Josh Hill took pole position for both of the Saturday races at the Protyre Formula Renault UK Finals at Snetterton, pacing the 20 minute qualifying session relatively comfortably despite ending his session early with an off at Riches.
Like much of the testing for the event in the days before the weekend the time trials were conducted on a wet track, and though times improved during the session, the conditions changed little as it continued to spit with rain.
Russian driver Daniil Kvyat set the initial pace with a lap around the 300 circuit of 2:00.741. Oliver Rowland was the next man to take up the top time, before Kvyat put the Red Bull liveried car back at the top of the time sheets.
However, that was to be the last time the Koiranen Motorsport driver would be on provisional pole. He was quickly shuffled down to sixth as UK series regulars Hill, Jordan King, Felix Serrelles, Rowland and Dan Wells moved ahead of him, Wells the last man to do so after he had trailed Kvyat on an identical times, only by way of the Russian setting his time first.
Kvyat was one of the few front running drivers to pit during the session, coming in with six minutes to go before returning to the track.
Almost as the Russian was getting up to speed Hill went fastest, the first man to dip below the two minute barrier, setting a time of 1:59.214, a marker he later improved to by a handful of hundreths to 1:59.188 – 0.436 seconds clear of Jordan King who will line up second.
However, the driver told The Checkered Flag owing to a misunderstanding Hill pushed harder, and was caught out at Riches, spinning to the outside of the corner to end his session in a field as a spectator.
“We knew we were quick from the last couple of days and that's been wet so we knew we had the pace,” said Hill later. “It wasn't quite the gap we were expecting. I was expecting either just nicking it of maybe two-tenths. Suddenly to be on pole by a half second is good. My mechanic actually pit my time out on the board and I thought it was someone else's so I was pushing for a 1:58.”
He described the spin; “because I was pushing I maybe carried a tiny bit too much speed going in and hit a patch of water right near the apex of the corner and ended up in Thetford.”
His stranded car brought out a yellow flag, limiting the ability of any of his rivals to beat him to pole position. Only Rowland was able to improve his time on the final flying laps of qualifying. His time of 1:59.794 allowed to stand as his time through the yellow flag controlled first sector was not his fastest. Shahaan Engineer and BARC class runners Ivan Taranov and James Fletcher were not as lucky, being stripped of their fastest times by the stewards.
16-year-old Engineer, the Indian driving for Fortec still rounded out the top ten, sharing the fifth row of the grid of Geoff Uhrhane.
Kvyat had to make do with fifth, only able to move ahead of Serralles of those who had led him before his stop. Thomas Jager and Hector Hurst share the fourth row of the grid driving for Fortec and Manor Competition respectively.
For the second race of the day – where the grid is set by the second fastest times Rowland will shared the front row with Hill, Well and King the second, Serralles and Kvyat the third.
Despite his post-session penalty James Fletcher took BARC class pole for both races ahead of Archie Hamilton – their best time two-tenths apart. Hillspeed's Spanish driver Victor Jiminez will start both races from third in class.
“[The conditions] weren't too bad – it was a slightly drying track,” Fletcher told The Checkered Flag, describing them as something he was comfortable in. “There was a dry line coming through, but it was still quite greasy out there in some of the corners but for the majority it was quite predictable. I really enjoyed myself and got into a good rhythm and managed to get on pole.”