Petr Ptacek Jr made a strong start to his 2018 Italian F4 Championship campaign as he fought his way to a pair of Rookie Cup podiums and two top-ten finishes at Adria International Raceway this weekend.
The karting graduate was making his single-seater racing debut at the 2.70km track that is renowned for being tight and technical. Up against a quality field of 30 other drivers, Petr Jr got up to speed quickly during a pair of test sessions on Friday before qualifying in confident mood on Saturday afternoon.
The BhaiTech Racing driver placed his car in P9 for the first of the weekend’s 30-minute races, before securing P13 and P11 grid slots for Sunday’s remaining races.
Petr Jr carried his qualifying pace into the opening race as he kept calm and picked up a position at the start to run in P8. A Safety Car period during the closing minutes closed the field back up and Petr Jr took the chequered flag in P10 after two of his rivals got a slightly better getaway when the race restarted.
The second race highlighted Petr Jr’s confidence behind the wheel of the Tatuus-Abarth as he battled for position and executed a number of late-braking passes at the Tornantino hairpin. He went on to reach the finish in P8 – and duly claimed his second top-ten finish of the weekend.
Sunday’s final race proved a bit more frustrating for Petr Jr. Lapping in P7 and set for another point-scoring result, the Czech driver was handed a five-second time penalty after tangling with one of his rivals.
That pushed him down to P17 in the final results, but he was still pleased with how he performed during his debut Italian F4 weekend.
“It’s good that I got some points straight away; that’s excellent for the team and the championship,” the Corum Watches-backed driver said. “I was also second in the rookie class in the first two races so I’m really happy about that.
“I was feeling good after those two races. I knew I had a good basis to improve from because the speed was there and I was confident I could have finished even higher in the last race.”
Petr Jr’s impressive last lap overtaking in all three races was attributed to his ability to effectively manage his car’s tyres and he was happy to wait for his opportunities as his rivals started losing grip.
“Later in the races, I knew I was fast because my tyres were lasting longer than the others so I had extra grip to use,” he explained. “It depends on your performance to keep the tyres in the correct window and at the right temperature. I was pleased I did that this weekend.”
With his first Italian F4 weekend successfully negotiated, and points already on the board, Petr Jr’s next races will be held at Le Castellet in France (10-13 May).
He tested at the French track earlier this month and is confident he can put that experience to good use. He said: “I had two days testing there recently and the speed was definitely there to do well during the next set of races.”