Brazilian teenager Pietro Fittipaldi (Camberley) took another giant step towards the 2014 Protyre Formula Renault title at Snetterton today, Sunday, 31st August, by completing a remarkable hat-trick of wins for the weekend – extending his incredible run of consecutive victories to eight.
Starting the event in winning ways on Saturday, 30th August, in the live televised ninth round, the Fittipaldi steamroller continued unabated today and the MGR Motorsport driver is now 70 points clear of team-mate Matteo Ferrer (Colchester) at the top of the standings.
“It’s been a really good weekend”, said the master of understatement Fittipaldi, “The last race was a bit harder but we stayed consistent and were able to get another win. The team has done a great job, I’m just driving – it’s the team that does all of the preparation and I can’t thank them enough.”
For round 10, Fortec Motorsport’s Alex Gill (Womersley) lined-up on pole position but a highly unfortunate stall paved the way for Fittipaldi to lead from Scorpio Motorsport’s Piers Hickin (Knaphill). Thankfully, the remainder of the grid avoided Gill’s car before he was able to get going.
Into lap two, Fittipaldi’s lead was already 1.3 seconds and he proceeded to reel off yet another faultless performance to finish over seven seconds clear of Hickin as well as maximising his points score with the fastest race lap.
Hickin had a similarly uneventful race for the most part running in a clear second place to match his best result so far. Two laps from the end, however, a small mistake meant he dropped from being just 2.5 seconds behind Fittipaldi to an eventual seven second deficit.
“I’m relatively happy with second, obviously Pietro [Fittipaldi] was pretty quick but I did think we had got the pace to catch him”, said Hickin, “I made a mistake later in the race, though, so that sealed the deal for Pietro but congratulations to him. I’m pleased to get more solid points for the team as the guys at Scorpio deserve it.”
Reddy, making a superb start to climb from sixth into third position ahead of TJ Fischer and Ferrer, did initially run with Hickin but fell back from lap three onward and was under threat towards the end from Fischer and the recovering Gill. After being served with a five second time penalty for exceeding track limits, though, Reddy slipped behind both on corrected times with three laps to go.
As Fischer and Gill battled over the final step on the podium, the resulting delay enabled Reddy to edge back ahead on the timing screens and even with his five second penalty he was able to take third 0.9 seconds ahead of Gill, with Fischer and Ferrer right behind on the run to the line.
So close did the battle become towards the finish, only two seconds covered Reddy in third down to Colin Noble Jnr (Penicuik, Midlothian) in seventh position. Canada’s Patrick Dussault, who was also given a five second penalty, ended the encounter in eighth with MTECH Lite’s Hayden Edmonds (Tamworth) and SWB Motorsport’s Jack Butel completing the top 10.
Reflecting on his second podium of the weekend, Reddy said: “Again, we started sixth because I didn’t get a very good qualifying but we managed to get three places in the first two corners and then just drove a clean, consistent race. It’s another podium in Europe, so I’ll take that all day long.”
Determined to make amends for the earlier stall from pole position, Gill made a barnstorming start to round 11 from third place and almost managed to edge ahead of pole-qualifier Fittipaldi into Riches. Reddy, from fourth on the grid, sliced through into third ahead of front-row starter Hickin.
Gill piled on the pressure to the championship leader early on and there was very little to separate the duo. Hickin, meanwhile, was in a hurry to try and get ahead of Reddy as swiftly as possible and on lap four he made the breakthrough with a good pass at Agostini for third.
By that point, though, the two leaders had already built enough of an advantage and so the Scorpio driver had to settle for a lonely third place as he pulled clear of the Indian. Fittipaldi did manage to edge a second clear of Gill by lap nine, but the Fortec teenager hit back and pinched the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate tour – just 0.5 seconds separating them at the finish on lap 12.
“We had a bit of a rubbish start to the weekend but we knew we had the pace, in the last race we put that into practice”, said Gill, “We were on the same pace at the front, but it was hard to try and overtake. We’re good round Croft and Silverstone so hopefully we can try and win there.”
While the battle at the front provided some exciting action, the fight for fifth place was the highlight with Fischer, Noble Jnr and Ferrer serving up sensational entertainment. Race-long the trio diced nose-to-tail and wheel-to-wheel, with fantastic respect and great skill showcased.
Lap after lap the scrap raged with MGR team-mates Noble Jnr and Ferrer both trying to break down Fischer’s impervious defence. Swapping positions time and again, neither was able to get ahead of the impressive Cliff Dempsey Racing driver who eventually claimed fifth by just 0.2 seconds.
The fifth place battle allowed MTECH Lite’s Edmonds to get in on the act at two-thirds distance, but a spin for the rookie at the chicane on lap eight put paid to his hopes and meant he finished in ninth place behind Jersey-based Butel, but ahead of Dussault who had an opening lap excursion.
Protyre Formula Renault will return to action at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire three weeks from now, over the weekend 20th/21st September, for rounds 12 and 13 of the season.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin.
Provisional 2014 Protyre Formula Renault Championship Driver Standings (after Rd11):
1st Pietro Fittipaldi, 338pts; 2nd Matteo Ferrer, 268pts; 3rd Alex Gill, 262pts