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Archive for June, 2011

Adrian Quaife-HobbsAdrian Quaife-Hobbs drove a faultless race to take a convincing lights to flag victory in the latest rounds of the GP3 Series in Valencia on Saturday. The 20 year-old started from the second row and after leaping into the lead at the start was never headed as he went on to record his maiden series win and the fastest lap of the race.

Adrian kicked off the weekend with a scintillating pace in qualifying, which saw him top the times for much of the session. However on his final flying lap the Marussia Manor Racing star was heavily baulked in the last sector, after setting the fastest time in the first two, dropping him to third fastest of the 30 runners.

In the race on Saturday afternoon, Adrian made a superb start to get the jump on the front row starters to take an immediate lead. A safety car period on the opening lap, when two cars tangled mid-field, failed to put Adrian off his stride and at the restart the Tonbridge racer made another impeccable getaway to hold position.

Posting fastest lap several times throughout the race, Adrian gradually pulled away at the front, opening up a 6.3 second advantage at the flag, and the fastest lap to add to his joy and gaining him an additional point.

With the top eight reversed for Sunday morning’s second race, Adrian lined up on the fourth row and at the start gained two places after another lighting getaway. However a master cylinder problem early on, which led to a braking issue, ended his chances of moving through the field and resulted in him having to brake far earlier into the corners.

This prevented him from achieving what would likely have been a podium finish, allowing two of his rivals through, and winding up eighth. Despite this, Adrian was very happy to have scored his first GP3 victory and delighted with a return to form as he heads into his only UK appearance on the year, at Silverstone in two weeks time.

“Winning is a fantastic feeling,” he said. “The team did an extremely good job this weekend, giving me a good car for qualifying, where I was consistently fastest for much of the session. Only when I got held up on my flying lap did I get pushed down to third, but I was very happy with our pace and confident going into the race.

“The car was perfect. I got off to a great start and took the lead early on and just pushed the whole way. I was gradually pulling away with each lap and ended up winning by more than six seconds and with fastest lap, which reinforces the superb pace we had.

“Today, however, after a great start where I was challenging for fifth, we had a problem with the master cylinder which meant I wasn’t able to brake as late as I should, and as late as the other drivers, which was frustrating. The car was great on the straights, very fast and I was very happy with that, but sadly I had to brake so early into the corners I was passed by a couple of drivers. Without that I’m fairly certain we could have had a podium. But overall it’s been an excellent weekend and great to win on a street circuit.

“We’ve shown great pace all weekend and it really bodes well for our home race in two weeks time. It shows how hard we’ve worked in the four days in testing and hopefully we can keep the momentum going forwards into Silverstone.”

The next double-header rounds of the 2011 GP3 Series take place over the weekend of 9/10 July at Silverstone’s British Grand Prix meeting in Northamptonshire.

More images and information can be found at www.quaifehobbs.com and www.virginracing.com/news/397/valencia-victory

Ronan McKenzieAs part of National Motorsport Week in the UK, Cranfield University, who has a renowned Motorsport Engineering and Management postgraduate programme, will be displaying Ronan McKenzie’s Dragon2000 sponsored Junior 100cc Easykart during their Open Day event on Wednesday 29 June along with other competition cars and bikes.

National Motorsport Week in the UK this year takes place on 25 June – 3 July 2011, which is an initiative from the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) and the Motorsport Foundation. Running since 2006, its aim is to attract wider media coverage, which in turn introduces new fans, competitors, spectators, organisers, engineers, journalists, photographers and much needed marshals to the thrilling sport of Motorsport.

Events are taking place all over the country from Factory Tours of top Formula 1 teams to racing events, screenings of races and displays of race vehicles.

At the University’s Open Day, prospective students will be able to visit the Cranfield Impact Centre, Off Road Dynamics facility and also the Cranfield Motorsport Simulator, that Ronan recently experienced at the invitation of the university earlier this month. For more Information about Cranfield University please visit www.motorsport.cranfield.ac.uk

Dealer Management Software provider Dragon2000, based near Silverstone in Northamptonshire, are supporting 12 year old Ronan’s bid for the 2011 Easykart UK Junior 100cc Championship. They are represented at over 40 franchises worldwide and supply DMS Systems to garages, MOT stations, car supermarkets, used car specialists and independent workshops. For more information about Dragon2000 please visit: www.dragon2000.co.uk

Ronan McKenzie is competing in the following events in 2011:
Easykart UK Junior 100cc Championship
Easykart International European Junior 100cc Championship
Easykart International Junior 100cc World Finals
Easykart UK “E” Plate Open Championship

For more information about Ronan McKenzie please visit www.ronanmckenzie.com

Press enquiries and Sponsorship enquiries please email info@ronanmckenzie.com

Alice PowellThis weekend was rounds 9 and 10 of the Formula Renault UK Championship at Croft. Alice was hoping to capitalise on a good points finish at Oulton and take that to Croft.

Qualifying One, was wet, and Alice did not get the best out of the wets, and sadly ended up P9 on the grid. Qualifying Two was hit and miss with the weather, with rain threatening just before the session. The rain held off and out the field went on slicks. For the majority of the session, Powell was P2, but it wasn’t till the later stages that she dropped to P3. “Quali 1 was disappointing, but to get P3 in Quali 2 was great and it was a key opportunity to get a podium or a win.”

For race one, Alice used her worst set of tyres to save the best set for race two. Alice got a great start, challenging for P8 and P7. Sadly, whilst trying to make a move she lost a position and dropped down to P10. For the remainder of the race, Alice put pressure on P9, but could not gain a way through and had to settle for the tenth spot.

Race Two would see Alice line up 3rd on the grid. Again getting a great start, she moved along side Mitchell Gilbert (P2) on the approach to the first corner. However, Gilbert bounced off the kerb into Turn one, resulting in his rear wheel hitting Alice’s front wheel and sending her through the gravel and knocking out her tracking (steering). Alice made it back on track, but in P5. Towards the end of the lap, Powell challenged Oliver Rowland for 4th place, but he squeezed her onto the grass and his rear wheel touched Alice’s front wheel, the same side that Gilbert touched. This knocked her tracking out a bit more and on lap two, she misjudged the chicane, due to the tracking, and clipped the tyres, sadly ending her race.

Speaking about the weekend, Alice said “It has not been a great weekend. Getting 3rd on the grid for race two and getting brilliant starts was a positive, but the rest was very disappointing. We definitely have the pace to get great results, and my team (Manor) and sponsors (Silverstone-Hotels.com, Immun’Age, IWI Watches and Sparco) deserve a good result, but, at the moment, things are not coming together. I just need to try and keep my head up and try and raise some money for the remainder of the season. I would like to thank Manor (Competition) for their efforts at the weekend.”

Straight from Croft, Alice flew out to Germany to test at the Nurbugring, Nordschleife Circuit for Aston Martin. This was a great opportunity for the 18 year old to learn the 15mile circuit, and to gain experience in a GT Sports Car. The Nordschleife circuit is very well known across the motorsport world, not only for its length, but for the challenging corners as well as the exciting races it have produced in the past.

Alice thoughts after the test were, “Wow! It was a brilliant experience and I would love to thank everybody from Aston Martin, and their sponsors, for letting me test. It really was a joy!!”

David King, Director, Special Projects at Aston Martin commented, “We invited Alice to come and experience the Nordschleife at a private test. She was so impressive in her training laps, that we sent her out in a 500bhp V12 Vantage race car, in the rain! As expected, she did a great job and impressed the whole team with her professional approach”.

Carlin’s GP3 drivers made progress in the opening race in Valencia this afternoon, in hot and sunny conditions around the F1 street circuit. Leonardo Cordeiro pushed hard to finish 10th having lined up 24th, while Conor Daly crossed the line 12th with Morad 15th following a drive-through penalty.

As predicted the action kicked off in the early stages of the race, with a first lap accident causing problems for several drivers. Morad was one driver to be caught out by the unfolding melee and was forced to cut the first corner in an effort to avoid a collision.

Behind him, team mates Cordeiro and Daly were also making progress. Cordeiro suffered a damaged nose cone as the field bunched up, but escaped any serious damage. After the restart Cordeiro and Daly had moved up to 15th and 18th respectively while Morad was in a strong 10th place.

Daly continued to show the progress he was making in his first season in Europe, and had overtaken several cars to 15th place. Morad’s good run in ninth place was dealt a blow when he was handed a drive through penalty for exceeding track limits on the opening lap, which put him down to 15th.

Daly continued to push until the final lap, passing Vittorio Ghirelli on the final lap, to cross the line just 0.090 seconds ahead and seal 12th, while Cordeiro had pushed hard and made no mistakes to climb to tenth place.

Cordeiro was happy to have made his way up to 10th place, commenting, “My start was good. I made up places in the first corner as I braked late and stayed on the inside. I stayed away from the crashes which I think was the key today. The car was really good, especially in the mid to late stages of the race and it felt great under braking which meant I was able to overtake people. I didn’t make any mistakes and kept pushing hard to the end to finish 10th. “

Team mate Daly added, “I didn’t have the best start but I did get past the crashes on the first corner so I made up a few places then. Then I had a good restart once the safety car had come in and passed a few people. The car was really fast and I was able to keep pushing, although I struggled with the two cars in front by the time I was 13th. I caught the car ahead, but it seemed that he brake tested me as closed in on him unexpectedly and damaged my front nose. Despite that I was able to keep going. I passed Ghirelli into the last corner and managed to grab 12th, which gives us a good grid slot for tomorrow.”

Morad was disappointed to have gained a drive-through penalty which compromised his afternoon, “The start was hectic as expected and there was a big accident at the first corner. I took the safe decision to take the inside line to avoid the incident but the stewards later deemed that I had exceeded track limits. It’s a shame because there wasn’t anything else I could do and we hade top running pace which could have realistically given us reverse grid pole for tomorrow.”

The GP3 drivers will be back on track for race two tomorrow at 09.25 local time.

Kevin CecconKevin Ceccon’s apprentice period in GP2 is proceeding in the best possible way. In Valencia, in the first race of the GP2 weekend, the Italian drove another amazing race, and only bad luck stopped him from clinching an impressive result.

Kevin was starting from P23 but his first lap was amazing: first he was extremely good off the line and then he found the right gaps in the first corners: he crossed the line of lap 1 in 14th place, an amazing 9 places better than his spot on the grid. Then Kevin kept an impressive pace and after his pit-stop he was even ahead of team-mate Herck, but an impact with some debris left on track by a contact damaged one of his tyres, causing a pressure drop. Ceccon, who couldn’t communicate with the team due to a radio malfunction, hung on until 12 laps to go when he did let Herck by and then stopped to change the tyres again. Once the problem was solved the Italian driver showed all of his quickness again, posting the second fastest lap of the race in 1’49”751.

Kevin Ceccon: “Obviously been stripped of a good performance by bad luck isn’t good, but I’m here to gather experience and from this point of view this race was useful anyway. The track is a city circuit but despite this it has nothing to do with Monaco and I don’t like it too much. Anyway I was very quick in the first laps, so I hope that tomorrow my race will be clear from misfortune, a good result could be in our reach.

Paolo Coloni: “Kevin deserves to be praised, because his first lap was just amazing and so was the first part of his race. Then bad luck decided to strike, but with the lap he posted at the end when his tyres were again ok, Kevin confirmed that his learning process in GP2 is going in the best possible way”.

Will Bratt - Spa Formula 2 WinnerWill Bratt secured his maiden FIA Formula 2 Championship race victory in sensational style at the immensely challenging Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium this afternoon, Saturday, 25th June, thanks to a superbly judged performance in a wet fifth round of the 2011 season.

The Banbury 23-year-old, who started the race fifth on the grid, made a good getaway and after an exceptionally bold move around the outside at the first corner, he swept into second on the run down the hill towards Eau Rouge before taking the lead at the exit of Les Combes.

From there, the Briton built and maintained a healthy lead – punching in fastest race laps when he needed to – before taking the chequered flag on lap 16 some 2.5 seconds clear. The fantastic win, in very tricky conditions, has hoisted Will back into the championship top five, just a single point shy of fourth place.

“It’s fantastic to get the first win, it’s definitely been a long time coming”, said the Oxon racer after a drive which showcased his skills at their brilliant best, “This has put us back into the thick of things in the championship which is exactly what we needed after Magny-Cours. I can’t wait for tomorrow now, there’s no reason at all why we shouldn’t be challenging at the front again.”

During practice on Friday, 24th June, Will was fourth fastest in the damp opening session, within half a second of the top of the timesheets, before running 10th quickest in session two. Round five qualifying this morning was fiercely contested in very wet conditions but as the track dried towards the conclusion, Will had to settle for fifth fastest despite holding pole position at one stage.

