Vernon overcomes hurdles to impress

Hillspeed's Kieran Vernon
Hillspeed's Kieran Vernon

Championship returnee Kieran Vernon delivered two sensational race drives during rounds four and five of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC season at Rockingham to earn fourth and fifth place finishes for Hillspeed on his first appearance in the series for almost a year.

Vernon didn’t have things easy by any means, and neither did teammates Jacob Nortoft and Marcus Allen, with rain-affected qualifying, proving to be a major headache – four red flag stoppages in the first session and two more in the second hampering each drivers’ efforts.

Nonetheless, the trio from the Hathersage-based team each delivered excellent performances in race conditions with round five a particular highlight as all three Hillspeed cars finished inside the top nine – Vernon taking fifth, Nortoft eighth and Allen ninth. The result marked the team’s best multi-car finish in the popular single-seater championship since its title-winning 2010 season.

Vernon, started round four from ninth position and made immediate progress to gain two positions on the first lap.

Taking sixth at Deene Hairpin on lap three, he closed-down fifth-placed Macaulay Walsh but had to hold fire on any attack when the Safety Car appeared at the start of lap seven. Vernon made his move on lap 14 to pass both drivers and pull away by 1.6 seconds during the final three laps.

In round five, the 22-year-old had a mountain to climb from 17th on the grid but he made superb progress and made it into fifth. He also set a best lap just 0.3 seconds shy of the fastest of the race.

“Kieran showed his class this weekend. He has massive potential as a driver in single-seaters and sportscars”, said team boss Richard Ollerenshaw, “To come to Rockingham, having only done one day of testing with us prior to the weekend, shows what a capable and truly professional driver he is. His race drives, after a nightmare in qualifying, were exceptional.”