THRUXTON WEEKEND ENDS ONPOSITIVE NOTE FOR RUSSELL Russell Racing concluded its Thruxton race weekend on a positive note this afternoon with team driver Matt Russell gaining a full seven places in round six of the Formula Renault UK series to ...
THRUXTON WEEKEND ENDS ONPOSITIVE NOTE FOR RUSSELL
Russell Racing concluded its Thruxton race weekend on a positive note this afternoon with team driver Matt Russell gaining a full seven places in round six of the Formula Renault UK series to achieve a handful of richly deserved championship points.
Having endured perhaps his most difficult qualifying sessions of the year on Saturday, Matt would line up just outside the top 20 for round five but for the second of today's races he would start on the final row of the grid in 25th position, and with a literal mountain to climb to have any hope of a points-scoring finish for his Doncaster team.
The sixth round of the season, however, would prove to be one of Matt's most inspiring performances to date with a great drive to 18th position earning him three points and seeing him climb one position up the driver standings.
With round five ending for Matt on only the second lap, the Harlesden 22-year-old was determined to make amends for his untimely exit from the first of the day's two races and he duly did in round six with an excellent battling performance from the back of the grid.
Following a great start, Matt made up a number of places on the opening lap and as the cars crossed the start/finish line for the beginning of lap two he was up to 19th position before the Safety Car was deployed to enable Joao Vasconcelos' stricken car to be safely recovered.
At the re-start, on lap seven, Matt unfortunately lost a position to reigning Formula BMW UK Champion Dean Smith but there was some question over whether or not the move took place with yellow flags still being displayed. No penalty was imposed on Smith though so, at the end of 17 laps, Matt was classified in 18th position.
"We looked to be heading for a top 17 result but on the last lap Franck Mailleux got past me, I'm very happy though as we were competitive in race conditions", said Matt at the conclusion of round six.
"I had a great battle with Daniel Roos, we swapped positions several times earlier in the race and I really enjoyed it. I made a good start to the race and gained a lot of positions on the first lap but I did lose out under the Safety Car as Smith passed me. I'm sure it was under yellow flags but there's nothing I can do about that now."
The early end to round five was a great shame for Matt as he had made what are quickly becoming customarily good race starts. From 21st on the grid, he was rapidly inside the points-paying conditions after passing Smith into the first corner and then making up more ground as the field headed through the complex.
As the cars headed to Church Corner for the first time, Matt closed on Duncan Tappy but into the start of lap two the Russell Racing star was one of several drivers caught out at the complex as the train of cars ahead slowed dramatically. As he braked to avoid a much slower car he locked-up and collected Tappy in the process.
As his rival continued, Matt's steering and suspension had been damaged so he wisely decided to retire from the race, rather than risk a bigger accident attempting to continue back to the pits with a damaged car.
He explained: "I had fantastic speed through the fast corners on the opening lap and looked strong to try and make a move on Tappy at Church but the door was closed so there was nothing I could do.
"I was with him into the braking zone for the chicane and then Stian Sorlie slowed ahead of us. I tried to pass up the inside of him at Allard but he closed the door and in the train of cars at the complex everyone braked late and I locked up and unfortunately caught Tappy's car.
"I had nowhere to go and after the impact the steering had gone. I was trying to make it back to the pits but I nearly went straight on at Noble at slow speed so I thought it safer to park the car out of the way. It was shame but our race pace has given us a lot of confidence and now we're looking forward to Knockhill."
The fifth and sixth rounds of the season, which were broadcast live on Motors TV this afternoon, are scheduled to be replayed in full this Tuesday, 6th June, at 08.30. The station is available via channel 413 of the Sky Digital platform and through cable provider NTL on channel 173.
Russell Racing will be back in action in two week's time, 17th/18th June, at Knockhill Circuit in Scotland for the seventh and eighth rounds of the Formula Renault UK season.