CHRISTODOULOU TAKES FIRST WIN IN SEASON FINALE Fortec Motorsport's Riki Christodoulou (Sutton Coldfield) bounced back from his earlier disappointment to win round 20 of the Formula Renault UK with Michelin Championship at Thruxton circuit on...
CHRISTODOULOU TAKES FIRST WIN IN SEASON FINALE
Fortec Motorsport's Riki Christodoulou (Sutton Coldfield) bounced back from his earlier disappointment to win round 20 of the Formula Renault UK with Michelin Championship at Thruxton circuit on Sunday, 14th October. Forced into retirement in round 19, the 19-year-old former karting star gave a glimpse of his future promise with a composed drive to beat his cousin Adam Christodoulou (Lichfield) of AKA Cobra and team-mate and 2007 champion Duncan Tappy (West Ewell).
Starting from the front row of the grid, Riki made a better start than pole-sitter Adam to take the lead, with his Fortec team-mate Dean Smith (Wolverhampton) coming through into second place. Manor Competition's Alexander Sims (Peterborough) got the better of Tappy to move up to fourth, while Ryuji Yamamoto (Northampton) continued his impressive form at the high-speed Hampshire venue by gaining two places on lap one.
A first lap incident saw series debutant Andy Meyrick (Delemare) retire after contact with AKA Cobra's Chris Holmes (Akeley), while another newcomer, Carlin Motorsport's Henry Surtees (Edenbridge) also had to pit and rejoined in midfield albeit two laps behind. This benefitted the 16-year-old rookie as he kept pace with more experienced drivers, setting the 12th fastest lap time overall.
Lap three saw Sims drop two places as Yamamoto and AKA Cobra's Jeremy Metcalfe (Fleet) each gained ground in the chasing pack. Apotex Scorpio Motorsport's Will Bratt (Banbury) passed team-mate David Epton (Fleet) for eighth on lap four, before the Safety Car was deployed following Eurotek Motorsport's Jordan Oakes' retirement at Noble.
After three laps behind the Safety Car, racing resumed with the Christodoulou cousins and Smith immediately opening a 2.5s gap to fourth-placed Tappy who was caught napping at the restart. As the drivers settled back into their rhythm, the first change of position came for third place as Tappy passed Smith on lap 14.
With clear track in front of him, the new champion was lapping consistently quicker than the two leaders, soon closing onto the rear wing of Adam Christodoulou to make it a three-way battle for the lead over the closing three laps. Riki still held the advantage despite locking his wheels on several occasions into Club chicane with Adam just unable to make a bid for the lead.
Starting the final lap with just a 0.5s advantage, Riki once again marginally extended his lead through the high-speed corners as the drivers hit speeds of more than 145mph. Using the slipstream up Woodham Hill, Adam was able to close the gap slightly but Riki, a multiple karting champion including the 2003 Renault Formula JICA champion, used his racing experience to hold the middle of the track through the final chicane and claim his first victory in the Formula Renault UK Championship.
Commenting after the race, Riki Christodoulou, who becomes the sixth different winner of the season, said: "I've been waiting for this win all season and it's great to get it at the last meeting. I had built up a bit of a lead when the Safety Car came out and wiped that out. Adam pushed me really hard all the way through but I kept my cool and made sure I kept him behind me."
Second placed Adam Christodoulou said: "It would have been nice to end the season with a win, especially after starting from pole position in both races today, but Riki drove a perfect race and deserves it. Overall I've had a very good season and to win the Graduate Cup is fantastic. Hopefully I can keep improving during the Formula Renault UK Winter Cup and into next season."
Third placed Tappy, whose final margin of victory in the Championship is 21 points, commented: "After winning the title earlier on I really wanted to be on the podium in the last race. I didn't get the best start but came back through to pass Dean late on. I set the fastest lap as well so the car was working brilliantly, although I couldn't quite get past Adam and Riki this time."
The results of rounds 19 and 20 remain provisional pending the conclusion of technical procedures. <pre> Provisional Drivers' Championship standings after Round 20 (including dropped scores)
1 Duncan Tappy GBR Fortec Motorsport 512 pts 2 Dean Smith GBR Fortec Motorsport 491 pts 3 Will Bratt GBR Apotex Scorpio Motorsport 416 pts 4 Adam Christodoulou GBR AKA Cobra 384 pts 5 Jeremy Metcalfe GBR AKA Cobra 333 pts 6 Riki Christodoulou GBR Fortec Motorsport 324 pts 7 Richard Singleton GBR Hillspeed Racing 292 pts 8 Alexander Sims GBR Manor Competition 272 pts 9 Alex Morgan GBR Manor Competition 193 pts 10 Chris Holmes GBR AKA Cobra 192 pts
Provisional Graduate Cup Standings after Round 20 (including dropped scores)
1 Adam Christodoulou GBR AKA Cobra 338 pts 2 Riki Christodoulou GBR Fortec Motorsport 317 pts 3 Richard Singleton GBR Hillspeed Racing 276 pts