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Seb MorrisProtyre Formula Renault BARC Championship front-runner Seb Morris will make his European race debut next month, at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, after signing a deal with Fortec Motorsports to contest the final two rounds of the 2012 Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup (NEC).

First year single-seater racer Seb, who already drives for the Daventry-based team in FR BARC, will switch his 2.0-litre Renault-engined Tatuus chassis for the similarly powered Barazi-Epsilon designed car which is utilised in NEC and also the blue riband Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series.

The 16-year-old Welshman, from Marford near Wrexham, is looking forward to not only racing at one of the world’s greatest circuits for the first time in his career but also going head-to-head with some of the globe’s top junior single-seater drivers over the weekend 13th/14th October.

“I’m relishing the challenge of racing against some top competition”, said Seb, “With about 45 cars on the grid it’s going to be a great experience and a really great weekend – I can’t wait. It’s great to be driving with Fortec as well, we’ve built a really good relationship this year in BARC Renault.”

Formula Renault 2.0 NEC has, over the last couple of years, become one of the stand-out junior categories on the ladder of progression towards the FIA Formula One World Championship and is unquestionably one of the most hotly-contested championships anywhere in the world.

While fully realising he faces a big step-up in terms of competitiveness and competition, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star – who will combine his A-level studies this year with the MSA Academy Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence – is determined to make the most of the experience and try and spring some surprises along the way.

His maiden outing in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC will come just one week after the final two rounds of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC season, at Silverstone on 6th/7th October, where the Abbey Gate College student will be striving for a top three championship finish in the domestic series.

“We’ve got a very busy few weeks coming up and I’m really pleased about that, a lot of people tail off what they’re doing at the end of the year but we’re trying to get as much experience as we can to build for next year”, added the Ginetta Ambassador.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Laura TillettLaura Tillett welcomed an inspirational group of race goers from CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, to Donington Park on Sunday, 19th August, where the 21-year-old was in action in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship.

As part of her support for the incredible work done by CLIC Sargent, the West Malling car racing rookie extended an invitation for some youngsters – all of whom have been receiving treatment for cancer – and their families to enjoy some paddock hospitality and a relaxing day at the racetrack.

The visiting guests also had the opportunity to take a close-up look at Laura’s FR 2.0 race car, have a tour of the Fortec Motorsports pit garage and then watch her in action in two of the event’s Protyre Formula Renault BARC races. They also received replica podium caps courtesy of Michelin UK.

Boosted by the support, Laura enjoyed one of her most competitive weekends of the season with a best finish of 17th position coming in round 11 on Sunday morning where she out-performed several more experienced racers and posted a best lap just a second shy of the quickest of the race.

Starting in 23rd place, the Kent racer had battled through into the points-scoring top 20 on lap two and was up to 18th by lap four. Embroiled in a see-saw battle with experienced Lebanese driver Joe Ghanem and his compatriot Shahan Sarkissian, Laura raced well and took 17th on the final lap after an excursion for Fortec team-mate Diego Menchaca.

Cheering Laura on were 15-year-old Alex Brown and 22-year-old Dani Jackson from Nottingham, 21-year-old Emma Parker from Mansfield, 18-year-old Chloe Hunt from Northampton and 17-year-old Nathan Roberts from Newark.

“It was really nice to see everyone enjoying the sport and they all seemed really interested in all of it which was great”, said Laura, “It’s fantastic to have been able to do something for CLIC Sargent, it gave me a good insight into the work the charity does which is so important – the kids were all really lovely too!”

Laura also scored in the final race of the weekend, round 12, where she battled back from a moment on lap three – which dropped her to the tail of the field – to climb back into the top 20. Round 10 on Saturday, 18th August, though wasn’t as fruitful when contact to the rear of the TILLETT Racing Seats, ET Fashions, Puma Motorsport and Point Racing-backed driver’s car pitched her off the track.

Running inside the top 20 at the time, Laura was determined to recover as much lost ground as possible but unfortunately ended her race in the gravel trap at McLeans on lap 11 when pushing ultra-hard to catch the group of cars ahead.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t score in all three races but it’s been a big progression step this weekend, we found a lot of time and I’ve gained a lot of confidence – things are really starting to click more”, said the Caterham Motorsport ambassador, “The results haven’t exactly been perfect but the main thing is the confidence is there and our pace was much better this weekend. I’m really looking forward to Silverstone now, I really want to try and get my best result of the season there.”

Laura’s maiden season of car racing action will come to a conclusion seven weeks from now, over the weekend 6th/7th October, at Silverstone in Northamptonshire with rounds 13 and 14 of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC season. The event will be, by far, the biggest of her rookie year with the series running as part of the support package to the British Touring Car Championship.

For more information regarding the work of CLIC Sargent, please visit www.clicsargent.org.uk.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Josh WebsterMSA Team UK driver Josh Webster got the penultimate race meeting of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC season off to the perfect start with victory in round 10 over the weekend, 18th/19th August, but his title aspirations were dealt a cruel blow in rounds 11 and 12 due to mechanical issues.

Claiming his fourth straight win during Saturday afternoon’s encounter with a superb lights-to-flag performance, the Stowmarket racer moved to within a single point of the series lead and opened up an eight point advantage with the championship’s ‘drop score’ ruling taken into consideration.

Expertly soaking up the pressure applied by title rival Scott Malvern, as Josh did so well at Croft four weeks prior to revitalise his championship bid, he stamped his authority on the race from two thirds distance and posted the fastest lap of the weekend with a time of 1m08.262 seconds (104.37mph).

Sunday’s action though proved incredibly frustrating for the 18-year-old as podium challenges were hampered by the aforementioned mechanical problems, as was his points total. Starting round 11 from fourth on the grid, the MGR Motorsport driver made a lightning start to instantly take third although the action was halted soon after due to an incident further back on the grid.

At the re-start, the Nine Group, Admiral Solutions & Support and Integra ICT-supported racer made another flier to shoot into third place but later in the race he began to encounter problems which were subsequently found to be due to a rapidly expiring fuel pump.

Battling hard to try and maintain his podium placing, Josh produced a sterling effort to keep the chasing pack behind and almost managed to do it – only slipping to fourth on the very last lap to just miss out on a second rostrum visit of the weekend despite his car’s woes.

With the MGR mechanics fitting a new fuel pump for the last race, round 12, hopes were rightly high of a strong result with Josh starting third on the grid. Getting away well from the line, the Suffolk racer was blocked from attempting a move up the inside into Redgate but that was the least of his concerns shortly after when it became apparent his car still had a performance issue.

Dropping to fifth, Josh really struggled for top speed on the straights and had to try and compensate by trying to carry more speed into the corners. He managed to cling on to fifth until lap seven but in the end had to settle for sixth place.

“We weren’t expecting the problem to be engine related, we thought it was just the fuel pick-up issue”, explained Josh, “Obviously, the weekend overall hasn’t gone to plan and in the last race it was like I was driving a 1.6 and everyone else was in a two-litre. On every straight I was getting passed left, right and centre, we were losing a good 10 or 15 km/h.

“The weekend started really well, we looked set to be top three in every race and winning the first one got things going in the right direction, I was really happy with our performance in that one. It’s not good for the championship we’ve had two less strong results but we need to stay positive and come back fighting at Silverstone where anything can happen.”

There are now seven weeks to wait until the final two rounds of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, which will take place at Silverstone National Circuit in Northamptonshire over the weekend 6th/7th October in support of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd12):
1st Scott Malvern, 324pts; 2nd Josh Webster, 301pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Seb MorrisProtyre Formula Renault BARC Championship front-runner Seb Morris made a welcome, and richly deserved, return to the podium at Donington Park on Sunday, 19th August, with a third place finish in round 12 of the season.

Forming part of a bumper ‘triple-header’ weekend at the Leicestershire venue’s 1.98-mile National Circuit, the third race proved to be the best of the bunch for the Marford-based driver in which he also set the fastest lap.

