PODIUM FOR MOORE HILLSPEED HIGHLIGHT DURING MIXED AUTUMN TROPHY OPENER
Leading BRDC Formula 4 team Hillspeed experienced a race meeting of very mixed fortunes during the opening event of the 2015 Autumn Trophy at a rain-hit Snetterton 300 Circuit over the weekend, 7th/8th November – the highlight coming with a podium finish in round two for Struan Moore.
Returning to the UK after a year competing in the Japanese Formula 3 Championship, 20-year-old Moore was also in the fight for silverware during the opening contest on Saturday but contact from a rival on the penultimate lap proved costly.
Frustratingly, his championship challenge then took a major hit in round three on Sunday after a heavy impact following an excursion early in the contest. Resulting in a cautionary visit to hospital, the Jersey driver had to sit-out race four and will also miss the finale next weekend at Brands Hatch.
In the second Hillspeed entry, Ameya Vaidyanathan posted a best result of fourth in race two behind the sister Tatuus-Cosworth and added fifth in round four. Two non-finishes in races one and three tempered the Indian driver’s weekend.
“Firstly, we must commend Tatuus on the strength and safety of the new MSV F4-016 after Struan’s accident in race three”, said Richard Ollerenshaw, the Hathersage squad’s team principal, “It was great to see Struan on the podium, he should have had at least two and could have been on for a win as well, but obviously very disappointing he can’t contest the Brands races next weekend.
“After being fastest in testing, qualifying and the races didn’t work out anything like we expected for either driver – Ameya had the pace, in the wet especially in testing, to be a podium contender. All in all, it’s been a tough weekend but vital experience working with the new car in race conditions.”
Championship returnee Moore qualified an excellent second fastest in a wet and challenging first qualifying session on Saturday, missing out on pole position by just 0.4 seconds, while team-mate Vaidyanathan lapped with the fifth quickest time.
Round one later in the morning also took place in very wet conditions, with the addition of more drizzle into the equation, and Moore wasn’t able to get the sort of launch he wanted, resulting in a slip back to third place while Vaidyanathan held fifth on lap one.
The Indian maintained position over the first few laps and ran strongly, but on the fifth tour an excursion at Riches triggered an instant retirement. Moore, meanwhile, was edged back to fourth on lap two but climbed back into third place a lap later due to a moment for Ben Barnicoat.
Picking up his pace as the contest entered its second half, Moore held his podium placing until the penultimate lap when contact from the recovering Barnicoat led to a costly loss of a time and also meant the Jersey driver dropped to fifth place where he remained to the conclusion. Post-race, a penalty for Barnicoat linked to the contact elevated Moore into fourth position.
Starting fifth and seventh for round two, Moore and Vaidyanathan each put together a strong first lap to conclude the opening 2.97 miles in third and fourth and they remained in those positions for the duration of the 10-lapper – Moore taking the podium 3.5 seconds ahead of his team-mate.
Sunday morning’s qualifying session took place on a drying track with Moore posting the third fastest time and Vaidyanathan ending the run fifth quickest. With the circuit becoming increasingly dry ahead of round three, all competitors opted for slick Pirelli tyres for the race despite there still being some dampness in places.
Despite a great start, Vaidyanathan’s race took a turn for the worse at Montreal Hairpin after sustaining damage to his front wing which subsequently led to an excursion at Agostini. Despite making it back to the pits, where the team replaced the nose cone, after a couple of laps back on circuit he returned to the pits to retire.
Moore enjoyed a good start and moved up into second position before concluding the opening lap only 0.1 seconds behind race leader Sennan Fielding. Very well placed into lap two, Moore’s race then came to a sudden conclusion at the first corner when the outside line didn’t offer the expected grip and he ended the race in the barriers.
With Moore forced to miss round four, Vaidyanathan was the sole Hillspeed representative in the dry final race and despite being hit from behind at the end of lap one – which led to rear suspension damage, impacting his pace – the Indian was able to end the race in fifth position.