MILLROY AND MANOR GET WINTER TITLE CAMPAIGN OFF TO GOOD START Two fantastic podiums at Snetterton on Saturday, 6th November, put Manor Competition's Ollie Millroy within just a single point of the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Winter ...
MILLROY AND MANOR GET WINTER TITLE CAMPAIGN OFF TO GOOD START
Two fantastic podiums at Snetterton on Saturday, 6th November, put Manor Competition's Ollie Millroy within just a single point of the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Winter Championship lead -- but a highly unfortunate, and controversial, post-race penalty in round two means he heads to Pembrey for the series finale next weekend with a 14 point deficit.
Overcoming a tricky qualifying session littered with traffic, which took place on a progressively drying track, the Surrey 20-year-old made a pair of exceptional starts in each encounter to convert lower than expected grid slots into two richly deserved and hard earned runner-up placings.
But a couple of hours after the conclusion of round two, Millroy was served with a five second time penalty -- dropping him to fourth in that race -- after officials adjudged him to have 'gained an unfair advantage' for passing backmarker BARC Class runner Evelin Frank under Safety Car conditions.
The incident wasn't as clear cut as that though. With a cautionary period declared on lap eight, race leader Daniil Kvyat overtook Frank prior to reaching the Safety Car but Millroy rightly remained behind the backmarker. Frank attempted to wave the Manor car through but, knowing this is against the regulations, Millroy stayed behind her rather than replicating Kvyat's move.
When the lights on the Safety Car went out near the end of lap 12, Kvyat bolted to pull out a huge lead while Frank continued to hold-up the rest. Hugging the right hand side of the track out of the final chicane and still holding her hand up, Frank appeared to be pitting so Millroy passed her as he headed up Senna Straight into the re-start. Officials though declared the pass to be illegal.
Manor co-owner Tony Shaw commented: "Ollie honestly thought Frank was pitting when they approached the re-start, having already done the right thing by staying behind her. Kvyat passed her illegally before they reached the Safety Car and Ollie knew that wasn't right so even though she tried to wave him by, he stayed put.
"He really thought she was pitting when the re-start came, it was an honest mistake. It's a frustrating decision by the officials as Ollie deserved second at the very least, he caught Kvyat easily over the last few laps and could have won. Moves need to be made to legislate for incidents like this."
In round one, Millroy leapt from sixth to third through the first couple of corners and then took second with a perfect move into the Esses on lap eight to seal a fantastic drive. Another electric start in round two enabled him to make early progress and he was up to second by lap five ahead of the aforementioned incident under the Safety Car.
Pushing hard to make up the lost ground, Millroy finished just 0.2 seconds shy of Kvyat at the flag having closed in at a rapid rate during the final few laps. In doing so, he also posted the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1m04.987 seconds (108.13mph) to claim two bonus points.
Hill and King make impressive debuts as Powell delivers on strong return For Josh Hill -- son of 1996 FIA Formula One World Champion, Damon -- his first weekend competing in Formula Renault UK should have delivered a maiden podium in only his second race but a highly unfortunate electrical problem forced him out of the second encounter while running in third.
Although slipping to eighth at the start of round two, having lined-up seventh on the grid, Hill made very good progress and by the end of lap three he was into the top five behind Millroy. Taking fourth on the next tour, the 19-year-old upped his pace impressively and took third on lap seven.
Posting the second best lap of the race, 1m05.134 seconds, on lap eight, Hill's third position looked secure but after the four lap Safety Car period his car dramatically slowed just two corners into the re-start as he exited Sear. Pitting at the end of the lap, Hill had no option but to retire.
At least round one delivered a strong finish of seventh for the Farnham-based driver. Starting on the fourth row of the grid, Hill lost a couple of spots initially but fought back well to get past Kvyat and Joni Wiman to re-assume seventh by lap 15.
Alice Powell, returning to the Manor Competition fold after a title-winning campaign in sister series Formula Renault BARC this year, produced a pair of strong top 10 finishes to end the first weekend of the Winter Championship seventh in the points standings.
Qualifying a much lower than anticipated 17th for round one and 15th for round two, due to the tricky drying conditions, the Chipping Norton racer stormed through the field in both encounters to secure an excellent ninth in the first race and an even better seventh place finish in race two.
Powell climbed through well in round one and by lap seven she was into the top 12. Moving into 11th place on the ninth tour the 17-year-old edged closer and closer to the coveted top 10 and made the breakthrough on lap 13 before gaining one final spot before the finish.
Her race two performance eclipsed the opener though when she posted the fourth quickest lap of the race -- 1m05.310 seconds -- en route to a fantastic seventh position. By lap four, Powell was into the top 10 from 15th at the start and she then gained two further spots -- one at the expense of Hill's enforced retirement. Seventh was then secured on lap 15 to cap a very strong drive.
Jordan King, making his debut in Formula Renault after just a single weekend in the Formula Palmer Audi Championship, seriously impressed with great pace and racecraft. Producing two race drives far belying his limited experience in cars, the 16-year-old from Warwickshire was fantastically consistent by taking 11th in race one and an improved 10th in the second encounter.
Lining up 15th on the grid for round one, King lost a couple of positions at the beginning but instantly fought back and after settling down he started to move up the order from lap eight onward. Running in 13th position on lap 10, the karting sensation took 12th on lap 13 and after an entertaining scrap in the midfield he then took 11th from Oliver Rowland on the last lap.
By taking a deserved top 10 finish in round two, King ended the weekend within just seven points of team-mate Powell. Starting 17th on the grid, he was up to 13th place by lap five and although slipping a place again shortly after he emerged from a tight battle on the fringe of the top 10 to grab the coveted spot - which he eventually sealed some 4.5 seconds clear of his nearest rival.
"It's been quite a good start to the winter series", added Shaw, "We're very frustrated regarding the decision to penalise Ollie and bitterly disappointed for Josh he had the problem costing a potential podium. All four drivers were impressive though and showed a lot of commitment. Josh, Alice and Jordan all proved their pace and potential and they'll only get quicker."
Pembrey in South Wales hosts the Winter Championship finale next weekend, 13th/14th November, with rounds three, four, five and six to be contested at the 1.5-mile venue.
2010 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship driver standings (after Rd2): 2nd Ollie Millroy, 52pts; 7th Alice Powell, 28pts; 10th Jordan King, 21pts; 14th Josh Hill, 16pts