From sim racer to British F4 rookie: Fairclough ‘buzzing’ ahead of 2023 opener

It has been a hectic off-season for Deagen Fairclough, whose ROKiT Racing Star competition win led to a full-time British F4 seat for 2023. The JHR Developments driver spoke to Feeder Series before the start of the season to talk about the process of securing his drive and his expectations for the season ahead.

By Gerren Scapens

ROKiT Racing Star is a sim racing competition in which one male and one female would win driver coaching from Motorsport UK in preparation for a season of British F4. Whilst this was initially meant with ROKiT’s own Formula 4 Racing Star team, it has since been announced that JHR will be taking on Fairclough, one of the winners.

This unknown has made Fairclough’s preparations for the upcoming season harder than expected.

“Well, we’ve only recently signed the contract, so it’s been quite last minute, but we’re trying to catch up on as much testing as possible,” Fairclough said.

“We’re just trying to ram it all in and catch up with these boys because they’ve done so much. We’re just trying to get as much as we can and then hopefully, we’ll be prepared enough for the first round at Donington.”

A composed approach

Monica Boulton Ramos and Deagen Fairclough hold black and white posters with their names and the text "ROKiT Racing Star F4 esports competition: WINNER" written on them. They hold trophies in their right hands as a shower of confetti falls in the foreground.
Deagen Fairclough (right) was one of two winners of the ROKiT Racing Star esports competition alongside Monica Boulton Ramos | Credit: ROKiT Racing Star

Though his off-season was not so straightforward, Fairclough’s approach to 2023 has not changed.

“Well, it’s been a few ups and downs. We just haven’t been aware, but I’ve just let them do their thing and been patient and just training at home, like gym, on the sim and everything – just keeping myself prepared for getting in the car. I think it’s just been a bit longer than we thought, but obviously we’re here now and I’m grateful to actually be in the car.

“So I think it’s just been a long waiting game, and now we’re here catching up and I think the car’s fantastic. I think the opportunity they’ve actually given us at the start has been fantastic [with] ROKiT Racing Star, and I’m just proud to actually be racing this year.”

Preparing for 2023 with JHR

Once Fairclough’s seat with JHR was sorted, everything turned to preparation for the season ahead. Testing for a new season is important for any driver, but for someone jumping from the Ford Fiesta Junior Championship to single-seaters, it is even more critical. That being said, Fairclough’s testing has gone according to plan.

“Yeah, it’s gone very well. I think JHR are a fantastic team and we’re all getting on well and I think we’re making progress and big steps each time we’re actually getting in the car. 

“Steve [Hunter], the owner, is just a fantastic guy, and I think we’re just learning a lot each time we’re going out on track. I think that’s a massive improvement to actually look at going into the first round.

“I think we’re just having those gains each time we’re going out and I think that will just help us massively going into the race.”

Looking forward to the season opener

As the season opener at Donington Park – supporting the opening round of the 2023 British Touring Car Championship – draws closer, the young Brit is excited for what is to come when cars hit the track on 22 April. 

“I’m buzzing. I can’t wait to get on track with these boys. I mean, first round’s on my birthday so I want to make it a good one. I’m just buzzing to actually get racing with them. Hopefully it’s a close, good racing. I just can’t wait.

“I think we just want improvements each race, but I’m a racing driver that wants to win, so I’m obviously going for that and I think JHR obviously want their name at the top. So I’m definitely going for that, for the title, but I think there’s nothing holding us back.”

Going through the year, we just want improvements but I want to be fighting up the front

Deagen Fairclough

The late announcement for where Fairclough will be driving has meant he has missed some testing days, but his confidence has not wavered despite this.

“I think becoming an underdog – well, not underdog, really, because I’ve won an eSports series – I think everyone’s going to be looking at me going, ‘I want to beat him’. So I think going through the year, we just want improvements, but I want to be fighting up the front.

“I think, definitely, the ultimate goal is winning, but God knows how racing goes, so it’s definitely going to be a challenging year this year. I just can’t wait to actually get racing with these guys.”

A competitive championship ahead

As the closeness of testing foretells, this season is set to be a tight one. The young JHR driver believes he can fight amongst the best with the likes of Louis Sharp and Daniel Guinchard, who will be returning for a second year of British F4 after top 10 performances in the standings last season.

“I think everyone’s quite equal. I think everyone looks up to the Hitech and Carlin, but I think all teams are good and I think all drivers can actually be fighting for the top no matter what.

“I’m not doubting anyone. I think everyone’s quite a good talent going into F4. I think it’s the start of going into F1, so everyone’s going to be gunning for the win.

“I think it’s going to be some really close racing this year and I think me, JHR and everyone at ROKiT and everyone else around helping support it, I think we can definitely fight for it.”

Finally, Fairclough’s ambitions do not simply stop after this year. With his foot in the door, he plans to go all the way after 2023 ends.

“Obviously I think the five-year goal for everyone is F4, F3, F2 and then potentially to F1, maybe another year at F4, but God knows what can happen,” he says.

“Racing, it’s very cutthroat. If I can work well with the team at JHR, I think we can definitely progress up the ladder, but it’s very difficult.”

Header photo credit: British F4


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