Pinnacle Motorsport enjoyed a successful end to their 2017 season in the Formula Masters Series (FMS) with a dominating performance over the weekend. The team not only took three race victories at the Shanghai International Circuit, but also secured the drivers’ championship for Taylor Cockerton.
“What an incredible weekend,” said the new champion Cockerton. “The car was incredibly quick on Saturday and Sunday and I owe this to Pinnacle Motorsport and Gary Thompson for all their hard work over the season. The penultimate race on Sunday was one of the best races I’ve driven in my life, going from 5th to 1st in soaking wet conditions and setting the fastest lap by almost a second. It was incredibly stressful, but the feeling when I crossed the line to win the championship is something I’ll never forget.”
The final event in the calendar started out dry with both qualifying sessions being run under clear skies. Cockerton, who needed to make up 16 points to take the title, made sure he was in a good position to fight and qualified P3 and P5. His teammate Ben Grimes also did a stellar job to start from P7. They were then joined by newcomer Billy Zheng (Zheng Jia Nian) who made his FMS debut by completing both sessions in P8.
Weather conditions quickly changed on Saturday. A strong downpour forced officials to start Race 1 behind the safety car, shortening it to only 8 laps. Cockerton ran in a strong 2nd position early on but aquaplaned off the circuit and dropped two positions to finish in 4th place. Grimes worked hard to gain several spots, allowing the Filipino-British driver to cross the line 5th. Zheng, on the other hand, managed to drive a clean race to a 7th place finish.
By setting the fastest lap in the morning, Cockerton was able to take off from pole in Race 2. He easily converted this into a race win and kept the drivers’ title still within reach. Grimes wasn’t as lucky. Another driver spun into his path on the opening lap and the pair collided thus causing a DNF. As for Zheng, the Chinese driver continued to impress on his debut by claiming another solid 7th.
The rains continued on Sunday, but otherwise failed to slow Cockerton down. The New Zealander was clearly on a mission and fought his way from P5 on the grid, eventually taking the chequered flag in 1st with a 4.812 second lead. It was a difficult race for Grimes who struggled in poor conditions. He ended Race 3 in 10th and was followed by Zheng in 11th.
Cockerton began the last race of the season with a mere 9 point deficit. A pole position start gave him the best shot at the title and as long as he won the race and his rival finished 4th or lower, the title was his. As things panned out, Cockerton claimed another 1st place finish with his main rival finishing in 5th position, enough to win the 2017 Drivers’ Championship by 3 points.
Grimes wrapped up his FMS season finishing in 11th, while Zheng was excluded from the results for overtaking under safety car in the treacherous conditions.
It was a great year for Pinnacle Motorsport securing the drivers’ title during the very last race of the season. Their efforts also bagged them enough points to be crowned the 2017 team vice champions.
John O’Hara, Team Director was more than happy about the weekend. “This was a great way to cap our season in FMS. Taylor is very deserving to be champion and has a bright future ahead of him. Ben made huge progress over what was a very strong maiden season in cars and will be fighting at the front in 2018. Billy also did very well in difficult conditions on his first weekend in an FMS car. I would like to thank and congratulate every member of Pinnacle Motorsport for the amount of work they put in to make 2017 a success.”