Fittipaldi to defend championship lead
Following a near two-month early summer break, the Protyre Formula Renault Championship roars back into action at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this coming weekend, 26th/27th July, with rising Brazilian star Pietro Fittipaldi holding a healthy 25-point lead at the top of the driver standings.
After a sensational hat-trick of victories last time out at Donington Park, the MGR Motorsport driver has firmly put his stamp on the title battle and will be striving to add to his incredibly consistent run of results from the opening six races – four wins and two fourth places.
Having taken the opportunity during the gap in the calendar to gain extra mileage by competing in the Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS series at Monza in Italy with MGR, where he claimed an excellent top five finish, it’d be unwise to bet against Fittipaldi for success in rounds seven and eight this weekend.
The chief challenge to the South American is coming from Scorpio Motorsport’s Piers Hickin who has really come of age in only his second year of single-seater racing, proof of that being fastest lap in round five at Donington Park and a maiden pole position for round six.
Although still seeking his first win, the 17-year-old Briton has been on the podium five times out of six this season. His superb consistency for the double title winning Scorpio squad means Hickin is five points ahead of erstwhile championship leader Matteo Ferrer. Ferrer, who was the dominant force during the season curtain-raiser at Rockingham in early April with two wins and a third place, endured a torrid weekend last time out but still managed to take away a decent points haul. Undoubtedly, the Italian will be a strong contender at Brands for MGR.
Fourth in the championship heading into the weekend’s double-header is Fortec Motorsport’s Alex Gill and the youngster, who last week celebrated his 17th birthday, has had to come from behind after an enforced retirement in race one at Rockingham following a puncture.
Bouncing back with second place in round two and his first victory in round three, Gill added two more podiums at Donington, as well as a fifth place, to end the weekend just nine points shy of Ferrer and 15 points clear of MGR’s Colin Noble Jnr. Scottish rookie Noble, who has embarked on his first season in single-seaters this year in Protyre Formula Renault, achieved his first podium with a superb performance in round six with second position to team-mate Fittipaldi.
Rounding out the top six heading into Brands Hatch is another of the championship’s very impressive young newcomers, 16-year-old Indian racer Tarun Reddy. Mentored and coached by multiple British Formula 3 race winner Rupert Svendsen-Cook, Reddy has quickly established himself as one to watch and memorably claimed his first podium with third place in round five at Donington.
Canada’s Patrick Dussault heads the next group of drivers in the standings, the Cliff Dempsey Racing competitor having racked-up some consistent scores in every round so far. He currently holds a 10 point lead over Hillspeed’s Greek driver Dimitris Papanastasiou.
This coming weekend’s action at Brands Hatch will be the first at the venue’s 1.2-mile Indy Circuit for Protyre Formula Renault since 2011. Back then, the victories were shared by Kieran Vernon and eventual champion Dino Zamparelli – the latter, of course, currently competing in FIA Formula One World Championship support category GP3.
Qualifying for round seven of the Protyre Formula Renault season is scheduled to begin at 09.00 on Saturday, 26th July, with the round eight session set to follow at 11.05. On Sunday, 27th July, the first race of the weekend will begin at 13.40 with round eight commencing at 17.10.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin.