TOM BLOMQVIST BECOMES YOUNGEST EVER FORMULA RENAULT UK WINNER IN THRILLING FINALE Tom Blomqvist (Saffron Walden) made history at the weekend by becoming the youngest ever winner of the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship at just 16 years...
TOM BLOMQVIST BECOMES YOUNGEST EVER FORMULA RENAULT UK WINNER IN THRILLING FINALE
Tom Blomqvist (Saffron Walden) made history at the weekend by becoming the youngest ever winner of the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship at just 16 years old in a thrilling climax to the 2010 season at Brands Hatch Indy circuit on 9th/10th October.
At just 16 years and 313 days, the son of rally legend Stig, was level on points with title rival Manor Competition's Lewis Williamson (Golspie) heading into the final round of the season. The teenager though held his nerves to bring his Fortec Motorsport car home in second place, two places ahead of Williamson, to win the coveted title by a mere six points and follow in the footsteps of previous champions Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen.
Speaking after clinching the title a jubilant Blomqvist said: "It's just an awesome feeling! Being my first year it's been a steep learning curve and we struggled at the start but we gradually got better and better and to win the title is just amazing."
Blomqvist, together with Vice Champion Williamson, can now look forward to a test in a Formula Renault 3.5 Series car as part of their prize, while the top three drivers will also enjoy a British Formula 3 test later this year.
The weekend also brought delight for Atech GP's Nick Yelloly (Solihull) who secured his maiden lights-to-flag victory in round 19 with Fortec Motorsport's Riki Christodoulou (Sutton Coldfield) doing the same in round 20 to become the 10 different race winner. Williamson and Blomqvist picked up the remaining podium spots in round 19 while Blomqvist and newly crowned Graduate Cup champion Alex Lynn (Dunmow) followed Christodoulou home in the final round for an all Fortec Motorsport podium.
The final rounds also saw Manor Competition awarded the entrants' honours, their first title since 2005, while newcomer Facundo Conta (ARG), racing for Team Firstair, become the 32nd different driver this season.
Christo wins as Blomqvist seals title...
Tensions were high ahead of the start of the 20th and final round of the season with the two title protagonist tied on points. In front of a record 42,000 crowd, Christodoulou headed up the first of three Fortec Motorsport cars locking out the top positions with Blomqvist in second and Lynn producing a career best third. Title hopeful Williamson could only manage fourth knowing he would need to pass Tom if he stood any chance of clinching the title.
Twenty-four 1.2-mile laps now stood between Blomqvist and the title crown and as the race got underway all three Fortec drivers got away cleanly into Paddock Hill Bend with Williamson desperately trying to find a way past in fourth.
CRS Racing's Harry Tincknell (Exeter) had lined up in fifth but lost out on the opening lap dropping down the order with Tama's Pa'l Kiss, driving for Atech GP, also losing out in the action-packed first lap. The Hungarian was able to claw back some consultation though by setting the NGK Spark Plugs Fastest Lap although not breaking the new lap record set by Blomqvist earlier in the day.
As the drivers began to settle down, Williamson just couldn't find a way past 16-year-old Lynn who was holding firm. Then on lap nine Williamson almost made a move stick at Paddock Hill Bend forcing Lynn to go defensive. The 20-year-old then tried his luck at Druids but Lynn once more held firm and allowing the chasing cars of Atech GP's Marlon Stockinger (Philippines) and Manor team-mate Ollie Millroy (Claygate) to close.
CRS Racing drivers were not having any better luck further down the field with Robert Foster-Jones (Southend on Sea) having a moment at Surtees ending his race although the rookie still finished his debut season in an impressive ninth position. Williamson too nearly threw away any title chance he had when he clipped the grass at Clearways costing him precious time.
Out in front Christodoulou was looking strong with Blomqvist matching him for pace although being careful not to push too hard and risk making a mistake. As the 24th and final lap approached there was nothing Williamson could do as Christodoulou, Blomqvist and Lynn all crossed the line ahead of him for a Fortec one-two-three. A heart-broken Williamson took little comfort in fourth spot with Stockinger in fifth. Meanwhile ninth place for Team Firstair's Richard Singleton (Llanfairfechan) rounded off a strong weekend for the returnee.
First win for Yelloly...
Lining up for his maiden Michelin pole position in Sunday's earlier round 19 was Yelloly with the two title protagonists of Blomqvist and Williamson behind him. Renowned for his lightning starts, the 19-year-old stayed true to character to lead the field into the first corner.
Just behind, Williamson had been able to get the jump on a slow starting Blomqvist who was suffering from clutch problems while further back a stall by Pa'l Kiss virtually ended his championship campaign then and there.
The first lap saw the entire field jostle for track position with gains for Stockinger and Christodoulou at the expense of Millroy while in the midfield contact between Mark Burdett Motorsport's Fabio Gamberini (BRA) and Manor Competition's Thomas Hylkema (NED) on the exit of Druids saw an early appearance for the championship's Safety Car.
Racing resumed a few laps later with the race extended to the maximum 27 laps. Despite being his first time leading behind a Safety Car, Yelloly got a good restart to lead once more with Williamson and Blomqvist filing behind with Tincknell in fourth and Stockinger in fifth.
By the halfway stage Yelloly was beginning to pull away as the two title hopefuls battled behind him. With overtaking so difficult around the Indy circuit the order remained unchanged aside from a move on Christodoulou by Millroy at Druids on lap 17 to regain one of his lost places.
Back with the leaders and Yelloly had now developed a 1.191s advantage with Williamson still hot on his tail although Blomqvist had deliberately dropped back to get out of the dirty air so he could concentrate on setting the NGK Spark Plugs Fastest Lap which he did for two vital championship points as well as secure a new lap record. A mistake later on though by the teenager meant he fell into the clutches of fourth place Tincknell who almost got past him at Surtees. Just ahead Williamson was also suffering with problems this time to his exhaust.
The Scotsman kept a cool head though and guided his car home in second, 0.355s behind Yelloly who secured his maiden Formula Renault UK victory. Blomqvist clinched the remaining podium spot with Tincknell fourth and Stockinger in fifth. An eighth place finish for Lynn was enough to see him crowned the Graduate Cup Champion.
Commenting on his plans for next year, newly crowned champion Blomqvist said: "It all depends on budget really but Formula 3 is one possibility we have looked at. It's still sinking in at the moment that I've won! It was great to have my dad here watching me this weekend too."
Vice Champion Williamson, who also secured second in round 19, said: "I tried to push Tom and the rest of the Fortec drivers as much as I could in the final round but it wasn't to be. It's still been a great season for us and I have to thank all my sponsors and of course Manor Competition for all their hard work and for giving me a brilliant car."
Round 19 winner Yelloly commented: "I've been working very hard with my engineer these last few weeks and it's certainly paid off. I got a good start in round 19 and then I just concentrated on not over driving the car and ticking the laps off one by one."
Christodoulou, winner in the final round, said: "It was quite a straight forward race from my point of view and great to finish on a high. There were certainly no team orders so whatever happened, happened."
Graduate Cup champion Lynn added: "The third-place in round 20 was a great way to end the season and I'm delighted to be taking home the Graduate Cup title. It's given me a real confidence boost for next year as it's my intention to return to Formula Renault UK."
-source: renault sport uk