Melbourne teenager Hugh Barter has begun his overseas career on a high, with a victory and top five finish for his debut in the French Formula 4 Championship.
The former karter secured a seat for the championship last year with the Richard Mille Drivers’ Academy, earning himself a fully paid drive for the 2021 season.
Competing against 15 other drivers from France and around the world, Barter had a solid start to his first ever round in an open-wheeler, topping the time sheets in practice and qualifying in second place.
Despite showing plenty of raw pace throughout the first race, Barter lost two places but still managed to cross the line in a respectable fourth place, before finishing seventh in the round’s reverse grid race.
However, it was the final outing of the weekend that will forever stick with the 15-year-old.
Starting from second place next to second-year competitor and race one winner Esteban Masson, Barter got the better start of the two and took the lead straight off the line.
For the remainder of the race, Barter held on top spot but faced constant pressure from another Frenchman in Macéo Capietto, who kept him honest for the final laps. The Victorian eventually made it to the chequered flag just seven-tenths ahead of Capietto.
The victory saw Barter slot into second place in the Championship standings, just eight points in arrears to Masson.
“It was a thrilling weekend and a really good experience. I can definitely take a lot of positives away from this meeting and use them in the next round,” Barter said.
“To win on a debut weekend was pretty special. I would say this one of the rarest feelings I have had - especially after that final race, which was one of the most stressful periods of my life. To have someone sit behind me for the entire race was really challenging but made the win even sweeter.
“There was a lot of learning done over the weekend too. A lot of things that need to be worked ahead of the next meeting as per usual since it was my first event.
“All in all, it was a thrilling weekend, we’re just eight points off the lead at the moment, which is nothing in the scheme of things and I can’t wait for the next round.”
The French F4 Championship season continues next month at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in central France on 7-9 May.