Oliver Rowland dominated the first race of the Protyre Formula Renault UK Finals weekend at Snetterton, taking advantage of a fine start in tricky conditions.
Rowland, racing in the familiar colours of the Racing Steps Foundation took the lead from the start, making a better getaway than front row men Josh Hill and Jordan King he was able to convert third on the grid to the lead by Riches. He even had the luxury of being able to move over to the left of the track to take the normal racing line into the corner ahead of pole man Hill.
Throwing up spray for those behind Rowland quickly pulled away, establishing a 1.6 second lead over teammate Hill at the end of the third lap, and that lead reached nearly three second when Hill spun down to ninth place on lap four.
Jordan King, too, was caught out by conditions in the early laps. Mistakes on both lap three and four – including a trip through the grass on the outside of Palmer dropped him down to 29th before starting a drive back though the field. He would finish eleventh.
Daniil Kvyat had benefitted from a good start, then Hill's spin to take second but the Formula Renault Eurocup driver was never able to gain ground consistently on Rowland, though the lead did fluctuate with the drying conditions and traffic, once the leaders caught the slower BARC class runners.
Felix Serralles and Dan Wells ran increasingly isolated races in third and fourth. Fortec Motorsports driver Serralles was able to move clear of the chasing pack and was able to keep pace with Rowland and Kvyat – the gaps between the top three almost equal during the first half of the race.
Thomas Jager finished fifth ahead of Geoff Uhrhane and Josh Webster. Stefan Wackerbauer was eighth in the second of four Koiranen Motorsport cars. Josh Hill and and Nick McBride completed the top ten, McBride the best of the Manor Competition runners.
The BARC class was robbed of its pole sitter on the before the start when James Fletcher caught out by a car ahead warming its tyres and brakes. Fletcher slid off – hitting the barrier, forcing him to pit for repairs. He emerged late in the race, able to claim crucial points for finishing in his quest for the title.
The race for the class, instead was between Archie Hamilton and Victor Jiminez. Hamilton – gifted class pole – led the first lap, but spun on the second lap at Murrays, hitting some standing water the driver told The Checkered Flag.
After slipping to third Hamilton was able to retake second from Ivan Taranov at Montreal on lap five, before inching closer to Jiminez ahead. He could only squeeze the gap to 1.5 seconds, and looked destined for second place in class. However a mistake by Jiminez on the penultimate lap had him drop four seconds and allow Hamilton past into the lead.