Startline collision thwarts Steeles ...

 Oulton Podium Bid

Aaron Steele’s bid for his and Russell Racing’s first podium finish of the 2008 Formula Renault BARC season unfortunately came undone during a startline collision at the beginning of the fifth round of the campaign at Oulton Park Island Circuit, Spring Bank Holiday Monday, 26th May.After several weeks of inactivity, the Formula Renault BARC season finally returned to action at the Cheshire venue and the event started very promisingly indeed for Russell Racing with excellent qualifying pace shown by the 19-year-old Rochester driver.Leading the way early on in the 20-minute session, Steele was some four 10ths of a second clear of his nearest rival and continued to sit close to the top of the times until he pitted with about half the session gone.When he re-emerged, the Kent racer’s first flying lap of 1m 22.848 seconds placed him on the second row of the grid. Pipped by Ollie Hancock on the championship leader’s last lap, Steele slipped to sixth on the grid – even though he had improved his time to 1m 22.793 seconds (96.79mph).Incredibly, the Russell Racing ace ended the session only nine 100ths of a second away from the front row of the grid, such is the competitiveness of the headline FR2000 Class.With hopes high throughout the team for a season’s best performance, a stall on the grid for the No.19 Formula Renault resulted in a major impact to the right-rear side of the car from the unsighted Kourash Khani. Ending Steele’s involvement in the race immediately, the non-score means he has slipped to joint-ninth in the championship standings, tied on 18 points with James Dixon; the position in the driver standings certainly not indicative of Steele’s or Russell Racing’s good pace this season.Reflecting on the team’s luckless fifth round of the season, chief race engineer Paul Leach said: “It’s such a shame things turned out the way they did. After qualifying we were confident Aaron would have the pace to challenge strongly in the race and it could have potentially been the best result of the year for us – things looked good.“Unfortunately the car crept a bit on the line at the start of the race, Aaron reacted to avoid a jump-start penalty and I think it was simply a stall which triggered the accident from behind. It was just one of those things. The team did a great job throughout testing and qualifying, it’s unfortunate we couldn’t achieve a good result.”Rounds six and seven of the 2008 Formula Renault BARC Championship take place a lengthy eight weeks from now on 19th/20th July at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire.Provisional 2008 Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings (after Rd5)1st Ollie Hancock, 64pts; =9th Aaron Steele & James Dixon, 18pts