Dino Zamparelli (Bristol) shot to the top of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship driver standings at Croft in North Yorkshire today, Sunday, 24th July, after backing up a fine second place finish in round seven with a tremendous victory – his second of 2011 – in round eight.
Although qualifying on pole position for the opening encounter, the Antel Motorsport driver lost out to a fast starting James Thorp (Evesham, Worcestershire) and the MTech Lite racer went on to also seal his second win of the year with a terrific drive – including two bonus points for the fastest lap.
Zamparelli hit back strongly though in race two, a sensational move around the outside of erstwhile championship leader Josh Webster (Stowmarket, Suffolk) at the first corner giving him a lead he would never relinquish, despite being under constant pressure from the Fortec Motorsport driver.
“It was a brave move, I thought I’d go to the outside to see what momentum I had – he braked a little bit earlier than me so I managed to just get around the outside”, explained Zamparelli, “I knew it was then or never if I was going to make a move as Josh had fresher tyres than me. I had to work hard to keep the gap at the end, it’s great to take the win and the championship lead.”
Webster’s weekend, and that of team-mates Kieran Vernon (West Chiltington, West Sussex) and Archie Hamilton (Hook, Hampshire), was certainly dramatic. At Clervaux on the opening lap of round seven, Vernon made contact with Hamilton as the pair diced for position and Webster was also caught up in the aftermath leading to a non-finish for the latter two and a lengthy pit-stop for Vernon.
Webster and Hamilton both hit back in round eight in second and third place respectively, with the former also setting the fastest lap of the race, while Vernon was fourth. In the first encounter, Thorp was followed home by Zamparelli with Scorpio Motorsport’s Kourosh Khani (High Wycombe, Bucks) taking his third podium of the season after a magnificent performance.
Overturning a 29 point deficit this weekend, Zamparelli now leads Webster by just a single point and the title battle is as hot as ever with Thorp moving back into the top three and within just five points of second place.
Thorp takes second win of 2011 with superb drive…
Having qualified on pole position just over 0.1 seconds clear of Thorp, Zamparelli hoped to make a clean getaway but it was the second placed man who made the best start to grab a decisive lead into Clervaux for the first time. Zamparelli was also under pressure for second from the Fortec trio of Hamilton, Vernon and Webster but he managed to hold on as the three team-mates collided.
Through the chaos came Khani who made an electric getaway from seventh on the grid to be third by the time he reached Hawthorn, leapfrogging team-mate Hector Hurst (Lymington, Hampshire) in the process.
At the front, Thorp ended the opening lap 0.8 seconds clear of Zamparelli and the gap between the top two never altered much all the way to the finish on lap 14 with the MTech driver taking the flag 1.3 seconds clear. Khani held third throughout the race and although under huge pressure from Hurst and category returnee Luke Wright (Shaftesbury, Dorset), the Iranian didn’t falter.
Into the complex on the final lap, Khani had third place sealed but a late bid by Wright to relieve Hurst of fourth went awry as the MGR Motorsport driver made contact with the Scorpio car. Wright recovered in fourth, finishing just ahead of Callum Bowyer (Peterborough) and Howard Fuller (Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey).
The attempted pass proved very costly for Hurst though who, after a very impressive drive in the top five, ended the race in ninth behind Spain’s Victor Jimenez and Matt Mason (Nottingham). David Wagner (Glasgow) rounded out the top 10.
“This is the best answer we could give after the problems at Oulton Park”, said Thorp, “I’ve been training harder than ever and I’m really glad it’s paid off. We’re still up there, we’re able to win races and be at the front. The team has put a huge amount of effort in too, this win is really satisfying.”
Third placed Khani added: “The team gave me a great car, a big thank you to them. I could see at the start the gap to the guys at the front was a bit too much, I didn’t want to push too hard so I worked on maintaining the gap and scoring as many points as I could. I’m really happy with the result.”
Zamparelli shades Webster for round eight victory…
During the three-hour break between Protyre Formula Renault BARC races, the Fortec mechanics produced a herculean effort to repair the cars of Vernon, Hamilton and Webster – the latter’s, in particular, requiring a massive amount of
Following the disappointment of round seven, Webster aimed to hit back strongly and starting on pole position he had a great chance. Getting away well from the line, he led Zamparelli into Clervaux but the Antel driver served up a sensational move around the outside to nose ahead into Hawthorn.
Initially opening up a lead of just over a second and posting a series of fastest lap times, Zamparelli’s lead was whittled down by Webster during the latter stages and the Fortec driver also took the two bonus points for the fastest race lap which he posted on the ninth tour.
Zamparelli had enough in hand though to take the flag 0.6 seconds clear of Webster with Hamilton some five seconds adrift of the top two in third place, two seconds to the good over Vernon. Khani again impressed in fifth place, up from eighth on the grid, but the driver to lose-out was Thorp who didn’t make a good start and slipped from third to sixth.
He did manage to see off Wright, who ended the race in seventh, with Bowyer taking eighth, Hurst ninth and Wagner again finishing in 10th position – the Scottish driver doing a great job during the final laps to fend off a four car train.
Webster commented: “The team did an absolutely amazing job and the guys from SWB Motorsport came down to help out as well to get the car ready, I really can’t thank them all enough. I braked a little bit too early for the first corner and that just gave Dino a chance to go around the outside. I’m still really happy with the result though.”
Third placed Hamilton added: “I got a good start and just maintained the gap really – I’m really happy to have finished on the podium to reward the team for all of their hard work in getting me back out there. The first race was hard but something like that was going to happen at some point as we’re all so close to the pace and running identical times – it was just a racing incident.”
Next on the schedule for the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship competitors is a visit to the fastest circuit on the calendar, Thruxton in Hampshire, with rounds nine and 10 taking place six weeks from now on Saturday, 3rd
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 Rd8):
1st – Dino Zamparelli / Antel Motorsport 175pts
2nd – Josh Webster / Fortec Motorsport 174pts
3rd – James Thorp / MTech Lite 169pts
4th – Kourosh Khani / Scorpio Motorsport 152pts
5th – Archie Hamilton / Fortec Motorsport 150pts
6th – Kieran Vernon / Fortec Motorsport 149pts