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Archive for October, 2011

Alice PowellAlice Powell, 2010 Formula Renault BARC Champion finished second in the MRF Series, by taking two podiums spots in front of a very large F1 crowd out in India, on the New Dehli circuit. Alice created a lot of media attention, by being only female racer in the series, receiving many interviews, including from the BBC.

Alice was amongst twenty international drivers to put the Formula 1600 cars through their paces this weekend as she raced for the Team Sidvin team. After only having a 30 lap test last month, Alice managed to put her Sidvin car P2 and P4 on the grid for the races. “I did not expect to get P2 on the grid. The track was very dusty and the tyres took a long time to come on, but when they did I just carried on pushing and pulled out a time. To be part of an F1 support race is fantastic, and we have a decent chance to get on the podium in both races”.

For the start of Race One, Alice got a clean start, but lacked pace for the first few laps and dropped down to third. However, she quickly closed the gap to Jordan King, who competed in 6 races in the MRF car at the start of this year. However, it was only a 10 lap race, so Alice crossed the line in 3rd place, setting the second fastest time in the race.

In Race two, Alice got another great start, and benefited from Jordan King colliding with V8 Supercar driver, Nick Percat, to move up into third place. Two laps later, Powell pulled off a brave move on Kourosh Khani, to take second place. With a 3 second gap to first place, Alice pushed hard ending the race in second, only 1.9 seconds behind the race winner.

Commenting after the weekend, Alice said “It was a brilliant weekend, and a great way to end the season! In the last race, we were the only ones on old tyres, thinking that the new tyres would act the same as they did in quali, and take a long time to come on, but that didn’t happen and old tyres were slower, so to finish in second place was great for us! It was amazing to stand on the F1 podium, twice, in front of such a great crowd! I would like to thank Team Sidvin for their outstanding support this weekend. Next for me, is to continue to hunt for sponsorship to get myself out racing in either GP3 or Formula Renault Eurocup next year”.

Josh WebsterStowmarket’s Josh Webster will make his competitive debut in the national Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship during the six race ‘Finals Series’ which begins at Snetterton in Norfolk this weekend, 5th/6th November, having signed a deal with race-winning squad Mark Burdett Motorsport.

Just a couple of weeks since the conclusion of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, in which the 17-year-old ended the season as Vice-Champion with three victories and nine podiums in total, Josh now prepares to take on his toughest challenge yet in a current specification FR 2.0 car.

Offering greater power, enhanced aerodynamics, steering-wheel mounted paddle-shift gear change and requiring an adaptation in driving style compared to the previous generation ‘BARC’ Formula Renault, the demands of the top tier of the renowned single-seater category will prove to be a steep learning curve for the Suffolk racer…but he’s relishing the opportunity.

“It’s fantastic to have this chance to race in the Finals Series in a UK car, I’m really happy to be back out so soon after the end of the BARC season”, said Josh, “This is a perfect opportunity to learn the new car and get as much experience as possible as we prepare for next year, the aim is to do the full UK championship in 2012 if we can raise the budget so this is all about getting ready for that.

“It’s going to be a major learning curve for me, we’ve only had limited testing time in the car and I’ve never raced on the 300 Circuit before, but we’ll be giving it our all as we always do. I’m pleased to be working with Mark Burdett and his team, they’ve had some good success in the main championship this year and I’m sure we’ll develop a good relationship.”

Along with his inexperience of the new FR 2.0 car and Snetterton’s 2.97-mile 300 Circuit layout, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star is also making the move into the UK category in what is destined to be the most competitive winter championship ever.

Over 30 cars are expected for the opening event in East Anglia, including a dozen or more entries from Europe, making the competition incredibly intense. The Finals Series will be contested over six races in total, four at Snetterton this coming weekend and then two more a week later on Saturday, 12th November, at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.

The opening qualifying session at Snetterton will get underway at 09.25 on Saturday, 5th November, with round one scheduled to begin at 12.15 and round two following at 15.45. Second qualifying on Sunday, 6th November, will commence at 09.00 with round three timetabled to start at 11.55 and round four rounding out the weekend’s action at 15.30.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Scott Malvern GP3Scott Malvern had his first taste of GP3 action this week at the Circuit De Catalunya in Barcelona at the first official end of season test with the Status GP team. He acquitted himself well against far more experienced opposition, being the only one of the 26 drivers taking part who hadn’t previously competed in a winged formula.

Scott commented “Obviously there was a lot to learn over the two days but overall I am very pleased with what we achieved. We set ourselves some clear targets and a programme that we wanted to work through to give me a better understanding of how a winged car works and in that respect we met all of our objectives. I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t set a quick time on the final new tyre run but that was down to lack of clear track time more than my inability to do it and we were compromised by some minor problems that we had with the car late in the day. It was a good experience and can only help with my future development”

The GP3 championship is contested at European Formula One Grand Prix events and is regarded as the first stepping stone to Formula One before GP2. Scott and his partners are evaluating programmes for progressing his career in 2012 and GP3 is seriously being considered along with the FIA International Formula 2 championship.

Photo by GP3 Media / Status Grand Prix

James PeaceJames Peace took another step forward in his career by putting in a high class performance at the Henry Surtees Foundation Trophy this week. The charity event organised by John Surtees OBE was a “Who’s Who” of British Motorsport talent. With the likes of Scott Malvern, Oliver Rowland, Alex Simms, Harry Ticknell, Oliver Webb, Jack Harvey, Josh Webster, Jody Fannin & Jake Dennis to name but a few, the competition was going to be tough.

Peace’s pace on equal equipment shone through. During the free practice sessions, Peace’s name rarely exited the top three and MSA Academy Coordinator Greg Symes commented on the consistency of the times Peace was able to post.

During qualifying however, a cracked manifold put paid to a front row start for the pre-final. Despite the low starting position, Peace once again showed his capability, cutting through the elite field finishing a credible 9th setting the third fastest time of the race in the process. “That was fun!” said a delighted Peace.

Unfortunately Peace was the victim of an over ambitious move early in the A Final. Peace had made a cracking start from 9th and was running 4th when, in the second hairpin, a kart mounted the back of his and removed his exhaust. Peace had to retire to the pits for repairs. “It’s been a great honour to race in this event. I have shown just how good I can be with similar equipment against this level of opposition.” enthused Peace.

“This event has reignited my winter training programme, and I can’t wait to get back into the car for further preparations for 2012. I have secured some of the budget required for my assault on the Intersteps 2012 Championship, and today has proven to me that I can mix it with the best!”

Selected lap times from the Pre A Final – Henry Surtees Trophy 2011

DRIVER

TIME

Previous Notable Results / Information

Riki Christodoulou

45.57

Formula 3 Driver

Alexander Simms

45.7

4th Formula 3 Euroseries 2010

James Peace

45.72

5th Intersteps Championship 2011 / Super 1 Junior TKM Champion 2010

Jordan Chamberlain

45.77

European KF2 Champion 2009 / Second World Karting Champs 2010

Oliver Rowland

45.78

Vice Champion Formula Renault 2.0 2011

Adam Christodoulou

45.78

Formula Renault 2.0 Champion 2008 / Star Mazda Champion 2009

Ashley Hand

45.89

Junior Max FKS Champion 2010 / Junior Max Kartmasters Champion 2009

Jody Fannin

45.92

Second Ginetta GT Supercup G50 2011

Josh Webster

45.95

Second Renault BARC 2011 / Winter Renault BARC Champion 2010

Scott Malvern

45.99

British Formula Ford Champion 2011 / Formula Ford Festival Winner 2011

Edward Brand

46.07

Rotax Max, 3rd International Open, Junior Rotax Super 1 Champion 2009

Jack Harvey

46.15

Second Formula BMW Europe 2010, Asian-Pacific Champion KF2 2008

Jake Dennis

46.29

Intersteps Champion 2011 / FK3 Super 1 Champion 2010 / CIK-FIA U18 World Karting Champion 2010

Alice PowellOn the 16th of October 2011, Alice made history, yet again, by becoming the first ever female to commentate on a motorsport event for ITV. She joined ITV Sport commentator, Richard John Neil in the comms box to commentate on the final round of the Formula Renault BARC Championship, the same championship she won this time last year. Alice did the commentary live on ITV4 at the Silverstone circuit. Richard John Neil said “Alice did a fantastic job! We are extremely pleased with her! I would love to work with her again.”

It was the first time Alice did anything like this and she commented, “I loved it! I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would love to thank ITV and Richard John Neil for this great opportunity and would jump at the chance to do it again!”

Also for Alice, it was the final round of the Formula Renault Championship. Struggling in qualifying with and a slipping clutch for the first few laps in race one, Alice finished P11 for the first race. But it would be the final race of the season which was highly frustrating. Alice fought hard to get P8 by the end of the third lap, but was ordered by the Clerk of the Course to serve a drive through penalty for using too much exit on the exit of Copse corner. Alice ended up finished P10, and P9 in the championship, but 4th in the Graduate Cup.

