Greek national Dimitris Papanastasiou has today, Thursday, February 13, become Hillspeed’s first driver signing for the 2014 Protyre Formula Renault Championship, in which the former title winning team plans to field a two-car entry.
London-based Papanastasiou, who made his competitive return with Hathersage’s Hillspeed in last November’s BRDC Formula 4 Championship Winter Series after four years on the racing sidelines, is to make the switch to Protyre Formula Renault for the full 15 round campaign.
Papanastasiou, who celebrated his 31st birthday yesterday, started out in single-seaters in the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy in 2008. After contesting nine races in the main FPA championship the following year, he then focused on business commitments until returning to the cockpit in 2013.
Although aware of the challenge which awaits in his first season in the Protyre Formula Renault Championship, he is determined to develop his skills behind the wheel of his FR 2.0 and become a top 10 challenger.
“It will be a very interesting season”, said Papanastasiou, “The Winter Series in F4 was all about learning and gaining experience, I wasn’t going at 100 percent as I wanted to stay out of trouble and get as much track time and seat time as possible after being away from racing for four years.
“I don’t know the Formula Renault so, again, it will be all about learning for me. I have had one run so far, at Blyton Park, and although you can’t get the high speeds there you understand the handling of the car. The Renault is a much tougher car than the F4 to get it right, it’s more challenging and so more satisfying when you do get it right.”
He added: “The aim is to do well on the circuits I know, like Brands Hatch and Snetterton, and fight to be in the top 10. If I can improve each weekend, get a bit quicker and a bit more competitive, I’ll be happy. I’m delighted to be with Hillspeed again, it’s a very professional team.”
Derbyshire-based Hillspeed, of course, has been a consistent front-running entrant in the Protyre Formula Renault Championship since 2005 and achieved its aim of winning the title in 2010 when Alice Powell made history as the first female to win a Formula Renault crown.
Commenting on Papanastasiou’s 2014 deal, team principal Richard Ollerenshaw said: “We’re very happy to be able to continue our working relationship with Dimitris this year, he’s a pleasure to work with and thoroughly enjoys his racing. The move into Protyre Formula Renault will be another new challenge but we’re sure we’re going to be able to help him achieve his goal of top 10 finishes.”