Challenging Weekend For Hillspeed Rookies Nortoft and Allen

Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship team Hillspeed worked tirelessly at Snetterton 200 Circuit over the weekend, 7th/8th April, to overcome a trying first event of the new season – a run of highly unfortunate circumstances resulting in a tough race meeting for the 2010 champions.Delighted to agree late deals with Danish Formula Ford graduate Jacob Nortoft and former Formula Ford 1600 Castle Combe Champion Marcus Allen during the build-up to the opening three rounds of the campaign, the Hathersage squad had strong hopes for its two category debutants.Inclement weather throughout led to difficult conditions for the newcomers, however 18-year-old Nortoft managed to post a highly creditable 16th fastest time in the first of the 15-minute qualifying sessions before setting the 13th best lap in session two and an excellent 10th fastest time for the round three grid.Sadly, the former Super 1 British KF2 Karting Champion wasn’t able to show his true potential in race trim when a certain top 12 result in round one on Saturday afternoon was wrenched from his grasp after picking up debris in the car’s radiator – leading to retirement three laps from the finish.Resulting in damage to the over-heated engine, Hillspeed worked closely with the Renault technical team to repair the powerplant for Sunday’s action but on lap five of round two Nortoft was forced into retirement. So severe was the engine failure, he wasn’t able to take the grid for race three.“We’re very disappointed Jacob’s weekend turned out the way it did as he showed good pace in his first ever Formula Renault BARC qualifying session and in race one he came through the order well”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “It’s so frustrating he wasn’t able to show his true potential this weekend, we definitely had some top 10 finishes there for the taking.“After picking up debris in the radiator in race one, the engine overheated and there was nothing he could do but park the car. We worked closely with Renault, who provided as much technical support as they could, to repair the engine and they gave it a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the remaining races. Sadly, it didn’t and Jacob was a spectator for race three which was the last thing we wanted.”Team-mate Allen was unlucky to have an excursion at Coram early in the damp qualifying session which wrecked his hopes of a strong debut performance. In race conditions though, the 21-year-old showed good pace and a particularly strong drive in the final outing of the weekend.Round three was certainly the best of the bunch for Allen with a highly competitive top 14 finish, coming through from 18th on the grid and having run as high as 11th early on following a sensational opening lap in wet conditions. On the fringe of the top 10 through mid-distance, Allen lost three places during the closing stages but 14th was still a strong result.Rounds one and two weren’t as fruitful for Allen – a non scoring finish in the first race, a lap down on the leaders, came as a result of having to pit with damage on the opening lap. In race two, he made excellent progress from 18th to 13th on lap one but was the victim of some errant driving on lap four at the Esses, leading to a bitterly disappointing retirement.“Marcus unfortunately picked some damage up in qualifying with an excursion at Coram on his second lap due to the difficult, wet conditions”, explained Ollerenshaw, “It was only his third day in the car so it’s been a huge learning curve all weekend, the changeable conditions weren’t at all helpful – it’s been dry, damp, dry, wet…a constant moving target really.“He had the bigger task of a fully wet track in the third race and he rose to the challenge, showing good potential to move up to the top 10 but the more experienced drivers were able to pull him back in during the later laps. That said, 14th position was a good showing and we’re hoping he can now build on that with some testing over the next few weeks.”Rounds four and five of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC season will take place six weeks from now on 19th/20th May at Rockingham in Northamptonshire. Hillspeed still has two seats remaining in the UK’s most popular and cost-effective junior single-seater series and is keen to hear from interested drivers – please contact Richard Ollerenshaw on 07966 650400 or email then, Hillspeed’s Ginetta Junior drivers will be back in action at Donington Park in Leicestershire and Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire on 14th/15th April and 28th/29th April respectively.

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