Richard Plant clinches Formula Palmer Audi Championship
Briton takes title during dramatic weekend at Snetterton
Richard Plant claimed the 2009 Formula Palmer Audi Championship during a dramatic final weekend at Snetterton.
Plant, Tristan Vautier, Kazim Vasiliauskas and Adam Foster were all in contention to win the title at Snetterton, and Vasiliauskas improved his chances by taking victory in the opening race of the weekend ahead of Plant. The Lithuanian closed the gap even further with a second place in race two, whilst Vautier and Plant could only manage seventh and eighth respectively.
Foster was out of the championship battle coming into the final race while Plant held just a five point lead over Kazim Vasiliauskas, with Vautier a further ten points back. There was drama in the opening moments of the final contest however, as the top two contenders clashed off the line. Plant made a great start from fifth on the grid but he had nowhere to go as a vacant gap was closed in front of him. Plant immediately braked and was hit from behind by Vasiliauskas. The Lithuanian suffered major damage to his front left wheel and the 19-year-old crashed at the first turn, collecting Paul Rees and Bastian Graber in the process. Plant was able to continue as the safety car was immediately deployed.
Debutant Felix Rosenqvist had already taken victory in race two and he also led Jolyon Palmer at the restart of race three. Unfortunately the leading pair made contact as they rounded Riches Corner and both cars spun as Tristan Vautier approached behind. The Frenchman tried to avoid the incident but he was unfortunately collected by the stranded car of Palmer. Vautier's car was turned upside down in the contact and came to rest on the side of the circuit. The race was immediately red flagged with Vautier's car in a dangerous position. Thankfully Vautier was completely unharmed but his championship dream was over.
The frenetic opening to the final FPA race of the season had handed Plant the championship as the Englishman eventually settled for eighth place in the restarted race. Rosenqvist went on to complete the win and Adam Foster grabbed second - taking third in the overall standings and claiming the final prize of a test drive in a Formula Two car.
Rosenqvist celebrated his victory during the slowing down lap while Plant chose to perform impressive 'donuts' for the fans down at Russell Bend. His emotional father John looked on as Richard eventually parked his car under the podium to spark wild celebrations. The new champion collected his trophy from MotorSport Vision Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer and his cheque prize of GBP50,000 towards a drive in the 2010 FIA Formula Two Championship. Plant then completed three demonstration laps as he enjoyed his maiden run in a Formula Two car.
Richard Plant said: "I am just so happy. I really wanted this so much and I am just delighted to have taken the championship. It was hard to know what was going on but when I was hit by Kazim I was obviously worried that I had damage to my car too. Thankfully it was ok and I just desperately wanted to finish the race. I wasn't that concerned about the position in the race as I was just delighted to cross the line as the new champion. Driving the Formula Two car was also a great experience. The car is absolutely awesome and I can't wait to drive it again in the future, but for now I just want to enjoy this moment. It has been the biggest and best day of my career so far"