Fortec Motorsport’s Alex Lynn (Dunmow) ended his impressive debut single-seater season at the weekend by securing the 2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Winter Cup title at a testing Pembrey circuit.

Together with his Graduate Cup honours from earlier this year, the 17-year-old overcame difficult weather conditions and a very strong rookie field to clinch the title to end a “fantastic year,” and put him among the title favourites for the championship in 2011.

As well as a third Winter Cup win for Alex, the four-round action-packed weekend also saw maiden wins for team-mate Joni Wiman (FIN), Atech GP’s Richie Stanaway (NZL) and one of two drivers backed by the Racing Steps Foundation Oliver Rowland (Sheffield), driving for CRS Racing.

Podiums also came for Red Bull-backed Russian ace Daniil Kvyat, driving for Koiranen Bros Motorsport, Manor Competition’s Josh Hill (Farnham), son of 1996 Formula 1 World Champion Damon, Fortec Motorsport’s Mitchell Gilbert (AUS), MGR Motorsport’s Luke Wright (Shaftesbury)  and Mark Burdett Motorsport’s Jack Hawksworth (Bradford).

The real winners of the weekend though were by far the impressive line-up of up and coming rookie racers, many fresh out of karting, which left a lasting mark on the one-make series with Hawksworth in particular securing four of the six Michelin pole positions together with two podiums.

Lynn secures title while rookies impress…

Sunday’s final two rounds (five and six) once again would produce some fantastic racing helped, in part, by similar weather conditions to Saturday. A wet qualifying session saw Hawksworth secure one of the pole positions – his fourth of the series despite having only done four tests prior to the championship – with Lynn claiming the honours for round six.

Wet tyres would remain on the cars for round five and as the 20-lap race got underway it was ADAC Formula Masters Champion Stanaway (soon to be nicknamed ‘Getaway’) who made the better start to lead Hawksworth into the first corner.

From there the 18-year-old Kiwi never looked back and produced a faultless performance to claim his maiden win closely followed by Hawksworth – coached by ex F1 engineer Andy Miller – for yet another well deserved podium.

The battled for third was slightly less straight forward with those honours eventually falling to 19-year-old Hill after the teenager slipped by Lynn on the opening lap to claim his maiden podium. Despite starting third, Lynn lost yet more places during the thrilling race including being passed by a determined Ollie Millroy (Claygate), driving for Manor Competition, at Dibeni. Wiman, who also claimed the NGK Spark Plugs Fastest Lap, finished fourth to move to just six points adrift of Lynn in the drivers’ standings with Kvyat rounding off the top five.

With a six point advantage, Lynn lined up for the start of the final round of the series on pole albeit with a difficult tyre choice ahead of him as he, and the rest of the field, debated over slicks or wets. By now the track was almost dry on the racing line leaving all but a select few opting for dry tyres.

Once again Stanaway made a blistering start to lead from Lynn as the lights went out with the youngster also benefitting from starting on the drier side of the circuit. Millroy had also made ground from fourth to get ahead of his team-mate Hill with Wright gaining two places on the opening lap.

Contact at Hatches Hairpin though caused the Safety Car to be deployed with racing resuming a few laps later only this time for Hill to spin at the same tight right-hander to end his podium hopes. Then from towards the back of the field Rowland, one of only a few drivers opting for wets, shot his way into second thanks to his brave tyre choice. The Safety Car then had to re-emerge on lap seven after contact at Spitfires and when the action returned the race would be forced to run to time.

In all this race-leader Stanaway had hung onto his advantage well but he now had a charging Rowland closing in behind him and before long the teenager, who is also backed by the McLaren Driver Development Programme, was through and pulling away into the distance.

The rest of the wet runners, in particular Gilbert, were also now finding their way and as the clock counted down the order ran Rowland, Gilbert, Stanaway, Atech GP’s Matt Bell (Newcastle) and Lynn.

Rowland looked to be heading for an easy first car racing victory until around lap 17 when the slick tyres began to come strong causing the balance to tip once more. Stanaway – who also picked up the NGK Spark Plugs Fastest Lap – was therefore able to get the better of Gilbert to claw back one place before turning his full attention to Rowland.

