Protyre Formula Renault BARC action posted on 15 July 2011
Eight long weeks since the last two rounds of Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship action, the country’s biggest-subscribed contemporary junior single-seater category will return to the track next weekend, 23rd/24th July, with its annual visit to Croft in North Yorkshire.
Always one of the most popular venues on the championship calendar, the 2.12-mile circuit offers a good mix of fast curves, long straights and slower technical sections. Rounds seven and eight of the campaign mark the start of the second half of the 2011 season and with five winners from the first six races, the title battle is wide open.
Fortec Motorsport’s Josh Webster (Stowmarket, Suffolk) holds a 19 point lead ahead of the visit to Croft thanks to a very strong weekend last time out at Oulton Park. Securing his second win of the season during round five, the 17-year-old backed that up with second place in round six.
Contrastingly, erstwhile championship leader James Thorp (Evesham, Worcestershire) had nothing short of a nightmare. Although taking decent points for sixth position in the first race, unfortunate contact with Callum Bowyer (Peterborough) in the second encounter led to an exclusion from the results. Thorp will therefore arrive at Croft fourth in the standings for MTech Lite.
Although Webster has a healthy advantage at present, the battle immediately behind him is very tight indeed with only two points separating Fortec team-mates Archie Hamilton (Hook, Hampshire) and Kieran Vernon (West Chiltington, West Sussex).
During the break since the Oulton Park races in May, the worth of Protyre Formula Renault BARC as a key proving ground has been displayed once again with both Vernon and Hamilton having been afforded high-profile opportunities to further their respective careers.
Vernon is dovetailing his Formula Renault BARC campaign with involvement in Porsche Carrera Cup GB in the car recently vacated by double champion Tim Harvey. Hamilton, meanwhile, is to make his debut in the American Le Mans Series in August prior to Formula Renault BARC’s visit to Thruxton.
Round four winner Dino Zamparelli (Bristol) is fifth in the championship, only a couple of points behind Thorp, but the experienced Antel Motorsport driver will be keen to start stringing together some consistent podium finishes to get himself fully into the title fight.
Oulton Park marked a watershed moment for Kourosh Khani (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire) with a sensational maiden victory in round six for Scorpio Motorsport. Not only did the result, added to fourth place in round five, rocket him into the championship top six, Khani also made history as the first ever Iranian to stand atop a Formula Renault podium.
In short, it’s anyone’s guess what the outcome at Croft will be with well over 20 cars expected to make the visit to North Yorkshire. In addition to the championship top six, seventh placed Steven Durrant (Oxford) has already taken one podium this year while Dubai-based series newcomer Zaamin Jaffer (Milton Keynes) and racing rookie Matt Mason (Nottingham) are edging ever closer.
Following a 15-minute untimed practice run at 09.30 on Saturday, 23rd July, the round seven and eight qualifying sessions will take place at 12.05 and 14.55 respectively. On Sunday, 24th July, the first race of the weekend will begin at 12.40 with the second encounter scheduled to start at 16.45.
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