THREE TOP TEN FINISHES FOR HITECH JUNIOR AT DONINGTON Just one tenth of a second prevented Hitech Junior from taking a podium finish at Donington Park this weekend as new signing Ollie Hancock finished fourth in the sixth round of the Michelin...
THREE TOP TEN FINISHES FOR HITECH JUNIOR AT DONINGTON
Just one tenth of a second prevented Hitech Junior from taking a podium finish at Donington Park this weekend as new signing Ollie Hancock finished fourth in the sixth round of the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship. The reigning BARC Formula Renault Champion was joined in the top ten finishers by Tamas Pal Kiss who finished seventh to win the Graduate Cup and Jordan Oakes who stormed from 24th to take ninth.
Qualifying on Saturday had proved eventful for the 29 runners, the morning session held on a dry track and leaving everyone struggling to find a clear lap, and putting Pal Kiss the highest of the Silverstone-based team in 13th. The afternoon session was fraught as the damp track dried in the closing minutes, with Hancock proving the pace-setter for the team, the experienced BRDC Rising Star posting the third quickest time to take a second row start.
In Sunday's opening race, a superb first lap for Oakes starting 16th allowed him up to 11th at the completion of lap one and he quickly passed two drivers to get into ninth by the third. His charge however was brought to a premature finish after a collision with Harry Tincknell on the fifth lap which saw him spinning off the track at McLeans and into instant retirement.
Pal Kiss and Hancock enjoyed a race long seven-car battle for tenth with the Hungarian heading the duo until the very last lap. The pair eventually crossed the line in 13th and 14th positions. Swiss-Filipino Marlon Stockinger drove another steady race in his first season in the UK, the 18 year-old BMW Scholarship winner bettering his lap times throughout the race and improving from his grid position to come home in 19th. While Briton Nick Yelloly enjoyed an uneventful run into 22nd.
Torrential rain greeted the pack for the start of race two which was to play a crucial role for three of the Hitech runners. A fast starting Yelloly was the first to succumb to the treacherous conditions as he was taken out of a potential top ten finish by the spinning car of Tom Armour in a first lap multi-car accident which saw the safety car deployed.
An equally impressive start by Stockinger had him in the mix but in the confusion with cars spinning wildly in front of him, the 18 year-old was pushed into a spin, although he recovered well to rejoin the track.
Up at the front, Hancock had lost a place off the line but was battling hard with Lewis Williamson for third and another super performance by Oakes had him in tenth by lap seven from 24th on the grid. A lock-up at Redgate on the following lap briefly ended his stunning drive and dropped him down to 16th but a stirring fight back, which saw him quickest at one point, enabled him to move back up the order to finish ninth.
Pal Kiss was quickly marking his mark on the second race, the Hungarian Formula Renault Champion excelling in the conditions and moving through the order despite suffering with a broken front wing in the first lap melee. Hampered by understeer, the teenager who celebrates his 18th birthday on Tuesday, climbed through the field to finish seventh at the flag and take the Graduate Cup and the fourth fastest lap of the race.
On the final lap, a last gasp attempt by Hancock to take the final podium finish was squashed by Williamson. As the pair ran side by side heading down the finish straight, Williamson defended vigorously and the pair touched, leaving Ollie with a broken front wing and fourth place by just one tenth of a second.
The performances over the weekend left team boss David Hayle delighted and confident ahead of the next rounds of the championship at Oulton Park in two weeks time.
"I think this was without doubt one of the best weekends for us as a team. Although we didn't quite get the podium we could have had, all five drivers showed signs of potential throughout the qualifying and races and each of them should be very proud of their individual performances.
"Ollie made a great debut with third in qualifying for race two and his fourth place finish which could so easily have netted a podium spot. Jordan once again showed remarkable race pace in both races and had he started further up the grid could easily have been in the top six at least.
"Tamas too showed what great pace he has, particularly in the wet conditions and he drove very maturely under tricky circumstances for someone relatively inexperienced. Marlon was unlucky to get caught out in the second race as a result of someone else's accident but he recovered very well from that and continues to improve every weekend.
"And Nick was very unfortunate to have his superb start in race two, which could have given him a top ten finish, wiped out at only the second corner. Overall we got three cars in the top nine and collectively they are all gaining in experience and confidence as the season progresses, which will hopefully gain us another podium next time out."