James TheodoreTelford’s James Theodore produced his best qualifying performance of the 2009 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season at Rockingham Motor Speedway today, Saturday, 5th September, to secure a fourth place start for the 11th round of the campaign.

The reigning Formula Renault BARC Winter Champion, who is currently seventh overall in the driver standings, produced a best lap of 1m19.156 seconds (88.23mph) during the second of today’s two sessions to earn a place on row two of the grid for round 11.

While happy to be in a great position to challenge for his maiden podium of the year when racing takes place tomorrow, Sunday, 6th September, at the venue’s International Super Sports Car Circuit, the session was bittersweet for the Liberty Properties-backed driver as a spin with just under half the allotted time remaining prevented him from lapping even faster.

During the earlier round 10 session, Theodore was again the quickest of the Hillspeed drivers but unfortunately had his best lap taken away when officials deemed it was set as red flags were shown following a spin by David Sutton at Brook Chicane. He therefore ended up sixth fastest with a time of 1m18.494 seconds (88.97mph).

Team-mate Ahmad Al Harthy will start the first of tomorrow’s races from fifth on the grid thanks to a lap in the round 10 qualifying period of 1m18.458 seconds (89.01mph) at the wheel of his Oman Air, Sport Oman, Oman Tourist Board and Sultanate of Oman-supported car.

In the round 11 session, the Middle Eastern star was sixth fastest with a best lap of 1m19.247 seconds (88.12mph) which he produced on his final tour. Heading into the weekend’s two races, Al Harthy is third in the championship, just three points behind the Vice-Champion’s position which is currently being contested by four very evenly matched competitors.

Speaking after qualifying, Hillspeed’s Richard Ollerenshaw said: “We’re very pleased with the team performance this morning. Rockingham hasn’t been a circuit where we’ve enjoyed a huge amount of success in the past but during testing on Friday and then again today in qualifying, we’ve shown good pace with both James and Ahmad.

“We did feel it was a bit harsh to take James’ best lap away in the first session but we accept the official decision. He and Ahmad are well placed on row three to each have a good race and the same is true for race two with James fourth and Ahmad sixth. James’ spin was very unfortunate and not his fault, without that he could possibly have broken into the top three.”

Round 10 of the 2009 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship is scheduled to begin at 11.10 tomorrow morning, Sunday, 6th September, with the 11th round following at around 15.05. Both encounters are timetabled to be contested over 14 laps.

Provisional 2009 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Driver Standings (after Rd9):
3rd Ahmad Al Harthy, 198pts; 7th James Theodore, 118pts; 17th Ellis Harkins, 34pts; 20th Alexander Jeffrey, 19pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography