Macaulay Walsh (No.20) SilverstoneFirst year Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship racer Macaulay Walsh endured a difficult final weekend of the season at his home track, Silverstone National Circuit, over the weekend, 6th/7th October, but notably managed to conclude his rookie campaign inside the coveted series top six.

All things being equal, the 17-year-old from Northampton should have secured at least one podium finish from the season finale but a series of circumstances out of his control conspired to make the event one of the toughest of the year for the Scorpio Motorsport driver.

From the start of the weekend, though, Macaulay’s pace was without question as he scorched to the third fastest time overall in testing on Friday, 5th October, with a lap a mere 0.080 seconds shy of the top of the timesheets.

Confident of carrying that level of performance through to qualifying, his chances in the round 13 session were dealt a cruel blow when a fuel starvation issue limited him to only two below par laps, resulting in a back of the grid start for Saturday’s races in 32nd position.

In the round 14 session though, with his Formula Renault firing on all cylinders, Macaulay was able to prove his true pace again with the third fastest time – only 0.083 seconds shy of his first ever car racing pole position.

Facing a monumental challenge in the opening race, the Bodymek Ltd, Adrian Bibby Creative Design and Itchy Feet Motorhomes-supported racer delivered a remarkable performance which drew plaudits from his peers throughout the Silverstone paddock.

Making a great getaway from stone last on the capacity 32-car grid, despite being held up by slower cars on the run into the first turn, Macaulay sliced through the field with some star moves and by the end of lap three he had scythed his way past half the grid to climb into the top 16.

Into 12th place by lap 10, the Scorpio driver was unrelenting as he surged up the order and managed to break into the 10 near the end to cap a remarkable performance. Even with the overtaking, and obvious delay it entails, he still posted a best lap just 0.2 seconds shy of the fastest of all.

“Second qualifying was OK, but if I’d hooked the lap up properly I should have been on pole”, said Macaulay, “Obviously the first race was going to be tough but coming through from 32nd to 10th was pretty good – it’s just disappointing we had the problem in first qualifying otherwise we could have been right up there fighting for the podium.”

Off the back of such a headline-grabbing drive, hopes were justly high for a podium challenge in the televised 14th round on Sunday with Macaulay starting on the second row of the grid. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan when, on lap eight, he was unceremoniously hit from behind going into the left-hander at Brooklands while running in third place.

Punted off the circuit, the Northamptonshire ace managed to recover back onto the track – albeit with significant damage to his car – and charged through from 25th place into the top 14, gaining an incredible 11 positions. To add insult to injury though, he was served with a five second time penalty having been deemed to have exceeded the track limits at Copse Corner once too often.

“I didn’t get too much of a good start in race two”, explained the rookie, “I dropped to fourth but got back up to third, then I made a little mistake at Becketts which was the start of everything going from good to bad! When I got hit it was classed a racing incident which I was surprised by. It’s not the weekend we wanted to end the season with, but we know we had the pace for a lot more.”

Final 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings:
CHAMPION: Scott Malvern, 368pts; 6th Macaulay Walsh, 214pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.