• Mark Burdett Motorsport driver Gill takes best of ninth place at Assen• First year Renault racer Hutchison breaks into top 20 on Assen debut • Lincolnshire team fifth in entrant standings with two events remaining
Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup squad Mark Burdett Motorsport managed to maintain fifth position in the entrant standings at Assen in The Netherlands over the weekend, 6th/7th August, despite a somewhat challenging outing for British duo Alex Gill and Finlay Hutchison.
Running as part of the hugely popular Gamma Racing Day at the Dutch track, which features a varied mixture of car racing, motorcycling and karting, Gill raced to a best result of ninth place in round 10 on Sunday morning – helping him cling on to fifth in the drivers’ championship – while team-mate Hutchison took a best finish of 19th overall in round nine.
Qualifying didn’t quite go as intended for the Lincolnshire team, resulting in lower than expected grid slots for both contests, but Gill and Hutchison performed well in the races – the former able to retain fifth place in the driver standings while Hutchison remains 22nd in his rookie season.
“It’s not been the best weekend for us as qualifying didn’t go to plan for Alex unfortunately, but he showed good pace in the races and to come away with a best finish of ninth was the best we could hope for to be honest”, explained team principal Mark Burdett.
“Finlay made a big step forward in the second qualifying session, but the start of race two was a bit problematic for him so he wasn’t able to capitalise. It’s still been good experience though and now we’re all looking forward to Nurburgring next month.”
Gill started race one on Saturday morning from 13th on the grid, having qualified just 0.5 seconds outside the top six in a very competitive session, while Hutchison lined-up 22nd overall and seventh in the Rookie class.
Making one of his customarily good starts, Gill gained two places on the opening lap and as a result of a jump-start time penalty for Nikita Troitskiy he was elevated into the top 10 on corrected times a few laps later.
Initially closing on Hugo de Sadeleer, from mid-distance Gill had to keep a close eye on his mirrors with Will Palmer applying more and more pressure. Driving impeccably to keep his compatriot at bay, on lap 12 Palmer managed to squeeze past and with Troitskiy moving back ahead on corrected times too Gill ended the contest in 12th place.
Hutchison put together a terrific first lap, leaping into 17th place and sixth in class, and although edged back a spot on lap three he held station to lap nine despite significant pressure from the rapid James Allen. After Allen managed to move past, relegating Hutchison to 19th overall, the Mark Burdett driver stayed there to the finish on lap 16 to also secure seventh in class.
For round 10 on Sunday, Gill started on the fifth row of the grid in 10th position with Hutchison a much improved 18th, fifth highest Rookie. Maintaining his starting slot on the opening lap, Gill was edged back a place on the second tour but moved back into the top 10 on lap five at the expense of Antoni Ptak.
Then climbing into ninth position a lap later, Gill remained there throughout the second half of the 16-lap contest for his best finish of the weekend. In terms of lap time, he was just 0.3 seconds shy of top five pace.
Unlike race one, Hutchison didn’t enjoy the best of starts and dropped down to the tail of the field in 25th place with a huge task ahead to recover any ground. Working hard to try and move back up the order, the Scottish teenager managed to reclaim three positions and ended the race in 22nd place, seventh in the Rookie class.
There is now a six week break in the 2016 calendar with the penultimate event of the season set to take place over the weekend 17th/18th September at the Nurburgring in Germany.
2016 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Driver Standings (after Rd10):5th Alex Gill, 125pts; 22nd Finlay Hutchison, 26pts
2016 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Team Standings (after Rd10):5th Mark Burdett Motorsport, 127pts