Mike Conway won the opening round of the Formula Renault UK championship with a convincing lights-to-flag victory. The Fortec Motorsport driver was comfortably faster than the rest of the field and opened up a large lead, which he then rebuilt...
Mike Conway won the opening round of the Formula Renault UK championship with a convincing lights-to-flag victory. The Fortec Motorsport driver was comfortably faster than the rest of the field and opened up a large lead, which he then rebuilt after a mid-race safety car period, to win comfortably ahead of Comtec Racing driver Westley Barber. Paul Di Resta drove a strong race from tenth on the grid to finish third.
"I expected to be a race winner" said a delighted Conway. "We did it in qualifying and did it in the race. It was spot on. It's going this way at the moment so I hope it stays this way. The first couple of laps I wanted to try to get a gap."
Conway started on pole position alongside Ruben Carrapatoso in his Eurotek Motorsport car, Team Firstair's James Murphy in third and Barber in fourth. The Team JVA car of Pippa Mann suffered problems in the assembly area and had to start from the back of the grid. Ben Freudenberg had problems getting his Fortec Motorsport car away on the warm-up lap but was able to rejoin at the back. Team JVA driver Sean Edwards was a non-starter due to accident damage sustained in qualifying.
Conway made a reasonable start but Carrapatoso had a slow getaway so Conway was able to hold his lead. Murphy passed Carrapatoso on the run down to the Campbell chicane and moved up to second. Barber also got past under braking for the final chicane and moved up to third. At the end of the first lap Foster was running fifth and Storckenfeldt made a good start from ninth to move up to sixth.
Conway quickly set about building a lead and he was running at least half a second a lap faster than the pursuing Murphy. Barber was one second further back with Carrapatoso another second behind.
Murphy made a mistake on lap four which allowed Barber to catch up but not quite close enough to attempt to pass. Foster also gradually closed up on Carrapatoso and by lap six he was about one car length behind. These battles for second and fourth places allowed Conway to pull away even further.
Conway's lead was removed on lap six though as there was an incident in the high-speed section at the back of the circuit invovling several cars and the safety car was subsequently brought out. Mann took the opportunity to pit with damage to the undertray of her car. "They called me in so I came in. I knew there was something very wrong" said Mann.
The race resumed on lap ten with the race extended to eighteen laps due to the safety car period. Conway opened up a one second lead on the first flying lap and broke the lap record on the next lap. Foster meanwhile made a slow restart and was soon passed by Paul Di Resta and hassled by Storckenfeldt around the rest of the lap. Foster defended and kept his sixth place as he crossed the line.
Barber closed up on the back of Murphy again and the pair battled hard around the far side of the circuit on lap thirteen. After an attempt to pass at the final chicane Barber squeezed passed going through Allard and set about making up the four and a half second gap to Conway. Murphy then unfortunately pulled off the circuit and retired from the race with a rear puncture.
Conway now led on lap fifteen by over five seconds from Barber, with Di Resta two and half seconds further back in third with Carrapatoso, Foster and Storckenfeld right behind him.
Conway continued to pull away and won by five seconds. Barber finished second over four seconds ahead of Di Resta in third. Carrapatoso finished fourth ahead of Foster in fifth and Storckenfeld. Susie Stoddard drove a strong race after starting fourteenth and gradually making up places throughout the race to finish eighth.
1. Mike Conway 25 min 0.803 seconds
2. Westley Barber +5.238s
3. Paul di Resta +9.981s
4. Ruben Carrapatoso +10.720s
5. Joey Foster +11.692s
6. Alex Storckenfeldt +12.098s
7. John Byrne +12.461s
8. Susie Stoddart +14.560s
9. Oliver Jarvis +17.697s
10. Josh Webber +17.897s
1. Conway 34 points
2. Barber 28
3. di Resta 25
4. Carraoatisi 22
5. Foster 20
6. Storckenfeldt 18
7. Byrne 16
8. Stoddart 14
9. Jarvis 12
10. Weber 11