Dino Zamparelli (Bristol) is the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Champion after finishing third, and taking the bonus points for fastest lap, during a hugely entertaining final race of the season at Silverstone National Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 16th October.
Off the back of being named one of the six finalists for this year’s McLaren Autosport BRDC Award just over a week ago, the first time in the championship’s history a driver from its ranks has been included, the 19-year-old made his eighth visit to the podium to take the title by nine points from chief rival Josh Webster (Stowmarket, Suffolk) – all in front of the live ITV4 and ITV4 HD cameras.
Early in the race, with Webster second and Zamparelli down to sixth, the championship looked to be heading the way of the former and the tension was palpable after the 17-year-old set the fastest lap at mid-distance.
Zamparelli though stepped it up a gear during the final third of the 18 lapper and after bettering Webster’s quickest lap on the 13th tour, the Antel Motorsport driver took third with a bold move at Becketts on the penultimate lap to seal a memorable title triumph.
“I knew I had to finish third, that’s all I knew, so I just had to keep cool as in that situation it would have been very easy to lose my head”, reflected the new champion, “I picked them off one by one and when I crossed the line at the finish…well, I was elated. It feels absolutely fantastic.
“I had a year out of racing last year due to sponsorship issues, which was a bitter blow, but to come back this year and win the title is amazing. I’ve got the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award coming up as well so it’s all happening this year. Josh (Webster) has pushed me all the way this year, it’s been a very tough season but we’ve done it. I have to say thanks to Antel, they’ve done an amazing job.”
Webster, who led the championship on a couple of occasions earlier in the season, did everything he could to wrest the title from Zamparelli’s grasp. Brilliantly winning round 11 on Saturday with a truly faultless drive to take the title fight down to a final race decider, second position today just wasn’t quite enough for the 17-year-old for whom 2011 has still been a hugely successful year.
“After Thruxton (clutch problems) I thought it was over but it was good to come here and take it down to the wire”, said Webster, “It just didn’t come to us this time but congratulations to Dino and Antel, they’ve been quick all year. I’m just looking forward to next year now, hopefully we can get the budget to be racing – my sponsors this year have been absolutely fantastic.
“The championship has been so competitive this year and to come into the final round with 10 points between us, it shows how close we are. We both wanted it just as much as each other, in the end he just managed to pip me but I’m pleased we’ve put on a good show this year.”
Away from the championship battle, MGR Motorsport’s Matt Mason (Nottingham) celebrated his, and the team’s, maiden race win after a fantastic performance from the first year driver during the live televised season finale.
Lining up on pole position, having out-qualified Webster by a mere 0.028 seconds, Mason got way well but slipped behind the Fortec Motorsport driver into Copse. Undeterred, the rookie attacked Webster at Becketts and re-took the lead which he held to the flag on lap 18 – finishing just 0.3 seconds clear for a stunning win. The result also hoists him into the coveted top six in the points.
“It’s absolutely amazing”, said Mason, “This is the one round we’ve been talking about to our sponsors, saying how it was live on ITV, and we were hoping we’d be up there for it. To actually win the race, it couldn’t have been any more perfect. I was pretty in control, I knew what I had to do to keep a level head and Josh, to be fair to him, had everything to lose and I had everything to gain.”
David Wagner (Glasgow) raced very strongly to fourth place, making it a great weekend for MGR, while one-time championship contender James Thorp (Evesham, Worcestershire) rounded-out his campaign in fifth place to consolidate third in the standings. Zamparelli’s team-mate Callum Bowyer (Peterborough) followed on from a strong Saturday to add another top six to his tally.
Scorpio Motorsport’s Kourosh Khani (High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire) battled hard with Archie Hamilton (Hook, Hampshire) over third place for the first half of the encounter but at Brooklands on lap nine, the latter ended up with a broken front-wing after making contact under braking. Khani ended the race in seventh, taking fourth in the standings, but Hamilton had to retire.
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 Rd12):
1st Dino Zamparelli / Antel Motorsport 295pts
2nd Josh Webster / Fortec Motorsport 286pts
3rd James Thorp / MTech Lite 238pts
4th Kourosh Khani / Scorpio Motorsport 200pts
5th Archie Hamilton / Fortec Motorsport 196pts
6th Matt Mason / MGR Motorsport 186pts