Beginning the event well with a strong performance in qualifying on Saturday, 18th August, the newly awarded British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star secured fourth on the grid for round 10, third on the grid for round 11 – a mere 0.079 seconds shy of pole – and a front row start for race three.

Round 12 therefore looked to be Seb’s best chance of challenging for a race victory and so it proved early on as the 16-year-old piled on the pressure to pole-starter David Wagner. The leader defended stoutly though and it backed the Welshman into the clutches of the drivers behind.

From being in a position to try and seize the lead exiting Coppice on lap two, the Fortec Motorsports racer instead came under attack for second on the run to the chicane and was shuffled back to third before then slipping to fourth at the Old Hairpin.

Determined to mount a strong fightback, Seb regained third on lap seven and posted the fastest lap on the 10th tour to confirm his race-winning potential. The result also marked the single-seater rookie’s first visit to the podium since his round five victory at Rockingham.

“We definitely had the pace to win”, said the Ginetta Ambassador, “I’m disappointed with the first couple of laps, I got taken advantage of on cold tyres. I took the start more carefully than I probably should have as I was mindful of a potential penalty for creeping off the line on the slope, otherwise I think I would have had [David] Wagner off the start and it would have been a different story.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t win but it was a fantastic race and I’m really happy to be back on the podium after a very disappointing couple of months. Hopefully we can build on this and be on the podium at Silverstone to end the season on a high.”

Lining-up on row two for round 10, Seb made a great getaway to move into third but was pushed back to fourth at the end of the opening lap by Kieran Vernon. Determined to wrest the place back, the MSA Academy driver shadowed Vernon and into lap nine there was nothing between them.

Well-placed to mount a challenge for third on the run into Redgate, Seb moved to the inside to make the pass but Vernon turned in for the corner and the ensuing contact resulted in the Fortec car spinning into a bitterly disappointing retirement in the gravel on the outside of the corner.

In round 11, Seb started third on the grid and made a superb getaway to take second but the action was quickly halted by red flags due to an incident further back on the grid. At the re-start, Seb had to stop his car from creeping on the line and so couldn’t replicate his earlier launch, slipping to fourth.

Pushed back to fifth on lap five at Redgate, he remained there throughout but did almost shade Josh Webster on the line for fourth on the final lap – missing out by a mere 0.009 seconds. With two races remaining this season, Seb is fourth in the driver standings just 15 points shy of the top three.

There are seven long weeks to wait until the finale of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, rounds 13 and 14, which will take place at Silverstone National Circuit – in support of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – over the weekend 6th/7th October.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Scott MalvernAfter a difficult weekend at Croft last month Barkingside’s Scott Malvern got his Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship bid firmly back on track taking a win and two 2nd places in a bumper 28 car field that included drivers from five continents at Donington Park in Leicestershire last weekend.

Scott who won The Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship in record breaking fashion in 2011, stretched his championship lead from a slender seven point margin to a much healthier twenty three points over 2011 Championship runner up Josh Webster from Stowmarket. Scott commented afterwards “it’s been a fantastic weekend. We’ve had great weather, a very big crowd come along to watch and just the kind of results that we needed. I’m delighted and would like to thank Cullen Motorsport, Jamun Racing and Sarah Shaw for all their help. This sets us up nicely for the championship finale in a few weeks’ time”

The two final rounds of the championship will take place on the Silverstone National circuit over the weekend of 6th & 7th October supporting the very popular British Touring Car Championship and Scott’s Sunday race will be screened live on ITV4 with recorded highlights of both races being shown on the same channel later in the week.

Seb MorrisSeb Morris has received a major boost to his burgeoning track career after today, Thursday, 9th August, being named a British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star – one of the most prestigious junior accolades in UK motorsport.

