Organisers of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship have reached agreement with its teams and the British Automobile Racing Club to establish a three-round ‘Renault GP Cup’, taking place as a stand-alone class in the final three events of the 2012 Certina Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship to help bolster grids in the national-level category.
With proposed competitor numbers for the cost-effective Formula Renault BARC series looking very strong for 2012, championship promoter Simon North and Ian Watson of the BARC have liaised closely with the category’s teams to come up with a workable solution to assist Formula Renault UK.
The Renault GP Cup will be a replacement for the proposed ‘Formula Renault Junior’ class, which would have utilised the Tatuus FR 2.0 cars currently raced in the BARC series – albeit with a different engine restrictor.
So as to avoid any issues with testing bans at particular venues for the Formula Renault BARC teams, the viable answer is for the Renault GP Cup to take place during the last three events of the Formula Renault UK season, which is expected to bring an additional 10 or 12 drivers onto the UK grid.
Only competitors already registered for the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship will be eligible to enter their ‘BARC’ specification FR 2.0 cars in the UK championship races on 8th/9th September at Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit (supporting British Formula 3), on 22nd/23rd September at Rockingham and 20th/21st October at Brands Hatch (both supporting the British Touring Car Championship).
While the already announced main Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season will still be in progress when the Silverstone GP Circuit and Rockingham Formula Renault UK rounds take place, the Renault GP Cup is a standalone entity and will not form part of the main season title race.
“We’ve been working very closely with the BARC and SRO, who have been in touch with the Formula Renault UK teams, to arrive at a solution to help improve their grids and the Renault GP Cup is the perfect answer”, said Protyre Formula Renault BARC promoter Simon North, “Drivers will only be able to enter the Cup by being registered for the BARC Championship, we envisage it could bring as many as 12 more drivers onto the UK grid.
“It’s not in anyone’s interest for the numbers in Formula Renault UK to be low and we’re keen to proactively work with the BARC to help the current situation. That couldn’t be at the expense of altering the low-cost element which continues to see Protyre Formula Renault BARC thrive. Our teams are satisfied the Renault GP Cup is the best solution.”
Widespread support for Renault GP Cup from Formula Renault BARC teams
Teams from Protyre Formula Renault BARC have widely welcomed the creation by the BARC of the Renault GP Cup which will give drivers an extra opportunity to race on a bigger stage at three of the UK’s most popular venues – the latter two likely to feature television coverage on the ITV network.
Jon Pettit, team principal of 2008 and 2009 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Champions Scorpio Motorsport, commented: “I like the idea of the Renault GP Cup, it gives us and our drivers a bigger stage to race on and it will also help to continue raising the profile of the BARC championship.
“We’ll definitely be suggesting to our guys that they do this, it can only be good experience for them but it’s also at a more achievable budget. Hopefully, this will put a bit of fire back into the UK series as well during the last three events of the season and bring some positivity to that side of things.”
Richard Ollerenshaw, team principal of 2010 champions Hillspeed, said: “What has been put forward by the BARC now with the Renault GP Cup has the benefits of the Junior class idea but in a programme the BARC drivers can afford at an acceptable budget level. We definitely welcome this as a good step forward and support it wholeheartedly.”
“It got to the point where not enough people wanted the Junior class in Formula Renault UK”, added MGR Motorsport team principal Mark Godwin, “The Renault GP Cup is a great idea though, it all depends how popular it is with the drivers but I think we should get quite a few wanting to do it.
“Formula Renault BARC is good value for money, there aren’t many other options out there for drivers to race in a great car, and in such a great championship, for such a good budget. For the drivers who don’t have the money to race in Formula Renault UK, this is a very good compromise.”
The main Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season will commence on 7th/8th April at Snetterton in Norfolk and will conclude at Silverstone in Northamptonshire on 6th/7th October.