Commenting on the weekend, Alice said “It was a tough and frustrating weekend for us we struggled with things in qualifying, and we were unlucky with the slipping clutch in race one, and getting the drive through, as many drivers were doing the same thing. However, taking the positives, we raced very well and showed to people that no matter what happens we will always fight through. Huge thanks for my sponsors for all their support this season. I am hugely grateful! Also to Manor Competition for their spectacular work and their support this season, especially to my engineer Sarah, and my mechanic Sam. Next outing is the MRF race in India, which I am so excited about! As for next season, I hope to do Eurocup Formula Renault or GP3, but need to find the budget first.”

Alice will be racing in India on the 29/30 of October as a support race to the Formula One, Alice’s final race of 2011.

To keep up to date on progress in India, follow Alice on twitter, @alicepowell.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Josh Webster - SilverstoneBritish Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star Josh Webster just missed out on claiming the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship title at Silverstone National Circuit over the weekend, 15th/16th October, despite racing to his third victory of the season and claiming a double podium.

Going into the all-important final two rounds of the campaign 19 points shy of the top of the table, the 17-year-old from Stowmarket needed a huge weekend to get anywhere close to achieving his dream…and it so nearly came good after a superb effort from the Fortec Motorsport driver.

Determined to give himself the best chance possible of overturning points leader Dino Zamparelli, the Suffolk racer qualified for the first of the weekend’s encounters on pole position and made a tremendous start to Saturday’s 18-lapper.

Fending off initial pressure from team-mate Archie Hamilton, Josh delivered an absolute masterclass at the front by stretching away to a four second winning margin. Importantly, he took two further bonus points for setting the fastest lap of the race with a time of 56.402 seconds (104.61mph) – this took him to within 10 points of Zamparelli going into the final round on Sunday.

Still with a lot of hard work ahead, and requiring a good dose of fortune too, the Nine Telecom Group, Admiral Group, Integra ICT, Sunwise, Melbek Technology, Everyone Active and Flying Saucer backed racer couldn’t have tried any harder in the televised 12th round.

Lining up on the front-row again, this time in second position, Josh made another great start to take the lead but pole-sitter Matt Mason dived back through into Becketts with a late pass to push the MSA Academy driver back to second place.

Piling on the pressure to Mason lap after lap, while also repelling an attack from Kourosh Khani behind, Josh pushed as hard as possible to force an error from the leader who had to defend hard and hold very tight lines in order to remain at the front.

Midway through the race, with Zamparelli back in sixth position, Josh literally had one hand on the champion’s trophy but by the time the chequered flag fell on lap 18 his rival had made his way through into the top three which was enough to give the Antel Motorsport driver the title.

Understandably disappointed, Josh couldn’t have given anything more or tried any harder – his exceptional weekend meaning he concludes his second season of car racing with a tally of nine podiums from 10 race finishes, an outstanding record. He also set the fastest lap on four occasions and qualified on pole position twice.

“Being at a points disadvantage due to having had two non-finishes, compared to Dino’s one, made it tough but it was good to take it down to the wire”, said Josh, “It just didn’t come to us this time but congratulations to Dino and Antel, they’ve been quick all year. I’m just looking forward to next year now, hopefully we can get the budget to be racing – my sponsors this year have been fantastic.

“I have to say a huge thank you to Nine Telecom, Admiral Group, Integra ICT, Sunwise, Melbek Technology, Everyone Active and Flying Saucer. Thanks to the guys at Fortec for their hard work and to my mum, dad and sisters Leah and Fern – without their support I wouldn’t be racing at all. For this weekend in particular, thanks to Mike Rockall and Whittlebury Hall for their fantastic hospitality.”

He added: “The championship has been so competitive this year and to come into the final round with 10 points between us, it shows how close we are. We both wanted it just as much as each other, in the end he just managed to pip me but I’m pleased we’ve put on a good show this year.”

Final 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings:
Champion: Dino Zamparelli, 295pts; Vice-Champion: Josh Webster, 286pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Felix Rosenqvist returns to MacauFelix Rosenqvist will take part in the season-ending Macau Grand Prix – the most prestigious event on the international Formula 3 calendar – for the second successive year. The Swede, who finished ninth on his debut in the Asian street classic after an eye-catching drive in 2010, will represent his regular Formula 3 Euro Series team Mücke Motorsport with full support from engine manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. Rosenqvist’s team-mate over the weekend will be Macanese veteran Michael Ho. The Macau Grand Prix is widely regarded as the Formula 3 world finals, with 30 of the most promising young single-seater talents taking part in the race in November of each year.

