The SD Sealants-backed Kevin Mills Racing team may have endured a difficult weekend in the third round of the GB4 Championship at Silverstone last weekend (May 7/8), but the squad still recorded a podium finish to remain in the hunt for the title.
A superb second place for South African Jarrod Waberski was the highlight of an otherwise challenging event, during which the team was held back by a mystery car issue that badly hindered the weekend of its other driver, Tom Mills.
KMR went into the event leading the Teams’ Championship after a maiden win for Waberski at Oulton Park, while he and team-mate Tom Mills earned additional podiums.
Unfortunately, things took a turn at the home of the British Grand Prix, with Waberski enjoying the highs of a podium finish, but also the lows of suffering his first retirement of the season after being taken out of the finale while working his way toward yet another appearance on the rostrum.
For Mills, a strange issue with his car left him severely down on straight-line speed – a particular problem at a circuit like Silverstone. His best result of the weekend would be seventh in the final race. An unjust reward for an otherwise spirited performance.
After two days of testing in which Waberski had ended Friday third fastest overall, qualifying proved tricky for the team, with Waberski qualifying seventh, eight tenths of a second away from pole despite it being his first visit to the legendary venue. Mills however was a disappointed 10th, two seconds off pole and clearly lacking power with his car between four and six miles per hour slower than the front-runners in a straight line.
Waberski held seventh for the whole of the first contest, always on the tail of the drivers ahead but not quite able to force a move, but at least kept his nose clean to score valuable points. But Mills was suffering as, despite climbing to ninth on the first lap by passing Logan Hannah, he was unable to shake off the attentions of the Scottish racer and had to drive defensively due to his mechanical issues.
The grid for race two, decided by second-fastest times in qualifying, initially didn’t promise much, but a slipstreaming epic unfolded and gave both drivers plenty to smile about in the early stages. Despite starting 10th on the grid, chaos and closely fought action ahead allowed Mills to climb an incredible seven spots on the first lap, and after a safety car, he used a good tow from the leading cars to slingshot into the lead on lap four after an incredible run down the Hangar Straight. An incredible comeback looked to be on the cards, until the performance issue again played its part, leaving Mills unable to defend from his pursuers on the straights. He would wind up ninth by the end.
But Waberski would salvage some glory for the team. Once more he got his elbows out, and despite falling to sixth on the opening lap, pulled off some sensational overtaking moves on Jack Sherwood, Megan Gilkes and Max Marzorati on consecutive laps to jump into the podium places. After passing his team-mate on lap six to go second, race leader Nikolas Taylor had already marched away, but Waberski showed his speed to break the tow from Marzorati behind and claim a comfortable second place, his fourth podium from the opening eight races.
Technical changes before the final race for Mills meant he was feeling more positive ahead of the contest and starting third on the grid, he had reason to be optimistic, while Waberski looked to threaten from sixth. But only halfway through the lap, Waberski was eliminated after Taylor went for an over-optimistic move at Vale and bounced over the top of his car, ending his weekend prematurely.
Mills held onto his podium position for the first half of the race and initially looked comfortable with a 2.4-second gap to the car behind. But in the latter stages of the race he began losing a second a lap to the drivers behind him, and ceded the podium position on the penultimate tour when Elias Adestam went around the outside of him, the Swede questionably running all four wheels off the track at Stowe. That move was eventually penalised by the stewards, but this was immaterial to Mills, who would be demoted to seventh with his car clearly still not on-song.
Waberski now lies fourth in the drivers’ standings, and Mills sixth. Fortunately, retirements for several other championship contenders means both are still within touching distance of the top, while in the teams’ championship, KMR has slipped to fourth overall but is just 24 points from the summit.
The team is planning a raft of changes on both cars before the next round to ensure it comes out fighting at Donington Park.
Speaking after his podium, Waberski said: “That was a really good race. Coming from P5 we struggled initially on the first part of the race but then we maximised the safety car restart and positioned ourselves really well there. I’m really happy to get second considering the race one result, so I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made with the car, and I can’t thank the team enough. Tom had a really good start and managed to get past me early on, but then he ended up struggling a little bit, so once I got past, I managed to get a gap and hold on for second in the end.”
Tom Mills said: “We’ve had a car issue all weekend and we couldn’t get to the bottom of it. We’ve changed loads but we were still really slow in a straight line. It was really draggy and as the races went on it got worse and worse. At the beginning, it wasn’t so bad, and in race two I got to the lead but then everyone just drove past me. It’s super frustrating, I’m driving the best I can, get to the lead and then everyone sails past me in a straight line.”
Team principal Kevin Mills added: “We still don’t quite understand the car issues that plagued us all weekend. Basically, as soon as you put any steering lock on Tom’s car you could see the power and speed traces failing. We tried changing everything from the engines to the wheel bearings to the brake calipers and nothing seemed to fix it. It could well be a chassis issue, in which case we’ll look to change that before the next event. There’s also a fair bit of repair work to be done on Jarrod’s car after he was taken out of the final race, and he could have easily fought for another podium in that without the contact. It wasn’t a good weekend for us, but we still got a podium finish out of it and we’re still in a strong position in the championship. We have a plan to get back on form in time for Donington Park, so it’s heads up and we’ll go again in a few weeks.”
The GB4 Championship resumes at Donington Park on 28-29 May.