Josh MulhollandJosh Mulholland produced a career-best drive during round 11 of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Rockingham in Northamptonshire on Sunday, 6th September, to move back into the coveted Vice-Champion’s position in the driver standings with a richly deserved maiden race win.

Lining up third on the grid behind Dino Zamparelli and Kieren Clark for the second of the weekend’s races on the 1.94-mile International Super Sports Car Circuit, the 20-year-old from Randalstown in Co. Antrim made a terrific getaway and avoided contact between the two front-row starters as they headed through the first corner.

As Clark and Zamparelli clashed at the apex of Turn 1, Josh had already positioned his Alpine Motorsport car on the higher line of the Oval banking and took an immediate lead which he held unchallenged to the chequered flag on lap 15.

The Safety Car was deployed at the start of lap two to allow debris to be cleared away from the scene of the first corner incident but at the re-start on the third tour, Josh made an exemplary getaway – the first time he has ever made a re-start leading the pack – and was never headed on his way to a dominant 4.5 second winning margin.

“To take our first win is fantastic, it’s what we’ve wanted to achieve all year. The team gave me a great car again, Rockingham is a difficult track to set a car up for so they deserve a lot of credit”, said Josh after round 11, “Although we were fast, I definitely had more pace in me but with it being the first time I had led a race I was perhaps a bit too careful as I didn’t want to make any mistakes.

“At the start I had already positioned myself to go on the higher line so when Kieren (Clark) and Dino (Zamparelli) came together it meant I had a clear run all the way round to the first hairpin. This is my first experience of leading a race, and winning obviously, so next time I’ll know what to do. Overall, I’m very happy with how things have gone for us this weekend.”

During the earlier 10th round, the Northern Irishman again started from third on the grid but slipped to fourth through Turn 1 as Brett Parris managed to get a better slingshot through the corner on the run to Deene Hairpin.

Remaining close behind his rival to the chequered flag on lap 15, Josh finished the race a mere nine 10ths of a second shy of the podium and posted the third fastest lap along the way with a time of 1m19.433 seconds.

Taking a superb total of 54 points from a possible 68 this weekend, the Mulholland Scrap Metals-backed racer is now tied on 245 points with Parris in the championship runner-up spot but by virtue of his victory Josh actually has the advantage. In addition, when each driver has deducted their lowest score of the season, as per category regulations, Josh is three points clear in second place.

“We’re right in the fight for second in the championship, if we can finish there it would be a great result”, he added, “We’ve got a big break until the final rounds at Thruxton. I’ve only had a couple of sessions of testing there but we did a good job so I’ll be aiming to be on the podium and maybe even challenge for more wins!”

There is now a lengthy five week break in action with the final two races of the 2009 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, rounds 12 and 13, taking place at Thruxton in Hampshire on Sunday, 11th October.

Provisional 2009 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings (after Rd11):
Champion: Kieren Clark, 324pts; 2nd Josh Mulholland 245pts; 3rd Brett Parris, 245pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography