Only four races remain in the fight to be crowned 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Champion and ahead of next weekend’s penultimate event of the season at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire, just six points separate the top three in the driver standings.
Rounds nine and 10 of the campaign, which will both take place on Saturday, 3rd September, at the ultra-fast 2.35-mile track near Andover, are going to be absolutely crucial in determining who will head to the televised season finale at Silverstone in mid-October in the box seat.
After, by far, his best outing of the season last time out at Croft in North Yorkshire with a victory and second place finish, Antel Motorsport’s Dino Zamparelli (Bristol) currently leads the championship by a single point from fellow double race winner Josh Webster (Stowmarket, Suffolk).
While Zamparelli’s title aspirations were significantly boosted during Formula Renault BARC’s annual visit to the North East, Webster’s weren’t helped at all after a highly unfortunate non-finish during the first of the two encounters – triggered after first corner contact between his Fortec Motorsport team-mates Kieran Vernon (West Chiltington, West Sussex) and Archie Hamilton (Hook, Hampshire).
Third in the championship is another two-time winner, James Thorp (Evesham, Worcestershire), and a strong Thruxton weekend will be essential for the MTech Lite racer as he is one of the few who will be affected by the category’s ‘drop-score’ ruling come the end of the campaign.
While the other title contenders all have zero points to drop, as things currently stand Thorp must subtract 11 points at least from his eventual total due to the fact he cannot drop the exclusion he received from round six at Oulton Park. Quite clearly, this could have a major bearing on his final championship placing and two consistently strong results next weekend are a must.
Scorpio Motorsport’s Kourosh Khani (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire) has produced a tremendous run of late and after securing his first podium in round four at Brands Hatch, he made headlines as the first ever Iranian to win a Formula Renault race during round six at Oulton Park. Ahead of the visit to Thruxton he is fourth in the driver standings, 23 points adrift of Zamparelli.
Hamilton and Vernon complete the championship top six, just two and three points behind Khani respectively, and while the top three of Zamparelli, Webster and Thorp do have something of an advantage their immediate pursuers are all capable of podium success next weekend.
Protyre Formula Renault BARC rookie Zaamin Jaffer (Milton Keynes/Dubai UAE) leads the next group which includes series veteran Steven Durrant (Oxford), Howard Fuller (Kingston-upon-Thames) and impressive car racing newcomer Matt Mason (Nottingham).
Qualifying for rounds nine and 10 of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship is scheduled to get underway at 09.30 next Saturday, 3rd September, with the first race set to begin at 11.30 and race two expected to follow at around 15.10.
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