Tan Keeps Middlehurst In Check With Fourth Win

by Simon Paice

Weiron Tan has kept his faint title hopes alive in the Protyre Formula Renault Championship with victory in Round 12 at Rockingham.

The Fortec Motorsport ace led the sixteen lap encounter from start-to-finish to record his fourth consecutive victory in the series, however with championship leader Chris Middlehurst second, the gap at the top of points standings has only been reduced by six points to 76.

After dominating qualifying earlier in the day, the Caterham F1 driver development protégé started from pole position and a great start saw him comfortably lead the field into the Deene hairpin for the first time.

While fellow front-row starter Middlehurst had a clear run to second, there was all sorts of action behind as the scrum entered Yentwood. Sam MacLeod emerged in third, with the big winners being Hongwei Cao and Matias Galetto, the duo moving up from seventh and tenth to fourth and fifth respectively.

Losing out meanwhile was Wei Fung Thong, the Hong Kong racer being forced wide to drop back from fourth on the grid to sixteenth at the end of the opening lap, and Henrique Baptista, the Scorpio Motorsport ace losing his front wing under braking.

Having no such drama meanwhile was Tan, the Malaysian beginning to break away from the field behind. Building his lead up to 3.3s by the end of lap seven, Tan went on to take the victory from Middlehurst by 7.9s, with his pace confirmed by the fact his fastest lap of the race was over half a second quicker than any of his rivals could manage.

“I’m delighted,” Tan told thecheckeredflag.co.uk. “The team did a fantastic job with two of us on the podium today. I just aimed to a good start off the line, which I did, and then maintain the pace from there, which worked well.”

“Tan and the Fortec cars are seeming really quick at the moment,” added Middlehurst. “So for me, the focus was on getting points and with him being not too far in front, it’s a good result.”

MacLeod maintained third place until lap four, when a mechanical problem forced him to pull off on the run to Tarzan, gifting the place to Cao, the Chinese racer holding a small place to Jake Cook, who had passed Galetto earlier in the lap.

Cao remained in third for the remainder of the race to take his third podium finish of the season ahead of Cook and Galetto, the latter having to fend off a late charge from Jorge Cevallos.

Pietro Fittipaldi emerged from a close-fought battle with series newcomer Leo Yee and Tom Oliphant for seventh, while Matt Rao completed the top ten ahead of a recovering Thong.

Provisional 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Championship standings (After Rd.12):

  1. Chris Middlehurst – 339pts
  2. Weiron Tan – 263pts
  3. Jake Cook – 244pts
  4. Jorge Cevallos – 224pts
  5. Hongwei Cao – 195pts
  6. Henrique Baptista – 148pts
  7. Matias Galetto – 141pts
  8. Joe Ghanem – 137pts
  9. Matt Rao – 117pts
  10. Sam MacLeod – 113pts

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