UK: Series Croft race one report

FIFTH WIN FOR ADAM CHRISTODOULOU AT CROFT Formula Renault UK with Michelin Championship leader Adam Christodoulou (Lichfield) scored his fifth victory of the season in round nine at North Yorkshire's Croft circuit on Sunday, 1st June. The CR ...

FIFTH WIN FOR ADAM CHRISTODOULOU AT CROFT

Formula Renault UK with Michelin Championship leader Adam Christodoulou (Lichfield) scored his fifth victory of the season in round nine at North Yorkshire's Croft circuit on Sunday, 1st June. The CR Scuderia Formula Renault ace was followed home by Manor Competition's Alexander Sims (Peterborough), with Fortec Motorsport's Riki Christodoulou (Sutton Coldfield) in third.

Adverse weather during the day meant the start of round nine was delayed from its original time of 13.15 until 16.00. There was no time to hold round 10 so this is now provisionally scheduled to be held at Snetterton when the championship moves to the Norfolk venue on 12th/13th July.

Although the Croft circuit had been deluged by rain earlier in the day, a dry racing line allowed all drivers to start the race on slick tyres. Adam Christodoulou led away from pole position ahead of Sims and his cousin Riki. Eurotek Motorsport's Jordan Oakes (Hopton) held his grid position of fourth ahead of Fortec's James Calado (Cropthorne) and Alpine Motorsport's Dean Stoneman (Southampton).

In midfield, contact between CR Scuderia's Ryuji Yamamoto (Milton Keynes) and Manor's Henry Surtees (Lingfield) saw both end their race in the gravel trap at Clervaux, necessitating a two-lap Safety Car period to enable recovery.

At the restart, Sims came under pressure from Riki Christodoulou at Tower Bend as the third-placed driver closed up under braking. While his overtaking attempt was unsuccessful, Calado made the same move on Oakes, with a positive result to take fourth place. At the same corner on the following lap, CR Scuderia's Scott Jenkins (Bristol) passed team-mate Sten Pentus (Bardon) for 13th place.

The top six remained unchanged until lap eight when Stoneman passed Oakes for fifth at Jim Clark Esses, which also allowed Fortec's Oli Webb (Knutsford) to close the gap in seventh. One lap earlier, Fortec's Adriano Buzaid (Oxford) had a spin at Sunny that dropped him from ninth place to last, but he did recover to set the NGK fastest lap of the race at 1min 18.059s (98.00mph) and establish a new lap record.

Jenkins gained one more place on lap eight by passing Mark Burdett Motorsport's Fredrik Blomstedt (Skegness) at Clervaux having had a good run out of the final Hairpin. He then closed on Manor's Tom Armour (Billericay) who held him off for three laps before yielding 10th place to Jenkins at the Hairpin on lap 11.

With the top three evenly matched on pace and only one dry line available, there was little chance of overtaking as they lapped in almost identical times throughout the 15-lap race. A minor slip by Sims at the Complex on lap 10 saw Adam Christodoulou's lead increase by 0.2s and he added a further tenth of a second on lap 12 before Sims hit back to reduce the gap to half a second once again as the game of cat and mouse continued.

In the second quartet of cars racing for fifth to eighth places, Stoneman began to pull away from Oakes as Manor's Kris Loane (Kesh) dropped off the back of the group. At the end of lap 13, Pentus clipped the back of Armour's car at the Hairpin as they diced for 11th place, the Estonian losing his front wing. With no downforce, he ran wide at Clervaux before spinning on the exit of the chicane and trailing home last of the 18 finishers.

The penultimate lap saws Jenkins set his personal best lap time of the race as Adam Christodoulou held a 0.521s advantage over Sims. At the end of the race one lap later, the margin of 0.502s was representative of how evenly matched the pair had been throughout, with Christodoulou taking his fifth lights-to-flag win of the season.

Commenting on the race, which was shown live on ITV4 as part of the channel's British Touring Car Championship coverage, Adam Christodoulou said: "It felt like such a long race because there was just no getting away from Alexander and Riki. There was only half a car's width either side of the main racing line and I did have a couple of moments on the first lap where I nearly ran into trouble but luckily kept it together. It's great to get another win and it's good for the overall championship position."

Second-placed Sims said: "From my point of view it wasn't a particularly exciting race because I couldn't quite get close enough to try a passing move on Adam. I was better under braking into Tower but not to the extent that I needed, especially with the lack of grip off line. A podium is a good result and the car felt pretty good so it's a step in the right direction."

Third-placed Riki Christodoulou said: "It was a good race but with the cars all so evenly matched for pace it was always going to be difficult to overtake. I was disappointed with qualifying because I showed in the second session yesterday what my true pace was so today was a bit of damage limitation and we're still in the title hunt."

As a result of having four wins using the same engine, Adam Christodoulou is now obliged to change his engine in accordance with Championship Regulations. He had already changed his engine after his round two victory at Brands Hatch.

The Formula Renault UK Championship teams and drivers have just three rest days before their next track action, which is free practice ahead of rounds 11 and 12 at Silverstone Grand Prix circuit as part of World Series by Renault. The free motorsport festival takes place on 7th/8th June at the Northamptonshire venue, where today's Formula Renault UK drivers hope to race later in their careers.

-credit: renaultsport.co.uk

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Jim Clark , Sten Pentus , Henry Surtees , Alexander Sims , Adriano Buzaid , Riki Christodoulou , Adam Christodoulou , Dean Stoneman , James Calado