HYLKEMA EQUALS SEASON'S BEST RESULT AT SILVERSTONE Thomas Hylkema has climbed to within just five points of the coveted top 10 in the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship driver standings after an impressively strong series of race drives ...
HYLKEMA EQUALS SEASON'S BEST RESULT AT SILVERSTONE
Thomas Hylkema has climbed to within just five points of the coveted top 10 in the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship driver standings after an impressively strong series of race drives during the triple-header event at Silverstone National Circuit over the weekend, 21st/22nd August.
Celebrating his 22nd birthday during the official test day at the 1.64-mile track on Friday, the Delft-based Dutchman faced a tall order in Sunday's pair of races after qualifying lower than expected in 15th and 13th position respectively.
He produced two superb race performances though with eighth place in the opening encounter backed up by an excellent top six in the last of the weekend's outings -- equalling his previous best result of the year which came at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire a couple of months ago.
At the start of Sunday morning's race, which took place on a damp track but with all drivers using slick tyres, Thomas made a decent getaway from the grid and by lap two he was into the top 12 ahead of a four lap Safety Car period. Following the re-start, the Club Car, TORO and Geothex backed racer made further progress and climbed into eighth place by mid-distance.
Round 14 delivered Thomas' best race drive of the entire weekend, an outstanding opening lap lifting him from the seventh row of the grid into the top six -- a fantastic gain of seven places as he threaded his way through the order.
Maintaining sixth place well and lapping within just 0.3 seconds of the quickest lap of the race, the Manor Competition driver had his sights set on usurping championship leader Tama's Pa'l Kiss from fifth position. Pressuring the Hungarian strongly during the first half of the encounter, Thomas eventually finished just 1.8 seconds shy of fifth place -- an impressive conclusion to the weekend.
"The final race was our best one for sure", said the Dutchman, "I had a good start and especially through the first corner where I passed two cars, then I gained another place at Becketts. Luckily I was in the right position at Brooklands to avoid some trouble ahead so I managed to come through there in sixth.
"I pulled away from (Fabio) Gamberini and closed to within half a second of Tama's (Pa'l Kiss) and really thought I could put him under pressure. Towards the end of the race though the car started to go off a little bit and I had some graining on my tyres so I dropped back slightly. It's really satisfying to have finished in the top six after starting so far back in 13th -- I'm really pleased."
During the rescheduled fifth round on Saturday, run as a replacement for the abandoned encounter at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit back in May, Thomas was unable to make the most of his fifth place starting slot when he was shunted out of the race on lap three at Luffield by Tom Blomqvist.
Running competitively in the top five at the point of the incident, Thomas had defended well over the first couple of laps. On lap three though as he turned in for the right-hander at Luffield on his usual racing line, contact to the right-rear of his car pitched Thomas into a spin and Blomqvist's FR 2.0 ended up beached over his nose cone.
Bitterly frustrating, having looked well on course for a strong result, Thomas was able to make it back to the pits and after rejoining two laps down he eventually managed to finish in 14th position to at least salvage a few championship points.
In total this weekend, Thomas has added 39 points to his championship tally which moves him up from 13th place into 11th position -- just five points away from the top 10 with six races remaining.
Up next for Thomas will be his first ever visit to Knockhill Circuit in Scotland for the 15th and 16th rounds of the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship -- Renault's first trip to the Fife track since 2005. The event will take place just under a fortnight from now over the weekend 4th/5th September.
2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship standings (after Rd14): 11th Thomas Hylkema, 137pts