“I’m really honoured to have been named a Rising Star – it’s a special feeling being part of the most elite motorsport club in the world, I can’t thank the BRDC enough”, said the 16-year-old, “It’s great knowing the people at the BRDC have spotted talent and potential in me, I’m really proud to represent the club and I’m focused on repaying such fantastic support which is huge for my career.”

Welshman Seb, from Marford near Wrexham, has enjoyed a tremendously successful maiden season in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship so far in 2012 with three race wins, two fastest laps and five pole positions.

Prior to his graduation to single-seater racing this year, the talented youngster was the dominant force in the Ginetta Junior Championship. First making history by winning the 2010 Winter Series title aged just 14-years-old, Seb followed that up with a memorable main season championship win last year – ultimately resulting in him becoming an ambassador for Leeds-based Ginetta Cars.

After being named the WRDA Welsh Young Driver of the Year last November and then becoming part of the Motor Sports Association (MSA) Academy earlier this year, the invitation to now be one of the BRDC’s Rising Stars has further enhanced the aspiring Formula One driver’s ambitions.

“It’s great to have the BRDC acknowledge I’ve been able to take forward the talent I showed in saloons in Ginetta Junior and translate that successfully to single-seaters”, added Seb, “Being part of the Rising Stars is a real boost to my future career.”

His next track action will come little over a week from now when rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season take place at Donington Park. Although two enforced retirements, neither of which were Seb’s fault, have impacted the Fortec Motorsports driver’s points tally he remains third in the championship standings prior to the penultimate race meeting of 2012.

While the gap to the top of the table is significant, 73 points to be exact, with each driver needing to ‘drop’ one result from their final total and with a maximum of 170 points still available there is much to play for over the final five races.

“I’m going out there to try and win as many races as I can before the end of the season, I know we have the pace and there’s no pressure at all”, said the teenager, “Donington is probably my favourite track, other than Oulton Park, so I’m really looking forward to next weekend.”

Qualifying for rounds 10, 11 and 12 will get underway at 10.30 on Saturday, 18th August, with the first of the weekend’s Protyre Formula Renault BARC races following at 15.50. Races two and three will be contested on Sunday, 19th August, at 11.50 and 16.50 respectively.

Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd9):
3rd Seb Morris, 161pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Kieran Vernon - Croft PodiumProtyre Formula Renault BARC Championship team Hillspeed celebrated its third podium finish of the season at Croft in North Yorkshire on Sunday, 22nd July, thanks to a tremendous drive by Kieran Vernon to take second place in round eight of the campaign.

Added to fifth position in round nine, the 22-year-old British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star is tied on 143 points with rival James Fletcher but by virtue of Vernon’s better race results on count back he is classified sixth overall for the Hathersage squad.

Danish team-mate Jacob Nortoft enjoyed one of the most competitive weekends of his rookie season and impressed on his first ever visit to the 2.1-mile Darlington track to record a best result of ninth position in the second of the weekend’s two races; consolidating 15th place in the points table.

Vernon was immediately on the pace during the brief 15-minute free practice session on Saturday, 21st July, with the second fastest time, a mere 0.019 seconds shy of the best of all. Into the round eight qualifying period, the West Sussex racer was again second fastest to confirm his pace and in a truncated round nine session he posted the fourth quickest time.

Holding second place at the start of race one, Vernon ran within a second of pole-starter Josh Webster during the early going but soon elected to conserve his tyres and maintain the runner-up spot rather than take too much life out of the Michelin rubber ahead of race two.

In round nine, the Hillspeed ace slipped to fifth initially behind Fletcher but produced a great pass around the outside at Tower Bend to reclaim fourth into the Jim Clark Esses. Unfortunately, Vernon’s tyres started to lose grip quite early in the race and so he ended up fighting a rearguard action and slipped to fifth on lap five where he remained to the finish following a mid-race Safety Car period.

“Race one was a good showing from Kieran”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “Qualifying second was great and it’s just a shame we were fourth in the second qualifying. All in all, the first race was a good strong outing – once [Josh] Webster had got a cushion it was obvious Kieran was just keeping the gap and concentrating on not overworking the car or the tyres for no benefit.

