Josh Hill made up for his earlier misfortune with victory in Round Six of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault UK Finals Series, the Fortec Motorsport driver coming out on top in an eventful, stop start race at Rockingham.
Hill started the race from pole but a poor start saw him drop to fourth, with fellow Fortec racer Oliver Rowland taking the early lead from team-mates Thomas Jager and Jake Dennis. 2011 InterSteps champion Dennis' race wasn't to last long though, a spin at Deene before more contact at Yentwood ending his race, with team-mate Dan de Zille also involved, retiring at Yentwood also.
The stranded Fortec machines caused the introduction of the safety car, which allowed the drivers to form back into line and for those watching to take their breath. Retiring during the safety car period was Melville McKee, the Interwetten.com Junior Team pulling off into the pitlane.
After two laps behind safety car, the race restarted with Rowland getting away cleanly, while behind Hill was instantly in the slipstream of Jager, getting past at Deene, before setting off in pursuit of Rowland. Behind, Dan Wells and Josh Webster were battling for fifth, with Mark Burdett Motorsport's Webster getting past, dropping Wells into the clutches of John Bryant-Meisner.
The race was interrupted once again though with the safety car appearing for a second time, this time caused by Tomasz Krzeminski going off at Tarzan and BARC class runner Archie Hamilton spinning at Pif Paf, a retirement that would affect the destination of the BARC class crown. Also dropping out was Korainen Motorsport's Stefan Wackerbauer, the Red Bull-backed driver retiring in the pitlane.
At the restart, Rowland was unable to break the slipstream like last time, with Hill sticking to his rear across the line and challenging into Deene, though Racing Steps Foundation-backed Rowland was able to hold the place. This didn't last though, with Hill pouncing on a slight mistake by Rowland at Yentwood to dive past at Chapman for the lead, a move that meant much more than normal after contact between the two in the day's earlier race.
Hill looked to break clear, but he would have to wait till after another safety car break, caused once again by a Fortec car, this time Ed Jones having to pull off at Deene. The safety car period took just one lap before another restart, with Hill coped with well to maintain the lead.
Behind the action wasn't stopping, with more cars falling off track. First Atech Reid GP's Geoff Uhrhane spun out at Yentwood, then Fortec's Shahaan Engineer retired at the exit of Pif Paf, before BARC runner Steve Durrant pulled off at the first turn after contact with Victor Jiminez earlier in the lap broke his rear wheel.
Fortunately, the safety car wasn't to appear again, with the race continuing stoppage free over the final few laps. Hill coped with them well to come home for his second win of the Finals Series, leading home series champion Rowland and Jager to complete a Fortec 1-2-3.
Nick McBride took a strong fourth, holding off a determined Webster and Wells, the duo's top six finishes meaning they finished the series third and second in the championship respectively. Felix Serralles took seventh ahead of Bryant-Meisner, while taking ninth after a superb recovery drive was Hector Hurst, the Manor Competition driver having stalled on the grid, meaning he started last once he had restarted the car. Also recovering well from earlier misfortune was Daniil Kvyat, the Korainen driver having dropped to the back after being caught up in the first lap chaos at the front.
In the BARC class, MGR Motorsport's James Fletcher completed a perfect weekend by securing a lights to flag win, comfortably leading the race throughout and ending up thirteenth overall. Another strong start put Durrant up to second, with Jiminez running third ahead of Hamilton, who's retirement meant Jiminez was in control of the overall class honours.
A strong drive by Ivan Taranov saw the Antel Motorsport driver move up to second in class, with Durrant running third before his retirement. Behind, Hillspeed's Sean Walkinshaw took third, while Jiminez was running fifth heading into the final lap, however a last gasp move on Antel's Chirag Malhorta saw him take fourth and with it the 2011 Finals Series BARC Class title. Rounding off the BARC class runners was Joe Kibbler, the rookie making the strange decision of running on wet tyres, with every other driver running on slicks on the dry track.
Speaking to thecheckeredflag.co.uk, race-winner Hill said: “After earlier, I wanted to win, but also put one to Olly [Rowland]. I dropped down to fourth because we were on the wet side of the grid and got no traction, but I was lucky as we got a few safety cars so could claw my way back to Olly. I did a pretty decisive move and help the position from there, but it was pretty tricky conditions, changeable grip all the time, so it's a good win to pick up.
“I came into the series just looking for some good results after this year and I wasn't particularly looking to win the championship. To get six pole positions out of six, I'm just ecstatic about that, its mega. Obviously I'm a bit frustrated I didn't win more than two races and the rest of my rests were a bit rubbish, but it's happened now and I'm just pleased with how my pace was, which I hope to carry through to 2012.”
BARC race-winner Fletcher commented: “It was a perfect weekend, two poles and two wins, I couldn't really ask for any more. My team have been absolutely great, MGR are a brilliant team. I just want to say thank you to my parents also, I wouldn't be here without them and there funding. Hopefully I can come into next season and be strong.”
Provisional Final 2011 Protyre Formula Renault UK Finals Series Championship Standings:
1. Oliver Rowland – 190 points
2. Dan Wells – 133 points
3. Josh Webster – 118 points
4. Daniil Kvyat – 111 points
5. Josh Hill – 87 points
6= Thomas Jager – 79 points
6= Nick McBride – 79 points
8=Felix Serralles – 68 points
8= John Bryant-Meisner – 68 points
10. Hans Villemi – 63 points
11. Hector Hurst – 60 points
12. Jordan King – 51 points
Provisional BARC Class Standings:
1. Victor Jiminez – 156 points
2. Archie Hamilton – 153 points
3. James Fletcher – 132 points
4. Sean Walkinshaw – 131 points
5. Joe Kibbler – 106 points
6. Chirag Malhorta – 100 points
7. Ivan Taranov – 98 points
8. Steve Durrant – 22 points