ROOKIE RACER BECOMES EIGHTH DIFFERENT WINNER AT KNOCKHILL Rookie racer Robert Foster-Jones (Southend-on-Sea) became the eighth different winner of the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship during rounds 15 and 16 at Scotland's Knockhill...
ROOKIE RACER BECOMES EIGHTH DIFFERENT WINNER AT KNOCKHILL
Rookie racer Robert Foster-Jones (Southend-on-Sea) became the eighth different winner of the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship during rounds 15 and 16 at Scotland's Knockhill circuit on 4th/5th September.
The CRS Racing driver converted his maiden pole into his first victory during Sunday's round 16, broadcast live on ITV4, to add to his impressive second place in the earlier round 15. Fortec Motorsport's Tom Blomqvist (Saffron Walden) meanwhile took full advantage of his pole position in round 15 to collect his third consecutive win and move into second place in the championship -- just 12 points behind the leader Atech GP's Tama's Pa'l Kiss.
The packed Dunfermline crowd also watched Blomqvist's team-mate Riki Christodoulou (Sutton Coldfield) finally secure his first podium since returning to the series with third in round 15 while Hungarian Pa'l Kiss and Manor Competition's Ollie Millroy (Claygate) collected the remaining podium spots with second and third respectively in round 16.
Alex Lynn (Dunmow) once again impressed in the Graduate Cup with two class wins in his Fortec Motorsport run car with the 16-year-old edging ever closer to securing the title.
The weekend also marked the return of Formula Renault UK to Scotland after a four year absence with the driver's next stop being at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit as part of World Series by Renault.
Eighth different winner...
Formula Renault UK has been full of surprises this year and Scotland's 1.3-mile Knockhill circuit was no exception with Foster-Jones securing his maiden pole position for Sunday's round 16. "I got a really good balance and the testing I did here has really paid off," said the 19-year-old. The in-form Blomqvist lined-up alongside him with Pa'l Kiss and Lynn, his best ever qualifying result, in fourth. For the second time of the weekend Manor Competition front-runners Will Stevens (Oxshott) and local racer Lewis Williamson (Golspie) were down the order.
A nervous Foster-Jones got away cleanly as the 24-lap race got underway beating Blomqvist into the first right-hander who was in turn rubbing wheels with a charging Pa'l Kiss. Pa'l Kiss managed to squeeze through into second as Blomqvist ran wide slotting back into sixth.
Despite his inexperience, Foster-Jones quickly settled into his rhythm putting in consistent lap times on a track he'd never previously raced on. With Pa'l Kiss in second, Lynn had been up to third until Millroy got the better of him on lap three.
A spin by Scorpio Motorsport's Joe Crook (Hailsham) caused the intervention of the Safety Car with Foster-Jones getting a clean restart three laps later -- something he would shortly have to do all over again.
The race was now over 27-laps and with the field bunched up once more, challenges were being made throughout the field, in particular for the lead with Pa'l Kiss almost getting through at the Hairpin only for a resilient Foster-Jones to hold his ground. Third place Millroy tried to capitalise from the battling front pair too and briefly snatched second only for Pa'l Kiss to claim it back into the first corner. CRS Racing's Harry Tincknell (Exeter) had also finally found a way past Atech GP's Nick Yelloly (Solihull) in the battle for ninth before he would eventually finish seventh.
On lap 20 the Safety Car had to be deployed once more after Mark Burdett Motorsport's Fabio Gamberini went into the tyres following contact with Fortec Motorsport's David McDonald (Ewell), ending a luckless weekend for the Brazilian. An investigation by the Clerk of the Course would also later exclude McDonald from the race for the incident.
When racing did resume there were just three laps left with Foster-Jones again timing his restart to perfection -- the third time of the weekend the rookie had done so. Millroy, who also set the NGK Spark Plugs fastest lap, and Pa'l Kiss were once again locking wheels with Lynn and Williamson also running very close with Alex coming off worst and dropping down from fourth to sixth. Williamson then had to defend from Blomqvist with the 20-year-old shielding his fourth place vigorously.
The chequered flag belonged to Foster-Jones though with a superb drive in testing conditions. Pa'l Kiss and Millroy came home in second and third places with Williamson in fourth and Blomqvist rounding off the top five. Lynn's sixth place, equally his best ever result, also secured him the Graduate Cup class win.
Blomqvist makes it three in a row...
Blomqvist and Foster-Jones shared the front-row for Sunday's earlier round 15 this time with Tom enjoying the P1 spot, despite losing a nose cone during Saturday's qualifying session. Christodoulou made a welcome return to form to lie in third with Tincknell in fourth.
As the lights went out both Blomqvist and Foster-Jones made strong starts with Tom just holding on to lead the field into the first corner. With a clear track the 16-year-old was soon away, developing a remarkable 1.215s lead after just one lap. Foster-Jones, Christodoulou and Tincknell all filed through too with Williamson also making ground in the early stages. Millroy was also briefly up to fourth by lap two until a lunge by Williamson up the inside of the Hairpin on the following lap saw the Scotsman make contact with Millroy's car with Lynn also an innocent casualty.
Shortly after though Williamson, suffering damaged steering, made contact with Gamberini as the Brazilian tried to pass him around the outside of the left-handed Leslie's. The touch was enough to send Gamberini's car into a roll with the driver completely unhurt as the Safety Car was deployed immediately.
Three laps under Safety Car conditions ensued before racing resumed with the race distance extended from 24 to 27 laps. Blomqvist once more powered away closely followed by Foster-Jones despite the rookie's first time behind the Safety Car as a front-runner.
As the race settled down, Blomqvist continued to push setting the NGK Spark Plugs fastest lap, and a new lap record, at half race distance. The battle for fourth however was intensifying between Yelloly and Pa'l Kiss with the championship leader eager to get the better of his team-mate as Yelloly held firm. Christodoulou and Tincknell were also running nose-to-tail in the fight for third place but Riki used all his experience to keep Harry in his rear view mirrors.
Then with just a handful of laps to go Hylkema made a mistake at the Chicane, beaching his car in the gravel and with not enough time to deploy the Safety Car, the race was red flagged. Blomqvist consequently took his third win, although perhaps not how he would have liked, with Foster-Jones taking a deserved second for his first podium and Christodoulou holding onto third. Tincknell and Yelloly rounded off the top five while Lynn, who had continued after the Hairpin incident, took the Graduate Cup class win.
Commenting on his maiden win Foster-Jones said: "CRS Racing have given me a great car this weekend and the testing I did earlier in the year has really paid dividend. I got a good start in round 15 but it was a tough race on a tough track, as well as my first time behind a Safety Car as a front runner. I wasn't expecting another two Safety Cars in round 16 which made things hard but I just concentrated on putting in consistent lap times. This weekend has certainly inspired confidence heading into the next rounds at World Series by Renault."
Round 15 winner Blomqvist commented: "I got away well at the start but I had to defend from Rob who had made a better start than me. The team has made a huge step forward from last time out at Silverstone and we hope we can continue from here."
Second place in round 16 Pa'l Kiss said: "That was a great race and I enjoyed every second of it. There were some good battles but fair ones with drivers just leaving enough room."
Third place in round 15 Christodoulou commented: "I had hoped to be on the podium before now but it's a very competitive championship with a new car but I'm pleased to finally be up here."
Millroy, who picked up the remaining podium in round 16 added: "It was an interesting race with technically three starts. I had a good battle with Tama's and we showed good race pace by taking the fastest lap and two extra points."
Rounds 17 and 18 of the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship take place at Silverstone Grand Prix circuit as part of World Series by Renault on 18th/19th September.
-source: renault sport uk