Watts in charge at Brands Hatch. Danny Watts (Northampton) led all the way to win yesterday's opening round of the Formula Renault UK Championship at Brands Hatch, Kent. The Fortec Motorsport driver made the most of his NGK Laser Platinum Pole...
Watts in charge at Brands Hatch.
Danny Watts (Northampton) led all the way to win yesterday's opening round of the Formula Renault UK Championship at Brands Hatch, Kent.
The Fortec Motorsport driver made the most of his NGK Laser Platinum Pole Position advantage to lead the massive 30-car field into the first corner before driving to victory. His success means he remains undefeated on Brands' Grand Prix circuit where he won the first ever modern era carbon fibre Formula Renault race in April 2000.
Shadowing him every inch throughout the 17-lap race was Mark McLoughlin (Milton Keynes), whose second place finish was a best ever result in Formula Renault for his delighted Paston Racing team. McLoughlin also set a new lap record of 1m24.682s - an average speed of 111.50mph - to better the previous best mark set by 2000 Champion Kimi Raikkonen, now a McLaren Formula One driver.
McLaren F1's exciting 17-year-old protégé Lewis Hamilton completed the podium by finishing third for the Manor Motorsport team. He started from fourth on the grid but earned his third place on the opening lap by overtaking fellow former karting star, Fortec's Jamie Green (Broughton Astley). Green would later crash out of the race.
Motaworld Racing began the defence of its 2001 title with a solid fourth place finish for its winter Champion Robert Bell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne). However, he came under pressure in the closing stages from fifth-placed Patrick Long (Bedford) and at the chequered flag was less than a second ahead of the American driver. Long had spent most of the race in sixth spot behind Irish Manor team-mate Matt Griffin (Blarney) whose fine drive cruelly came to an end just three laps from home with a rare mechanical problem on is car.
Sixth position fell the way of Falcon Motorsport's Swedish driver Robin Rudholm (Milton Keynes) who had to drive defensively to first fend off Saxon International's determined Alex Buncombe (Taunton), who eventually spun out of the race, and then, towards the end, Motaworld's Australian Will Davison (Milton Keynes). Davison started 13th on the grid and his excellent charge through the field to seventh earned him the Michelin Driver of the Day award.
Perhaps the closest battle of the race was for eighth spot, Aztec International's Dutch driver Ricardo van der Ende holding off Cliff Dempsey Racing's Swede Richard Goransson by just a fraction of a second to keep the position. Goransson's Irish CDR team-mate Keith Dempsey (Ashbourne) completed the top 10.
Teams and drivers now head to the super-fast Thruxton circuit in Hampshire for official championship testing on Wednesday, 3rd April. Round two of the Formula Renault UK Championship is at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire on Sunday, 20th April.
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