“I will never forget the feeling I had when I drove out of the pitlane in Macau for the first time last year, and it will be absolutely great to be back there again for a second time,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “I learned so much there last year, but I’m well aware of the fact that many of my rivals have still been to Macau on more occasions than I have and I know how tough the Macau Grand Prix really is. The team will go there for the very first time, but I still believe we will have the chance to challenge close to the front – not least following our victory in the Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort earlier this year. Macau has become my favourite circuit, and I can’t wait for the start of practice.”

The Macau Grand Prix has been the single most important event of the Formula 3 season every year since its
inception in 1983. The list of previous winners includes the likes of Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Sweden’s Rickard Rydell, with 20 out of the 28 drivers who have started a Formula 1 race in 2011 having driven at Macau at least once in their careers. At Mücke Motorsport, preparations are well underway as excitement for the race builds.

“Racing in the Macau Grand Prix for the first time ever will be a big challenge for the entire team, but with Felix behind the wheel I think we are well-placed to fight for the top five positions,” says team principal Peter Mücke. “Felix drove there very competitively last year, and we do have experience of street circuits from all the races we’ve done at the Norisring in Germany over the years. Adapting to a new track will not be a major problem, and the key to success at Macau will be to get everything together on the day – and some luck on the opening laps!”

The venue for the Macau Grand Prix is the temporarily erected Guia Circuit, which is made up of public roads in the city centre of the Chinese gambling metropolis outside of Hong Kong. The 2011 Macau Grand Prix takes place on November 17-20.

Just when you thought Scott Malvern’s highly successful motor racing season couldn’t get any better the Barkingside young rising star has topped it off by winning the highly prestigious Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. The Festival enjoying its 40th anniversary this year has a list of illustrious past winners including Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Johnny Herbert.

The triumph means that Scott has enjoyed a clean sweep of all the major motor racing honours available to him this season adding to the already won Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain and the Formula Ford Euro-Cup.

Although he faced stiff competition at Brands Hatch with top drivers entered not just from the UK but from all over the world including Australia, Finland & USA, Scott was always in command through the event qualifying in pole position for his group and then going on to win his heat, quarter final, semi-final and final races to take the overall victory. Scott delighted afterwards said “I came to this event as a very young mechanic in 2008 working for Australian driver Tim Blanchard and thought to myself that I’d love to come back and win it myself. Little did I imagine that three years later I would do just that”
Scott’s busy season isn’t over just yet though. He has been hired as the development driver for the new Formula Ford ECO Boost race car and will be taking part in several test days in the coming weeks. He will also line up for the 2nd consecutive year as one of the six finalists for the McLaren AUTOSPORT BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award. This is the top award in British Motorsport and brings with it a prize of a McLaren Formula One test and £100,000 towards next season’s race budget.

Scott will also be returning to his karting roots this week on Thursday 20th October when he joins a number of top British motor racing stars to compete in the Henry Surtees Foundation benefit event at Buckmore Park Kart circuit in Kent. Henry was the late son of multiple motorcycle and Formula One World Champion John Surtees who lost his life in a tragic accident in 2009.

Post Script
Late last night we received the tragic news that British Motor Racing Star Dan Wheldon had tragically lost his life in a race accident in Las Vegas. Dan was one of the drivers who proved to be a real inspiration for Scott’s career and he is deeply saddened to learn of his premature death. Dan’s achievements in twice winning the Indy 500, arguably the most famous motor race in the world, and the Indy-Car Championship place him among the all-time greats. It is tragic that his death should come at a time when his career was undergoing a real resurgence after a difficult couple of years. Scott & his family would like to extend their deepest sympathy to all of Dan’s family & friends.

Seb Morris - Silverstone PodiumGinetta Junior Champion Seb Morris made an already remarkable season more so at Silverstone National Circuit over the weekend, 15th/16th October, by adding two further podium finishes to his final season tally – meaning he ends the 2011 campaign with 16 rostrum visits from 20 race starts.

