Hathersage-based Hillspeed celebrated another championship success after winning the BARC class of the Protyre Formula Renault UK ‘Finals Series’ in a dramatic last round at Rockingham Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Going into the last two races of the six-round series second in the driver standings, Spain’s Victor Jimenez overturned the 22 point lead held by experienced category runner Archie Hamilton after finishing runner-up in the opening encounter and fourth in race two.
By finishing ahead of Hamilton in the first of the day’s races, 27-year-old Jimenez kept his title hopes alive but with 19 points his rival’s advantage there needed to be a big change around.
On lap five of race two, the BARC class battle was turned on its head when Hamilton spun off.
Providing Jimenez with just the opportunity he needed, the championship looked secure with third position but contact with Steven Durrant on the penultimate lap threatened to derail the Hillspeed driver’s bid.
He managed to continue in fourth – behind team-mate Sean Walkinshaw who secured his maiden podium – to claim the title by just three points.
Marking Hillspeed’s third championship victory of 2011, having become driver and team champions in the Ginetta Junior competition last month, the Derbyshire squad goes into the winter break aiming to return to the track equally strong in 2012.
“Another championship, another title win,” said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw,
“We knew for the summer season we wouldn’t be challenging for that title with three rookie drivers but we’ve come into the winter series with a driver that has more experience and won the championship. You need the consistency of the driver and reliability of the car and with Victor we’ve had both.”
Walkinshaw’s weekend ended perfectly with his first ever car racing podium in round six, coming off the back of a quartet of fourth place finishes at Snetterton seven days earlier.
Qualifying fifth for both Rockingham encounters, the 18-year-old, took sixth in the damp opener but profited from the Durrant-Jimenez tangle to sweep through for a debut podium.
“Sean has done an exceptionally good job this year, he came into his motor racing with no previous experience but has built on everything he’s learned through the year and he’s got his just desserts with a podium in the final race,” added Ollerenshaw.
“Joe has had a very steep learning curve, both at Snetterton and Rockingham, and the conditions on both weekends were constantly changing so that made the task he faced even harder. We look forward to being able to build on everything he’s learned into next season.”