Scorpio Motosport made a long-awaited return to the top step of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship podium with a stunning double victory at Silverstone in the hands of Ivan Taranov.
The final rounds of the 2013 season saw the championship join the support package of the British Touring Car Championship, with Taranov making his return to the series having missed the past two meetings after having his license controversially suspended following an incident at Thruxton in June.
The Russian racer showed no signs of rustiness as he led the way during pre-event testing on Friday, pace that he replicated in qualifying to take his maiden championship pole position for the opening race with a lap of 56.697s.
Despite a good start off the line in race one, Taranov found himself shuffled back to second on the opening lap. Hot on the heels of race-leader Sam MacLeod though, Taranov was quickly back in front with a slick move on lap five. From there, he controlled the remainder of the race to secure his maiden series victory.
Filled with confidence from his race one success, Taranov had high hopes of replicating the feat in the second encounter, which was televised live on ITV4. Starting fourth, Taranov maintained his place off the line and then benefitted from the series champion and vice-champion making contact ahead at Becketts to storm through into the lead.
After a short safety car period following an incident-filled opening few laps, Taranov perfectly controlled the restart to instantly forge a gap to the pack behind. The 18 year old wouldn’t be caught from then, with a composed drive to the flag giving him his second victory.
Alongside the returning Taranov, the Scorpio team welcomed Piers Hickin into their camp for the final weekend, the 16 year old joining the team with limited experience in the series, having completed just three weekends earlier in the season with a different outfit.
Despite his relative inexperience, Hickin instantly impressed in the Scorpio blue, showing hugely encouraging top six pace in testing. In two incredibly-close qualifying sessions, Hickin secured eighth and eleventh place qualifying spots, lapping within just four tenths of pole position on both occasions.
Hickin slipped to eleventh on a frantic opening lap in race one, however the Surrey-based racer drove superbly in the tight midfield to fight his way back up to seventh place at the finish, his best result of the season.
The second race started in sensational fashion, as he scythed his way through from eleventh on the grid into the top four at the end of the opening lap. It came at a cost however, slight contact at his rear having led to a broken suspension.
Left defenceless from the pack behind after the safety car, Hickin eventually dropped back to an eleventh place finish at the flag. While a frustrating end to the weekend, he certainly showcased his potential over the course of the meeting.
For the team’s regular driver Henrique Baptista, the final meeting couldn’t have gone any differently to his team-mates’, with it proving to be a nightmare weekend to forget.
The Brazilian hinted at a positive weekend with an impressive run in testing on Wednesday, however a tough qualifying session left him in the midfield pack, with ninth and tenth place starts for the races.
Starting in the middle of the grid is always dangerous in the close, hard-fought Formula Renault series and so it proved at Silverstone, with unfortunate contact early on in both races leading to a frustrating double retirement.
“It’s been while, far too long in fact, since we last won,” said team principal Jon Pettitt. “It’s been a little Fortec and MGR heavy this season, so it’s great that we’ve got back up there and shown what we’re capable of with these cars.
“Ivan’s proved today that the pace is there and had things gone a little differently this season, he would have been a formidable force in the championship. The break has helped him, he’s grown up a little bit and come back and delivered, proving to everyone what he, and the team, can do.
“Piers has had a great weekend. It doesn’t show it in the results with the incident in race two, but his testing pace was fantastic considering he jumped straight into the car on Friday, so we know he’s got a lot of potential and we hope we can forge a partnership going into next season.
Photo by ASautosport Photography.