Every superlative has already been used to describe the 15-year-old’s thoroughly dominant second year in car racing. Having sealed the title at Brands Hatch a fortnight ago, the Marford-based driver headed into this weekend’s championship finale aiming for more podiums and he achieved it with third place in round 19 and second in round 20 – the latter a mere 0.096 seconds shy of the win.

Concluding the season a massive 125 points clear of his closest challenger, Seb has taken victory in 11 of the 20 races contested and never finished outside the top six all year. In short, it’s been a truly awe-inspiring campaign.

He commented: “We finished 20 out of 20 races which is just outstanding and also with 16 out of 20 podiums. It’s been an incredible season and shows the hard work the whole team has put in, I want to thank them for everything this year – it really has been amazing.”

During the live televised final race of the season, round 20, the Liberty Properties and Legat Owen-supported driver fought an incredibly tight battle with Niall Murray with the pair trading the lead for the 11 lap duration.

Starting the race from fourth on the grid, Seb rapidly moved into the top three and out of Copse he challenged Brad Bailey for second place which he sealed at Becketts. Instantly pressuring Murray for the lead, the Welsh youngster got the breakthrough on lap three but the slipstream effect meant there was little to choose between the lead runners.

Murray nosed inside the Hillspeed ace at Woodcote at the end of lap four and managed to go by but Seb hit-back again on lap six at Becketts. Once again, the lead changed at Woodcote in Murray’s favour but the champion refused to settle for second best as the battle intensified.

Swapping places three times on lap nine alone, the fight went down to the wire with Murray just holding the advantage into the final tour. Pressuring hard over the last 1.64-miles, Seb almost managed to get ahead on the run to the line but had to settle for second just 0.096 seconds shy.

“It was really tough racing, perhaps a bit too tough at times, but I did the best I could”, said Seb, “It was a great race and just a shame we didn’t take the win, it really would have been fantastic to finish off the season back on the top step of the podium. I’ve taken 11 wins though this year so I think I’ve had my fair share!”

For round 19 on Saturday, fourth on the grid quickly became third off the start and although slipping to fourth momentarily Seb battled back past Sennan Fielding for third on lap three before swooping past Jake Giddings for second place.

Producing fastest lap pace on the fourth tour, The King’s School, Chester pupil closed up right onto the tail of leader Murray. On lap 10, things started to come to a head with the two front-runners side-by-side into Copse. Murray clung on to the lead and the fighting enabled Fielding to mount his own challenge, the latter passing Seb for second on the run to Becketts.

Re-taking second place on lap 11, Seb posted the fastest lap on the following tour – before this was shaded by Brad Bailey the next time around – with nothing at all between the top three. On lap 13, Murray and Seb both went wide at Becketts while disputing first place and that allowed Fielding through to claim the win, Seb taking third place just 0.3 seconds behind Murray.

Final 2011 Ginetta Junior Championship Driver Standings:
CHAMPION: Seb Morris, 562pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Gary ThompsonGary Thompson helped officially open Taiwan’s all-new Penbay International Circuit in spectacular style last weekend when he got behind the wheel of a two-seater Formula 1 car.

The 19-year-old Dubliner, who has spent this season contesting the Japanese Formula 3 Championship, became the youngest Irishman in history to drive a modern grand prix car, as well as the first from any nation to pilot one in Taiwan, after accepting an invitation to offer distinguished guests passenger rides at the 3.5km circuit’s opening.

It was also an opportunity for Thompson to catch up with team personnel from KCMG who, having overseen his 2011 single-seater campaign, were now sampling their first taste of running Formula 1 machinery. It was also a new experience for the thousands of fans in attendance, many of whom had never witnessed a grand prix car in the flesh before.

Of course this was just another day at the office for Thompson who, despite the wet conditions, enjoyed his time behind the wheel of the Minardi F1x2 which produces in excess of 700bhp thanks to its race-derived 3-litre Cosworth V10 engine.

Gary Thompson: “The car has a lot of power which can be difficult to exploit in the wet, but I know the circuit and KCMG CEOs enjoyed the wheelspin regardless! I’ve been racing in Asia for the past three seasons so to be the first person to drive a Formula 1 car in Taiwan is personally extremely rewarding. Penbay International Circuit is a great venue with a lot of potential in a part of the world that is really beginning to embrace motor sport. Everyone at the track did a fantastic job to get it up to standard in time for the event. You never know, I might be back here one day putting my local knowledge to good use!”

Follow Gary Thompson on:
Web: www.garythompsonracing.com
Twitter: @GThompsonRacing
Facebook: www.facebook.com/GaryThompsonRacing