Oliver Clarke endured a frustrating second event of the season in the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda this past weekend (June 21/22/23) as he tackled the Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
Coming off the back of a battling performance at the Road Atlanta season-opener, the Velocity Racing Development driver had his sights on fighting further toward the front and scoring a another solid haul of points.
Having been fully focused on his exams back at home in recent months, Clarke returned to American soil keen to get back behind the wheel and joined a majority of the grid for a two-day test in Pittsburgh prior to the event.
Fine-tuning the car during the test and then free practice, the 16-year-old endured a tough qualifying session around the 17-turn, 2.78-mile circuit. Setting a best time of 1:43.235, the Fewkes Sports Management hotshot ultimately finished the ultra-competitive battle for pole position back in 15th.
Lining up on the eighth row of the grid for race one, Clarke didn’t stay in 15th for long as he was on the move as soon as the lights went out. Scything his way past a handful of drivers during the opening stages, Clarke was soon into the top 10 and on the back of an almighty scrap for seventh place.
Tucked up behind Christian Brooks, the former karting champion attempted to utilize all of his overtaking prowess but was unable to make a move, settling for 10th place as he took the checkered flag.
With the grid for the second race of the weekend determined by drivers’ in-race fastest lap from the opening encounter, the Norfolk-based racer lined up on the grid in 10th.
Dropping the clutch as the action roared into life, Clarke found himself in the thick of the action but sadly dropped down the order and ultimately finished a lap down on the leaders.
Keen to bring the curtain down on his weekend with a high, the sophomore season racer started the third and final 15-lap sprint from 14th.
In what proved to be another exhilarating encounter, the teenager narrowly missed on another top-10 finish as he hounded the back of Josh Bethune and Guilherme Peixoto - ultimately crossing the line in 11th.
Oliver Clarke: “It has been a tough weekend and I don’t think the results are a fair reflection of the pace and potential we had coming into the weekend. We’re learning as a team all the time however and although the results haven’t fallen our way there are plenty of positives to take away. One top ten finish is frustrating but we are well aware of how competitive this championship is as a whole and it is still wide open. I don't think we are too far away from that breakthrough result; we've just got to keep working hard as a team, make progress and I'm sure it will come."
About Oliver Clarke
Unquestionably one of the fastest racing talents to emerge from British karting over recent years, 16 year-old Oliver Clarke stands proud amongst his peers as a talented racing driver who has not only the qualities needed to succeed at the highest level, but is proving just that in his single-seater progression as he embarks on his second season in the F4 United States Championship powered by Honda in 2019.
Like many drivers who look to achieve a top-level international racing status, Oliver began karting at the age of 8 and has progressed to claim a large number of karting accolades before sealing a move to the United States where he currently competes with the front-running Velocity Racing Development outfit.
With a substantial prize fund, a full scholarship to the F3 Americas Championship powered by Honda in 2020 for the Champion, along with great exposure this season could see Oliver become a real future prospect for the IndyCar Series.