UK: Round 19 Thruxton race report

TAPPY TARGETS HAMILTON AFTER STORMING TO TITLE Duncan Tappy (West Ewell) is the 2007 Formula Renault UK with Michelin Champion after winning the penultimate round 19 at Thruxton circuit on Sunday, 14th October. The 23-year-old Fortec Motorsport...

TAPPY TARGETS HAMILTON AFTER STORMING TO TITLE

Duncan Tappy (West Ewell) is the 2007 Formula Renault UK with Michelin Champion after winning the penultimate round 19 at Thruxton circuit on Sunday, 14th October. The 23-year-old Fortec Motorsport ace clinched his first single-seater title, which was won by Formula One superstars Lewis Hamilton in 2003 and Kimi Raikkonen in 2000.

Commenting after the race, Tappy, who won nine races in 2007, said: "Formula One is every drivers ultimate target and to win this Championship means so much knowing what Lewis and Kimi have done. If they have reached the top I don't see any reason why I can't do the same and that's what I will be concentrating on."

Knowing winning the race and scoring the two bonus points on offer for setting the fastest lap would secure the title, Tappy was lying third for much of the race behind cousins Adam Christodoulou (Lichfield) and Riki Christodoulou (Sutton Coldfield). Adam led away from pole position, while Riki passed Duncan as the field entered the Complex for the first time.

Dean Smith (Wolverhampton), the only other driver who could win the title coming into the final weekend of the season, had a disastrous opening lap from fourth on the grid and came through in eighth place. Manor Competition's Alexander Sims (Peterborough) took fourth ahead of AKA Cobra's Jeremy Metcalfe (Fleet), who climbed from ninth on the grid to fifth, and Eurotek Motorsport's Jordan Oakes (Hopton) in sixth.

As Tappy and Fortec team-mate Riki Christodoulou swapped places on successive laps, Adam Christodoulou was able to build a one-second lead by the end of lap three as he chased a maiden single-seater win. Meanwhile, Smith passed AKA Cobra's Nathan Caratti (London) and gained another place on lap four as Oakes ran very wide at Church before rejoining in last place, Caratti following him off and into retirement.

Caratti's incident brought out the Safety Car at the end of lap five, increasing the race distance by three laps to 19. Having started from the pit lane, Ryuji Yamamoto (Northampton) was driving a fantastic race and was up to 11th, while Carlin Motorsport's series debutant Henry Surtees (Edenbridge) was keeping pace with the more experience David Epton (Fleet) in 15th.

After three laps behind the Safety Car, racing resumed with the top three making a slight break from Sims in fourth as fifth-placed Metcalfe came under pressure from Smith, who overtook on lap 11. The same lap saw Riki Christodoulou make a bid for the lead at Club chicane, going through on the inside of the first right-hander before Adam fought back through the left-hander to retain the lead.

The following lap saw a repeat of the move but would ultimately affect the title race. As Riki moved to the inside once again, he clipped the kerb to run wide through the middle part of the chicane. Adam, attempting to hold his line round the outside, was left with no room and T-boned his cousin out of the race, damaging his own car in the process as he went on to finish 12th.

The incident handed Tappy the lead and he had already set what proved to be the fastest lap of the race on lap 10 at 1min 10.923s (119.58mph), meaning the title was his if the position remained the same. Smith was now up to third and as he challenged Alexander Sims for second, Tappy was able to steadily increase his lead to more than two seconds with three laps to go.

As at Donington Park in round 17, the racing between Sims and Smith was some of the best of the season with both drivers showing exceptional skill and courage and speeds approaching 150mph. Smith used the slipstream to pass Sims up Woodham Hill, but the rookie driver switched to the outside around Club chicane to regain the place in style.

Yamamoto's incredible rise at the high-speed Hampshire circuit saw him reach sixth place after the Christodoulou cousins' incident, before he passed Metcalfe on the penultimate lap to lie fifth behind Apotex Scorpio Motorsport's Will Bratt (Banbury). However, the final lap saw the Japanese slip back to eighth behind Manor Competition's Kris Loane (Kesh, Co Fermanagh) and Eucatex's Adriano Buzaid (Oxford). The Brazilian was later excluded for technical non-compliance after his car was found to be underweight.

At the head of the field, Tappy was unchallenged as he drove within himself in the closing laps to ensure he finished, starting the last lap with a four-second cushion. Saluting his team as he took the chequered flag, Tappy took his ninth win of the season and seventh in succession on the road to take an unassailable lead in the drivers' standings. Sims held off the charging Smith to take second, his third podium appearance of the season.

Riki Christodoulou's non-finish also ensures Adam Christodoulou wins the Graduate Cup, the competition for rookie drivers, and the prize of a free registration for the 2008 Formula Renault UK Championship.

Commenting on his victory, Tappy said: "I had a decent start but Riki just managed to get in front of me. I was just trying to keep out of trouble and could see that Riki and Adam's battle could end in tears. When they went off I was able to pick up the pieces and it was just a case of getting my head down and building a lead.

"It hasn't sunk in at all yet but I have to thank Fortec Motorsport for all their work this season and all my sponsors, family and friends who have helped me through the year. We've achieved exactly what we set out to do at the start of the season and it feels fantastic to win such a prestigious Championship."

Second placed Sims commented: "That was a really good race and I had fun in that battle with Dean. Obviously I'm always aiming for the win but to come through from fifth on the grid to second is a good result and it's great to be back on the podium again."

Third placed Smith, who saw his title chances ended by Tappy's performance, commented: "I got a good start but was really struggling through the faster corners today. Fortec has done a brilliant job for me all season and given me the chance to win the championship, but today it just wasn't quite there for me. I can still be happy with my season overall and congratulations to Duncan." <pre> Provisional Drivers' Championship standings after Round 19 (including dropped scores)

 1 Duncan Tappy         GBR  Fortec Motorsport          485 pts
 2 Dean Smith           GBR  Fortec Motorsport          469 pts
 3 Will Bratt           GBR  Apotex Scorpio Motorsport  402 pts
 4 Adam Christodoulou   GBR  AKA Cobra                  356 pts
 5 Jeremy Metcalfe      GBR  AKA Cobra                  317 pts
 6 Richard Singleton    GBR  Hillspeed Racing           302 pts
 7 Riki Christodoulou   GBR  Fortec Motorsport          292 pts
 8 Alexander Sims       GBR  Manor Competition          254 pts
 9 Chris Holmes         GBR  AKA Cobra                  188 pts
10 Alex Morgan          GBR  Manor Competition          186 pts

Provisional Graduate Cup Standings after Round 19 (including dropped scores)

 1 Adam Christodoulou   GBR  AKA Cobra                  310 pts
 2 Riki Christodoulou   GBR  Fortec Motorsport          285 pts
 3 Richard Singleton    GBR  Hillspeed Racing           262 pts

-credit: renaultsport.co.uk

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About this article
Series Formula Renault
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Dean Smith , Jeremy Metcalfe , Henry Surtees , Duncan Tappy , Alexander Sims , Will Bratt , Nathan Caratti , Adriano Buzaid , Riki Christodoulou , Adam Christodoulou
Teams Carlin