DOUBLE THRUXTON PODIUM FOR HILLSPEED’S COOK
Protyre Formula Renault Championship team Hillspeed celebrated a double podium finish during the third race meeting of the 2013 season at Thruxton in Hampshire on Sunday, 2nd June, with Jake Cook taking top three finishes in rounds seven and eight to maintain second place in the standings.
Although forced to retire from round six on Saturday, 1st June, with damage following a clash at the chicane with Malaysian driver Weiron Tan while contesting second place, Cook bounced back brilliantly in the two remaining encounters for the Hathersage team.
Qualifying second on the grid for all three Thruxton races, only just missing out on pole position for round seven by a mere 0.002 seconds, the first year Protyre Formula Renault racer was competitive throughout the weekend.
Although slipping back to sixth at the start of round seven on Sunday morning, Cook mounted a good recovery and got back into the top four prior to the emergence of the Safety Car on lap seven. At the re-start, the Hillspeed driver maintained position before taking third at the end of the ninth tour and then moving into second at the complex on lap 10.
Unfortunately though, a small mistake under braking into the chicane proved costly and dropped him back to fourth. Retaking third on lap 11 prior to a second Safety Car period, Cook held third for the final three lap sprint and although slipping to fourth once again he got third back on the last lap.
In round eight, the Yorkshire driver was in contention for the lead early on and initially produced fastest lap pace as he sought a way past championship leader Chris Middlehurst. Running within just 0.3 seconds of the leader, Cook worked hard to also see off the threat of Tan and Ivan Taranov and the tight battle over second enabled Middlehurst to pull clear from mid-distance.
Maintaining the runner-up spot despite immense pressure, Cook looked to have his third second place of the season sewn-up but a bold move by Tan around the outside at Noble on the final lap elbowed the Hillspeed driver to a nonetheless excellent third place.
“Jake has driven exceptionally well this weekend, the first race incident was unfortunate and ultimately resulted in a DNF which is something you need to avoid in a series as competitive as this one”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “In the other two races though, he did a great job and his two podiums were well deserved. He’s still got a lot to learn, but he’s the stand-out rookie.”
Team-mate Matt Rao also had the misfortune of one non-finish from the weekend’s three races, forced to retire from round eight before the start due to a broken driveshaft. In the other two encounters though, the Oxford-based driver was in fantastic form and took a best finish of seventh position in Sunday morning’s seventh round.
Beginning the second Thruxton race from 10th on the grid, Rao made a great start and put together a strong first lap to climb into seventh place. Locked in a tight battle for fifth, after the first Safety Car period the Protyre Formula Renault rookie managed to move up into the top six, was then shuffled back to eighth and then re-claimed seventh before the finish.
In Saturday’s sixth round, Rao again progressed strongly at the start to climb from 11th into seventh and got into the top six following a mid-race Safety Car period before being elbowed back to ninth on the final lap.
“Matt had a good weekend, unfortunately the mechanical problem in race three cost him some points but these things happen sometimes – typically, we were due to change the driveshafts after this weekend”, added Ollerenshaw, “His racecraft was very good, he was involved in some very close battles and came out of them with consistently strong finishes so we’re very pleased.”
Rounds nine, 10 and 11 of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship will take place at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on 6th/7th July. In the meantime, Hillspeed’s Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup and Ginetta Junior Championship squads will be back in action at Oulton Park in Cheshire next weekend, 8th/9th June.
Provisional 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Championship Standings (after Rd8):
2nd Jake Cook, 162pts; 9th Matt Rao, 92pts