.
Petr pushed as hard as he could for the win but he just ran out of laps and had to settle for another P2 finish – this time by a margin of only 0.7sec!
“I really tried to go for the win in race three but it didn’t quite go my way,” he explained. “It was still satisfying to set the fastest lap of the race – for the fifth time this season – and to show my really strong and consistent F4 pace. It was a great way to end an almost perfect weekend.”
With the Rookie Cup title wrapped up, Petr will now go into the final three races of the Italian F4 season at Mugello (26-28 October) without any pressure. But he still has a couple of important targets in his sights.
“I’m currently P4 in the overall championship so I’ll be pushing hard to protect that and try to improve that as well,” he said. “But it’s also still my goal to claim a pole position. I’ve come close on a number of occasions this season and I’m hoping I can finally do that at Mugello.”