Stanaway was now edging ever closer with the two side-by-side on the last lap going into the final bend. Despite Stanaway’s best efforts, Rowland clung on to take the chequered flag although as they crossed the line the two cars were so close they appeared as if one. “It was hard to keep Richie behind me in those last few moments,” commented a delighted Rowland, “It’s amazing to get my first win and well done to the team for getting the right tyre choice.” Meanwhile just behind Gilbert took third for his maiden podium with Bell clinching a series best fourth and Lynn in fifth to secure the overall Winter Cup honours.

Fortec front-runners share Saturday spoils…

A rare sight greeted teams and drivers ahead of Saturday’s rounds three and four as for the first time all week the sun shone on the 1.456-mile South Wales track. Sadly it wasn’t enough to dry the circuit from the overnight rain with drivers opting for full wets for the day’s qualifying session.

Once again Hawksworth was the real winner of the 20-minute session putting his UK-spec machine on pole for both rounds. Lynn was equally impressive to join him on the front row and, what would later prove crucial, line up on the dry side of the circuit.

As round three got underway Hawksworth unsurprisingly struggled to get away cleanly from the damp P1 spot leaving Lynn to lead the field into the first corner with Wiman and Wright, from sixth on the grid, also passing the 19-year-old before the end of the first lap.

After a brief Safety Car period, the action resumed with Lynn pulling away once more while third-place Wright outbraked himself at the Brooklands Hairpin to slip down the order. Kvyat had also made-up ground to lie in fourth behind Hawksworth before the following lap saw the race red flagged due Matt Bell’s stranded car on the run into the Esses.

The race was subsequently restarted in the order they crossed the line with the timetable allowing for just a 10-lap race. Although Lynn was on pole he would now encounter the same problem as the Bradford teenager by starting on the damp side of the track and, when the lights went out, it was Wiman who got the jump on him for the lead.

Stanaway had also made a lightning start to be up with the leaders going into the first corner but contact at the Hatchets Hairpin led to a number of drivers losing out with Richie one of those along with title-hopefuls Lynn and Millroy.

After the opening few laps it was Wiman leading comfortably from Kvyat with Hawksworth in third, Rowland in fourth and Gilbert, despite starting 12th on the grid, rounding off the top five. Kvyat made a late surge to close in on Wiman – who is mentored by multiple World Rally Champion Marcus Gronholm – but the chequered flag belonged to the Finnish driver with the order behind remaining unchanged and giving Hawksworth his first car racing podium.

The drama was slightly less intense for the day’s second race (round four) and with the track now almost completely dry, pole-sitter Hawksworth was able to get good traction off the line to lead Lynn into the first corner. Wright then brought himself into contention the following lap passing Wiman over the start/finish line to move into third with Joni in fourth and Millroy in fifth.

A few wide lines by Hawksworth however soon allowed Lynn to reel in the less experienced race-leader with Wright also sensing the opportunity to gain ground. “I knew the best place to pass him would be on the inside going into the first hairpin,” said Lynn and after being denied the chance a few laps earlier due to waved yellows, the Essex racer duly made the move stick on lap 10. A lap later Hawksworth endured more bad luck with him and Wiman, now in third after passing Wright, making contact at the same corner dropping Jack to 10th.

From then on Lynn didn’t put a foot wrong to claim his third win from four races with Wiman – who also secured both the day’s NGK Spark Plugs Fastest Lap awards together with a new lap record – holding onto second and Wright collecting yet another podium for MGR Motorsport. Kvyat and Millroy rounded off the top five with CRS Racing’s Robert Foster-Jones (Southend on Sea) impressing in sixth.

Commenting on his weekend Lynn said: “Today has been a great end to a great season and I hope I can carry this momentum forward into next year’s championship. We’ve had some tricky conditions to contend with this weekend but I’m delighted to come out on top and my thanks must go to the team for all their hard work this year.”

2010 Michelin Formula Renault UK Winter Cup drivers’ standings:

1st Alex Lynn GBR Fortec Motorsport     146 pts             
2nd Joni Wiman FIN Fortec Motorsport     129 pts             
3rd Jack Hawksworth GBR Mark Burdett Motorsport     112 pts             
4th Daniil Kvyat RUS Koiranen Bros Motorsport     109 pts             
5th Richie Stanaway NZL Atech GP       99 pts            
6th Ollie Millroy GBR Manor Competition       97 pts