Maiden win for Khani posted on 29 May 2011
Josh Webster (Stowmarket, Suffolk) is the new points leader of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship following a sensational outing at Oulton Park today, Saturday, 28th May, during rounds five and six of the season – his first ever race meeting at the Cheshire track.
On a day in which both races were affected by red flag stoppages, the 17-year-old Fortec Motorsport driver was in superb form and became the first competitor to take more than one win so far this year with a clear victory in a weather-affected fifth round. He also scooped the bonus points for fastest lap.
With Webster heading home team-mates Kieran Vernon (West Chiltington, West Sussex) and Archie Hamilton (Hook, Hampshire), Fortec achieved its second podium lock-out of the campaign and he then went on to finish second in round six to move into a 19 point championship lead.
“It’s been an amazing weekend, I’m so happy to be leading the championship”, said Webster, “The team has done a fantastic job, the car has been absolutely awesome, and to take a win, second place and fastest lap in the first race too – well, it couldn’t have been much better. I’m really happy.”
Kourosh Khani (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire) was the undoubted star of round six, taking his maiden category victory and entering the record books as the first Iranian in history to win in Formula Renault. Having taken his first podium in round four at Brands Hatch, the 21-year-old’s win today put his Scorpio Motorsport team back on top of the rostrum for the first time since 2009.
“It was very close into the first corner but I made sure I got a clean getaway”, said Khani, “The team has done a great job and the car has been very consistent. It makes me proud to be the first Iranian to ever do this but I’m sure there’s more to come, they always say the first win is the hardest!”
The top two drivers in the championship heading to Oulton Park, leader since round one James Thorp (Evesham, Worcestershire) and second placed Dino Zamparelli (Bristol), each had a difficult weekend. Thorp came away with a best of sixth place in round five but a round six exclusion, after contact with Callum Bowyer (Peterborough), has put a dent in his title hopes.
Zamparelli, meanwhile, rued a series of poor starts. The first, in round five, dropped him from pole position into the fight over the top six – subsequent contact at the hairpin then eliminated him and series returnee James Theodore (Telford, Shropshire) on the spot. In round six though, Zamparelli battled back hard to take third while also setting a new lap record of 1m22.974 seconds (96.57mph).
Webster dominates round five to take second win of 2011…
Zamparelli secured pole position for both races during the sole 20-minute session but he had an anxious wait during the second half after stopping out on track with a rear pushrod issue, which led to red flags. At the resumption though, nobody was able to usurp him during the final four minutes.
Rain did threaten ahead of the opening race, but hardly any materialised initially, and at the start Webster scorched away from the front-row into a clear lead as Zamparelli bogged-down off the line and dropped behind a fast-starting Khani and Vernon – the latter storming through from seventh.
Into the hairpin though for the first time, a multi-car tangle at the tail of the top six led to an immediate retirement for Zamparelli and Theodore. On lap two, another incident – this time at the exit of Old Hall and involving Spanish racer Victor Jiminez and Matt Mason (Nottingham) – led to the Safety Car being deployed before a subsequent red flag stoppage.
Officials declared a full re-start over seven laps and Webster again made no mistakes off the line to lead impressively, this time on a tricky track surface following a few minutes of rainfall. Into lap five though, the race was red flagged again following an incident involving Hector Hurst (Lymington, Hampshire) and Howard Fuller (Kingston-upon-Thames) so the result was taken from lap three.
This meant Webster claimed the victory, 2.6 seconds to the good over Vernon, with Hamilton third, Khani fourth and Bowyer a career-best fifth. Thorp finished sixth, Indian racer Zaamin Jaffer was seventh and Andrew Jarman (Milton Keynes) rounded out the top eight.
Speaking after the race, runner-up Vernon said: “We struggled in qualifying, we had a little problem with the car so didn’t show our true pace so to get onto the podium in second place from seventh on the grid is a great result.”
Team-mate Hamilton added: “I’m pleased with the podium, we’ve had one every weekend now and although they’re all third places they all help for the championship.”
Khani makes history and Zamparelli fights back…
Round six, like the opener, was again victim to a red flag stoppage due to a multi-car tangle at Druids on lap three involving Steven Durrant (Oxford), Raoul Owens (London), Sean Walkinshaw (Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire) and Russia’s Ivan Taranov.
At that point, Webster led after fending off Khani at the start while Zamparelli again bogged down and dropped to sixth almost immediately. By lap two, the latter was up to fourth and really piling on the pressure to third placed Hamilton just prior to the stoppage.
Once more, a full re-start was declared – this time over six laps – and Khani got the jump on Webster to nose ahead through Old Hall with third placed Hamilton keeping close company too. The latter though was given a drive-through penalty for a false start and eventually ended up eighth.
Khani drove perfectly to claim his first ever victory and just missed out on the fastest lap by less than 0.2 seconds to new lap record holder Zamparelli. He pressured Webster massively but couldn’t find a way by and had to settle for third ahead of Vernon and Theodore. Mason and the championship’s youngest racer Macaulay Walsh (Northampton) took career-best finishes in sixth and seventh.
“We’ve obviously got a problem with starts at the moment!”, grinned Zamparelli, “We have the pace, qualifying is sorted and we can race well – it’s only the starts that have let me down. It’s frustrating when you know you have the pace to lead from the front but we’ll sort it out.”
The Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship now heads into an eight-week summer break with rounds seven and eight of the season scheduled to kick-off the second half of the campaign over the weekend 23rd/24th July at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, the championship is additionally supported by ELF, Michelin and NGK Spark Plugs.
Provisional 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Points (after Rd6):
1st – Josh Webster / Fortec Motorsport 144pts
2nd – Archie Hamilton / Fortec Motorsport 125pts
3rd – Kieran Vernon / Fortec Motorsport 123pts
4th – James Thorp / MTech Lite 117pts
5th – Dino Zamparelli / Antel Motorsport 115pts
6th – Kourosh Khani / Scorpio Motorsport 107pts