Before the start of the race there were some concerns regarding oil on the circuit in the proximity of Will’s grid slot but he made no mistakes as the action got underway, holding fifth into La Source and boldly going around the outside on the brakes to be in a position to move into second.

Claiming the place and immediately threatening pole-sitter Ramon Pineiro, Will committed himself to full attack mode through the daunting climb up Eau Rouge and along Kemmel Straight. Running close behind Pineiro through Les Combes and piling on the pressure, the Spaniard then made a mistake at the middle part of the right-left combination of turns and Will happily grabbed the lead.

Some two seconds clear into lap two, his advantage was cut to just half a second the next time around but from there Will increased the gap steadily and after reeling off a succession of fastest laps at mid-distance he ran untroubled to a richly deserved, and long-awaited, maiden F2 victory – his first race win since memorably taking the Euroseries 3000 title in 2009.

Will added: “My start was good and after I decided to go to the outside for the first corner, I made up a load of time on the brakes which got us up into second. I committed hard to Eau Rouge and that put me in a good position behind (Ramon) Pineiro to pressure him through Les Combes. From there it was a case of keeping the car in-line to avoid the damp patches and bringing it home.”

Qualifying for round six of the 2011 FIA Formula 2 Championship will get underway at 09.00 (local time) tomorrow, Sunday, 26th June, with the race itself scheduled to commence at 14.20. Cable and digital satellite channel Motors TV will broadcast live coverage of round six from 13.10 UK time with live streaming online at www.formulatwo.com

Provisional 2011 FIA Formula 2 Championship Standings (after Rd5):
1st Christopher Zanella, 86pts; 5th Will Bratt, 53pts

Photo by FIA Formula Two Championship

Karl-Oscar LiivMP Motorsport came extremely close to earning its first podium finish of the 2011 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 season at the Nurburgring in Germany last weekend, 18th/19th June, with Estonian teenager Karl-Oscar Liiv just missing out on third place during the final lap of race two.

The second of the weekend’s encounters was by far the best for the Dutch team with Liiv almost managing to grab the last podium place on lap 12. In the end, he took the chequered flag just 0.1 seconds adrift to secure his first championship points of the season in the ultra-competitive series.

Starting seventh on the grid, Liiv – who celebrated his 18th birthday on Sunday – moved into the top six on lap one before taking fifth place on lap five. Dicing with Miki Weckstrom over fourth position for a couple of laps, Liiv made the place his own on lap nine before then challenging Timmy Hansen for third all the way to the finish.

Fellow Estonian Johannes Moor excelled in the tricky, wet conditions and sliced his way through the order fantastically well after being forced to start the race from the back of the substantial 34-car grid due to a mix-up during qualifying.

Several drivers, Moor included, were made to leave the track by a marshal and enter Parc Ferme before qualifying had ended so were prevented from finishing their flying laps. Seriously damaging Moor’s chances, the 18-year-old raced superbly and charged through into an exceptional 12th place.

Swedish team-mate Kevin Kleveros also had to start lower down the order for race two than would ordinarily be expected due to a few problems during the wet qualifying session. Lining up in 25th position, the 19-year-old made very good progress and his pace was impressive but all of his hard work was undone on lap six due to a fuel pump issue – easily costing him a deserved top 10 finish.

Team principal Sander Dorsman commented: “All three drivers did a fantastic job in race two, Karl-Oscar was so close to getting on the podium – he almost did it on the last lap but just missed out in the end. Fourth place though is still a great result for us.

“Johannes raced really well, he overtook a lot of cars in the 12 laps and really did do a great job to get as high as 12th place. Unfortunately, Kevin wasn’t able to complete the race because of the fuel pump breaking but without that big problem we’re sure he would have been in the top 10.”

Race one wasn’t as fruitful for MP Motorsport with Kleveros starting in 15th position, just over a second shy of pole position, ahead of Moor in 16th and Liiv in 19th place. In the end, Kleveros finished in 13th position just a fraction ahead of Liiv while Moor was 17th.

Little over a week remains until the next Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 race meeting which will be held at the Hungaroring in Hungary on 2nd/3rd July.

