Donington Park National Circuit hosts the opening two rounds of the 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Championship next Sunday, 14th April, with organisers delighted to confirm an exciting 18-car grid featuring some of the world’s most promising young single-seater talent.
No less than 10 nationalities will be represented during the season curtain-raiser, from right across the globe, with five drivers from South America, seven home-grown competitors from the UK and additional entries from Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Russia and Italy.
“To have 18 cars confirmed for Donington, and the possibility of another one or two before next weekend’s opening rounds, is fantastic and we’re very much looking forward to another season of top quality Protyre Formula Renault racing”, said championship promoter Simon North.
“We really do have a great mix of talented newcomers and experienced title contenders and we’re delighted to have such a healthy grid, particularly one with so many drivers from overseas. It shows how popular and relevant Protyre Formula Renault continues to be on the single-seater ladder.”
Likely to attract the bulk of attention at the Leicestershire circuit will be Brazil’s Pietro Fittipaldi, the 16-year-old grandson of FIA Formula One World Championship legend Emerson, who will form part of a two-car line-up from Jamun Racing.
Officially making his UK race debut in Protyre Formula Renault at Donington, the event will also mark the teenager’s maiden outing in ‘slicks and wings’ single-seaters having raced US stock-cars since 2010. Fittipaldi made history in 2011 when he became the first ever Latin American driver to win the Limited Late Model NASCAR title…and all aged just 15!
Joining him at Jamun will be second year Protyre Formula Renault competitor Diego Menchaca, one of two Mexican youngsters contesting the championship again this year from the Escuderia Telmex driver development programme which also features Formula One star Esteban Gutiérrez.
The other Telmex-backed racer is MGR Motorsport’s Jorge Cevallos who topped the times during the official pre-season test and Media Day, at Silverstone National Circuit two weeks ago, an impressive 0.3 seconds clear of his nearest challenger.
MGR, which is based close to Donington in Bardon, is running a capacity four-car entry with Cevallos joined by multiple category podium finisher Chris Middlehurst (St. Helens) – who was second fastest in pre-season testing – Tom Oliphant (Tarporley) and UK-based Italian Matteo Ferrer (Ipswich).
Also fielding a quartet of cars will be Fortec Motorsports with returning Chinese driver Hong Wei Cao (Stoke-on-Trent) racing alongside British karting graduate Sam McLeod (Cambridge), Hong Kong national Wei Fung Thong (Liverpool) – who was third overall in Asian Formula Renault last year – and Malaysian single-seater racer Weiron Tan (London).
MTECH Lite is another of the four-car squads and also has a truly international flavour to its 2013 entry. Joining the established Lebanese pairing of Joe Ghanem and Shahan Sarkissian is former kart racer Ed Brand (Dagnall, Hertfordshire) and South American star Matias Galetto, who has Formula Renault experience from his native Argentina.
Former champions Hillspeed and Scorpio Motorsport have each confirmed two cars for the season so far. Hathersage-based Hillspeed, which won the title in 2010 with Alice Powell, is running highly rated British driver Jake Cook (Rotherham) alongside Matt Rao (Oxford).
Scorpio, another of the local teams to Donington from nearby Swithland, fields Brazilian driver Henrique Baptista (Eastbourne) and Russian racer Ivan Taranov (Oxford) as the squad aims to add to the titles won in 2008 and 2009 with Kieren Clark and Ollie Hancock respectively.
Qualifying for the first two rounds of the 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Championship at Donington Park’s National Circuit will take place at 09.45 on Sunday, 14th April, with the opening race scheduled to commence at 12.15 and the second encounter expected to begin at 15.30.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin, The Lubricant Consultancy, Petronas Syntium and NGK Spark Plugs.