FOURTH VICTORY OF SEASON FOR IRISH ACE HOGAN Patrick Hogan stood atop the Formula Renault UK podium for the fourth time this year at a gorgeously sunny at Croft this afternoon to help maintain the championship lead as the first half of the 2006...
FOURTH VICTORY OF SEASON FOR IRISH ACE HOGAN
Patrick Hogan stood atop the Formula Renault UK podium for the fourth time this year at a gorgeously sunny at Croft this afternoon to help maintain the championship lead as the first half of the 2006 season draws to a close.
The Irish sensation, who celebrates his 22nd birthday this Thursday, 20th July, got his weekend off to a perfect start by setting the fastest time in official pre-event testing at the North Yorkshire circuit on Friday.
Qualifying was also a dream scenario for Patrick, the AKA Lemac star scorching to both pole positions in the round nine and 10 sessions on Saturday to give himself the best possible chance of adding to his win tally in his Spin 103.8 and Lease Plan-backed car.
Unfortunately, round nine didn't turn out as Patrick or the team had hoped and although losing out to second-placed qualifier Sam Bird at the start due to terrible wheel-spin, the Killiney sensation did look set for a podium finish at the least, even though he was clearly struggling with his car.
Lap nine proved to be the nadir of his weekend though, Patrick running wide at the Sunny Out part of the track and sliding off into the gravel. At first it seemed as though he wouldn't be able to rejoin but he did manage get his car back onto the circuit. A bold attempt to retrieve some championship points, however, didn't pay off.
But in today's 10th round of the season, which was televised live on Motors TV, Patrick bounced back in terrific style with gritty determination helping him seal his fourth win of the campaign and keep the 2006 Formula Renault UK title firmly in his sights.
"I did what I needed to do in this afternoon's race", said an ecstatic Patrick after claiming his seventh career Formula Renault UK victory, "I sat in my hotel room on Saturday night knowing I had to win today for the championship and that's exactly what we did so I'm absolutely delighted."
Having made a better start to the race than he did during round nine, Patrick was never headed throughout the 18-lap encounter; the race extended by three laps due to a short Safety Car period.
Championship rival Sebastian Hohenthal did apply pressure to Patrick throughout the race, but the Irishman was more than a match for the Swede even though his car still wasn't performing to his liking.
"The track conditions were completely different to yesterday and my car was a real handful to be honest", Patrick added, "I struggled badly during the first part of the race but the Safety Car period did give us an opportunity to cool the tyres down a little bit.
"It's a real shame what happened in Saturday's race but to come back with a win today means we're moving forward again and we're still leading the championship - that's the important thing."
In related news, Patrick has been named the Motorsport Ireland driver of the month for June after an amazing performance at Thruxton last month where he recorded a double race victory.
The announcement means Patrick is in the running to become Motorsport Ireland's 'Young Driver of the Year' while also being firmly in the hunt for the prestigious Dunlop Sexton Scholarship.
Formula Renault UK will make the first of two visits this season to Donington Park a fortnight from now, 29th/30th July, for the 11th and 12th rounds of the season. Patrick won the first race of the 2005 season on the Leicestershire venue's National Circuit so will be confident of repeating the same level of success this time around.
Motors TV, meanwhile, will re-run today's race this Tuesday, 18th July, at 09.00. The broadcaster is available on channel 413 of the Sky Digital platform and via cable operator NTL on channel 173.