CONSISTENT STONEMAN LEADS CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER THRUXTON Alpine Motorsport's Dean Stoneman moved to the top of the driver standings in the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship after a double podium in rounds three and four at Thruxton...
CONSISTENT STONEMAN LEADS CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER THRUXTON
Alpine Motorsport's Dean Stoneman moved to the top of the driver standings in the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship after a double podium in rounds three and four at Thruxton circuit on 25th/26th April.
The reigning Graduate Cup Champion from Southampton showed great consistency to finish second in both races to leave him 12 points clear of closest rival Fortec Motorsport's James Calado (Worcester). Calado didn't come away empty handed though with a victory in round three held on Saturday, 25th April with team-mate Will Stevens (Oxshott) claiming his first podium in third. Mark Burdett Motorsport's Jesse Krohn (FIN) secured his first victory in an action-packed round four on Sunday, 25th April -- shown live on ITV4 -- with Graduate Cup racer Harry Tincknell (Exeter) taking third for CRS Racing.
Dry but windy conditions greeted a huge grid of 29 racers for the start of round three. Following the day's earlier qualifying session, Stoneman took the Michelin Pole Position with Graduate Cup driver Stevens alongside him on the front row.
As the lights went out, Stoneman got away well to lead the field into the first corner with a poor start from Stevens allowing Krohn to move up the field from fourth on the gird. Hillspeed's Menasheh Idafar (London), who started fifth following an impressive qualifying session, was unable to make the most of his grid position dropping to thirteenth by the end of lap one.
The race was soon halted though as Manor Competition team-mates Thomas Hylkema (NED) and David McDonald (Ewell) made contact hitting the pit wall and causing the Safety Car to be deployed.
There was still time though for Krohn and Calado to move into second and third respectively after passing Stevens on the outside to the Complex leaving him in fifth. CRS Racing's Josh Scott (Milton Keynes), who had also managed to get pass the 17-year-old, was now in fourth with Fortec Motorsport's Fredrik Blomstedt (Northampton) in sixth.
Racing resumed on lap eight with the race extended to 19 laps. Stoneman used his experience to slow the field down to ensure he got away cleanly, closely followed by Krohn and Calado with the front three quickly building a gap over fourth place Scott.
On lap eight, Krohn made a move for the lead at Club but slight contact between him and Stoneman caused a spin ending his race and moving Calado into second. Behind Calado, Stevens had managed to move into third after Scott and Fortec driver Oli Webb (Knutsford), now fifth, went side-by-side at the exit of Church causing Webb to run onto the grass and dropping him down the order. Scott held on to fourth place followed by team-mate Matias Laine (FIN), who was celebrating his 19th birthday.
By the halfway stage, Calado was all over the back of Stoneman forcing him to go defensive with the gap reducing every lap. The halfway mark also saw Tincknell set the NGK Fastest Lap with a time of 1min 10.811s (119.77mph average) earning him two extra Championship points.
In the midfield, Hitech Junior's Jordan Oakes (Hopton on Sea) and SSS Motorsport with Hillspeed's Lee Dwyer (Huddersfield) were battling hard for eighth and ninth places with Oakes eventually getting the better of Dwyer on lap 13.
As the leaders continued to battle, Stoneman left a gap going into the Complex with Calado able to squeeze passed to take the lead. With the race entering its final stages, Calado pulled away from Stoneman allowing third place Stevens to get close enough to challenge. The action continued throughtout the last lap when Stevens and Stoneman went side-by-side at Woodham Hill with Stoneman just able to fend off the Oxshott driver. The chequered flag belonged to Calado -- who picked up the ELF/Atol Driver fo the Day - taking his second consecutive victory, with the last few moments of the race also seeing Blomstedt pass Laine to take fifth.
A packed Hampshire crowd welcomed drivers as they lined the start grid for Sunday's round four, with Calado leading the field as Michelin Pole Position holder. James got away well to take the initial lead but this was only momentary as Tincknell took the top spot with Calado, Stoneman and Krohn, who started second on the grid, in fourth.
