Victor Jimenez secured his first ever Formula Renault BARC podium finishes on his debut outing as a Hillspeed driver at Snetterton in Norfolk over the weekend, making a terrific start to the six-round Finals Series by finishing on the class rostrum in all four races.
Switching to the Hathersage-based team, 27-year-old Jimenez did a terrific job in the wet first race to take second position – just a second behind experienced category race winner Archie Hamilton – and repeated the result in race two by finishing a mere 0.9 seconds adrift of the win.
The driver’s pace was highly impressive, circulating just 0.3 seconds shy of the fastest BARC lap of the race in both instances on day one. On Sunday, he finished third in round three and then somehow managed to recover to third place again in round four, despite contact from Ivan Taranov which pitched Jimenez into a dramatic spin.
Teenager Sean Walkinshaw, like Jimenez experiencing his first competitive running on the Snetterton 300 Circuit, chalked up two top four finishes in BARC on Saturday in very difficult wet conditions.
Lapping within a second of his teammate’s pace in Sunday’s first race to secure another fourth place finish, he made it a straight-run of top fours in the final outing of the weekend.
“We’re very happy with the way the first weekend of the Finals Series has gone”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw. “Victor and Sean both drove well, we’re delighted Victor has secured his first BARC podiums on his Hillspeed debut.”
Meanwhile, William Palmer delivered a series of strong performances for Hillspeed in the four-round Ginetta Junior Winter Series, which ran alongside the Formula Renault Finals Series at Snetterton over the weekend, ending the mini-championship with a best finish of seventh.
Qualifying ninth fastest for round one in wet conditions on Saturday, the 14-year-old improved his pace throughout the opening encounter as he finished just 1.3 seconds shy of experienced Niall Murray.
In round two, Palmer took his best result of the weekend with seventh and made an incredible getaway to rise from ninth into the top five.
Unfortunately for the youngster, his progress was hampered when Ollie Chadwick spun ahead. Dropping to ninth, he battled back to seventh and also posted the fourth fastest lap.
Posting the seventh fastest time in Sunday’s qualifying session for rounds three and four, Palmer held seventh at the end of lap one and moved into sixth before being shuffled back to an eventual finish of eighth.
He rounded out the weekend, and the championship, with another top eight to conclude the campaign ninth.
“William has improved so much since his Ginetta Junior debut back in August at Snetterton. We’re really impressed with how he’s gone this weekend”, said Ollerenshaw. “Hopefully he’ll be back with us in 2012. We’re sure he can become a front-runner.”