UK 2000: Russell Racing Brands Hatch Saturday report

UNEXPECTED TYRE FAILURE HALTS RUSSELL'S PROGRESS Matt Russell thankfully avoided injury at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit today after a high-speed tyre blow-out curtailed his involvement in the second of the day's qualifying sessions ahead of ...

UNEXPECTED TYRE FAILURE HALTS RUSSELL'S PROGRESS

Matt Russell thankfully avoided injury at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit today after a high-speed tyre blow-out curtailed his involvement in the second of the day's qualifying sessions ahead of tomorrow's opening two rounds of the Formula Renault UK season.

The 22-year-old, driving for his family's own Doncaster-based Russell Racing squad, was ironically running quicker during the second of today's two qualifying sessions but debris on the circuit at Surtees Corner, left behind after an earlier incident, caused Matt's right rear tyre to explode, pitching him off the circuit and out of the session.

His best lap of 45.145 seconds (97.78mph) was still good enough to place the Harlesden driver inside the top 20 on the grid for tomorrow's second round of the season and proved to be less than seven 10ths of a second outside the eventual pole position time.

An improvement of just two 10ths of a second would have lifted Matt into the top 15 and while disappointed to have been forced out of the session early, the reigning Formula Renault BARC Vice-Champion was encouraged by his pace. In the day's earlier round one qualifying session, Matt was 20th fastest with a time of 44.916 seconds (98.27mph).

Speaking on the rollercoaster of emotions which formed his first appearance of the 2006 Formula Renault UK season, Matt said: "The tyre failure was disappointing to say the least and while it was just one of those unlucky things which can happen, it was more frustrating as we were going much better during the second session.

"I was confident we would be in the top 15 on the grid for the second race as the car felt great but we just have to put it behind us now and concentrate on producing some good performances tomorrow.

"I must have picked up a little bit of the debris which was still on the circuit from a coming together between two cars earlier in the session. As soon as the tyre popped that was it, I was basically a passenger and it was obvious I wouldn't be able to try and improve my time which I'm sure I would have."

Starting from the 10th row of the grid for both of tomorrow's rounds, Matt has an uphill task ahead of him but he's nonetheless looking forward to Russell Racing's first ever competitive outings in the Formula Renault UK Championship.

-mom

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Series Formula Renault
Drivers Matt Russell