“He got a bit too much wheelspin off the line in race two, which was unfortunate, and then it was a case of struggling with tyre wear. It’s tough with the set-up at Croft, the first race takes a lot out of the tyres so I was quite happy to see the Safety Car come out to give the tyres a bit of a break. We might have gone a bit hard on the tyres at the end but fifth is still good points.”

With no prior track time at Croft, 18-year-old Dansk Automobil Sports Union-backed driver Nortoft made great progress between practice and qualifying to secure ninth on the grid for the opening race of the weekend – just 0.6 seconds shy of pole position – while in the round nine period he was 12th fastest and a similar gap to the front of the grid.

Running in 10th place on the opening lap of round eight, Nortoft bedded himself into the race nicely and gaining confidence and pace with each lap he started to make progress. In ninth position at mid-distance, the Dane coped impressively with pressure from behind but an unfortunate spin under braking for Tower Bend on lap 13 resulted in an instant retirement.

Determined to learn from the mistake for round nine, the DASU racer performed very strongly and after moving into the top 10 at the beginning he coped well with the mid-race Safety Car period to maintain position and take ninth at the finish at the expense of Hillspeed’s former Ginetta Junior Champion Seb Morris who slipped back to 11th.

“Jacob’s done a fantastic job this weekend”, said Ollerenshaw, “He hadn’t even seen Croft before Friday and didn’t have the benefit of a pre-race test. From just 15 minutes free practice, he qualified just inside the top 10 and just outside the top 10 for the two races so that was very good going.

“One small mistake in race one, when under a lot of pressure, just cost him a good finish but he came back in race two, got on with things, and did a great job. We’re really pleased with what we’ve got out of the weekend as a team and delighted with Jacob’s progress.”

Protyre Formula Renault BARC will return to action four weeks from now, on 18th/19th August, at Hillspeed’s ‘home’ track, Donington Park in the East Midlands. One week earlier, the team’s Ginetta Junior Championship squad will recommence its season at Snetterton in Norfolk on 11th/12th August.

Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd9):
6th Kieran Vernon, 143pts; 15th Jacob Nortoft, 55pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Josh Webster - Croft Double WinnerStowmarket racing driver Josh Webster moved to within only seven points of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship lead during rounds eight and nine of the season at Croft on Sunday, 22nd July, after claiming two superb race victories – his third and fourth of 2012.

The 18-year-old headed into the weekend brimming with confidence after his excellent Invitational Class victory during the RTL GP Masters of F3 the previous Sunday, 15th July, on his maiden outing in Formula 3 at Zandvoort in The Netherlands.

Taking the 15-minute practice session to adapt back to his MGR Motorsport-run FR 2.0 car, the MSA Team UK driver raced to an unchallenged six second victory from pole position in round eight – adding the fastest lap in the process – before expertly fending off title rival Scott Malvern in round nine to win again.

“Ultimately this is what we wanted to do, close-up on Scott [Malvern] and take a double win – it’s exactly what I needed”, said Josh, “After driving the Formula 3 car, physically the Formula Renault is easier so doing the F3 race definitely helped. The team has done a phenomenal job here, the car has been awesome all weekend so massive thanks to the guys at MGR.”

Securing his third pole position in succession in round eight qualifying with a time of 1m21.340 seconds (94.05mph), Josh just missed out on making it four in a row in the round nine session, which was shortened after an accident involving Sean Walkinshaw, by a mere 0.095 seconds.

Dominating the first race from lights-to-flag, the Nine Group, Admiral Solutions & Support and Integra ICT-backed racer held a lead of more than one second after the opening lap and proceeded to post fastest lap times throughout on his way to a faultless 6.1 second winning margin.

Lining-up second on the grid for round nine, Josh made a superb start to immediately move ahead of pole-sitting team-mate David Wagner before rocketing into a 1.5 second lead. Malvern closed in as the race progressed but Josh controlled the lead, saying: “Scott was in my mirrors for a period but I had things under control and felt in a comfortable position to take my second win of the weekend.”

