Chris Middlehurst was awarded his third win in the opening five races of the 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Championship after on-the-road winner Ivan Taranov was disqualified at Snetterton.
Middlehurst earned the win from a truly chaotic Formula Renault encounter, with two rain showers making it a race full of action and incident, with two safety car periods and seven drivers failing to finish, as well two later disqualified.
It was Fortec Motorsport’s Weiron Tan who started from pole position and after stalling from the same position in the day’s earlier race, the Malaysian was relieved when a perfect start saw him maintain the lead ahead of a quick-starting Jorge Cevallos and Taranov.
The race’s first flashpoint came at the end of lap two when Joe Ghanem challenged Taranov for third coming onto the Senna straight, with Ghanem ending up on the grass at high speed, recovering to the track outside the top ten.
With worsening race leading to a reduction in grip, Ghanem was to go from bad to worse on lap four at the Esses when several cars tangled, with Ghanem and Tom Oliphant retiring. The Esses caught out leader Tan on the next lap, a spin dropping him down to tenth, with Taranov bursting through to seize the advantage ahead of Cevallos.
The safety car was out soon after though, with the increasingly slippery Esses catching out a large number of drivers, round four winner Sam MacLeod, Shahan Sarkissian and series debutant Atte Lehtonen amongst those caught out, all three retiring on lap five.
Taranov led under the safety car, with an error for Cevallos dropping him to tenth shortly before, giving Middlehurst second ahead of Jake Cook and Hongwei Cao. The latter was soon in the pits however, with Fortec Motorsport taking the decision to switch Cao, Tan and Wei Fung Thong onto wet tyres as the rain continued.
After six laps behind the safety car, the action resumed with early battling between Cook and Diego Menchaca for third leading to a damaged front wing for the Mexican, the Jamun Racing driver dropping down the order over the next few laps.
A moment for Pietro Fittipaldi at the Esses, his second of the race, led to his car being standed at the edge of the track, bringing out the safety car for the second time, with it departing to leave just two final racing laps.
Controlling them perfectly to win on the road by two seconds was Taranov, the Scorpio Motorsport driver feeling he’d taken his first win in his third season in the category, however he was later exluded for “driving in a manner incompatible with general safety” in relation to his lap two battle with Ghanem.
This meant Middlehurst inherited the win, extending the MGR Motorsport man’s lead at the top of the championship standings to 46 points over Cook, the Hillspeed driver joining Middlehurst in taking three podium finishes for the weekend in second.
Promoted into third was Matthew Rao, the Australian producing a sensational drive to keep out of all the trouble and rise from seventeenth on the grid. Cevallos recovered to fourth, while Tan took fifth, his team’s decision to put him on wet tyres paying off as he gained an incredible six places on the final lap of the race.
Matteo Ferrer completed the top six, while Edward Brand took a seasons best seventh ahead of Henrique Baptista, Matias Galetto and Thong, with Menchaca completing the finishers in eleventh. Piers Hickin had finished eighth on the road, however the Core Motorsport driver was later excluded for overtaking under a safety car.
Provisional 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Championship Standings (After Rd.5):
1. Chris Middlehurst – 158pts
2. Jake Cook – 112pts
3. Jorge Cevallos – 100pts
4. Joe Ghanem – 78pts
5= Sam McLeod – 71pts
5= Matteo Ferrer – 71pts
Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/barc/2013/131921bfr.pdf