A tremendous drive by Kieran Vernon gave himself and Hillspeed their third podium finish of the season during the latest rounds of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Croft.
Vernon continued his fantastic return to the series with a third and fifth in Rounds Eight and Nine, moving himself into the top six of the championship, while his Danish team-mate Jacob Nortoft enjoyed one of his most competitves weekends of his rookie season.
Vernon started the weekend well, going second quickest in free practice, before replicating the result in the first qualifying session of the day, before going fourth fastest in session two. The opening race saw him run second throughout, before he slipped to a fifth place finish in race two.
Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw said: “Race one was a good showing from Kieran. Qualifying second was great and it's just a shame we were fourth in the second qualifying. All in all, the first race was a good strong outing – once [Josh] Webster had got a cushion it was obvious Kieran was just keeping the gap and concentrating on not overworking the car or the tyres for no benefit.
“He got a bit too much wheelspin off the line in race two, which was unfortunate, and then it was a case of struggling with tyre wear. It's tough with the set-up at Croft, the first race takes a lot out of the tyres so I was quite happy to see the Safety Car come out to give the tyres a bit of a break. We might have gone a bit hard on the tyres at the end but fifth is still good points.”
Making his first visit to Croft, 18 year old Nortoft made great progress between practice and qualifying to secure ninth on the grid for the opening race and twelfth for race two. The Dansk Automobil Sports Union-backed driver ran a strong ninth in the opening race before a spin on lap thirteen resulted in retirement, however he fought back to take ninth in race two, his third top ten finish of the season.
Ollerenshaw added: “Jacob's done a fantastic job this weekend. He hadn't even seen Croft before Friday and didn't have the benefit of a pre-race test. From just 15 minutes free practice, he qualified just inside the top 10 and just outside the top 10 for the two races so that was very good going.
“One small mistake in race one, when under a lot of pressure, just cost him a good finish but he came back in race two, got on with things, and did a great job. We're really pleased with what we've got out of the weekend as a team and delighted with Jacob's progress.”