Oliver Rowland took advantage of Josh Hill stall to score his third win from the four Formula Renault UK Final Series races at Snetterton, establishing a stranglehold on the points leads ahead of the two races at Rockingham next weekend that will complete the championship.
Rowland told The Checkered Flag after the race; “seeing as this is not one of my strongest tracks to get three wins here was good and moving onto Rockingham where I've been fast before, so I'm quite comfortable I can complete the job at Rockingham and take the championship there.”
“[At the start]The lights stayed on for a long time and obviously he started to move, and I was tempted to move as well. He'd moved quite a lot and then he'd stalled, I think I saw the red light flashing. I couldn't believe it when there was no-one around me because I didn't get the best of starts.”
Hill's stall on the line allowed Rowland to lead unchallenged into Riches for the first time, with the rest of the fortunately able to miss the stationary Fortec Motorsport car, though the scramble towards the back of the field put drivers briefly onto the grass.
At the end of the first lap Rowland held a 1.3 second lead of Josh Webster, who despite starting fifth – on the side of the track blocked by Hill's car – had passed Jake Dennis and Dan Wells, who ended the opening three miles third and fifth respectively, split by Jordan King.
Daniil Kvyat, trying to recover from a poor qualifying, lasted only as long as Oggies on lap one before he pulled off. His Koiranen Motorsport teammate Stefan Wackerbauer pitted at the end of the lap for a replacement front wing in a distasterous start for the team which fielded four cars over the weekend – Hans Villemi and John Bryant–Meisner also driving for the squad.
Kvyat retirement was the first of many in an incident packed race. Fortec's Ed Jones ran sixth until he crashed out at Corum on lap six, and another of Richard Dutton's men crashed heavily at Riches a few laps later.
Felix Serralles, who had claimed to podium finishes for the team in Saturday's races, had taken the sixth place vacated by Jones and tried to pass Dan Wells around the outside of Riches. Atech Ried driver Wells defended the place, easing Serralles wide onto grass.
With traction missing on the damp, cold weekend the Puerto Rican was unable to avoid hitting the tyre barrier on the outside of the corner almost head-on. Despite the severity of the impact, Serralles exited the car unscathed, though winded and the race continued without the safety car, though yellow flags prevented any more passing attempts at Riches for several laps.
The main man to find that a problem, was Jordan King, who was pressuring Jake Dennis for the final step on the podium. King was left frustrated, having to pass up the opportunity to take place as he slipstreamed behind Dennis down the main straight. It is almost certain that frustration had a part to play in the contact between the two on the penultimate lap.
Despite more yellow flags – this time a Hamilton for Geoff Uhrhane's recently retired car – King nosed up the inside of Dennis approaching the fast left hand kink. Contact was inevitable and sent both drivers through the grass, Dennis retiring on the spot, King limping round to pits with damage before following Dennis into retirement.
Dan Wells inherited the final podium spot, behind Webster who enjoyed a run to second only troubled by a mistake at Bomb Hole that allowed King and Dennis to challenge for second before becoming engrossed in their own battle. Having lost several seconds to the before mentioned mistake Webster ended the race six seconds behind Rowland, though the margin owed a little to Rowland easing off in the closing laps. The Racing Steps Foundation driver, despite the incident and accident of the race, had dominated the event.
Webster spoke to The Checkered Flag, reflecting on his weekend “We started off testing during the weekend and we were outside the top ten and scratching our heads as to where to find the time, but myself and Mark Burdett Motorsport worked together as a team – a massive thanks to Chris, Jack, Rob, Mark and my driving coach Robbie Kerr we managed to find some extra pace.”
“I got really hairy at times,” he continued, referring to his run to the podium. “I had a decent gap from me to third but I went through Bomb Hole and I got snap oversteer and went onto the grass and that lost a me a few seconds which put me out a race for the win. From there I had to defend and back Jordan up so he and Jake Dennis could fight over third position, which got me a really big gap at the end, so I could just chill out.”
Bryant-Meisner and Villemi took their best results of the weekend, followed by Thomas Jager in sixth. Dennis van der Laar, Dan de Zille and Melville McKee completed the top ten.
Despite James Fletcher being consistently quicker over the course of the 14 lap race Archie Hamilton recorded his third race in the BARC class, Victor Jiminez completing the podium places and winning a battle with Ivan Taranov for the position before the Russian retired from the race.