Italy’s Matteo Ferrer (Colchester) and British racer Alex Gill (Womersley) claimed a pole position apiece at Croft Circuit near Darlington today, Saturday, 20th September, during qualifying for rounds 12 and 13 of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship.
With just two race meetings to go in the 2014 season, the finale taking place at Silverstone just a week from now in support of the British Touring Car Championship, this weekend’s event could be crucial in the outcome of the title battle and Ferrer and Gill both stole a march on clear points leader Pietro Fittipaldi (Camberley) who has won the last eight races back-to-back..
In the overcast morning session, determining grid order for the first of Sunday’s encounters at the North Yorkshire track, Ferrer was in control at the wheel of his MGR Motorsport car but team-mate Fittipaldi did close to within 0.039 seconds of the former’s pace-setting best.
Topping the times with a lap of 1m20.696 seconds (94.80mph), Ferrer bagged his fifth pole start of the season and the performance could well be critical if he is to do anything about Fittipaldi’s huge 70 point lead at the top of the championship standings.
Fortec Motorsport’s Gill was third fastest in session one, just 0.2 seconds shy of pole position, while Colin Noble Jnr (Penicuik, Midlothian) made it three MGR drivers in the top four after impressively lapping within 0.1 seconds of Gill.
Fifth fastest was Scorpio Motorsport’s Piers Hickin (Knaphill) ahead of MGR’s Indian teenager Tarun Reddy, Cliff Dempsey Racing pair TJ Fischer and Patrick Dussault – the American 0.4 seconds faster than his Canadian team-mate – and SWB Motorsport’s Jersey racer Jack Butel.
In the wet second session this afternoon, Gill starred with his fifth pole position of the year and after usurping Fittipaldi during the final couple of minutes the Fortec driver made certain of the top spot with a sensational last lap of 1m28.506 seconds (86.43mph) – placing him almost 0.4 seconds clear.
Behind Fittipaldi, the most eye-catching performance came from Cliff Dempsey racer Fischer who delivered a season-best third fastest time after an outstanding performance. Quick throughout the 15-minute session in the challenging conditions, the 21-year-old Californian posted a fastest time of 1m28.915 seconds (86.03mph) to end the run 0.3 seconds clear of podium regular Hickin.
Dussault, who also produced a noteworthy performance, was just 0.029 seconds shy of Hickin with the fifth quickest time ahead of Noble and Reddy. Ferrer, meanwhile, was prevented from trying to do the double when an electrical problem disappointingly brought his FR 2.0 to a halt on only his second lap of the session. He will begin round 13 from eighth on the grid, ahead of Butel.
Round 12 of the 2014 Protyre Formula Renault Championship season will get underway at 12.00 tomorrow, Sunday, 21st September, with round 13 following at 16.00.
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