Five In A Row For Tan Keeps Title Hopes Alive

by Simon Paice

Weiron Tan continued his dominant spell in the Protyre Formula Renault Championship with his fifth consecutive victory in the series, leading home a Fortec Motorsport one-two in Round 13 at Rockingham.

Following his lights-to-flag win in the weekend’s opening race, the Malaysian racer once again started from pole position, this time ahead of team-mate Sam MacLeod. A good start for the pole-sitter saw him lead around the banking, though a slightly better getaway for MacLeod saw him right under Tan’s rear wing heading into Deene.

MacLeod backed off from a move on his team-mate though and that would prove to be his only opportunity of a move, with Tan starting to edge clear straight away. MacLeod’s attentions would soon turn to Chris Middlehurst, the championship leader having passed Wei Fung Thong around the outside at Deene on the opening lap for third.

Middlehurst got on the rear of MacLeod’s car for a couple of laps, but was unable to create a passing opportunity, with the Fortec driver soon forming some breathing room over the MGR Motorsport ace.

Behind, Thong held fourth for the early stages, however he soon came under pressure from Fortec team-mate Hongwei Cao. The Chinese racer took fifth on lap three after tipping Matteo Ferrer into a spin at Tarzan, having passed Jorge Cevallos on the opening tour, and he went on to grab fourth at Deene on lap nine.

As Tan pulled away for a comfortable second win of the weekend by over five seconds, Middlehurst was able to keep Cao a safe distance behind, leaving his attentions on MacLeod. Despite his best efforts, Middlehurst couldn’t mount a challenge, allowing MacLeod to complete the Fortec one-two for his fourth podium of the campaign.

Cao took fourth ahead of team-mate Thong, the latter having had to fend off Jake Cook in the final stages of the race. A fantastic three-way battle for seventh meanwhile went the way of Cevallos, the Mexican fighting back to pass Pietro Fittipaldi at Deene on lap nine for the place.

Fittipaldi was passed by series newcomer Leo Yee later in the lap at Gracelands, and the Jamun Racing driver went on to drop down the field over the final few laps to an eventual finish of twelfth.

Benefitted from Fittipaldi’s woes to grab top ten finishes behind Yee meanwhile were Tom Oliphant and Matt Rao, both drivers having been involved in another great three car scrap with eleventh placed finisher Henrique Baptista. Ferrer meanwhile went on to pit and retire, with fellow early top ten contender Matias Galetto suffering a similar fate.

“The race went pretty well again,” race-winner Tan told “I got a good start off the line again and just maintained the pace throughout the whole race. The team did a great job and I’d like to thank them for that, hopefully more of the same in the next race.”

“Another podium, more points, and that’s what this weekend is all about for us,” added Middlehurst. “The Fortec guys have some impressive pace and they’re proving hard to catch. I was pushing behind Sam [MacLeod] and he made a few mistakes, but there was no point destroying the tyres to try and pass him.”

Tan’s win keeps his faint championship hopes alive, however the Malaysian racer will need Middlehurst to hit trouble over the remaining three races to overhaul his lead. The championship leader’s twelfth podium in thirteen races meanwhile means that if he wins the final race of the weekend at Rockingham, he will be crowned champion.

Provisional Protyre Formula Renault Championship Standings (After Rd.13, incl. drop scores):

  1. Chris Middlehurst – 364pts
  2. Weiron Tan – 297pts
  3. Jake Cook – 262pts
  4. Jorge Cevallos – 240pts
  5. Hongwei Cao – 217pts
  6. Henrique Baptista – 158pts
  7. Joe Ghanem – 144pts
  8. Sam MacLeod & Matias Galetto – 141pts

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