FORMULA RENAULT UK TITLE SUBJECT TO APPEAL AS HOGAN PURSUES JUSTICE AT MSA NATIONAL COURT Irishman Patrick Hogan has lodged an appeal with the Motor Sports Association (MSA) National Court regarding a highly contentious outcome to the 2006...
FORMULA RENAULT UK TITLE SUBJECT TO APPEAL AS HOGAN PURSUES JUSTICE AT MSA NATIONAL COURT
Irishman Patrick Hogan has lodged an appeal with the Motor Sports Association (MSA) National Court regarding a highly contentious outcome to the 2006 Formula Renault UK title battle at Silverstone National Circuit on Sunday during the final round of the year.
After producing the performance of his racing career during the morning's 19th round of the season to take an outstanding victory, and also bag the two crucial bonus points for setting the fastest lap of the race, the AKA Lemac ace put himself back into the lead of the championship by five points ahead of bitter rival Sebastian Hohenthal.
But the 20th and final round of the season would see the title outcome settled in highly controversial fashion with Hohenthal thought to have won the championship even though he went seemingly unpunished for making a false start to the race.
More importantly, the Swede's team-mate, Sam Bird, was penalised for not maintaining the required distance behind Hohenthal under Safety Car conditions a handful of laps into the race - effectively playing a role in assisting his team-mate's title bid.
With Bird excluded several hours after the conclusion of the race following an unsuccessful appeal against the Clerk of the Course's decision, the amended results show Hohenthal as the race victor with Patrick taking third place, and the fastest lap.
This sees the rivals tied on 481 points each but by virtue of more race wins throughout the course of the season, seven to the Irishman's six, Hohenthal would -- all things being equal - be declared the title winner.
However, with Patrick rightly lodging an appeal against the decision of the Clerk of the Course who chose not to penalise Hohenthal for his own questionable conduct behind the Safety Car, the championship outcome remains subject to a forthcoming hearing by the MSA National Court.
"For the final round of the championship to come down to the sort of thing we saw under the Safety Car really is disgraceful", commented Patrick late on Sunday evening, "We're going to go all the way with this though, hopefully the MSA National Court will hear our argument fairly and agree the Clerk of the Course was wrong not to punish Hohenthal.
"But while the championship still isn't officially decided, we have to look at all of the positives from this weekend. We did everything we possibly could to fight for the title and I think we did a fantastic job. In qualifying for the first race I pulled it out of the bag right at the end to line-up on the front row.
"Winning the race, and also setting the fastest lap, was essential to keep our hopes alive and to have raced as strongly as we did from sixth on the grid in the final round was as much as anyone could have asked. To end the season tied on points at the top after 20 hard races is incredible, hopefully justice will be done during our appeal hearing."
Performance of a champion from Hogan The 22-year-old Irishman really did produce a performance this weekend worthy of a true champion and with the title pendulum having swung in Hohenthal's favour after the previous round at Brands Hatch, Patrick knew he had to dig deep at Silverstone, a circuit where he won in 2005.
Having qualified second on the grid for round 19, just 0.098 seconds shy of Bird's pole position time, Patrick started the race two positions ahead of Hohenthal but after making a superb start, the Lease Plan and Spin 103.8-backed sensation quickly moved ahead to take the lead into Copse Corner for the first time.
Although pressurised throughout, and trading fastest lap times with Bird, Patrick remained calm and even contact from Bird on the final lap of the race wasn't enough to shake the AKA star's resolve as he went on to take by far the most important victory of his career.
With Hohenthal lining up in second place for round 20 and Patrick starting back on row three due to a lack of speed in qualifying caused by damaged suspension, the Co.Dublin ace had a literal mountain to climb with overtaking limited on the 1.64-mile track.
Undaunted by the challenge, Patrick made a good start and gained two positions on the opening lap to move into fourth place. Hohenthal, unsurprisingly, also moved into the lead on lap one ahead of pole-sitter Bird who put up little defence of the position.
The most contentious point of the 2006 season came during a three-lap Safety Car period early in the race, Hohenthal and Bird both appearing to drive in contravention of the championship regulations governing those situations.
As the race re-started on lap eight, second-placed Bird slowed drastically to hold the rest of the field up while Hohenthal accelerated at the front to open up a substantial, and unassailable, lead. Bird would end the race in second place but after being excluded it meant Franck Mailleux finished second with Patrick third.
Although the 2006 championship has concluded, the destiny of the title remains in the balance with Patrick and his family now awaiting notification of the date for their MSA National Court hearing.
Incidentally, Patrick's double-Silverstone podium gives him a season's tally of 13 rostrum finishes. He also has five pole positions and five fastest laps to his credit in 2006.
Both of Sunday's races will be replayed in full on Motors TV this Tuesday morning, 17th October, at 07.00. Motors TV is available at channel 413 of the Sky Digital platform and through cable operator NTL on channel 545.