Car racing rookie Hayden Edmonds and Japanese driver Yudai Jinkawa will each debut in the Protyre Formula Renault Championship at Donington Park this weekend, 31st May/1st June, after confirming eleventh hour deals with MTECH Lite and Gold Wolf Racing respectively.
Boosting the popular single-seater category’s grid ahead of the second triple header event of the season at the Leicestershire venue, the confirmation of the two new signings comes less than a week after SWB Motorsport agreed a deal with karting graduate Samuel Oram-Jones (Milton Keynes).
While entered under the MTECH Lite banner, 17-year-old Tamworth driver Edmonds – who is the son of MTECH team principal Mike Edmonds – will run with engineering assistance from SWB for his single-seater debut at Donington due to the tight timeframe involved. MTECH Lite is then expected to return as a fully-fledged entrant from the next race meeting at Brands Hatch in July.
“We only put this deal together two days ago, so Hayden is having his first run in the car at Mallory Park today [Wednesday]”, said Edmonds Snr, “We obviously had a big Renault team last year and the original plan was to run three drivers plus Hayden this year. It didn’t work out that way so we’ve been concentrating on our work with Lamborghini.
“It’s all a bit of a fast turnaround into Donington, so we’ve done a deal with Simon [Baldry – SWB team principal] and then we’ll be back properly as MTECH Lite for the next round. It’s a big step-up for Hayden, he’s never done a full championship in karting, but we’re looking forward to it.”
Jinkawa, who arrives in the UK through a partnership between Macau-based Gold Wolf Racing and returning Protyre Formula Renault team JWA Racing, has enjoyed a successful formative career to date. Recent highlights for the 23-year-old include a strong run in last November Formula Master China Series Macau Grand Prix Invitational and becoming a race winner in the Indian MRF Challenge.
“We’re very pleased to be returning to the championship”, commented JWA boss James Watt, “We had a great season in 2012 and, considering that, we were very surprised not to be on the grid last year due to the volatility of the market place. It’s great to be associated with Gold Wolf Racing and we’ve been pretty impressed with Yudai in testing, he’s a cool guy with a very mature approach.
“We took a step back from racing to drive the manufacturing side of the business forward, we’ve been concentrating on that and now we’re ready to fully support a racing programme again. The association with Gold Wolf Racing and Yudai is a full-season deal, it’s great to be back on the grid.”
Super-consistent Ferrer leads way ahead of Donington
Italian driver Matteo Ferrer (Colchester) takes an 11-point lead into the second race meeting of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship season after a tremendous start to the 2014 campaign last month at Rockingham near Corby. Some eight weeks since the season-opener, which delivered three different race winners, the cosmopolitan championship returns to action with another triple-header.
Rounds four, five and six of the season mark the ‘home’ races of three teams including Ferrer’s MGR Motorsport squad – the reigning champion entrant – which is based just 15 miles from Donington in Bardon near Coalville.
After dominating qualifying at Rockingham to secure all three pole positions, Ferrer went on to finish third in round one and set fastest lap, he then claimed his first ever Formula Renault victory in round two and added second in round three, with the fastest lap again, to cap a stunning first weekend.
Just as consistent at Rockingham was Scorpio Motorsport’s Piers Hickin (Knaphill) who delivered a career-best series of performances with his own podium hat-trick – second in round one followed by two third place results.
Making huge strides over the winter with the 2008 and 2009 title winning Swithland team, another for whom Donington is a ‘home’ event less than 30 minutes from base, the 17-year-old Briton goes into the second race meeting with a slim two-point advantage over Pietro Fittipaldi (Camberley).
The Brazilian youngster, grandson of 1972 and 1974 Formula One World Champion Emerson, chalked-up his maiden Protyre Formula Renault win in the first race of the season for MGR and will be eager to return to the podium at Donington’s 1.98-mile National Circuit.
Fourth in the championship is Fortec Motorsport’s Alex Gill (Womersley, Doncaster), the 2012 MSA British KF3 Karting Champion, who bounced back impressively from a puncture in round one to claim the runner-up spot in race two. The 16-year-old then starred in round three with his first victory.
Derbyshire’s Hillspeed, meanwhile, will be hoping to see Dimitris Papanastasiou (London) continue his strong start to 2014 at the team’s local circuit – the Greek driver having posted three consistent points finishes at Rockingham with a best of eighth place
Qualifying at Donington Park will take place at 09.15 and 12.30 on Saturday, 31st May, with the first race of the weekend following at 16.50. Rounds five and six will be contested on Sunday, 1st June, at 11.30 and 14.20 respectively.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin.
Provisional 2014 Protyre Formula Renault Championship Driver Standings (after Rd3):
1st Matteo Ferrer, 89pts; 2nd Piers Hickin, 78pts; 3rd Pietro Fittipaldi, 76pts