Ginetta Junior graduate Mitchell Hale has got his Protyres Formula Renault BARC Championship campaign off to the perfect start with victory on his debut in the series.
Pole position for the race went the way of James Theodore of Hillspeed with Fortec Motorsport's Hale lining up alongside the Telford based driver.
Off the line, Theodore made the best start as he held on to the lead at Paddock Hill bend, with Hale, Joseph Reilly and Luke Wright on his tail, Wright having climbed up from seventh on the grid, while Danish racer Kasper Krogh dropped back to sixth position having qualified fourth.
The safety car was deployed early on to recover the cars Jack Piper of Welsh Motorsport and Josh Webster of Fortec Motorsport. The safety car led the field for three laps, increasing the number of racing laps in twenty five.
Theodore backed the field up before making a clean getaway, his first safety car getaway, with Hale and Wright close behind. Reilly made a slight mistake which dropped him behind Porsche Carrera Cup GB racer Euan Hankey.
Lap eleven saw Hankey passed round the outside of Paddock Hill by a recovering Reilly; Alice Powell (Hillspeed) was just behind in sixth, while in the midfield, Kourosh Khani, Andrew Jarman and Matt Draper were all having strong runs.
Up at the front, Bristol based Hale was starting to close up on Theodore, with a few hundredths of a second between the two of them, and when the Hillspeed series returnee made a slight mistake exiting Clearways gave Hale the chance to get right up close and made his move at Paddock Hill, a late dive up the inside to take the lead.
Hale started to pull away from Theodore and the rest of the pack as he set the fastest lap of the race, while Theodore was starting to drop down the field and was down to third and in the clutches of a fired up and determined Reilly.
With two laps of the twenty five left, Reilly made his move round the outside of Theodore at Paddock Hill, catching the Telford based racer by surprise. Theodore had gone to the inside and defended his line.
Up front, Hale took a well deserved maiden win on his debut, followed by Wright and the opportunist Reilly, leaving Theodore fourth with team mate Powell fifth. After the race, Wright commented: “It was an amazing race helped by a good start. The Safety Car also worked to my advantage and it was just a case of taking each place as it came.”
Round One Race Results:
- Mitchell Hale: 21:34.300
- Luke Wright: +3.088
- Joseph Reilly: + 5.342
- James Theodore: +6.045
- Alice Powell: + 10.147
- Kourosh Khani: +14.480
- Andrew Jarman: + 16.129
- Matthew Draper: + 20.502
- Euan Hankey: + 22.281
- James Birch: + 23.562
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography