08 Apr Strong Fortec showing in final FR2.0 NEC races at Hockenheim
7th April, Hockenheim – After an eventful second race the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC saw four of the ten Fortec drivers on the grid finish inside the top ten. Jake Dennis and Matt Parry took the first and third steps on the podium; followed by Mikko Pakari in fifth, Shahaan Engineer closely behind in sixth, Ed Jones eighteenth, Philo Armand twentieth, Roman Baragech 23rd and Ryan Tveter in 25th. After problems during the race Alfonso Celis and Jack Aitken were forced to retire.
As the lights went out eighteen-year-old Matt Parry made a good start off the start-line from pole position. Parry continued to push hard but by the end of the first lap fell into second place, as teammate and 2012 NEC champion Jake Dennis over took for first.
Meanwhile, behind the race leaders the rest of the Fortec fray made strong starts. Due to problems in Saturday’s race, American driver Ryan Tveter exited the pit lane to join the back of the grid a lap down. However fourteen-minutes into the race the safety car was released as Ignazio D’agosto (KTR) had parked on track, using this to his advantage Tveter caught the pack and managed to regain his lap to continue his fight. Baragech who was in 26th had pulled out a three-second gap on Jakub Smiechowski (Euro Inerpol) and was catching the rest of the grid ahead.
Further up the grid Engineer and team-mate Pakari were sitting in fourth and fifth place respectively, continuously battling each other for fourth as they traded race positions. With five minutes to go, Oliver Rowland (Manor MP Motorsport) picked them out one by one, putting Pakari fifth and Engineer sixth – where they stayed up until the chequered flag.
Parry had slipped down into third as Rowland took advantage of a slight a mistake by Parry and overtook for second, as Dennis carved out a good lead to take the race two win. Parry defended his position and took his first podium position of the weekend in third.
Beregech and Tveter were still on the hunt and found themselves taking the chequered flag in a respectable 23rd and 25th place, just behind Jones who crossed in the line in eighteenth.
Aitken had a good start but fell down the order into 23rd. With one-minute left of the race Aitken pitted with clutch problems ending his race prematurely.
Mexican driver Alfonso Celis was quickly finding his pace and moving his way through the pack, before experiencing problems which forced him to retire from the race.
Happy with his results Shanaan Engineer commented: “Race two was an improvement and I had an awesome start getting up to fourth place off the start line, then the safety car was deployed and when it came in I dropped down to sixth as it took me a lap to realise where the grip was. I was catching Pakari in front of me but unfortunately I ran out of laps and finished in sixth.”
Jack Aitken commented: “I’m disappointed as the race started well, I was with the leading pack and making up places. Then I had bad luck when my clutch went and we lost all drive. However I’m looking forward to the next race and hopefully I can show our true potential.”
Matt Parry said: “’I drove well within myself this morning, I know my supporters at CaterhamF1 will be pleased I bought the car home in front of the Lotus and got my first podium. I’m looking forward to the last race this afternoon as it’s a reverse grid so I’m starting from third.”
The grid for the third and final race of the opening round of the FR2.0 NEC saw all ten Fortec drivers put in strong showings, with the grid being decided by a reversal of the top six finishers in race one. Matt Parry took his third podium of the weekend crossing the line in third, whilst team-mate Miko Pakari was close behind in fourth. Next to take the chequered flag for Fortec was Shahann Engineer in sixth whilst Jake Dennis finished ninth, Ed Jones thirteenth, Jack Aitken 22nd, Alfonso Celis 24th and Ryan Tveter in 25th. Team-mates Philo Armand and Roman Beregech both suffered with car gremlins and were forced to retire.
Aitken started the race on the front row of the grid in P2. He made a solid start, however tagged the back of Oliver Rowland (Manor MP) to move down into fourth on the opening lap. Parry also lined up near the front of the grid. Lining up on the inside of the second row, the young Caterham supported racer also had a strong start and gained a place on the opening lap. For team-mates Pakari, Jones, Engineer, Dennis, Celis, Tveter, Armand and Beregch the start also showed promise for the remainder of the race as all got away cleanly.
Parry lead the way for Fortec and, despite having slipped down a place into third from second, kept his cool and retained his focus on the long race ahead. The Sport Wales-backed driver crossed the line in third taking his second podium of the weekend – a fantastic feat for the young NEC rookie.
Behind, the rest of the Fortec team had mixed results. Pakari had been hunting down Parry and took the chequered flag just behind in fourth. Engineer took his second sixth place finish of the weekend, whilst reigning NEC champion Dennis finished ninth. Jones was next to cross the line for Fortec in thirteenth, whilst Aitken, who had been on the charge, kept in contention with the leaders until a small error induced a spin and a drop to the back of the field. He then crossed the line in 22nd. Celis followed in 24th as did Tveter in 25th. Armand and Beregech were both forced to retired from the race.
Matt Parry commented: “Taking two podium finishes is a great way to get my Formula Renault NEC season underway, particularly given the number of Eurocup drivers racing here this weekend,” Parry concluded, “I was well aware of not getting involved in any unnecessary battles that could have a long-term impact on the year, but think I showed that I could live with the more experienced runners in the field – and that bodes well for the rest of the season.”