BLOMQVIST STAR OF SILVERSTONE THRILLER Newly recognised BRDC Rising Star Tom Blomqvist (Saffron Walden) added his name to the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship title contenders this weekend after two superb wins during rounds 13 and...
BLOMQVIST STAR OF SILVERSTONE THRILLER
Newly recognised BRDC Rising Star Tom Blomqvist (Saffron Walden) added his name to the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship title contenders this weekend after two superb wins during rounds 13 and 14 at Silverstone National circuit on 21st/22nd August.
The 16-year-old Fortec Motorsport driver soaked up immense pressure in Sunday's round 13, easily the best race of the season to date, to secure his first victory since becoming the youngest winner of a Formula Renault UK race at the age of 15 during last year's Winter Cup. A few hours later the son of rally legend Stig did it again with a lights-to-flag victory in round 14 -- televised live on ITV4.
Atech GP drivers Nick Yelloly (Solihull), racing on his home circuit, and Hungarian Tama's Pa'l Kiss finished second and third respectively in round 13 while Manor Competition front-runners Lewis Williamson (Golspie) and Ollie Millroy (Claygate) joined Blomqvist on the podium in round 14.
The weekend, which marked only the series' second triple-header, ended with just 20-points separating the top four drivers as the championship heads to Knockhill in a fortnight for the first time in four years.
Blomqvist makes it two from two...
After a fantastic win in round 13, Blomqvist lined up on the start grid as the Michelin pole-sitter for round 14 and the final race of the weekend's triple-header. Hoping to deny him the double was fellow front-row driver Stevens with Millroy and Fortec Motorsport's Alex Lynn (Dunmow) on row two -- Alex's best qualifying performance to date.
Twenty-two laps now stood between Blomqvist and his second win and as the lights went out he took full advantage to lead the field into the sweeping right-handed Copse followed by Stevens, Millroy and Williamson.
Blomqvist was on the pace straight away and looked to pull away from the three-car Manor Competition train. Meanwhile CRS Racing's Harry Tincknell (Exeter) was enduring a luckless weekend as the 18-year-old shuffled down the order having already suffered a retirement in round 13.
As the in-house Manor Competition battled continued, Blomqvist was able to edge away unaware that it was all about to change in the fight for second to fourth places. In a series of moves which started at Copse, fourth-place Williamson was perhaps unexpectedly the driver to emerge best off jumping into second place with Millroy in third and Stevens now down in fourth. Williamson then set about reducing Blomqvist's deficit putting in faster and faster laps around the 1.64-mile circuit.
Meanwhile Tincknell was trying hard to make amends by working his way back through the field only for team-mate Robert Foster-Jones (Southend-on-Sea) to put up strong resistance just outside the top 10.
There was still plenty of racing to be had up front though which showed as 20-year-old Williamson soon set his personal best. Blomqvist duly responded and opened up his lead once more as the race neared its conclusion. A few moments later the Saffron Walden racer took the chequered flag for his second win of the day with Williamson in second and Millroy in third. Stevens and Pa'l Kiss rounded off the top five while Gamberini picked up his second Graduate Cup win of the weekend. Despite finishing 13th, Yelloly collected two additional points for the NGK fastest lap although outside Blomqvist's new lap record set during Saturday's re-run round five.
Blomqvist withstands immense pressure...
Persistent rain had produced a thrilling round 13 qualifying session which ended with Stockinger taking pole after being the only driver to gamble on slick tyres. Newcomer Luciano Bacheta (Essex), driving for the returning Team Firstair, drew up alongside him with Blomqvist and Fortec Motorsport's Riki Christodoulou (Sutton Coldfield) on row two. Meanwhile, the tricky conditions saw the front-runners littered throughout the order with Stevens worst effected down in 11th.
As racing got underway it was the Filpino driver who led the way followed by Blomqvist who had been able to get the jump on Bacheta. What proceeded was one of the most thrilling opening laps for some time with places changing throughout the pack, no doubt affected by the track conditions which still contained damp patches off the racing line.
