The first Protyre Formula Renault victory of the year has gone to Pietro Fittipaldi after he lead from the first corner at Rockingham. The Brazilian took the lead from his team mate, Matteo Ferrer before building a gap as the #20 car dropped back. A resurgence through the field brought Matteo back into contention after disaster struck Fortec Motorsport’s Alex Gill. MGR Motorsport took 1st and 3rd on the podium.
While Fittipaldi had a trouble free run and was able to absorb the pressure Gill repeatedly heaped upon him, Ferrer had a harder time of it. A good getaway turned to ashes as he was dispatched by his team mate first, then Gill and the second Fortec driver, Ben Barnicoat. A lap later he lost out to Scorpio Motorsport’s Piers Hickin.
Ferrer wasn’t the only one to struggle on lap one though. Dimitris Papanastasiou missed his braking point for the Deene hairpin and piled into the back of Cliff Dempsey Racing’s TJ Fischer. The Hillspeed driver pitted at the end of the first lap for a new front wing, Fischer carried on for five laps before retiring without a rear wing.
That would come home to roost later, when the damaged wing was collected by Gill. The #7 machine was in second place at the time, with just two laps left to go. A puncture sent the sixteen year old off onto Speedway 2 but he managed to get the car stopped before he crashed. Still, he was well down the order by the time he got the car turned round and he retired in the pits after a long drive back.
The other notable battle of the race was between Ben Barnicoat, who spent much of the race trying to stay ahead of Colin Noble Jr. After several laps of watching the Racing Steps Foundation liveried rear wing, Noble put in a do-or-die move at the final corner on the final lap, out-dragging the Autumn Cup champion to the line.
The final result puts Piers Hickin onto the podium for Scorpio with Matteo Ferrer just 0.330 seconds behind. At one point there was over three seconds splitting the #9 machine from the Italian racer. Noble’s brave move put him in fourth with Barnicoat in fifth. Tarun Reddy moved from ninth to sixth ahead of Wolfgang Reip and Patrick Dassualt, the sole remaining Cliff Dempsey driver. SWB Motorsport took ninth with Atte Lehtonen ahead of Circulation Motorsport’s Niklas Tiihonen.
Jack Butel finished ahead of Papanastasiou after the Greek driver pitted for his damages early on.
Fittipaldi was delighted with his win, which is his first victory in Formula Renault and only his second in Europe. He said, “I’m really happy. The team worked really hard for this throughout the off season and I know this track pretty well. We started second and if you can get the lead on the first lap you stay consistent and it’s really hard to pass. Gill was like 1.5 to 2 seconds behind me and it stayed like that for the whole race. We got the win and I think we are going to carry this momentum into tomorrow.
“It’s the same thing for tomorrow, I start second for the first race so I’m going to try and be really aggressive for the first couple of laps. At the same time I’m thinking about points because we are going for the championship. We’ll see tomorrow.”
Team Principal Mark Godwin added, “I’m delighted, what more can you say. It’s a fantastic result for Pietro, Matteo and for the team, everyone has worked really hard lately and we’ve seen the fruits of our labour really.”