HOGAN CLAIMS 12TH PODIUM OF SEASON TO MAINTAIN SERIES LEAD Irish single-seater star Patrick Hogan maintained his position as Formula Renault UK Championship leader at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit today thanks to a display of supreme ...
HOGAN CLAIMS 12TH PODIUM OF SEASON TO MAINTAIN SERIES LEAD
Irish single-seater star Patrick Hogan maintained his position as Formula Renault UK Championship leader at Donington Park Grand Prix Circuit today thanks to a display of supreme professionalism in the most trying of circumstances.
The 22-year-old, from Killiney in Co.Dublin, continued his fantastic record of finishing on the podium at every one of the eight race meetings to have been held so far this season thanks to a controlled drive to third position in the second of the weekend's races.
The major talking point of the race meeting, however, centred on a disgraceful incident at the start of this morning's 15th round of the season which saw Patrick's chief title rival Sebastian Hohenthal cynically, and completely unnecessarily, forcing the AKA Lemac ace onto the grass and pitching him into a dangerous spin mere yards from the grid.
Having made an electric getaway from third place, Patrick quickly moved to take up the space on the right hand-side of second-placed Hohenthal on the run to Redgate Corner but the Swede simply drove him off the circuit, the ensuing chaos seeing Patrick marooned in the middle of the track and very lucky not to be collected.
Rather than allowing frustration to become a factor though, Patrick produced the sort of recovery worthy of a champion after battling back from a lowly 23rd position at the tail of the field to cross the line in 13th position on lap 12.
As expected, AKA Lemac lodged a protest against Hohenthal's actions immediately after the chequered flag had fallen and although an appeal was staged by the Swede and his Fortec team, the stewards of the race meeting rightly upheld the original Clerk of the Course decision to exclude Hohenthal from the results.
Lifting Patrick one additional place up the round 15 finishing order to 12th position, the exclusion to Hohenthal also gave the Irishman a potentially crucial extra championship point which could prove to be pivotal at the season's end a little over a month from now.
"Excluding Hohenthal was the only thing to do", explained Patrick, "They didn't have a leg to stand on as the video evidence clearly showed I was totally alongside him and he just forced me onto the grass. He actually went onto the grass himself so it was obvious he had no intention other than to take me off the circuit.
"It's a shame these things sometimes happen as it's not good for the championship but it was very good to see theClerk of the Course act strongly to exclude Hohenthal from the results straight away."
Focusing on a podium finish for this afternoon's 16th round of the year, the Lease Plan and Spin 103.8-backed star made a clean getaway from third on the grid once again and coolly maintained his position throughout the duration of the 12-lap encounter to take his 12th podium of the 2006 championship.
While Patrick's championship lead remains at two points, with the category's double 'drop-score' ruling taken into consideration his advantage over Hohenthal is extended to 12 points ahead of the penultimate race meeting of the season at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit two weeks from now.
Speaking after round 16, Patrick said: "It wasn't the best race I've ever driven but we didn't have the pace this weekend so to finish on the podium is a good result. AKA have done a phenomenal job all year long and have given me a race-winning car every time I've been out, but it's not possible to be in that position for every race.
"I think Fortec found something this weekend which we didn't have but we're still leading the championship on drop-scores by 12 points which is very good as they clearly had a quicker car. To be honest I'm delighted with the weekend, even though we didn't have the pace the important thing is the championship so I have to be happy."
With his bid for the 2006 Formula Renault UK title still very much on-track, Patrick has also recently enjoyed his first ever mileage in a 550bhp A1GP car after being invited by Team Ireland to take part in a special pre-season test for the 'World Cup of Motorsport' at Silverstone International Circuit.
Joining the team's regular driver Michael Devaney, Patrick completed 48 laps of the Northamptonshire venue and set a very respectable best time of 1m 11.912 seconds.
Returning to Formula Renault UK, rounds 17 and 18 will take place a fortnight from now, 23rd/24th September, at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit. The venue for the opening two rounds of the season, Patrick claimed a double-podium at the Kent venue in April -- third position in round one and his first victory of 2006 in round two.