Jakob Ebrey Photography

Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship leader Dino Zamparelli (Bristol) has helped make history for the thriving single-seater category by being the first ever driver from its ranks to be named a McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist.

The massively prestigious accolade, which is now in its 23rd year, has been synonymous with identifying the very best talent in Britain and the list of past winners is a veritable who’s who of the top single-seater drivers to have graduated to international racing.

Jenson Button, 2009 FIA Formula One World Champion, fellow Grand Prix racing star Paul Di Resta and former F1 ace David Coulthard are all previous recipients of the award, as is multiple IndyCar Champion and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti.

Proving Formula Renault BARC’s position as one of the UK’s most important junior categories, the inclusion of Zamparelli in this year’s finals is a huge moment for the club-level championship and confirmation of its ever-growing stature. The evaluations will take place at Silverstone in November.

Championship promoter Simon North commented: “We’re absolutely delighted for Dino, he’s done a fantastic job this year and really does deserve his place alongside the other award finalists. I think any one of our current top three in the championship, Dino, Josh (Webster) and James (Thorp) would have been worthy of inclusion.

“It’s excellent news for the championship to have a driver in such a prestigious and highly regarded award and we wish Dino the very best of luck. He’s up against some very tough opposition but I know he’ll do the championship, and more importantly himself, proud.”

Zamparelli added: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be one of the finalists. It’s really good publicity for the BARC Championship, drivers now know they can race in Formula Renault BARC – which is very cost effective – and have a chance of getting through to the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award.

“I’ll approach it like I do every race, I’ll go out there to enjoy it and do the best I can. I’m not going to have a gung-ho approach, I just want to be as relaxed as possible, enjoy the whole experience and make sure I learn a lot from it too. It’ll be great having the chance to drive so many good cars.”

Silverstone battle royal in prospect between Zamparelli, Webster and Thorp…
Just a week now remains until the final two rounds of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship take place at Silverstone National Circuit over the weekend 15th/16th October.

Running in a very prestigious support slot on the British Touring Car Championship package, the title battle will likely be decided during the live televised race on the Sunday – which will be screened on ITV4, in High Definition on ITV4 HD and to a global audience online at www.itv.com/touringcars

Going into the event, Zamparelli leads with a healthy 19 point advantage over his immediate rival Josh Webster (Stowmarket, Suffolk) with fellow contender James Thorp (Evesham, Worcestershire) a further 22 points adrift. Mathematically, Kourosh Khani (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire) can win the championship but his chances rest on dreadful misfortune for the aforementioned trio.

Antel Motorsport’s Zamparelli, who has taken four wins so far including the last three back-to-back, said: “Being selected for the McLaren Award is such a big moment in my career but I’m not thinking about that just yet, the immediate focus is on the final two rounds of the championship. We need to try and qualify at the front, go out and take a couple more wins and seal the title.”

Webster, a double winner this year with a total of seven podiums to his credit, has had more than his share of bad luck over the course of the season – including clutch issues at Thruxton last time out. Two enforced non-finishes this year have impacted his points score relative to Zamparelli.

“I’m really looking forward to Silverstone“, said the Fortec Motorsport racer, “I’m not going there constantly thinking about the points, I think that can affect where your head is. I’m just going to do the best we can and try and win. It’ll be vital to qualify on the front row and to get a good start to both races – it will be tough but with the live TV and everything it’s going to be a fantastic weekend.”

Third placed Thorp, the only driver affected by the category’s ‘drop score’ ruling, does have a huge task on his hands to overturn the top two but, having won at Donington Park and Croft earlier in the year, he has the pace and ability to enjoy Silverstone success.

“It is going to be tough for us but you can’t go into it thinking like that”, said the MTech Lite driver, “I’ll be trying to win both races if I can, we can’t do anymore than that and then we’ll have to see where we end up. If I come out of Silverstone third in the championship, that’s ok, if we manage to win it’ll be unbelievable.”

Along with headline sponsor Protyre, the championship is additionally supported by ELF, Michelin and NGK Spark Plugs.

Provisional 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Points (after Rd10 – inc. Drop Score):
1st  Dino Zamparelli / Antel Motorsport  243pts
2nd  Josh Webster / Fortec Motorsport  224pts
3rd  James Thorp / MTech Lite  202pts
4th  Kourosh Khani / Scorpio Motorsport  184pts
5th  Archie Hamilton / Fortec Motorsport  168pts
6th  Kieran Vernon / Fortec Motorsport  149pts