STEVENS TAKES SECOND WIN OF 2010 AT BRANDS HATCH GP Surrey's Will Stevens chalked up his -- and Manor Competition's -- second win of 2010 at a wet Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 2nd May, during the sixth round of the Michelin Formula...
STEVENS TAKES SECOND WIN OF 2010 AT BRANDS HATCH GP
Surrey's Will Stevens chalked up his -- and Manor Competition's -- second win of 2010 at a wet Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit on Sunday, 2nd May, during the sixth round of the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship.
While Stevens celebrated an important victory, team-mate Lewis Williamson rued what might have been after a last lap spin, when clipping a kerb, dropped him from the lead -- which he had held throughout the race from pole position -- to an eventual finish of seventh place. Nonetheless, their combined results mean the team holds on to the lead in the entrant's championship.
Williamson was the driver to beat all weekend and dominated qualifying with the fastest time in both sessions to take a welcome double pole position. Producing a best lap of 1m21.657 seconds (101.43mph) in the dry during the round five session on Saturday, 1st May, the 20-year-old Scotsman sealed a perfect day with pole for round six thanks to a time of 1m25.413 seconds (96.97mph).
Stevens wasn't far behind at all in the first session to lock-out the front row for New Ollerton-based Manor while in round six qualifying the 18-year-old set the third fastest time -- it could have been another shut-out at the front, but he was blocked on his last lap having set the fastest middle sector.
Team-mate Thomas Hylkema was in highly impressive form as well to match his previous career-best performance in round five qualifying, fifth fastest, along with a top eight result in the rain-affected round six session.
With very heavy, persistent rain pouring down in Kent on Sunday morning, race officials initially sought to start round five with the cars line astern behind the Safety Car. Just three quarters of a lap were completed however before the decision was taken to abandon the encounter on the grounds of safety. Round five, therefore, will be rescheduled later in the year at one of the remaining events.
Round six closed-out the weekend's racing at Brands Hatch and with a fully dry line having appeared, all competitors ran on slick tyres. Pole-sitter Williamson made the most of his starting position to hold the lead into Paddock Hill Bend. Into Surtees, Stevens then made it a Manor one-two after taking second position from Tom Blomqvist.
Building a substantial lead early on, Williamson's advantage was up to 2.6 seconds by lap three but Stevens chipped away and by the 10th tour he was within seven 10ths of a second of his team-mate. With the pair driving very well, a one-two finish looked set fair and as he responded to the pressure Williamson posted the fastest lap of 1m26.305 seconds (95.97mph) on the penultimate tour.
Unfortunately for Williamson, at Stirling's Bend on the last lap his car pitched into a spin as he clipped a kerb so MSA Team UK driver Stevens came through to take the victory by over six seconds. His unfortunate British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) Rising Star-backed team-mate recovered in seventh place to at least consolidate fourth position in the championship standings.
Hylkema made a great start to round six and immediately gained a couple of positions on the run to Paddock Hill Bend for the first time. Driving a strong race, the 21-year-old managed to keep former Manor driver David McDonald at bay and looked well set for his best result of the season but a spin at Sheene Curve while pushing hard resulted in a slip down the order to a finish of 12th place.
Commenting on the weekend, Manor Competition's Sarah Shaw said: "We're obviously delighted with the performance of all three guys in qualifying, taking two pole positions and locking out the front row in the first session was fantastic. Thomas' performance to finish fifth and eighth was great too, he could -- and probably should -- have been in the top five for both races.
"Lewis drove a great race at the front, he thoroughly deserved to win and it's such a shame he had his spin on the last lap. Will was right there though to pick up the pieces and he did a great job too, his move to grab second on the first lap was fantastic. We're very pleased with the pace Thomas has shown this weekend, he's definitely turning a corner and really coming on very strongly."
Manor's fourth driver, Northern Ireland's Josh Mulholland, pulled out of the championship after last weekend's event at Rockingham so the team currently has a vacant race seat alongside Hylkema, Stevens and Williamson.
Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire is the next venue on the championship calendar with rounds seven and eight of the season taking place five weeks from now, 5th/6th June.