2011 Protyre Formula Renault UK Finals Series Champion Oliver Rowland - Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

 

Oliver Rowland took his fourth race win in five races during the opening race at Rockingham to confirm himself as the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault UK Finals Series Champion, the Fortec Motorsport driver overcoming early contact with team-mate and polesitter Josh Hill.

Hill got away well from pole to lead around the first turn, however slight contact with Rowland at the exit of Deene ended his race instantly, a disappointing end to another promising race.  Rowland emerged in the lead, with Korainen Motorsport's Daniil Kvyat second, ahead of Ed Jones and Dan Wells, who had dropped into the pack after a slow start, before emerging from the melee at Deene in fourth.

The race was quickly placed under the safety car as the marshalls retrieved Hill's stricken car, as well as the car of BARC runner Chirag Malhorta, who spun at Tarzan. Also in the wars on the opening lap were Thomas Jager, who dropped from fourth to eighteenth after running wide at Deene, and Stefan Wackerbauer, who spun down to twentieth at Tarzan.

At the restart, Rowland instantly broke clear and started to build a gap at the front. Russian racer Kvyat in second soon started coming under pressure from Wells, who passed Jones quickly after the restart. Wells pushed hard to try and nip past, but his car soon went away, so had to drop back and settle for third.

Behind, the action was taking place at the bottom end of the top ten, with Manor Competition team-mates Nick McBride and Hector Hurst battling hard for seventh, however this backed Hurst up into the pack behind and he was soon dispatched by Korainen racer John Bryant-Meisner for eighth. Hurst was soon battling with fellow Formula Renault BARC graduate Josh Webster, who dropped back to ninth after a mistake at Deene, the duo enjoying a great tussle over the final few laps of the race.

At the front, Rowland swept clear to take victory by 4.464 seconds and with it the 2011 Finals Series title. Kvyat took a comfortable second, with Wells in a strong third for Atech Reid GP. Jones took fourth, leading home team-mates Jake Dennis and Dan de Zille. Bryant-Meisner took seventh ahead of McBride and Webster, with Hurst rounding out the top ten. Estonian Hans Villemi finished eleventh, ahead of Geoff Uhrhane and a recovering Jager, while Shahaaan Engineer and Melville McKee completed the top fifteen.

In the BARC class, polesitter James Fletcher avoided the first lap chaos to take the lead, while experienced Renault BARC competitior Steve Durrant diving up to second ahead of Victor Jiminez and Archie Hamilton, while a good opening lap saw Ivan Taranov come up to fifth from the back of the grid. After the restart, RPD Motorsport's Durrant dropped back, promoting Jiminez and Hamilton into the podium places, however they couldn't catch MGR Motorsport's Fletcher who came home for the win.

2011 Finals Series Champion Rowland told thecheckeredflag.co.uk: “It's good, we came into this race knowing as long as we were sensible, we'd take the championship. Qualifying went reasonably well, bit of a shame to drop to P2, but I got a good start, got Hill into the first corner and then on it was plain sailing. There was a little bit of contact between me and Hill, I lost traction and my rear wheel touched his front wheel, which must have broken something. After the safety car, I pushed for the first three laps and then it was pretty comfortable.”

BARC class winner Fletcher commented: “I'm really happy, the car was great and I love these conditions. I found a really good way with the car, a good rhythm and just glad I got the win at the end. The start was tricky, had to squeeze off Victor [Jiminez], but once we got into it, it was alright.”