Saturday, 21 July 2012

Formula Renault BARC takes on Croft


Formula Renault BARC blasts back into action at Croft!

Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire hosts the resumption of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship this weekend 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.
James Theodore

James Theodore (Telford, Shropshire) will make a welcome return to single-seater action in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Croft this weekend, 21st/22nd July, after agreeing a one-off deal with Cliff Dempsey Racing.

The 20-year-old, who last raced full-time in 2010 when he was third overall in Protyre Formula Renault BARC with three victories and six podiums, will have a brief shakedown in the CDR car at Mallory Park in Leicestershire today, Wednesday, 18th July. From there, Theodore will be straight back in at the deep end with no testing at Croft other than a short 15-minute practice on Saturday.

“It’s a bit of a whirlwind appearance”, said the 2008 Winter Series Champion, “It’s a great chance to get back in a BARC car, Cliff’s a really nice guy and he runs a great team so I’m really looking forward to being back out there. We’ve only got half a day at Mallory to get back into the swing of things but it shouldn’t take long to get the cobwebs off.

“I’m not going into the weekend all gung-ho, I’m not in the championship fight and so I’m not there to mess anyone around. I’m still out to do as well as I can though and I’ll be racing hard to try and get the best result possible for me and the team.”

Budget restrictions have meant Theodore has been on the sidelines for the majority of the past year and a half although he did make two appearances in Protyre Formula Renault BARC in 2011 – with MTECH Lite at Oulton Park and Fortec Motorsports at Silverstone.

“I’ve not done much at all with racing this year, a bit of driver coaching with Hillspeed and I did a one off in the Smart series”, he added, “One of my mates from Uni was offered the chance but didn’t have his ARDS licence so I did it – I’d never touched a tin-top before. I want to get back into things more seriously though, I’m determined to do well at Croft but anything further is down to budget.”

While Theodore will run with CDR at Croft in the car previously driven by Trent Hindman, current championship leader Scott Malvern (Barkingside, Ilford) has parted ways with the Corby-based team and is expected to contest the remainder of the season under the Cullen Motorsport banner.

For rounds eight and nine at Croft this weekend, well over 20 cars are expected to be in action as Protyre Formula Renault BARC continues to prove its place as the most popular contemporary junior single-seater category in the UK.

Following a 15-minute practice session at 09.30 on Saturday, 21st July, qualifying for rounds eight and nine will take place at 12.10 and 14.40. On Sunday, 22nd July, the opening encounter will begin at 13.10 with the second race scheduled to commence at 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