Ferrer, Gill claim their their maiden win
Matteo Ferrer and Alex Gill each claimed their maiden wins in the Protyre Formula Renault Championship at Rockingham. By winning round two, and adding second place in round three, Italian driver Ferrer opened up a healthy 11 point lead in the standings for MGR Motorsport. Gill, meanwhile, starred in the third and final race of the weekend for Fortec Motorsport to seal his first victory in cars, having earlier taken second place behind Ferrer after a sensational recovery drive.
Three podiums from the season opening event in Northamptonshire, a brace of third places today added to a career-best runner-up spot from round one on Saturday, underlined a terrific start to the year for Scorpio Motorsport’s Piers Hickin who is second in the championship.
Having annexed pole position for all three Rockingham races, Ferrer looked to be the driver to beat and during today’s second round he delivered an absolutely storming performance. After seeing off a wheel-to-wheel challenge from team-mate, and round one winner, Pietro Fittipaldi at the start, Ferrer never looked back on his way to a supreme 7.6 second success.
While Ferrer was untouchable out front, the battle for the remaining podium placings was highly entertaining, mainly thanks to the tremendous recovery mounted by Gill, required following a sluggish getaway.
Slipping to seventh position off the start, the 16-year-old wasted no time in battling his way back up the order by taking sixth on lap two and fifth on lap three. He then passed MGR’s Colin Noble Jnr at Tarzan on the fourth tour with a superb late braking move on the inside.
Not finished there Gill served up an excellent pass at Deene on Fittipaldi, who had been edged back to third by Hickin on lap two, and quickly started to apply pressure to the Scorpio car. On lap nine, Gill was impossibly late on the brakes into Tarzan to grab second and seal an amazing recovery and fastest lap – all the more impressive considering he sustained front wing damage early on.
Hickin held onto third place by 0.9 seconds from Fittipaldi with Ben Barnicoat some 5.5 seconds further adrift in fifth for Fortec, just managing to keep Belgian team-mate Wolfgang Reip at bay by a mere 0.5 seconds. Noble, who had been challenging Fittipaldi, got too close for comfort into the latter stages and lost his front wing in the process which resulted in a slip to ninth place behind Cliff Dempsey Racing’s American driver Travis Jordan Fischer and MGR’s Indian youngster Tarun Reddy. Hillspeed’s Dimitris Papanastasiou lost out on a potential top 10 after a lap six spin – he finished 13th.
Ferrer again got away well from pole position at the beginning of round three, with Fittipaldi taking second from Gill on the run to Turn One and Hickin again running with the leaders into Deene for the first time. Under close attention from his pursuers, Ferrer tried to defend as tight as possible through the right handed hairpin at Tarzan but as Fittipaldi was delayed, it enabled Gill to get a run on the Brazilian out of the turn and he claimed second into Brook Chicane.
Swarming all over the back of Ferrer’s car, Gill’s intentions were clear but try as he might he wasn’t able to prise open an opportunity. With just fractions of a second separating the top two, the action couldn’t be closer but Ferrer held on well under immense pressure. Gill managed to get alongside into Tarzan on lap seven, although the leader had the line for Brook, but into Deene on lap eight the Fortec driver managed to squeeze down the inside to grab the lead. Ferrer then came under threat from Hickin for second after a short Safety Car period but during the final few tours Ferrer set fastest lap and closed back up to within 0.3 seconds of Gill at the flag.
Hickin just held off Fittipaldi for the final podium spot while Barnicoat claimed fifth ahead of impressive rookie Reddy. Noble momentarily grabbed fifth at Deene on the final lap but after going wide he slipped behind Reddy into seventh. Greek driver Papanastasiou secured his best result of the weekend, his first in Formula Renault, with eighth place just ahead of CDR’s Canadian newcomer Patrick Dussault, while SWB Motorsport’s Atte Lehtonen completed the top 10.
Protyre Formula Renault now heads into a lengthy eight-week break with rounds four, five and six of the season taking place at Donington Park over the weekend 31st May/1st June.
Protyre Formula Renault Driver standings after Round 3
|6||Colin Noble Jnr||50|