2010 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Champions Hillspeed had a tough start to the 2012 season at Snetterton, with rookies Marcus Allen and Jacob Nortoft suffering a series of highly unfortunate circumstances.
Danish Formula Ford graduate Nortoft put in a strong performance in a tough wet qualifying session, the 18 year old putting himself sixteenth on the grid for race one, thirteenth for race two and an excellent tenth for the third race.
The former Super 1 British KF2 Karting champion was looking set for a top twelve finish in round one when he picked up debris in the car's radiator, forcing him to retire just three laps from the finish. The damage resulted in an over-heated engine and after working with Renault's technical team, Hillspeed had the engine repaired for Sunday. However a severe engine failure early into race two ended his race and his weekend, the Dane unable to make the grid for race three.
Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw said: “We're very disappointed Jacob's weekend turned out the way it did as he showed good pace in his first ever Formula Renault BARC qualifying session and in race one he came through the order well. It's so frustrating he wasn't able to show his true potential this weekend, we definitely had some top 10 finishes there for the taking.
“After picking up debris in the radiator in race one, the engine overheated and there was nothing he could do but park the car. We worked closely with Renault, who provided as much technical support as they could, to repair the engine and they gave it a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the remaining races. Sadly, it didn't and Jacob was a spectator for race three which was the last thing we wanted.”
Team-mate Allen, a former Formula Ford 1600 Castle Combe Champion, was unlucky to have an excursion at Coram early in qualifying, leaving him at the back of the grid for the three races. The 21 year old ended up outside the points in race one, after having to pit on the opening lap with damage.
Race two saw him make excellent early progress from eighteenth to thirteenth, but an incident at the Esses on lap four led to a disappointing retirement. The third race was definitely the best of the bunch, Allen running as high as eleventh early on, before ending up fourteenth for his first points of the weekend.
Ollerenshaw added: “Marcus unfortunately picked some damage up in qualifying with an excursion at Coram on his second lap due to the difficult, wet conditions. It was only his third day in the car so it's been a huge learning curve all weekend, the changeable conditions weren't at all helpful – it's been dry, damp, dry, wetâ€¦a constant moving target really.
“He had the bigger task of a fully wet track in the third race and he rose to the challenge, showing good potential to move up to the top 10 but the more experienced drivers were able to pull him back in during the later laps. That said, 14th position was a good showing and we're hoping he can now build on that with some testing over the next few weeks.”