RUSSELL SALVAGES POINTS FROM TOUGH BRANDS WEEKEND Reigning Formula Renault BARC Vice-Champion Matt Russell endured one of the most difficult race meetings of his short career at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, but the 22-year-old ...
RUSSELL SALVAGES POINTS FROM TOUGH BRANDS WEEKEND
Reigning Formula Renault BARC Vice-Champion Matt Russell endured one of the most difficult race meetings of his short career at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, but the 22-year-old still managed to salvage some deserved championship points.
Problem-strewn qualifying, which included a high-speed tyre blow-out during the second of Saturday's two 20-minute sessions, would see Russell Racing's Harlesden-based driver begin rounds one and two of the season from 20th and 19th places respectively.
The first of today's races was certainly the Doncaster team's most promising outing of the weekend with Matt posting a best race lap of 45.377 seconds and securing two hard earned championship points after battling hard for 19th place.
Although disappointed to have lost out at the start of the race to a rapid getaway by Norwegian rival Stian Sorlie, Matt raced well and finished ahead of Armaan Ebrahim, India's representative in the A1GP 'World Cup Of Motorsport', and also Formula Renault UK's sole female competitor Pippa Mann; both drivers having started further up the grid.
Race two however saw a less favourable result. While running in a strong 17th place after a much improved start, Matt was pitched off the circuit at the entry to Clearways on lap five. Thankfully, he managed to recover well and after returning to the track in 22nd position he started to chase down the distant pack.
After closing the large gap to 21st-placed Alex Morgan, Matt applied as much pressure as he could but couldn't quite catch his former BARC rival, crossing the line just seven 10ths of a second behind and missing out on a points finish by a whisker.
Speaking on the team's first competitive Formula Renault UK weekend, Matt said: "It's been very tough for us but we've learned a lot and I think we'll have a much better outing at Oulton Park. We did struggle in the first qualifying session and without the tyre failure yesterday in session two I think we would have started the second race much higher.
"The first race wasn't too bad and it was good to gain some points but my biggest disappointment was my start. I didn't get away quickly enough which allowed (Stian) Sorlie to get past me. I tried to put him under as much pressure as I could but unless he made a big mistake there was no way through.
"In race two I felt quite confident we had decent pace and I made a couple of places at the start. Things were going well but the rear of the car got a little bit loose at Clearways on lap five and there was little I could do. Fortunately, I managed to prevent the car from going into the barriers and rejoined the race but sadly we just missed out on the points by a few 10ths of a second."
Russell Racing's Formula Renault UK operation will now enjoy an extended break of five weeks due to the British Touring Car Championship's annual visit to Mondello Park in Ireland in a fortnight. The Formula Renault UK competitors will be back in action at Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire on 13th/14th May.