Italian racer Matteo Ferrer has dominated qualifying for the first round of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway. The MGR Motorsport driver led front row lockouts for all three races over two sessions which netted him his first pole position in cars. The first two poles came on pure pace though the race three top spot came only after team mate Colin Noble Jr was disallowed his fastest time for track limits.
Ferrer rocketed to the top of the time sheets halfway through the first fifteen minute qualifying session with a 1:18.313, a time he followed up on two laps later, with a .426, enough to secure pole in the second race. Both times would have secured the pole, which is the eighteen year old’s first in cars. His third best time from the session would have also secured pole in race 1!
The story continues in the battle for second place, in which Pietro Fittipaldi bested Fortec Motorsport’s Alex Gill, twice. Again both the fastest and second best time set by the Brazilian would have been fast enough to secure his position in either race. Gill’s best was twelve hundredths off the #21 car with a similar margin between second and third for race two.
Colin Noble Jr lines up in fourth place for both races, five hundredths off Gill in the first race and three tenths in the second. Still, the Scotsman can take solace in the fact he bested the hero of the Autumn Cup, Ben Barnicoat, to fourth in both races.
There is a definite look to the top six, if you don’t drive for MGR or Fortec you need not apply. Nissan GT Academy graduate Wolfgang Reip, making his only planned appearance in the series, took sixth place as the final Fortec Motorsport runner. Tarun Reddy took ninth place as the last of the MGR drivers.
Scorpio Motorsport’s Piers Hickin continued his form from Media Day when he became the first of the other teams. TJ Fischer for Cliff Dempsey Racing took eighth while Dimitiris Papanastasiou rounded out the top ten for Hillspeed.
Race two’s grid keeps the same drivers but there are a few position changes. The top five are unchanged but Hickin got the better of Reip for sixth and Papanastasiou took eighth, dropping Reddy to tenth.
Niklas Tiihonen and Atte Lehtonen for Circulation and SWB Motorsports respectively ran down the order in both sessions, only bettering SWB’s karting graduate Jack Butel in either session.
The second qualifying session dealt solely with race three and initially went to Colin Noble Jr in the #45 MGR entered but family run car. The current Radical SR1 Champion was denied however when he was found to have exceeded the track limits on his fastest lap and will have to settle for third on the grid. That does mean though that MGR Motorsport are in line for their first ever podium lockout if all goes according to plan in the race as Matteo Ferrer inherited the pole with Pietro Fittipalidi once again sharing the front row of the grid.
Fortec were also on form in the second session, with Alex Gill and Ben Barnicoat taking fourth and fifth on the grid. Gill was another one of the seven drivers to have their fastest times disallowed. Niklas Tiihonen, Tarun Reddy, TJ Fischer, Dimitris Papanastisiou and Wolfgang Reip were the other drivers who explored the limits of both grip and tarmac during the session.
Hickin took sixth ahead of Reip and Reddy with Fischer and Papanastisiou rounding out the top ten.
The first race of the 2014 Protyre Formula Renault season gets underway this afternoon at 16:45. Races two and three come on Sunday.