VICTORY AND SECOND FOR STANAWAY IN WINTER CUP FINALE Atech GP's Richie Stanaway finished the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Winter Cup with victory and second place in the final two rounds at Pembrey on Sunday. Briton Matt Bell brought his car...
VICTORY AND SECOND FOR STANAWAY IN WINTER CUP FINALE
Atech GP's Richie Stanaway finished the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Winter Cup with victory and second place in the final two rounds at Pembrey on Sunday. Briton Matt Bell brought his car home fourth in race two, bouncing back from a disappointing non-finish in the day's opening race.
After leading much of Sunday's qualifying, Stanaway was pipped to the pole spot in the closing minutes to line-up second with Bell 14th. On a drying track, a superb start by Stanaway allowed him to take the lead into the first corner and he was never headed as he went on to record a convincing maiden victory.
For Bell the day's opening race didn't fare so well, the youngster making a brilliant start to leapfrog the row in front and over the next four laps closed down the gap to the cars ahead. His charge through the field came to an abrupt end however when a slower car ahead ran wide and came back onto the track into the unfortunate Bell, displacing his nosecone and forcing him out.
Sunday's second race was held in difficult weather conditions with the correct tyre choice crucial to the outcome; Stanaway elected to start on slicks and Bell opted for wet weather tyres, but both put in another sterling performance to net second and fourth respectively.
From the front row Stanaway made another superb start to lead from the pole-sitter and looked liked taking a double victory as he pulled out a slight advantage. However an incident at the Hairpin caused the safety car to be deployed negating his lead.
The safety car was brought out again on lap seven and allowed Oliver Rowland to close down the gap with Stanaway, his slick tyres not quite up to par, also losing the lead. Mitch Gilbert also found his way past and soon Stanaway came under pressure from his Atech GP team-mate Bell in fourth.
On lap 17 as the track began to dry Stanaway was back on a charge, as he set about retaking Gilbert for second. Over the closing laps, the 18 year-old edged closer to the gearbox of the race leader, the pair running side-by-side going into the final bend of the last lap.
Despite a determined effort by Stanaway to take his second win of the day, he crossed the line in second place, with the fastest lap of the race, to take fifth in the points table.
"It's been a real rollercoaster of a weekend," said Stanaway. "We had good pace throughout the Winter Cup and we've been in a very strong position throughout, particularly this weekend. It's great to end the season on high though with two podiums in the last two races. This sets me up well for 2011."
For Bell a superb allowed him to make up four places before the first safety car. After the second the GT driver drove a storming second half of the race, clawing his way through the field and into fourth place, which he held to the flag.
Saturday's races proved frustrating for Stanaway after his chances of victory, while lying second, were ended with an accident. A crash caused the red flag out and brought the race to a stop on lap one and at the restart Richie lined up sixth.
A fantastic getaway saw him up into second at the first corner. However another driver ran wide onto the grass under braking, clipping the back of Stanaway's car and ending his race. In race two another good start, put him third at the first corner but a rare error from the teenager when his tyres weren't up to temperature, caused a spin; he recovered to finish ninth.
For Bell Saturday also proved less successful, as he understeered off the track in race one, hitting the kerb, damaging his car. He recovered in race two though to finish eighth.
"I've had a great time with Atech and happy to end the season on a high," said Bell. "I can't believe how extremely tough and close the Winter Cup has been. It's been a great experience and I've learnt a lot from driving these single-seaters. Formula Renault really helps improve a driver's racecraft which will help me next year."