Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire hosts the resumption of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship next weekend, 21st/22nd July, and with seven races still remaining there’s everything to play for at the top of the driver standings.
Leading the way as the start of the second half of the season approaches is Cullen Motorsport’s Scott Malvern (Barkingside, Ilford) who shot to the top of the table last month at Thruxton, opening up a 21-point advantage.
As was the case last time out, the 23-year-old is once again venturing into uncharted territory for rounds eight and nine of the campaign as he has never previously raced, or even tested, at the 2.1 mile Darlington track.
“I’ve only ever worked at Croft as a mechanic – I’ve seen the pitwall, the paddock and that’s about it!”, said Malvern, “I’m not sure what to expect, I really am going there blind so we’ll just have to use the 15-minute warm-up to try and get a feel for the place. Hopefully it’ll be similar to Thruxton, I hadn’t been there before and it turned out well, although Croft is more technical.
“I’ve been the most consistent of the three of us at the top of the championship so far but, from my point of view, I’d like to have a few more wins. I’m not thinking about the championship too much at this stage, the aim is to keep winning races and then see what happens at the end of the season.”
Malvern’s main rivals, Josh Webster (Stowmarket, Suffolk) and Seb Morris (Marford, Wrexham), have both led the championship already this year but each has suffered misfortune – Webster at Rockingham and Morris at Thruxton.
In each instance, trouble in qualifying set the scene for greater difficulties. In Webster’s case, a huge accident not of his making, in very wet conditions, resulted in a massively damaged car and low grid positions for rounds four and five which seriously dented the MGR Motorsport driver’s points tally.
Morris encountered engine problems at Thruxton which led to lower than expected grid slots and ended his streak of five straight pole positions. This ultimately put him in the wrong place at the wrong time during round seven when he was caught-up in an accident while battling through the order at the wheel of his Fortec Motorsports’ machine.
One win and a runner-up spot last time out elevated Webster back into second place in the standings but Morris’ difficulties dropped him from the championship lead to third and so the 16-year-old will be determined to redress the balance next weekend.
Webster, meanwhile, will arrive at Croft with the benefit of some additional race mileage but not at the wheel of his regular FR 2.0. The MSA Team UK driver will make his Formula 3 debut at Zandvoort in The Netherlands this weekend, 14th/15th July, during the prestigious RTL GP Masters of Formula 3.
Outside the top three in Protyre Formula Renault BARC, quietly going about his business in fourth place in the standings is Scorpio Motorsport’s Macaulay Walsh (Northampton). Although he’s still chasing his first victory, two podiums and a consistently strong first half of the season for the rookie 17-year-old mean he is only 11 points behind Morris.
MGR runners Jake Dalton (Audley, Stoke-on-Trent) and David Wagner (Glasgow) are next in fifth and sixth respectively with two consistent fourth places at Thruxton enabling first year racer Dalton to leapfrog his more experienced team-mate. Unfortunately for Wagner, his second non-score of the year came in round seven after being involved in the incident which also accounted for Morris.
James Fletcher (Windlesham, Surrey) is seventh in the championship, tied on 104 points with fellow MGR racer Wagner, while Hillspeed’s Kieran Vernon (West Chiltington, West Sussex) is only nine points further back despite having only contested four races. With two podiums at Thruxton, the former category race winner should definitely be a contender for the top step of the Croft rostrum.
After a brief 15-minute practice at 09.30 on Saturday, 21st July, qualifying for rounds eight and nine will follow at 12.10 and 14.40 respectively. Both races will then be contested on Sunday, 22nd July, at 13.10 and 16.30.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault BARC is additionally supported by Michelin, The Lubricant Consultancy, Petronas Syntium and NGK Spark Plugs.
Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd7):
1st Scott Malvern, 182pts; 2nd Josh Webster, 161pts; 3rd Seb Morris, 151pts; 4th Macaulay Walsh, 140pts; 5th Jake Dalton, 117pts; 6th David Wagner, 104pts