The opening rounds of the 2010 Formula Renault UK Championship signal the start of a very busy period of racing for CRS Racing, with a mixture of open wheel racing and sportscar racing.
After Thruxton this weekend, the team will move on to Paul Ricard for the opening round of the 2010 Le Mans Series, with the opening round of the International GT Open taking place in Valencia the following weekend.
For the CRS Racing team, they don't have a weekend off for 6 consecutive race weekends, this making the 2010 season start their busiest ever.
The CRS Formula Renault campaign starts this weekend at the ultra fast Thruxton circuit in Hampshire, the local circuit for the lead driver of CRS, Sidmouth based Harry Tincknell. 18 year old Tincknell, the current Graduate Cup and Winter Series Champions will be looking to build on a solid maiden season in Formula Renault UK last year, and the return to Thruxton gives him the chance to take his first win at the track where he had a strong showing a year ago.
Joining Tincknell at CRS for 2010 is another series returnee, Michael Lyons (Felsted), who will be looking to build on what he learnt in 2009 and move up the grid.
Joining the second year drivers are former British Formula 3 National Class racer Victor Correa (Oxford) and the 2009 KF1 MSA Super 1 British Champion Robert Foster-Jones (Southend-on-Sea).
Thruxton will see the competitive debut of the brand new Formula Renault cars, and Championship favourite Tincknell likes the new cars. He said: “I really like the new Formula Renault car. Compared to last year's car it has a lot more front-end grip and a little bit more power. I think this car suits my driving style more and I am enjoying driving it a lot more than the old one. Testing has gone very well for me. In the official testing we have been in the good position where we have been so quick we could afford to save sets of tyres that I could use throughout the year. This means we haven't always been quickest, but I think we will we see the rewards from this later on. I'm confident we can keep on improving as we go through the year as well. The aim for this year has to be the title. Last year I struggled a little bit with consistency and in any title campaign you have to be consistent, but with the experience I picked up from racing at the front last year, I think I will be able to keep up my pace at all ten rounds. I was quickest in the Thruxton test that we've had this year and I qualified third and led the race last year so I am quietly confident that I can do well and I hope to hit the ground running.”
Andrew Kirkaldy, CRS Racing's Team Director said about the team's line up and pre season: “We've completed a fairly extensive test programme over the winter with the new car. It was a bit late to arrive but we have put a lot of work in and made some good progress. It's great to have continuity in the team so we're pleased that Harry is back. He has performed well in pre-season testing and is committed to getting the top results this year. Michael has also made good progress since last year so it will be good to see how he gets on. We also have two new faces in Robert and Victor. Robert was impressive in our European test programme in the winter. He has a tough race to start with though as he has had limited running at Thruxton. Victor joined the team quite late on but he has been up at the front during the last couple of tests so we have high hopes for him this year.”
Lyons is buzzing about the season start and he said: “I'm excited going into the first race meeting as the new car has really shaken things up. This, combined with its late release and the winter weather, means I’ve just had to focus on getting the most out of myself, rather than worrying about what is going on around us. Having said that in the last few tests I feel I have improved my race pace and as long as I can couple that with some good qualifying results we will be entering Thruxton in good shape. The test went well there earlier in the year and if the conditions are mixed it could really favour me. It has been a long winter for me and I’m now chomping at the bit to get back into the racing, so bring it on!”
Series debutant Foster-Jones said about the upcoming race weekend and his pre season testing programme: “Testing has been going to plan so far. My engineer Mark Wynne and myself have worked hard together over the winter to find a balance with the car that suits my style of driving. We have completed many laps at various different circuits in order to catch up to the second year drivers and give myself as much experience in the new car as possible. My aims for this season are to finish within the top four of the championship at the very least and be challenging for podiums and wins at the midpoint of the season. My immediate goals for the race at Thruxton is to once again gain valuable experience from qualifying and the two races and I would be happy to finish inside the top seven. I have worked extremely hard over the winter period on my physical fitness to make sure I'm fitter and stronger than the other drivers to give myself every chance to succeed this year, which I think is highly possible.”
For Brazilian Correa, he is looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of a car, and isn't daunted by the challenge he's faced with at Thruxton: “I think the new car is very good as it has good power and down force; everything I was looking for really. After having not driven for five months it was good to get back behind the wheel for testing. It all went well for me, I have managed to make improvements and get back into the rhythm of things. My goal this year is to get consistently good results and I will be working very hard to achieve that. The first race will be tough for me as Thruxton is the only English track that I don't know but I will of course try as hard as I can.”
The Formula Renault UK Championship supports the popular British Touring Car Championship at 9 out of the 10 race weekends, with a one off weekend alongside the World Series by Renault the only time the Championship doesn't support the BTCC.
The first race weekend sees the opening race of the Championship start at 5.35pm on the Saturday, 3rd April with race 2 live on ITV4 at 3.05pm on the 4th.