Stockinger completed lap one as race leader followed by Blomqvist and Yelloly, who had slipped into third, with Williamson in fourth. A spin by Christodoulou though at Brooklands left his car stranded leaving drivers swerving to avoid him with some unable to react in time. The action continued through Woodcote with Williamson and Tincknell making contact resulting in Harry's damaged car coming to rest along the pit wall and causing the Safety Car to be deployed.
Meanwhile there had also been a change in the lead on lap two and as the front-runners picked up the Safety Car the order was almost unrecognisable from the original starting grid with Blomqvist now leading from Stockinger, Yelloly, Williamson and Foster-Jones.
When racing resumed on lap six, Blomqvist made a great restart to lead once more on the now extended 25-lap race. Team-mates Stockinger and Yelloly crossed the line side-by-side with the two still fighting through Brooklands and Yelloly the eventual winner dropping Marlon to third before he fell further down the field a few laps later.
By the halfway stage spectators were already witnessing one of the best races of the season with Blomqvist leading the way and Yelloly right on his tail. Williamson, now in third, had also closed up on the leaders to make it a three-car tussle for the lead. Three cars, soon became four, as Pa'l Kiss also joined the fight for the lead.
The competiveness of the top four was evident in the lap times with each taking it in turns to set the NGK fastest lap before those honours fell to Yelloly. Nick continued to push Blomqvist with the 19-year-old especially quick out of Woodcote allowing him to pressurise Tom over the start/finish straight and into Copse. The two often ran side-by-side with Yelloly trying both the inside and, bravely, the outside lines in an attempt to pass but each time Blomqvist closed the door.
All the time though this was allowing Williamson and Pa'l Kiss to close in and when Yelloly's latest attempt to pass Blomqvist didn't stick, Lewis was able to pounce to take the place on the exit of Copse. Yelloly wasn't willing to yield however and the two shortly made contact into Brooklands with Yelloly regaining the place and dropping Williamson to fourth as Pa'l Kiss also took advantage of the scrapping duo.
With all the attention focused on the front-runners it was easy to overlook the midfield drivers who were also battling hard for places with Scorpio Motorsport's Joe Crook (Hailsham) in particular running well in ninth.
The pressure finally eased for Blomqvist on lap 21 as the fight for second, third and fourth places took the heat away from the youngster and for the first time he was able to pull away. A few laps later he crossed the line to take his first win and no doubt to much relief after one of the tensest races of 2010. Yelloly finished second with Pa'l Kiss just holding onto third despite a late surge by Williamson. Stockinger rounded off the top five with Gamberini taking the class win.
Commenting on his faultless performance Blomqvist said: "I certainly can't complain with how things have gone this weekend! I got a good start in round 13 but the Safety Car period didn't help and I struggled with what line to take as the track was still damp in places. I had to soak up a lot of pressure from Nick but I held my nerve to get that first win in the bag. Round 14 was a little easier as the battle behind helped me to pull away but I could see Lewis catching me so I could never let up. Knockhill will prove crucial for me in the championship and I hope I can continue this momentum through to there."
Commenting on his second place in round 13 Yelloly said: "It was a great race and the car felt really quick. It was so close and I tried everything to get by Tom but he drove really well."
Second-place in round 14 Williamson said: "I managed to get into fourth early on and while Ollie and Will were battling I was able to get into second and put some pressure on Tom but he was long gone. I'm now looking forward to being on my home turf at Knockhill."
Third-place in round 13 and still championship leader Pa'l Kiss said: "I was a bit unlucky at the start but then my luck changed as the race progressed and I just watched the drama unfold in front of me and waited for a mistake to be made."
Commenting on his third-place Millroy added: "It's been a series of good results for us and I'm very happy with how things are going at Manor Competition and I can't wait to get back in the car."
Rounds 15 and 16 of the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship take place at Scotland's Knockhill circuit on 4th/5th September.
-source: renault sport uk