Josh WebsterProtyre Formula Renault BARC Championship title contender Josh Webster took his second podium of the 2011 season at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 14th/15th May, to move into fifth place in the driver standings – just 17 points shy of the series lead.

Stowmarket-based Josh, a member of the MSA Academy, was unfortunate to miss out on the pivotal pole position for round three by the tinniest of margins – a mere 0.005 seconds – and that proved to be the determining factor in the first of the weekend’s races.

Not quite able to usurp pole-sitter, and Fortec Motorsport team-mate, Kieran Vernon into Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, the 17-year-old Suffolk racer had to tuck-in and settle for a nonetheless welcome second place with hardly anything to choose between the pair in terms of pace.

Little more than a second separated the two front-runners throughout the 19 lap encounter but with overtaking in a Formula Renault car nigh-on impossible at the 1.2-mile Kent track, Josh had to shadow Vernon to the flag – posting second fastest lap in the process with a time of 45.658 seconds.

Qualifying for round four was a more troublesome affair for Josh as he lost vital track time due to an issue with floor on his FR 2.0 coming loose and requiring an urgent pit-stop mid-session. Missing the optimum time to be on track due to the enforced pit visit, and with it the chance to challenge for pole position, he brilliantly salvaged the sixth fastest lap – only 0.184 seconds shy of the top spot.

Moving into fifth off the start, the Nine Telecom Group, Admiral Group, Integra ICT, Sunwise, Melbek Technology, Everyone Active and Flying Saucer supported racer slipped to sixth on lap two but got back into fifth on lap 11 when Vernon crashed out from fourth at Graham Hill Bend.

Missing out on the fastest race lap by just eight 100ths of a second, Josh displayed tremendous pace once again and as part of a very close finish on lap 20 he missed out on the podium places by only 0.6 seconds.

“It was all about qualifying this weekend, as it always is at Brands Indy”, said Josh, “The first session was really close and we only just missed taking pole position. In the race I got away well and had a good run into Paddock but Kieran had the door closed and that was it, we had to settle for second.

“In race two, my tyres seemed to take ages to come on so that made things pretty difficult early on but fifth in the end gives us more good points for the championship which is what we need. It’s a real shame we had the problem with the floor of the car coming unbolted in second qualifying as we could easily have been on the podium again if we’d been on the first two rows.”

In other race-related news, Josh’s car sported a brand new livery and colour scheme this weekend in deference to headline sponsor Nine Telecom Group. With 30 guests in attendance at Brands Hatch to cheer-on the 2010 Formula Renault BARC Winter Champion, Josh was delighted to reward the support with his second podium of the season.

“I’m so grateful to all my sponsors and especially Nine Telecom, without their support I wouldn’t be racing – it’s as simple as that”, added Josh, “I really wanted to give the guests a win to celebrate but being on the podium was still great. Hopefully we can fight for both wins next time out at Oulton!”

There are just two weeks to wait for the fifth and sixth rounds of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season which will be held on Saturday, 28th May, at Oulton Park in Cheshire.

Provisional 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings (after Rd4):
1st James Thorp, 99pts; 5th Josh Webster, 82pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.