Kieran Vernon produced a pair of outstanding race performances during rounds six and seven of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Thruxton to take Hillspeed back onto the category podium for the first time this year.
Having only made his return to competitive action last month at Rockingham with the Hathersage team, the 22-year-old was in supreme form as he sliced his way through the order from seventh and sixth on the grid respectively to post third and second place finishes.
So impressive has the racer been so far in 2012, with nothing in the way of testing Vernon is already eighth in the championship standings – only nine points shy of the top six – despite having contested just four of the seven races held so far.
“Kieran did an absolutely outstanding job,”, said team principal Richard Ollerensha.
“I didn’t realise before we arrived at the track he hadn’t actually been to Thruxton since he raced in Ginetta Junior several years ago.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend for him, he raced superbly and he’s shown precisely what he’s capable of. It’s great for everyone at Hillspeed to be back on the podium.”
Teammate Jacob Nortoft delivered two strong midfield performances on his debut at the fearsome 2.35-mile Hampshire race track to climb into 14th position in the championship standings.
Improving his pace throughout the race meeting, which packed free practice, qualifying and two races into just one day, the 18-year-old made excellent progress and concluded the event with a pair of 14th place finishes from the 24 car field.
“Jacob’s making great progress each time he’s in the car and we’re very pleased with the rate of development he’s showing”, said Ollerenshaw.
“Thruxton is a very difficult track at the best of times, for a rookie like Jacob to come in, have no incidents and take away a good haul of points is as much as we could have asked. It’s been a very positive weekend for Hillspeed.”
Vernon’s qualifying performance was hampered after picking up some damage to his car, hence the seventh and sixth place starts.
In race one, round six, he sliced his way into the top five on the opening lap and then took fourth on lap four at the expense of Mexico’s Jorge Cevallos.
One lap later, the Hillspeed ace was into third after passing Jake Dalton and he remained there to the flag.
Nortoft, meanwhile, started 18th on the grid and after being shuffled down the order on lap one, he mounted a superb fightback to climb from 20th into 15th place.
He then gained a further position post race due to a penalty for James Fletcher.
In round seven, Vernon was again inspired and rocketed into the top four off the start before moving into the podium placings on lap two.
Following a six-lap Safety Car period, the Hillspeed racer was just a second shy of Josh Webster and Scott Malvern but an incident between the two leaders on the penultimate tour enabled Vernon to grab second. He also ended the race with the third best lap.
Nortoft slipped to 19th off the start but again made strong progress at the wheel of his FR 2.0 and on lap two he was into the top 15 after avoiding a multi-car collision at Allard which accounted for a total of four cars.
When racing resumed following the Safety Car period, the Dane took 14th on lap ten and although he was pushed back a couple of places soon after, he regained the lost ground to take 15th at the finish. Once again, he profited from a post-race penalty, this time for Tom Oliphant, to take 14th on the amended classification.
Rounds eight and nine of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship will take place at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on July 21-22.