A boy with black hair and a black Under Armour jacket with the Kokoro Performance logo stands in front of a black background with the Scorpio Motorsport logo

GB4 newcomer Aqil Alibhai impresses at 2022 season finale: ‘Nothing has really surprised me’

When the inaugural season of the GB4 Championship concluded at Donington Park, one driver already had one eye on next season after making his debut in the season finale. Scorpio Motorsport’s Aqil Alibhai spoke to F1 Feeder Series in the GB4 paddock shortly before the final race of the season.

By Richard Smyth

After ending an impressive qualifying session in fifth place, ahead of some full-season entries and even a title contender, Alibhai finished his debut race in a comfortable fourth place.

But in Race 2, he encountered an issue that many drivers on the grid have had this season as a problem with the car caused him to stall and therefore be unable to take part in the race.

Despite his misfortunes in the second race, South Africa’s Alibhai was upbeat when asked how he was finding his first weekend.

“It’s definitely been a big learning curve for me coming from Ginetta Juniors, but so far, I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said. “Through the races it has been a little bit tough, but hopefully in the final race I can show some good pace and end on a good result.”

It’s definitely been a big learning curve for me coming from Ginetta Juniors, but so far, I have thoroughly enjoyed it

Aqil Alibhai

From eighth on a reversed grid, Alibhai went on to claim sixth place in the third and final race of the round, highlighting the impressive skill that took him to sixth overall in the Ginetta Junior Championship this year.

How GB4 compares to Ginettas

The odd surprise can appear with any change of racing series, but nothing fazed Alibhai in his pursuit of solid race results.

“Nothing has really surprised me. Everything that I have expected I have prepared for.”

There are obvious technical differences between the Ginetta Junior Championship and the GB4 Championship, as Alibhai explained to F1 Feeder Series. For one, Ginettas use road tyres as opposed to race-spec slicks.

“The biggest difference was racing on slick tyres and having much more downforce with aerodynamics,” Alibhai explained. “You have to bring the slick tyres into a window, and it took a few sessions to get used to that. It also took me time to understand that I could take more speed into the corner with the aerodynamics on the front wing.”

A permanent step?

With four drivers joining the GB4 paddock at Donington Park, there was a clear focus on next season already, recently announced to be starting 8 April at Oulton Park. Alibhai used this weekend as a trial run to see if he could quickly get up to speed in a single-seater.

“After two seasons in Ginetta Juniors, I felt like maybe my time in the series was done. I was looking for opportunities in single-seaters as that is what I am looking for next season. I saw that GB4 was there, so I am using this weekend as a guideline to see where I am in single-seaters.”

A neon orange and black racecar photographed from the left side on a racetrack with a red and white kerb in the foreground and grass in the background
Aqil Alibhai racing at Donington Park | Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Even at national level, drivers are constantly being pushed to reach their maximum potential. Alibhai has found a strong partnership with a driver coaching company that currently have 2021 GB3 champion Zak O’Sullivan, among others, on their books.

“Kokoro Performance help me with the simulator work when I am back in South Africa and when I come back to the UK. They do some preparation with me around the circuit and teach me what I can do better in some corners and make my life slightly easier. There is also training back home to ensure that I am fit to be racing.”

Why Alibhai uses #14

Some racing drivers have a real sentimental value behind their racing number. Alibhai’s number, 14, is a tribute to his late brother.

“Previously my race number used to be 45, but my older brother passed away, and I took over his number to carry his legacy on.”

Header photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

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