Hillspeed enjoyed a strong weekend during Rounds Four and Five of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Rockingham, with series returnee Kieran Vernon leading the way with a pair of top five finishes, while team regulars Jacob Nortoft and Marcus Allen both securing season best top ten finishes.
On his first appearance in the series for almost a year, Vernon didn't have things easy during the wet qualifying sessions, his first ever true wet running in an FR 2.0 machine. Vernon put himself ninth on the grid for the opener, but a spin in the second session left him seventeenth for Round Five.
Immediate progress in the opener saw him gain two positions on the first lap, before moving up to sixth on lap three. After a short safety car period, Vernon continued his progress with two more overtakes to take fourth, Hillspeed's best individual result since the 2010 campaign.
Round Five saw the 22 year old produce a sensational drive through from seventeenth. Up to twelfth by the end of the opening lap, Vernon broke into the top ten on lap six. Picking off his rivals one by one, Vernon got up to fifth on the penultimate lap to complete the drive of the weekend.
Hillspeed Team Principal Richard Ollerenshaw commented: “Kieran showed his class this weekend, he has massive potential as a driver in single-seaters and sportscars. To come to Rockingham, having only done one day of testing with us prior to the weekend, shows what a capable and truly professional driver he is. His race drives, after a nightmare in qualifying, were exceptional.”
For rookie team-mates Nortoft and Allen, the weekend produced their best results yet in Renault BARC. Danish teenager Nortoft qualified twelfth for the opening race and progressed into the top ten early on. A great move around the outside of Ivan Taranov saw him take ninth and despite losing the spot back briefly, the Dansk Automobil Sports Union driver got it back to finish ninth.
Starting 28th after an unfortunate excursion in qualifying, Allen got into the top twenty by the end of lap one. Making steady progress through the order, Allen ended up an impressive fourteenth place. From twentieth on the grid for Round Five, Allen enjoyed an even stronger race. Up to thirteenth early on, Allen gained two more spots on lap eleventh, before gaining two more on the penultimate lap to take a seasons best ninth.
One place in front was Nortoft. Starting sixteenth, the 18 year old was right in the middle of the midfield action. Up to twelfth on lap eleven, Nortoft managed to avoid getting caught-up in an accident at Deene to move into the top eight. With all three drivers in the top nine, the result marked Hillspeed's best multi-car finish in the championship since 2010.
Ollerenshaw added: “Unfortunately, qualifying wasn't the best due to the number of red flags we had. Marcus had to start at the back for race one but did a fantastic job to come all the way through into 14th place, Jacob too made very good progress and they both showed a very high standard of driving.
“The second race was the highlight for us though, our best multi-car finish since 2010 and proof all three drivers have what it takes to be consistently inside the top 10. We've had some very good results this weekend, a huge improvement on the first event at Snetterton so we're delighted.”