Tom Blomqvist took a dominant win in Round 15 of the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship at Knockhill to push himself to within 4 points of the coveted championship lead. The Fortec Motorsport driver led from lights to flag to record his third consecutive win in the series, with the race marking the single seater's return to the Scottish venue after a four year hiatus.
It was Blomqvist who lined up on pole in front of a bumper crowd, with CRS Racing's Robert Foster-Jones joining him on the front row, the rookie's best qualifying performance of the season. Fortec's Riki Christodoulou and CRS' Harry Tincknell made up row two, ahead of Manor Competition's Ollie Millroy and Graduate class leader Alex Lynn. Championship protagonists Tama's Pa'l Kiss, Lewis Williamson and Will Stevens lined up ninth, tenth and twelfth respectively.
Both front row starters made good getaways as the race began, with Blomqvist holding on to his lead as they headed into Duffus Dip for the first time. He quickly set about pulling a gap at the front, leading Foster-Jones by over a second by the end of the first lap. Christodoulou slotted into third, ahead of Tincknell and Millroy. Local driver Williamson had a great opening lap, moving up to seventh, before dispatching Lynn for sixth on lap two.
He then set about trying to pass Millroy, who had moved briefly into fourth before dropping back to fifth, on lap three. Clearly showing no clear orders, the Manor Competition pair battled hard, with contact between the two at the Scotsman forcing Millroy into retirement, with Lynn also caught up in the incident, dropping him to the back of the pack.
Williamson's car was also feeling worse for wear with damaged steering, which put him in the wars again a lap later. Unable to turn properly at the left handed Leslie's bend, he made contact with the side of Fabio Gamberini, sending Gamberini spectacularly off the road, the youngster's car digging into the gravel and rolling three times before coming to rest upside down. The driver emerged unhurt, with the safety car deployed as they cleared up his stricken car.
After three laps behind the safety car, racing resumed, with the race distance now 27 laps. Blomqvist managed the restart perfectly, leading away from Foster-Jones. The 16 year old quickly set about re-establishing his gap out front, setting the NGK fastest lap and a new lap record in the process. Behind, Christodoulou and Tincknell were battling hard for third, with the former using all his Formula Renault experience to keep the reigning Graduate Cup champion behind.
The race was to see a premature end, after a mistake by Manor Competition's Thomas Hylkema saw him end up in the gravel at the Chicane. With only three laps remaining, it was decided to red flag the race rather than run the remaining laps behind the safety car. Blomqvist took the win, his third of the season, with Foster-Jones taking his first podium finish of the year in second.
Three laps under Safety Car conditions ensued before racing resumed with the race distance extended from 24 to 27 laps. Blomqvist once more powered away closely followed by Foster-Jones despite the rookie's first time behind the Safety Car as a front-runner. Christodoulou came home third for his first podium since returning to the series, followed closely by Tincknell and Atech GP trio Nick Yelloly, Pa'l Kiss and Marlon Stockinger. Stevens finished eighth, with David McDonald and Michael Lyons rounding out the top ten. After his earlier contact, Lynn finished a lowly 12th, but still won the Graduate Cup honours.
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography