CHALLENGING BRANDS WEEKEND SETS UP FINAL ROUND DECIDER Formula Renault UK sensation Patrick Hogan is fired-up for a final-round title decider at Silverstone three weeks from now having seen the championship lead slip from his grasp after a ...
CHALLENGING BRANDS WEEKEND SETS UP FINAL ROUND DECIDER
Formula Renault UK sensation Patrick Hogan is fired-up for a final-round title decider at Silverstone three weeks from now having seen the championship lead slip from his grasp after a challenging weekend at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit.
The AKA Lemac star, who is backed by Lease Plan and Spin 103.8, saw his hopes of a winning-double at the 1.2-mile Indy Circuit dashed on Saturday during two very difficult qualifying sessions.
Grid order is never more important than at Brands Hatch, a circuit notorious for its incredibly limited overtaking opportunities, but with a less than ideal set-up the Irishman still managed to secure sixth on the grid for round 17 and an even better fifth place for round 18 -- even though he was hit by Franck Mailleux midway through session two.
With bitter title rival Sebastian Hohenthal starting on the front row for the first race and third on the grid for the second encounter, the 22-year-old from Killiney in Co.Dublin certainly had his work cut-out to hold on to the series lead but did as much as he possibly could in a weekend which threatened to deliver far less.
Remaining calm and composed under intense pressure, Patrick knew the weekend had become more about damage limitation than the lead in the title race so, with that in mind, he drove sensibly today to finish sixth in round 17 and fifth in round 18.
In the opening race, the Irish ace put Hohenthal's team-mate James Sutton under great pressure throughout but wasn't quite able to wrest fifth position away due to some overly robust defence from the Fortec driver when he ran wide at Druids Hairpin on lap 22.
Instead of getting embroiled in a potential incident, Patrick used his head and opted to fall back in-line behind Sutton for the remainder of the race knowing the consequences of an accident would be far greater than the handful of points he would lose to Hohenthal by finishing in sixth place.
"I tried to get Sutton to make a mistake at Druids, which he did by going too wide and locking-up", explained Patrick after round 17, "He left a gap which I went for down the inside but then he turned in on me very forcefully, which didn't surprise me.
"The last thing I needed was damaged suspension so I let him go rather than try and tough it out and end up losing valuable points. The main thing was to finish as high as possible and that's what we achieved."
The afternoon's 18th round saw Patrick remain in his grid position of fifth throughout and although the points could prove to be vital during the season finale in mid-October, he left Brands Hatch frustrated as his car's race set-up was superb and had he qualified on the front row he was confident he could have battled for the win.
"It could have been a much worse outcome this weekend but what makes everything most frustrating is that we had a really good car in both races", said Patrick, "If we had got the car sorted in qualifying I'm sure we would have won at least one race today.
"We got it wrong here and Fortec got it right which meant it was always going to be a case of damage limitation, as it was at Donington during the last couple of rounds. I was expecting to come here and win two races but that hasn't happened so I'm disappointed.
"We know what we need to do though, we have to go to Silverstone and win both races and that's what we're going to do. I want this championship like you wouldn't believe and we'll give everything we've got at Silverstone to win it."
The final two rounds of the 2006 Formula Renault UK Championship will take place during a tension-filled weekend at Silverstone National Circuit on 14th/15th October.
Pre-event testing will be held on Friday, 13th October, with qualifying for rounds 19 and 20 scheduled for Saturday, 14th October. The first session will start at 09.35 with the second session following at 15.05.
Both races will then take place on Sunday, 15th October, with round 19 timetabled to start at 09.00 and the 20th, and final, round of the season expected to begin at 14.05.