BATTLING CALADO TAKES TITLE AFTER A WIN AND A SPIN James Calado (Cropthorne) is the 2008 Formula Renault UK with Michelin Winter Cup champion after a win and a seventh place in rounds three and four at Rockingham on Saturday, 8th November....
BATTLING CALADO TAKES TITLE AFTER A WIN AND A SPIN
James Calado (Cropthorne) is the 2008 Formula Renault UK with Michelin Winter Cup champion after a win and a seventh place in rounds three and four at Rockingham on Saturday, 8th November. The Fortec Motorsport driver won round three from pole position and fought back from a first corner spin to finish seventh. Manor Competition's Henry Surtees (Lingfield) was a close second with 113 points to Calado's 116.
Hillspeed's James Theodore (Telford) showed himself to be the class of the Formula Renault BARC Class entries, winning both races to become champion and end the four-round series with 60 points from a possible 64. Apotex Scorpio Motorsport's Brazilian driver Henrique Baptista was vice-champion.
The morning's qualifying session held in wet conditions saw Calado gain an early upper hand by securing pole position for both races. CR Scuderia Formula Renault's Antonio Felix Da Costa joined him on the front row for round three, with Alpine Motorsports' Dean Stoneman (Southampton) and Surtees just behind.
As the front two got away cleanly, Calado holding the inside through the banked Turn One, Stoneman tried to go around the outside of both cars at Deene Hairpin. He succeeded only in running wide and spinning out of the race, while the first lap also saw Manor Competition's Sung Hak Mun (Worcester Park), Mark Burdett Motorsport's Thomas Hylkema and Pearson Engineering Services' Ian Pearson (Didcot) retire.
After a brief Safety Car period, Calado restarted well on lap five and immediately began to pull away from Da Costa. Fortec Competition's Will Buller (Scarvagh) now held third ahead of Surtees, with Fortec Motorsport's Oli Webb (Knutsford) in fifth. Lap six saw CR Scuderia Formula Renault's Fredrik Blomstedt spin out of six at Tarzan hairpin, as Hillspeed's Menasheh Idafar (London) and CR Scuderia's Harry Tincknell (Sidmouth) enjoyed the closest battle on track.
Theodore led the BARC Class from Baptista by five seconds on lap seven and continued to pull away with a series of consistent lap times. BARC Class pole-sitter Kourosh Khani (Corby) had spun on the first lap and then unlapped himself under the Safety Car, a move that saw him black-flagged midway through the race.
On lap seven, Idafar made a passing move at Deene only for Tincknell to cut back and re-take sixth on the exit of the corner. The pair ran side by side through Pif Paf, the British-born Bahraini eventually completing the pass to take the place. Just behind, Apotex Scorpio Motorsport's Ollie Hancock (Hook) had stormed up to ninth place past Fortec Competition's Will Stevens (Royston) having started 22nd.
By lap nine, Calado held a lead of three seconds over Da Costa as the race for third between Buller, Surtees and Webb closed up. The following lap saw a change as Surtees passed Buller, only to then lose two places to fifth as both Buller and Webb came through. Surtees then began to drop back from the Fortec pair, who stayed nose to tail to the chequered flag.
Hancock remained the source of most overtaking, passing Hillspeed's Michael Lyons (Felsted) and Tincknell in the closing laps. As the race reached its 25-minute maximum, Calado took the flag 2.625s ahead of Da Costa. Buller finished third but was later given a 30-second time penalty for passing under the Safety Car, dropping him to ninth and handing Webb the final podium spot.
James Theodore's second victory in three races was enough to clinch the BARC Class title with one race to spare.
Drama for champion
Calado began the final round with a 13-point lead over Surtees but the destiny of the title was immediately thrown into doubt when Calado spun at Deene Hairpin as he tried to hold off Stoneman's challenge for the lead. Stoneman now led from Surtees and with Calado last on the road, the title was heading to the Manor driver.
Stoneman made an excellent restart after a short Safety Car spell, while Webb pounced on lap four to move past Surtees for second. Highland Arena's Lewis Williamson (Golspie) was fourth ahead of Buller, while a tangle between CR Scuderia pair Blomstedt and Tincknell allowed a third CR Scuderia driver, Matias Laine, to take sixth ahead of Eurotek Motorsport's Kazuki Hiramine (Milton Keynes).
The first lap after the restart saw Calado reach 17th place and he continued to pick off drivers to climb to 10th by lap nine. Meanwhile, Webb was eating into Stoneman's advantage by up to half a second per lap but Surtees was unable to match Webb's pace and found himself being caught by Williamson.
Lap 10 saw the Safety Car needed for a second time as Khani crashed heavily into the wall at Turn One, the Welch Motorsport driver uninjured but losing any chance of regaining second place in the BARC Class standings. The Safety Car introduction did allow Surtees to close the gap on Webb, taking second place at the resumption on lap 14 with Williamson following through into third. Webb was down to ninth after contact and would unluckily retire on the following tour.
With the race set to run 17 laps as the time limit approached, Calado continued to fight his way through the field, passing Apotex Scorpio's James Dixon (Sittingbourne) and Hiramine on successive laps to lie seventh. With two bonus points for setting the fastest lap of the race, Calado had done enough to take the title as long as Surtees remained in second.
The son of former World Champion John Surtees did exactly that as Stoneman surged away once more for a convincing victory. Williamson took an excellent third place to add to his third place at Croft in round two, while Calado came home behind Buller, Stevens and Laine to wrap up the crown.
Commenting after the race, James Calado said: "I was really worried after the first lap but I knew I had the speed in the car to come through. We don't have radios so the team couldn't tell me exactly where I needed to be and I didn't know what Henry was doing. In the end I'm very relieved to have done enough and it's a big boost ahead of the new season."
The 2009 Formula Renault UK Championship marks the 20th anniversary of the single-seater series, which has produced back-to-back Formula One World Champions Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton. The Championship begins at Brands Hatch in support of the British Touring Car Championship on 4th/5th April.