Macaulay Walsh - Formula Renault BARCNorthampton racing driver Macaulay Walsh starred at Snetterton 200 Circuit in Norfolk over the Easter weekend, 7th/8th April, by achieving his maiden car racing podium during the opening round of the fiercely competitive 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship.

While the top three finish in race one marked an outstanding start to the season for the 17-year-old, just as noteworthy was the fact it was the Scorpio Motorsport driver’s first ever visit to the East Anglia race track and his maiden experience of wet-weather competition.

With the addition of a seventh place in round two and a top four result in round three, Macaulay rounded-out the first weekend of the 14-race season an outstanding fifth in the championship table, a mere six points shy of the coveted top three.

Earlier impressing with the sixth fastest time out of 25 drivers in the damp round one qualifying session on Saturday morning, the Northamptonshire teenager also went on to snare further top six starting slots for races two and three.

Having only been able to complete half a season in Protyre Formula Renault BARC last year due to budgetary constraints, this season is Macaulay’s first true crack at car racing off the back of a highly successful karting career at British and European level.

With Protyre Formula Renault BARC now regarded as the most popular and competitive of the UK’s junior single-seater championships, a true springboard to Formula 3 and Formula 2, Macaulay’s top performances at the weekend mark him out as a genuine talent in the making.

“Considering how last season went for us, I’m very happy to start the championship with such a strong race”, he said, “To qualify sixth in the wet, on my first time at the track and the first time in a car in those conditions, was great and that gave me a lot of confidence for the races.

“The guys at Scorpio gave me a fantastic car and I learnt so much, to start the year so strongly feels really good and we can go to the next round at Rockingham knowing we’re competitive. I really want to thank the team for doing such a great job and also Mike Craig Electrical Products Limited and Piers Sexton at PSR for their fantastic support.”

Round one was clearly the pick of the races for Macaulay and he made a good start, instantly taking fifth position. After a mistake for the race leader, the Scorpio driver moved into fourth before reeling in and applying pressure to third placed David Wagner. Macaulay then gained another spot on lap 12 when two-time McLaren Autosport BRDC Award finalist Scott Malvern encountered gearbox issues.

Relentlessly piling on the pressure to Wagner in what was then a fight for second rather than third, Macaulay threatened for the runner-up spot during the closing stages and took the chequered flag on lap 15 a mere 0.6 seconds shy of Wagner. His best lap time, meanwhile, of 1m11.203 seconds was only 0.3 seconds shy of the quickest of the entire race.

In round two, Macaulay again took fifth early on but was shuffled back to seventh at the re-start following a five lap Safety Car period. All over the back of Ivan Taranov’s sixth placed car during the last few laps, he crossed the line on lap 18 in almost a dead-heat with Taranov and James Fletcher.

While the second race was dry, round three required the use of wet tyres again with rainfall prior to the start leaving the surface the trickiest it had been the entire weekend. Moving up from sixth to fifth straight away due to a stall for the pole-sitter, Macaulay enjoyed an incredibly close battle for fourth throughout the race and after taking the place on lap eight, he remained there to the flag.

Reflecting on Macaulay’s sensational first weekend with Scorpio Motorsport, team principal Jon Pettitt said: “He did an exceptional job and I can’t stress enough how impressive Macaulay was when you take into account he’d never even seen Snetterton before. We know how talented he is but to go out, right in at the deep end with no testing, and do what he did this weekend was superb.

“What I’m really impressed with about Macaulay is he’s a true no-frills driver, he just goes out there and drives the car as quick as he can. It’s an incredibly competitive and tough championship, harder than ever this season, but we know Macaulay is going to come on really strong during the year and be a consistent threat.”

Rockingham in Northamptonshire will host the next event of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, rounds four and five, over the weekend 19th/20th May.

Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd3):
1st Josh Webster, 88pts; 5th Macaulay Walsh, 63pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.