Scorpio Motorsport’s Ivan Taranov secured his first Protyre Formula Renault Championship race victory during the penultimate round of the season at Silverstone National Circuit this afternoon, Saturday, 28th September, having also claimed his maiden category pole position earlier in the day.
Beginning the weekend with the fastest time in pre-event testing, the Russian proved it was no fluke by continuing his tremendous form in an unbelievably close qualifying session to bag his first pole by a mere 0.056 seconds.
The first couple of laps of the race were nothing short of breath-taking either, with Taranov, fellow front-row starter Sam MacLeod (Cambridge) and the latter’s Fortec Motorsport team-mate Weiron Tan (London) dicing wheel-to-wheel.
MacLeod emerged in front at the end of the opening lap, but with Taranov and Tan snapping at his heels and only 0.2 seconds covering the leaders. As the trio jostled for position, MacLeod was able to marginally increase his advantage to almost 0.5 seconds by the end of the third tour but Taranov got back ahead on lap five.
Split by only 0.3 seconds after almost one third race distance, the remarkably tight action continued with Taranov ahead of MacLeod and Tan but on lap six the order shuffled as Hillspeed’s Jake Cook (Rotherham) came into play.
Starting a lower than anticipated sixth on the grid, Cook fought back superbly from seventh place at the end of lap one and by the start of the seventh tour, the British Racing Drivers’ Club ‘Rising Star’ was in contention for the race lead. MacLeod’s fortunes, on the other hand, took a turn for the worse when lap seven contact resulted in damaged front suspension and a luckless retirement.
From mid-distance, the race settled down somewhat with Taranov, Cook and Tan circulating in that unchanged order. Cook did pump in some rapid times to pile on the pressure to the leader, and he secured the bonus points for fastest race lap, but Taranov didn’t crack – taking his maiden victory on his first weekend back in the championship after three months on the sidelines.
“We had quite a difficult year so it’s great to come back like this, with our first win”, said a delighted Taranov, “I really want to say a huge thank you to my team, Scorpio Motorsport, because they gave me a fantastic car – almost all of the credit for this win goes to them. For the whole year we knew we had the speed but we didn’t get a chance to show it, now to win the race it feels so great.”
Behind Cook and Tan, Fortec’s Hongwei Cao (Stoke-on-Trent) was the best of the rest in fourth place having raced strongly from seventh on the grid. Leaping into the top four on lap one after a stunning start, the Chinese driver did slip to sixth on lap three – after dicing closely with 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Champion Chris Middlehurst (St. Helens) – but quickly regained the lost ground.
The 2013 title winner, meanwhile, ended up with his first non-finish of the year after contact on lap four resulted in significant front-end damage to his MGR Motorsport-run Tatuus. Had he been able to continue, though, Middlehurst would have had to serve a drive-through penalty anyway having been adjudged by race officials to have made a false start.
Completing the top six were Mexico’s Jorge Cevallos (Oxford) in fifth, the MGR driver impressively climbing through from 10th on the grid, and Brazil’s Pietro Fittipaldi. The young Brazilian, who drives for Jamun Racing, was cheered on to one of his best results of the season by his famous grandfather, double Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
Piers Hickin (Knaphill) was a career-best seventh on his first weekend racing with Scorpio, ending the encounter a mere 0.5 seconds behind Fittipaldi, with MTECH Lite’s Lebanese racer Shahan Sarkissian an outstanding eighth, up from 17th on the grid, and category debutant Ashley Crossey (Bristol) ninth for Core Motorsport. Matteo Ferrer (Ipswich) rounded out the top 10 for MGR.
Commenting on his second place, Cook said: “It’s been the same as all year, I’ve given myself too much work to do after qualifying – to be fair, though, it wasn’t really my fault today. I lost about four tenths in traffic on my last lap in qualifying, which would have been pole easily, but I’m really happy with the race result. I couldn’t have asked for much more from that race from where I started.”
Third place finisher Tan added: “I had a good start actually off the line, we had some good wheel-to-wheel action on the first lap. I went back to P3 and just maintained that really, the pace hasn’t been so good this weekend but we’re still working on that. Tomorrow I want to score enough points so we can make sure we finish second in the championship.”
Round 16, the final race of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship season, will get underway at 13.45 tomorrow, Sunday, 29th September, and will be screened live on ITV4, ITV4 HD and streamed online at www.itv.com/btcc
Wei Fung Thong (Liverpool) will start the race from pole, his first in Protyre Formula Renault, after a superb performance in the second of today’s qualifying sessions. The Hong Kong driver just edged out Middlehurst by a mere 0.021 seconds with Tan third and Taranov fourth – only 0.098 seconds in total covered the pace-setting quartet, meaning another mouth-watering race is in prospect.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin, The Lubricant Consultancy, Petronas Syntium and NGK Spark Plugs.
Provisional 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Championship Standings (after Rd15 – inc. drop score):
CHAMPION: Chris Middlehurst, 408pts; 2nd Weiron Tan, 322pts; 3rd Jake Cook, 292pts; 4th Jorge Cevallos, 285pts; 5th Hongwei Cao, 271pts; 6th Joe Ghanem, 166pts