Protyre Formula Renault enjoyed a memorable end to the 2014 season in front of the live ITV4 cameras at Silverstone National Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 28th September, with a sensational final race of the campaign won by Scorpio Motorsport’s Piers Hickin (Knaphill).
At the chequered flag after 18 enthralling laps, Hickin sealed the Vice-Champion’s position with his second success in as many weekends while MGR Motorsport team-mates Colin Noble Jnr (Penicuik, Midlothian) and Pietro Fittipaldi (Camberley) completed the podium.
Taking the lead at the start of lap two, following a small mistake by Fittipaldi, Hickin was under pressure throughout from Noble Jnr – who also got ahead of the Brazilian at the same time – but produced a textbook performance to keep the Saturday race winner at bay by 0.6 seconds.
Noble Jnr, meanwhile, was under increasing pressure himself during the closing stages of round 15 from a resurgent Fittipaldi and at the chequered flag a real grandstand finish saw only 0.034 seconds separate the team-mates in Noble’s favour. Just 0.689 seconds was the gap first to third.
“We’ve obviously done well the last two weekends, this was always the intention as we have had a difficult season”, said Vice-Champion Hickin, “We’ve been fighting back, getting the car where it should be and we’ve shown at Croft and here this weekend at Silverstone we have the pace to win.
“We should have been there in the championship fight all year, but we can’t complain where we have finished. Second in the standings is fantastic and especially in my first full season in car racing, Scorpio has done a fantastic job all year – big thank you to those guys.”
Fittipaldi, who brilliantly sealed the 2014 Protyre Formula Renault title last weekend at Croft, made his pole position start count at the beginning to hold off Ferrer on the run into Copse but at Becketts it was three for the lead with Hickin also getting in on the act.
Producing a fantastic move on the outside at Brooklands, Hickin grabbed second place from Ferrer and Noble Jnr also slipped through to demote the Italian to fourth at Luffield. Then, at the start of lap two, Hickin managed to get a good run on Fittipaldi to slice past and the loss of momentum for the South American up to Becketts meant Noble Jnr and Ferrer also went past.
As Hickin and Noble Jnr started to edge away at the front, Cliff Dempsey Racing’s TJ Fischer took advantage of the ultra-close action ahead and on lap three the American managed to move into the podium placings after running three abreast with Ferrer and Fittipaldi.
On lap four, third to eighth position were nose-to-tail with Fischer heading Ferrer, Fittipaldi, CDR driver Patrick Dussault, Fortec Motorsport’s Alex Gill (Womersley) and SWB Motorsport’s Michael Epps (Hemel Hempstead). Into Brooklands, though, an attempted pass by Gill on Dussault didn’t work out and the Canadian’s car was pitched into a spin – with Epps running wide in avoidance.
Gill, therefore, held sixth place at that point with Jack Butel (Jersey) through into seventh in the second SWB car and Epps and Dussault recovering in eighth and ninth – the latter with front wing damage. Within a couple of laps, though, Gill pitted to have a new nose cone fitted to his own car and he eventually ended the race in ninth position, costing him a possible top three series finish.
Back at the front, the fight for third intensified further on lap 10 when Ferrer managed to take the place from Fischer at Becketts and the American was then nudged back to fifth by Fittipaldi who pounced into Brooklands.
Fittipaldi, determined to end his magnificent championship-winning season on the podium, piled on the pressure to his team-mate and into Brooklands on lap 12 Ferrer ran slightly wide. Fittipaldi then attacked on the outside line into Luffield and edged ahead but slight unintentional contact as Fittipaldi moved across to take third place led to a broken front wing for Ferrer.
Immediately pulling well clear, the champion set a series of fastest laps as he reeled in Noble Jnr and Hickin but he just ran out of laps to try and do anything about the lead pair. Ferrer, meanwhile, had to settle for fifth behind Fischer after unsurprisingly struggling with his badly broken front wing.
Epps rounded out the top six in his second race back in Protyre Formula Renault, ahead of Butel and Dussault who, to add insult to injury after his lap four dramas, received a five second penalty after being adjudged to have exceeded track limits a few laps from the end.
“It was a really close race again today, Piers [Hickin] drive a faultless race and it was really hard to try and get past”, said Noble Jnr after, by far, his best weekend of the season, “It’s a great way to end the season, a first and a second, so hopefully we can carry that on into next year.”
Reflecting on his 12th podium, Fittipaldi – who was also presented with his 2014 champion’s trophy on the rostrum – said: “We struggled a bit at the beginning and lost a couple of places, but we were able to make it up and were really fast at the end. With another couple of laps, I’m sure we could have won. It’s been a great year, we won 10 races and it’s just been really unbelievable.”
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin.
Provisional 2014 Protyre Formula Renault Championship Driver Standings:
CHAMPION: Pietro Fittipaldi, 431pts; 2nd Piers Hickin, 366pts; 3rd Matteo Ferrer, 347pts; 4th Alex Gill, 342pts; 5th Colin Noble Jnr, 286pts; 6th Travis Jordan ‘TJ’ Fischer, 240pts