Monday, October 3, 2005

FORMULA RENAULT UK: Podium performance secures McIntosh runner-up spot

By Stuart Morrison Public Relations

Brands Hatch, England (October 02, 2005) In the closest fight for the Formula Renault UK Championship in its fifteen year history, Canada’s Sean McIntosh valiantly took the 2005 title battle with Britain’s Oliver Jarvis all the way to the final race of the season, Round 20, held today on the Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch.

Despite the respective title-rivals locking out the front-row for today’s 17-lap race, with Sean scoring his fourth pole position of the year, it was Sweden’s Sebastian Hohenthal who would lead into the first turn and from there take the race win with McIntosh second and Jarvis third.

As a result, and after a thrilling season of racing across the United Kingdom, Jarvis beat McIntosh to the 2005 Formula Renault UK title by a mere 19-points, the Manor Motorsport driver heading the series points table by 436 to the Canadian’s final tally of 417, including three dropped scores.

Sean captured the championship runner-up position comfortably while holding the ‘most-wins’ record for the season with five victories from a total of eight podium finishes with four pole positions and 16 top-five starts also to his credit. The 20-year-old’s successes this year follow on from winning the Formula Renault UK ‘Graduate Cup’ Championship for rookie drivers last season.

Sean’s title aspirations were ultimately dealt a serious blow in Round 19 yesterday. Having qualified in eighth place on a damp 2.4-mile Grand Prix circuit in the morning, the Team Firstair racer bolted to fifth overall at the start of the race later in the afternoon. A brief safety car period disrupted the on-track proceedings, subsequently allowing Sean to get the jump on Stuart Hall for fourth place at the re-start.

From there the Vancouver-native focused on the leading trio, attacking Stephen Simpson for third but unable to pass. With just over a lap remaining Sean’s race was to turn from a solid points-scoring run to a title-wrecking outing as an over ambitious move by Sebastian Hohenthal forced McIntosh to take avoiding action as they raced through Clearways, the final turn before the start-finish straight.

Off track and into the gravel, impressive car control from Sean enabled him to get back into the race but not before a train of cars had rushed by demoting him to thirteenth on the final lap. Fortec’s Yelmer Buurman won the 17-lap race followed by Alex Storckenfeldt and Stephen Simpson. Sean’ drop from fourth to thirteenth would prove costly in the title fight as series leader Oliver Jarvis finished ahead in tenth place, the Brit then starting alongside Sean today on the front-row in Round 20.

Overnight changes to the set-up of Sean’s car didn’t quite produce the performance gains he was hoping for as Round 20 kicked off this afternoon. Sebastian Hohenthal leapt ahead of both McIntosh and Jarvis as the pack raced towards Paddock Hill Bend, from there the Swede remained in control of the season finale.

Two safety car periods interrupted the flow of the 17-lap race but Sean, sitting second, kept the champion-elect firmly behind him despite struggling for grip in the latter stages. As the checkered flag fell Hohenthal claimed his maiden win with Sean crossing the line in second just seven tenths behind him. Jarvis completed the final podium of the year, two seconds adrift of his Canadian rival.Having taken the title all the way to the final round Sean remarked:

”I really wanted to end the season with a win but it wasn’t to be. We made some changes to the car since yesterday and it wasn’t as quick as it had been in qualifying for the last race. That said I successfully kept Oliver behind me and made Hohenthal work for the win today I was fighting right up until the very end.”

”It’s been a great season for me in the Formula Renault UK Championship. I’ve proved I can win races and run consistently at the front of the field. I’ve also learned a lot and I really believe that the series has given me a platform from which to progress my racing career. People know that if you run at the front in a series as competitive as Formula Renault then you’re capable of competing at the highest level of motorsport.”

Straight after today’s race at Brands Hatch Sean headed to the airport to fly to Portugal for two days of testing with the Red Bull Junior Team at Estoril, 3rd-4th October. Sean then heads from Portugal to Germany to compete for Team Canada in the second round of the A1 Grand Prix Series next weekend at the EuroSpeedway, 8th-9th October.

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