This year’s Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship will go down to the wire during a nail-biting final round decider at Silverstone tomorrow, Sunday, 16th October, after Josh Webster (Stowmarket, Suffolk) raced to a superb lights-to-flag victory during round 11 this afternoon.
The Fortec Motorsport driver, who headed into the event 19 points adrift of Dino Zamparelli (Bristol) at the top of the standings, is now just 10 behind the series leader after easing to a four second win over team-mate Archie Hamilton (Hook, Hampshire) – second place marking the latter’s best finish of the season. Importantly, Webster also bagged the two bonus points for setting fastest lap.
“Archie put on a really good show on the first lap, he got a better start than me as I had too much wheelspin and was quite hard to fend off”, said Webster, “I pushed like hell to pull a gap, the car was absolutely fantastic – massive thank you to Fortec, the car was immense. I really enjoyed it, it was a fantastic race and now the championship is alive for tomorrow.”
Zamparelli slipped to third off the start in his Antel Motorsport machine and then dropped behind Kourosh Khani (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire) on the run towards Becketts, leaving a mountain to climb to try and get back on terms with pole position starter Webster.
Initially the leader was pressured massively by Hamilton over the course of the opening lap but, not wanting to interfere with the championship fight, he didn’t try any rash moves. From lap three on, Webster started to get fully into his stride and he pulled away significantly with a series of fastest laps to secure his third win of the campaign – easily his most important so far.
While Hamilton cruised to second place to boost his hopes of finishing in the championship top four, Scorpio’s Khani spent the entire race defending hard from Zamparelli who just couldn’t find a way past. On lap two, the points leader attempted a move which didn’t pay off and he slipped to fifth behind impressive MGR driver David Wagner (Glasgow).
On lap five, Zamparelli produced a brilliant pass around the outside at Brooklands to move back ahead of Wagner and he once more set off after Khani. Closing down the gap rapidly, Zamparelli tried everything but Khani’s stern defence couldn’t be penetrated.
Three laps from the end though, Khani was served with a drive-through penalty for a driving standards infringement but he didn’t pit prior to the chequered flag on lap 18. His third place on the road was therefore given to Zamparelli – crucial for his championship bid.
“I got a bad start, fell back to fourth, and then Khani put me out on the grass so I lost a place to Wagner”, said Zamparelli, “I got put on the grass a few times, they gave him (Khani) a penalty in the end but the damage was done by then.
Finishing P3 is a result for us, seven points now between me and Webster so it’s all to play for tomorrow. I’m confident I can do it.”
Second place finisher Hamilton, delighted with his result, said: “I pressured Josh all the way on the first lap, I tried to find a way by but I thought I’d just stick behind him as he’s got a championship to try and win and I didn’t want to get involved in the whole battle. I’m pleased for him he got the win but pleased for my result as well, season’s best – I was getting a bit bored of finishing third!”
Callum Bowyer (Peterborough) starred for Antel with fifth place on the road ahead of Scorpio’s Hector Hurst (Lymington, Hampshire), championship returnee James Theodore (Telford, Shropshire) and MTech Lite’s James Thorp (Evesham, Worcestershire) – the latter’s title bid now over.
MGR runner Matt Mason (Nottingham) wasn’t able to take up his place on the fourth row of the grid after stalling ahead of the formation lap but he mounted a superb recovery from the pitlane to finish in a highly creditable 11th position.
Tomorrow could well bring a career-best result for the rookie driver as he starts on pole position for the first time, a tremendous effort by Mason in the second of this morning’s two qualifying runs bagging him the top spot on the grid by 0.028 seconds from Webster. Wagner, similarly impressive to his team-mate, was third with the top six on the round 12 grid completed by Khani, Zamparelli and Hamilton.
Everything now boils down to the live televised 12th and final round of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship which is scheduled to get underway at 13.45 tomorrow, Sunday, 16th October, with coverage to be screened on
Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4, in High Definition on ITV4 HD and online at www.itv.com/touringcars
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, the championship is additionally supported by ELF, Michelin and NGK Spark Plugs.