Petr Ptacek Jr collected his fourth overall podium finish of the year and a clean-sweep of Rookie Cup wins during a successful programme of Italian F4 Championship races at Imola this weekend.
The 15-year-old built on his podium-winning form at the previous round in Misano to claim two P5 finishes and a P3 at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.
“Imola is a really challenging circuit but I’ve come away feeling positive about all three races,” Petr acknowledged.
“I took maximum rookie points at each race, and made some good overtaking moves. Fastest lap in race one showed I had the pace and third overall in race three was a great way to round off the weekend.”
Imola’s 4.9km circuit features an unusual mix of long straights and slow corners and Petr worked hard during Practice and Qualifying to get comfortable at the wheel of his BhaiTech Racing car.
He said: “I think it’s one of the most difficult tracks in the world. In Practice and Qualifying I tried to judge the level of grip with the tyres – to find the limit at each corner. You have to find the perfect balance. I qualified seventh, fifth and fifth, which was less than I was hoping for – so that’s something I know I have to work on in future.”
Starting Saturday’s race from P7 on the grid, Petr made up two places to take the chequered flag in P5 – and also claim his third fastest lap of the season so far. Sunday started with another P5 finish, this time from P5 on the grid.
But the Corum Watches-backed youngster saved his best for last, ending the weekend with some neat racecraft in the third race, when he sprang from P5 to P3 at the end of the opening lap.
Thanks to this weekend’s points, Petr extended his advantage in the Rookie Cup standings, where he now has a 93-point lead over closest rival Gianluca Petecof. He remains P4 in the overall championship, but has narrowed the gap on third to just 24 points.
The Czech driver now has a seven-week break before the sixth and penultimate round of the championship at Vallelunga from 15-16 September. It’s time he is looking to use wisely.
He said: “I have plenty of training planned, including some time in the simulator, and a test at Vallelunga. While I’m satisfied with what we achieved this weekend, I still want my first pole position and outright race win. That’s the main objective. I really believe it’s possible but there’s still work to do so I’ll keep on pushing.”