Scottish teenager Colin Noble Jnr (Penicuik, Midlothian) starred in the penultimate round of the 2014 Protyre Formula Renault Championship at Silverstone National Circuit this afternoon, Saturday, 27th September, to claim his maiden category victory after a superb lights-to-flag drive.
Having taken his first category pole position earlier in the day, the MGR Motorsport racer bagging the round 14 pole by a mere 0.020 seconds, Noble Jnr went on to deliver a faultless performance in the race. Under huge pressure from Scorpio Motorsport’s Piers Hickin (Knaphill), the 18-year-old took the win by just 0.060 seconds on the run to the chequered flag.
Hickin, who claimed his maiden Protyre Formula Renault victory last weekend at Croft in North Yorkshire, was an ever-present threat to Noble Jnr but try as he might, the Scorpio racer couldn’t quite force the eventual winner into a mistake despite relentless attention.
With fastest laps traded among the lead contenders throughout the 18 lap contest, the pace was extremely hot at the front and Noble Jnr and Hickin were never more than a few tenths of a second apart. On the final lap, Hickin got a fantastic run out of Luffield and through Woodcote to edge alongside the MGR driver and just missed out on the line in one of the series’ closest ever finishes.
“I’m really happy with the win – at the end I was just looking for the line and making sure my nose was ahead”, said an elated Noble Jnr, “We made a few changes after qualifying and we were really quick early on, it started to get close at the end though and I made a couple of mistakes.
“Into Brooklands I had to defend and then I nearly made a mistake at the last corner, I slowed down a bit too much but Piers [Hickin] still got a good exit and nearly went around the outside of me. It’s a fantastic result.”
Second placed Hickin commented: “It would have been nice to get another win, but we did beat our two championship rivals. The only thing we can do here this weekend is try and get second in the championship and that’s the aim.
“First would have been lovely but second is fantastic and it’s what we needed to do. Congratulations to Colin [Noble Jnr] he drove a perfect race, well done to him. To finish second in the championship, after falling so far back earlier in the season, would be a really great result for me and the team so we’ll be pushing hard to try and make that happen tomorrow.”
While the lead duo scorched into their own private battle at the front, the scrap for third place raged a little further behind between MGR team-mates Matteo Ferrer (Colchester) and 2014 champion Pietro Fittipaldi (Camberley).
The Brazilian was eager from the outset to try and break into the top three, challenging the Italian on the first lap at Becketts, but Ferrer soaked up every bit of pressure and kept Fittipaldi at bay with some textbook driving. On lap 14, though, the champion got a good run again up to Becketts but a touch to the rear of Ferrer’s car at the right-hander resulted in a spin for the Italian.
Fittipaldi moved into third position, with Ferrer dropping back to fifth place, but the latter hit back quickly by retaking fourth from American racer TJ Fischer within a lap. Post-race, the Clerk of the Course reversed the finishing order in relation to the lap 14 incident so Ferrer was credited with third and Fittipaldi – who also set fastest lap on the final tour – was moved back to fourth.
Initially, Cliff Dempsey Racing duo Fischer and Patrick Dussault ran close behind the Fittipaldi and Ferrer battle but from mid-distance they started to lose touch. Canadian racer Dussault was then edged back to seventh during the latter stages by Fortec Motorsport’s Alex Gill (Womersley) who had to mount a major recovery after a troublesome start.
Racing returnee Michael Epps (Hemel Hempstead), making his first appearance in Protyre Formula Renault for a couple of years, ended the race in eighth position for SWB Motorsport ahead of Jersey team-mate Jack Butel.
In the all-important battle for the Vice-Champion’s position ahead of the final round at Silverstone tomorrow, Sunday, 28th September, Hickin has taken the advantage and moved into second place in the provisional standings on ‘drop scores’ four points ahead of Gill. Ferrer is now fourth on drops due to his lowest score of the season being 11 points – Hickin and Gill each drop zero.
Round 15 of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship will get underway at 13.45 tomorrow and will be broadcast live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD with online streaming at www.itv.com/btcc
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin.
Provisional 2014 Protyre Formula Renault Championship Driver Standings (after Rd14 inc. drops):
CHAMPION: Pietro Fittipaldi, 404pts; 2nd Piers Hickin, 334pts; 3rd Alex Gill, 330pts; 4th Matteo Ferrer, 327pts