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.