It was a tale of two halves for points leader Alex Lynn (Fortec Motorsports) today as he took a twelfth and a pole position at the Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby for rounds 15&16 of the CERTINA Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship.
It was Lynn’s Fortec team-mate, Oliver Rowland that was the most consistent performer, taking pole for race one and second for race two.
Celebrating his eighteen birthday, Lynn came back from a rare error in the first of the qualifying sessions to make his mark in the second session. His Fortec team left it late in both sessions, keeping their drivers in the pits for almost half of the twenty minute qualifying periods. On his first ‘fast’ lap in the morning session, Lynn’s car got loose under braking for turn two and pitched the birthday boy off the track, bring out a red flag delay to the session.
“The session was really good and the car ran really well,” said Lynn. “It was a real disappointment this morning, but to bounce back and get my thirteenth pole of the year in the second session is very important for me.
“I’m feeling very confident going into the race tomorrow so we’ll see how Ollie deals with the pressure of being on the front row.”
Rowland, currently third in the championship and top of the Graduate Cup standings, was immediately on the pace in both sessions and his lap of 1m 57.577 secs in the first session was more than enough to keep fellow Fortec driver Mitchell Gilbert behind him.
Despite the difficult weather conditions at Rockingham, fast winds catching out drivers at various points of the circuit, Gilbert lines up alongside Rowland to take another front-row start in what has been a positive season for the Australian youngster.
“I was a bit concerned about what the weather was going to do at the start of the session, as it was very windy,” said Gilbert. “After the red flag, I put some good laps in but I wasn’t really sure of my placing until I came back in. I’m very happy with second. I think that I can definitely challenge for the win, the first corner is very open so it’s all to play for.”
In the second session, Lynn was a class apart, setting a time half second quicker than title rival, Tio Ellinas (Atech Reid GP), but it was Rowland that came and split the pair with a superb lap of 1m 15.866 secs.
“Pole and second is fairly good,” said a modest Rowland. “We made a few mistakes in that session as the tyres were slightly older than Lynn’s, so I think that we were at a slight disadvantage. But, I also made a few mistakes, so we could’ve definitely been quicker. Overall I’m happy we’re so much closer to Alex.
“I’m going to have a good go off the start line as I have a good record of making up places on my first lap.”
Championship contender Ellinas will start from third for both races and was on the pace throughout both sessions.
“It was a pretty good performance,” said an upbeat Ellinas, “I made some changes to the car from this morning and I think, given the weather conditions were a bit more of a challenge in this session, it was very positive.
“Looking ahead to the races, I intend to be fighting for victories or at least be on the podium, I’m feeling very confident.”
Elsewhere there were good performances from Dan Wells (Atech Reid GP) and Jordan King (Manor Competition) who were fourth and fifth in the first session; similarly Atech Reid GP duo Oscar King and Jack Hawksworth who were fourth and fifth respectively in the second of the qualifying sessions.
Manor Competition’s Josh Hill was unlucky to not have two top-six starts tomorrow, both times sliding down the order in the chaotic last gasp end to qualifying. Hill is particularly keen to get a good result at Rockingham as it’s his father, Damon’s birthday this weekend.
Tomorrow’s first race will be at 10:40am, replayed on ITV4 and ITV4HD later in the day, and the second race will be live at 16:00 on the same channels. Live text commentary of both races will be available via Twitter.
Round fifteen qualifying times
1. Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 1:15.577 G
2. Mitchell Gilbert Fortec Motorsports 1:15.693 G
3. Tio Ellinas Atech Reid GP 1:15.706
4. Dan Wells Atech Reid GP 1:15.790
5. Jordan King Manor Competition 1:15.803 G
6. Daniel Cammish Mark Burdett Motorsport 1:15.831
7. Josh Hill Manor Competition 1:15.984
8. Alex Walker Fortec Competition 1:16.020 G
9. Jack Hawksworth Atech Reid GP 1:16.072
10. Oscar King Atech Reid GP 1:16.074 G
11. Alice Powell Manor Competition 1:16.100 G
12. Alex Lynn Fortec Motorsports 1:24.867
Round sixteen qualifying times
1. Alex Lynn Fortec Motorsports 1:15.619
2. Oliver Rowland Fortec Motorsports 1:15.866 G
3. Tio Ellinas Atech Reid GP 1:16.137
4. Oscar King Atech Reid GP 1:16.222 G
5. Jack Hawksworth Atech Reid GP 1:16.328
6. Josh Hill Manor Competition 1:16.348
7. Daniel Cammish Mark Burdett Motorsport 1:16.353
8. Mitchell Gilbert Fortec Motorsports 1:16.452 G
9. Alex Walker Fortec Competition 1:16.464 G
10. Dan Wells Atech Reid GP 1:16.519
11. Jordan King Manor Competition 1:16.695 G
12. Alice Powell Manor Competition 1:16.728 G