04 Jun Thruxton sees Tan take two podium finishes
1st-2nd June, Thruxton – Last weekend saw Thruxton play host to the third round of the Protyre Formula Renault 2.0 Championship (formally know as the BARC Formula Renault). It was a mixed weekend for the Fortec squad of Weiron Tan, Hong Wei Cao, Sam MacLeod and Shaun Tong seeing various incidents but also Tan claim the second step of the podium twice.
Tan started third on the grid and after a strong start made a charge for the lead. As he looked to be about to make a jump for first the young racer got caught up in an incident with both the leader (Chris Middlehurst/MGR) and third placed man (Jake Cook/Hillspeed) – which saw him having to pit for a new front wing and the safety car to be called out. Thong also made a good start off the line and was sat in fourth, however crashed under the safety car causing him to retire from the race. Meanwhile Cao had sliced his way through the field to sit in eighth prior to the safety car, whilst team-mate MacLeod appeared to be having car trouble.
A few laps later the safety car was called in and at the restart Cao put in a stunning drive, making a number of impressive moves to find himself in second with just a few laps to go. Behind, Macleod still continued to have car issues as he did in the morning’s qualifying session and unfortunately retired from the race. Tan had re-entered the race and went on to cross the line in thirteenth.
Meanwhile Cao had the race of his life to finish in second place, a fantastic effort after having started seventeenth on the grid due to problems in qualifying.
“It was definitely one of my best races in formula cars”, said Cao, “I was starting from 17th but I got a really good start, after lap two I was up into about P8. It was a fantastic race for me, especially after the Safety Car – that made the difference. Qualifying was a problem, we had an engine issue but in the race the car was great and we managed to make the podium, it’s really good!”
At the start of round six, in warm and sunny conditions it was Tan who shone out after a stunning start from fourth on the grid. Jumping into third Tan took Cook (Hillspeed) for second and then was getting alongside of Middlehurst (MGR). Into the chicane at the end of the opening lap, Tan and Cook ran wheel-to-wheel, with the latter on the outside line. With neither driver willing to cede second place contact was made. Tan continued the race in second as Cook limped to the pits. As the battle was played out in front, Thong came through in fourth whilst MacLeod pushed on from the back of the field.
Thong continued to gain pace he slid into the barriers at the exit of the chicane on lap six – seeing the need for a safety car to be called out just as Tan had taken the race lead, therefore seeing the field bunched up. The Safety car was called in with two laps to go and Tan powered on, unfortunately getting over taken in the last complex, but still taking the chequered flag in a very respectable second place and taking his first podium of the weekend. Cao and Sam moved up one place to cross the line in eighth and ninth respectably.
The third and final race of the weekend once again saw a mixed bag of results. Tan had a storming getaway, starting from fifth and moving into fourth as he picked his way through the field to again surge forward and into third.
Through the complex Tan sensationally got ahead of the front two, Middlehurst (Hillspeed) and Taranaov (Scorpio Motorsport) who sat in first and second respectively, with the latter elbowing the championship leader down to third. Into the chicane, Middlehurst re-took second but the intense battle over the runner-up spot had enabled Tan to open a 1.4 seconds lead after just the first 2.36 miles of racing.
A lap later Thong, who had also had a strong start, collided with Menchaca (Jamen racing) and the safety car was called out whilst marshals cleared the cars off track. Tan’s lead was eroded as the field bunched up. MacLeod was hit with more bad luck when he hit the kerb causing his suspension to fail, putting him out of the race. Racing then resumed on the sixteenth lap for a three-lap-sprint.
Into the final tour, Tan led by 0.7 seconds from Middlehurst with Ghanem (Mtech Lite) into third after Cook locked-up at the chicane when looking to challenge for second. Tan looked set for the win but, out of Church, Middlehurst managed to just squeeze alongside on the inside line into the chicane to snatch the victory whilst Tan crossed the line in second to take his second podium of the weekend. Behind, Cao had had a stunning drive, moving up to fifth from the back of the grid.
“It was a tough race between me and Jake [Cook], it allowed Chris [Middlehurst] to get away but I managed to get Jake on the last lap which was quite a relief”, said Tan, “It was quite a risky move, I had tried to pass at the complex a few times but that didn’t work. So, I thought I should try a different strategy! It’s my strongest weekend yet, hopefully we can have a win at Croft.”