Provisional 2011 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Driver Standings:
13th Karl-Oscar Liiv, 12pts; 21st Kevin Kleveros, 1pt; No score – Johannes Moor

Photo by Chris Schotanus/Essay Produkties.

The Auto GP round of Bucharest, that was due to happen from 19 to 21 August, has been dropped from the calendar. The decision was taken today by Auto GP Organization because of the too many doubts still surrounding the event with just two months to go.

The Romanian city track still hasn’t obtained from FIA the Grade 2 homologation needed to host the Auto GP event, and furthermore the local promoter wasn’t able to secure the financial support required to keep the event going. This forced Auto GP to take a difficult but inevitable decision.

The Series staff is already at work on various alternatives for a replacement event, and will make an announcement soon.

Enzo Coloni: “We still think that Auto GP would have provided a massive show in the streets of Bucharest, but we have commitments towards our partners, our teams and our drivers and we couldn’t accept so many question marks with just two months to go. So we had to take this decision, even if reluctantly. We are already in talks with other circuits for a replacement event, mainly in Italy and Spain at the moment, but we are still open to other options”.

After a one-month break, waiting for F1 to go to Canada and come back, GP2 is ready to get back on track in Valencia, where the Dallara cars will race between the walls surrounding the circuit built in the streets of the America’s Cup harbour.

After Monaco another city track, where Scuderia Coloni will aim to get the first points of a season that until now confirmed the competitiveness of the Italian cars but also so the team get an high share of bad luck, with the injury to Davide Rigon as the lowest point of the season.

In Spain, as in the two previous events, Michael Herck will have Kevin Ceccon as a team-mate: the Italian driver in Barcelona and Monte Carlo followed the learning path set for him by the team, showing the right attitude in tackling a difficult task as a GP2 debut can be. So, together with the team, he decided to continue this experience.

Paolo Coloni: “After Monaco we face another city track, even if very different from the Principality. I expect some exciting and hard-fought races, where we will aim for the points that we didn’t get until now. We worked hard with our drivers and now it’s time to make the most of that job. Michael last year got a 3rd place finish in Race 2, so we know he likes the track and we expect him to deliver. Kevin doesn’t know the track, but despite this we’re sure that he will keep improving”.

Scott Malvern secured his third excessive clean sweep and made it nine consecutive race victories with an impressive display on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit this weekend. But twice he was faced with having to restart a race when red flags were deployed in both races one & three due to a heavy downpour and cars losing control and spinning off the track.

As the 26 car grid set off on the green flag lap it began to rain. With all the cars shod with slick tyres for dry running conditions were very trick but Scott pulled clear of the field to pull out a substantial advantage until the cars of 2nd placed Geoff Uhrhane and championship leader Jeroen Slaghekke spun off into the gravel at Clearways corner. The race was red flagged and all the drivers pitted to change for wet treaded tyres. At the restart Malvern pulled clear of Finnish Champion Antti Buri to win by over 4 seconds.

Race two, later on Saturday afternoon was run in dry and sunny conditions and Malvern on pole was beaten into 2nd into the first corner by 2nd placed Uhrhane. But Malvern subjected Uhrhane to relentless pressure and eventually capitalized on a small mistake by his Australian rival to pass him at Westfield corner. It was now the turn of Uhrhane to place Malvern under heavy pressure but the Barkingside racer stood firm and positioned his car inch perfect every lap to resist Uhrhane’s attention and take a 2nd win of the day.
Race three was almost a carbon copy of the weather conditions of race one with a heavy downpour bringing out the red flags early in the race. Malvern had built a substantial lead over team mate Nick McBride when the race was stopped with cars again stranded in the gravel at Clearways. All the cars changed to wet weather tyres and once again Malvern nailed the start to pull a comfortable gap and take the win in the shortened restarted race.

So Malvern boosted his win tally to ten from twelve races and also achieved a ninth consecutive race victory. Malvern now leads the championship and has a firm eye cast at the record number of race victories in a season which stands at 14 by Callum McLeod in 2007. With only half the scheduled 24 races completed he is well on course to achieve his target but concedes that the biggest threat to him not realising this is if he cannot raise the funds t complete his 2011 campaign. “It was really touch & go to make it to Brands Hatch this weekend and we only just managed to put something together at the last minute. It would be a real tragedy if we were unable to continue with great results like this.”

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.