CAREER BEST WEEKEND HAS BITTERSWEET CONCLUSION FOR HYLKEMA Thomas Hylkema experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows at Croft in North Yorkshire over the weekend, 19th/20th June, after scorching to his first ever Formula Renault UK pole...
CAREER BEST WEEKEND HAS BITTERSWEET CONCLUSION FOR HYLKEMA
Thomas Hylkema experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows at Croft in North Yorkshire over the weekend, 19th/20th June, after scorching to his first ever Formula Renault UK pole position but then being robbed of a potential victory push due to a sensor failure at the start of round 10.
Fast and committed from the off during pre-event practice on Friday, 18th June, the Dutchman held high hopes of season's best results after posting the quickest time during the first test session and going on to end the day third fastest overall.
Qualifying sixth on the grid for round nine, the first of the weekend's races, 21-year-old Thomas raced well to seal a top six finish -- his best of the campaign so far -- but it could easily have been more had he been able to leap Robert Foster-Jones at the start.
Nonetheless satisfied with his performance, Thomas quickly turned his attention to Sunday's 10th round having brilliantly secured his first Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship pole position during the second qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.
Lapping the 2.12-mile Croft Circuit in a time of 1m16.646 seconds (99.81mph), the Club Car and TORO backed racer took pole by just 0.059 seconds from Manor Competition team-mate Lewis Williamson and everything looked all set for a tremendous race.
Dreadful misfortune would strike though mere seconds into round 10 when a sensor failure on his FR 2.0 car as the race got underway meant Thomas' engine ground to a halt and he was forced to pull off onto the grass on the infield.
Devastated to have lost the opportunity to fight for a maiden win in Formula Renault UK, and at the very least his first podium of the year, the Delft-based driver still takes a huge number of positives away from the Croft weekend. He now aims to put all he has learned over the weekend into practice at Snetterton, in Norfolk, when the second half of the season begins on 7th/8th August.
"I'm absolutely gutted, I can't really put into words how disappointing it felt to be on pole position for the first time but to be forced to retire before I'd even really got off the line", said Thomas, "It was such a good weekend up to that point, we had a lot of strong moments and we put everything together really well. It was all going great.
"To be quickest in the first practice was unreal and to then go on and qualify sixth for the first race and then on pole for race two -- it was crazy! The big day for me was Sunday, I really wanted to finish the weekend on a high but it just wasn't to be unfortunately. Even though we had the retirement, it's still been my best weekend in terms of my pace and the performances we produced."
He added: "I worked really hard with Sarah (Shaw -- race engineer and team co-owner) to fine tune the car this weekend. Because I was really on it with my driving we could focus on tweaking the car more and more and it felt really perfect.
"The sensor problem was just a one in a million thing which might never even happen again -- it was nobody's fault, just bad luck! My first pole position can't be taken away though and now I want more, I'm going to really focus hard on the positives and try and take this level of performance through to the next races at Snetterton in early August."
-source: thomas hylkema