Alex Gill made almost the perfect start to the opening rounds of the Protyre Formula Renault championship season at Rockingham Motor Speedway, as Ben Barnicoat showed the utmost consistency, if not with the results he would have liked.
In his inaugural full motor racing season, Doncaster racer Gill made the most of his first-ever front-row start in round 3, by hounding poleman Matteo Ferrer.
Constantly filling the Italian’s mirrors, the 16 year-old pressured the leader into making mistakes, allowing Gill to pounce on lap 7, going for a gap, he skilfully squeezed past to take the lead.
Initially Ferrer retaliated, but then dropping back, it allowed Gill to hold the lead to the flag and take a commanding maiden single-seater victory.
“It was really good, I was thinking what to do, finding I was quicker than Ferrer through the infield corners helped a lot,” beamed Gill, with an ear-to-ear grin. “I was trying to be cautious on the brakes and managed to take him. Matteo was defending but fair, I committed to my move and he did not try to take me out”.
Leaving the circuit fourth position in the points table, the weekend had shown promise from round one with Gill running second into the last laps, only to suffer a puncture, and retire early.
Making a poor start to round two saw Gill dropping down the order to seventh, he then began a monumental fight-back. Scything through the field he clawed his way to 2nd-place at the flag, setting the fastest race lap in the process – a particularly impressive feat considering he sustained front wing damage early on.
Gill announced, “After the disappointment of yesterday when we had the puncture, that race was great!”
Ben Barnicoat knew all about the lack of overtaking having started and finished all three rounds in 5th position. The Chesterfield 17 year-old suffered alternator failure during round 1 and did well to finish through lack of power.
With a new engine, damper problems gave the McLaren F1 team protégé an ill-handling car in round 2, holding him back again.
Dampers replaced, a general lack of ‘grunt’ in round 3 prevented any progress beyond 5th-place, even though Barnicoat tried his utmost.
The opening round of the Formula Renault NEC is at Monza, Italy next weekend, while the next time Barnicoat races in Britain is at Silverstone’s May round.