A stall on the start-line by TA1 Motorsport's Tom Armour (Billericay) caused him to drop down to 26th from 10th as the whole field did well to safely pass his stationary car. Continuing their battle from yesterday, Stoneman briefly overtook Calado before James regained his second place at the end of the first lap with Tincknell soon stretching his lead. This left Stoneman with a determined Krohn in his rear-view mirrors, with Jesse also posting the NGK Fastest Lap time.
A few laps later Krohn took third-place Stoneman at Club, the same spot where he went off yesterday, while further down the field Webb was able to overtake CRS Racing's Lewis Williamson (Golspie).
Contact at Segrave between Manor Competition's, Alice Powell (Chipping Norton), Apotex Scorpio Motorsport's Ollie Hancock (Hook) and new driver Jordan Williams (Tavistock, Devon) in the Falcon Motorsport car caused the Safety Car to be deployed with all three drivers retiring from the race.
Racing resumed on lap eight with the race extended to 19 laps. Tincknell got a good break to continue his position at the front of the field while behind him Scott drove around the outside of Stoneman to take fourth only for Stoneman to retake the position a lap later.
Lap 10 saw disaster for second-placed Calado when a broken gear cable forced him to retire promoting Krohn and Stoneman to second and third followed by Scott and Williamson who was now ahead of Webb. A mistake by Williamson though a few laps later caused the 19-year-old to spin handing the place straight back to Oli.
As the drama continued with every position being contested, Krohn was beginning to catch Tincknell making his decisive move with just three laps remaining by going around the outside at Club. With Tincknell not wishing to yield, both drivers braked very late forcing them to miss the chicane and sending the cars flying over the kerbs. Krohn's brave dash paid off though as he came away just ahead of Tincknell as they exited Club with Stoneman now right behind challenging for second.
As the new race leader began his last lap, it was clear Stoneman still had more to give and with one last push snatched second from Tincknell. In the main field, Webb was trying to hold on to fifth place from Oakes despite sustaining a puncture. Blomstedt, McDonald and newly registered Manor Competition driver Dean Smith, were also among the leading drivers rounding off the top 10.
With racing right up until the end, it was Krohn who took the chequered flag followed by Stoneman, Tincknell and Scott. Webb just managed to hold on to fifth despite nursing a flat tyre while further down the field a resilient drive from Armour saw him cross the line in 14th making up an impressive 12 places following his poor start and earning him the ELF/Atol Driver of the Day award.
Commenting on his perforamce, Stoneman said: "I'm really pleased to come away this weekend with two podiums. A win is always great but at the end of the day this is a long Championship and it's about scoring points consistently in every race and I've managed to do just that this weekend."
Round three winner Calado, said: "I had a good start to get up to third by the end of the first lap and managed to profit from Jesse's misfortune. I then had Stoneman to pass who left the door open at Complex. I was feeling confident going into round four, especially being on pole so obviously I'm gutted not to have come away with more points."
Commenting after his first win, Krohn said: "To get my first victory after yesterday's spin is fantastic and I'm very grateful to the team who got me out racing again. It was a close race and knew my only chance to overtake would be at Club. I went around the outside as I tried going on the inside against Stoneman in the first race which didn't work. We both braked very late and ended up cutting the corner but I managed to come away ahead."
Commenting on his Saturday race performance, Stevens said: "I'm absolutely delighted with my first podium. I lost a few places at the Complex but I showed good pace towards the end and was right up with Stoneman. I reckon a couple more laps and I might have passed him."
Leading Graduate Cup driver Tincknell commented: "I'm disappointed not to come away with a win but Jesse drove a great race and I'm still the leading Graduate driver and that still remains my main focus for the season."
Rounds five and six of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship takes place at Donington Park on 16th/17th May.
-credit: frenault uk