Second Win Of Season Boosts Middlehurst's Formula Renault Points Lead

Chris Middlehurst (St. Helens) conquered very challenging conditions at a rain-lashed Snetterton 200 Circuit Saturday afternoon, Saturday, 11th May, to claim his second victory of the Protyre Formula Renault season during the first of the weekends three racesboosting his series lead to 34 points.Although starting round three from pole position, it was by no means a straightforward outing for the MGR Motorsport driver with a sluggish getaway dropping him to third place off the line. With a bit of assistance from a mid-race Safety Car period though, added to searing fastest lap pace, the championship leader was able to fight his way back through the spray to win by 2.4 seconds.On the green flag lap I stalled so I thought Id give it more revs for the actual start but it was too much, I had a lot of wheelspin and dropped to third, explained Middlehurst, I had to fight back then to get back into the lead, the Safety Car helped me out though.Before the Safety Car it was so, so wet out there and there was a lot of spray so it was really tricky to see where you were going. Down the straights you had to pull to the side to try and see where the corner was, the spray was really bad. It was a good race, Im really pleased with the win.Hillspeeds Jake Cook (Rotherham) and MTECH Lites Matias Galetto each secured their first career Protyre Formula Renault podium finishes in second and third respectively. Cook scythed his way through from eighth on the grid with a superb performance while Argentinian competitor Galetto, racing in the UK for the first time this year, was equally outstanding from 11th on the grid to third.Once I got into second, I caught Chris [Middlehurst] pretty quickly but I didnt really have the confidence to carry any more speed to try and do anything, said Cook, With starting eighth, and being the first time Ive ever been on these wet tyres, Id have been well happy with this result before the race. I didnt want to chuck that away, Im happy enough with second.The onset of heavy rain 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start of round three led to a delay but when the action did get underway, MTECHs Joe Ghanem made the most of Middlehursts issues to shoot past into the lead. MGRs Jorge Cevallos also enjoyed a good launch to leap from fourth, past Middlehurst and the stalled Fortec Motorsports car of Sam MacLeod (Cambridge), to take second.At the end of the first lap, Lebanese driver Ghanem had built a one second advantage over Mexican rival Cevallos who had Middlehurst swarming all over the back of his FR 2.0 as the points leader sought to quickly make amends for his troublesome getaway. Behind the lead trio, Cook had climbed into fourth with Hong Wei Cao (Stoke-on-Trent) fifth and Galetto up into sixth.On lap three, Cevallos challenge hit the skids when he slipped to the tail of the top six which opened the way for Middlehurst to try and close in on Ghanembut the leader was 2.9 seconds clear at the start of the fourth tour and looked impressive in the tricky conditions.His hard-earned buffer didnt last much longer though when the Safety Car was deployed in time for the start of lap six, triggered by an excursion at Montreal for Scorpio Motorsports Henrique Baptista (Eastbourne). The Safety Car departed the track at the end of lap nine and the action resumed with Ghanem under huge pressure from Middlehurst.Running almost side by side through Riches, Middlehurst made his move on the brakes at Montreal to grab the lead which he didnt relinquish. Ghanem, though, made a slight mistake at Chapman and just clipped the rear-wheel of Middlehursts carleading to front wing damage which ultimately cost the erstwhile race leader a deserved podium finish.Cook grabbed second from Ghanem at the Esses on lap 11 and initially closed on Middlehurst before settling for an excellent runner-up spot. Galetto also continued his superb progress and having already moved into fourth ahead of Cao he took third from Ghanem at Coram on lap 14 when the latter went slightly wide due to his worsening lack of downforce.It was a very good race, I was fast and consistent, said Galetto, I gained more and more positions and finally took third from Joe [Ghanem]. I only ever had one race in karting in the rain, this is my first experience in cars.During the final few laps, rain started to fall again so Middlehurst, Cook and Galetto didnt take any risks and ran fairly well spread to the chequered flag on lap 19. Ghanem slipped further back to fifth behind Cao at the chicane on the penultimate tour but an excursion for the Chinese driver on the final lap dropped him outside the top 10.Ghanem too encountered last lap difficulties when his front wing finally detached itself completely from his car, causing him to run off the circuit across the grass at Coram. He managed to control the moment though and rejoined to take fifth behind Scorpios Ivan Taranov (Oxford). Cevallos rounded out the top six to maintain his place in the championship top three.It could have been a win today, before the Safety Car I had a big lead, reflected the unfortunate Ghanem, Chris [Middlehurst] had enough room to pass on the inside at turn two after the Safety Car, I misjudged my turning when he overtook me and clipped my front wing with his rear tyre. It was really unfortunate but we know we have the pace and we are strong.Fortecs Weiron Tan starred with seventh place, having started at the back of the grid following an excursion in qualifying, while MGRs Tom Oliphant (Tarporley) battled back from a stall into eighth ahead of team-mate Matteo Ferrer (Colchester) and MTECHs Ed Brand (Dagnall).Round four of the Protyre Formula Renault Championship will get underway at 11.05 today, Sunday, 12th May, with round five following at 15.30. Malaysian driver Weiron Tan will start both encounters from pole position.Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault is additionally supported by Michelin, The Lubricant Consultancy, Petronas Syntium and NGK Spark Plugs.Provisional 2013 Protyre Formula Renault Championship Standings (after Rd3):1st Chris Middlehurst, 96pts; 2nd Joe Ghanem, 62pts; 3rd Jorge Cevallos, 60pts; 4th Jake Cook, 59pts; 5th Ivan Taranov, 49pts; 6th Matteo Ferrer, 48ptsClick here for the Official Renaultsport web site - designed and built by Racecar