The appearance of the Safety Car on lap eight could have made things difficult but the Suffolk driver did a good job at the re-start and fended off Malvern to the chequered flag on lap 17, just missing out on the fastest lap by less than 0.1 seconds.

“I’m really looking forward to going to Donington for the next three rounds”, said Josh, “I’ve got a good history there and I know the team will give me a great car again. This weekend has been great for us, it was really important for our championship to win both races so massive thanks as always to my sponsors for helping put me on the grid.”

There are just four weeks to wait until the next instalment of Protyre Formula Renault BARC action with rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the season taking place on 18th/19th August at Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire.

Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd9):
1st Scott Malvern, 234pts; 2nd Josh Webster, 227pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Seb Morris - CroftFortec Motorsports driver Seb Morris endured a very tough outing in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Croft in North Yorkshire over the weekend, 21st/22nd July, but still managed to conclude the event third in the title race with five rounds remaining in the 2012 campaign.

Although his championship hopes were dealt a huge blow last time out at Thruxton when engine problems severely compromised his chances, the 16-year-old took another hit this weekend with contact in round eight forcing retirement and more contact in round nine costing a strong score.

“It’s been a tough weekend but I’ve learnt a lot and that’s what this year is all about”, commented the Marford youngster, “We’ve lost a lot of points, at Thruxton and now at Croft, but we know we’ve got the pace to be back winning next month at Donington. It’s disappointing but sometimes things don’t go your way and that’s what’s happened here.”

Unusually, Seb’s weekend started with a rare excursion in the 15-minute free practice on Saturday, 21st July, in which his car sustained a lot of damage after an unfortunate visit to the barriers at the Sunny In, Sunny Out sequence of corners.

Working feverishly to get the Welsh teenager’s FR 2.0 repaired in time for round eight qualifying, the Fortec mechanics did an outstanding job and the Ginetta Ambassador was able to post the fourth fastest time in the session.

His misfortune continued in a red flag affected round nine session though which ended five minutes early. Building up his pace as the run neared its conclusion, before Seb was able to push for a truly quick time qualifying was curtailed due to an incident so he had to settle for 10th on the grid.

At the start of Sunday’s first race, Seb held fourth and began to pressurise James Fletcher for third but on lap three he was edged back to fifth by championship rival Scott Malvern. Into the complex, Seb held the outside with Malvern on the inside but both were challenged by Macaulay Walsh and the resulting contact was inevitable.

Seb’s car was lifted onto two wheels and the incident led to significant damage but, even with the entire left-hand bodywork of his car missing, the MSA Academy racer attempted to continue and pocket as many points as possible. On lap seven though, he had no choice but to retire.

With the Fortec team again doing a superb job to repair his car, Seb was determined to end the weekend with a strong result in round nine and an outstanding start and opening lap enabled him to slice his way through the order into sixth from 10th on the grid.

Bottled-up behind Kieran Vernon for the majority of the race, Seb tried everything he could to carve open a clean pass but Vernon held firm – all the while compromising Seb’s pace and leaving him open to attack from the advancing Fletcher who edged ahead on lap 15. Into the last lap Seb was all over the back of Fletcher’s car but a final corner attempt didn’t pay off, instead dropping him to 11th.

“I had a mega start, made up a lot of places and had very good mid-race pace”, explained Seb, “I was challenging [Kieran] Vernon but he was defending incredibly well and I didn’t have a chance to get past. The next thing I know, [James] Fletcher was down the inside and made it through at Tower.

“On the last lap though he was slow out of the second to last corner so I went for a move up the inside into the hairpin but we had some contact. It’s a shame it ended like that, up to then it was a great race and I really enjoyed it.”

Seb will be back on track four weeks from now, over the weekend 18th/19th August, for rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season.

Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd9):
3rd Seb Morris, 161pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Macaulay Walsh - ThruxtonScorpio Motorsport’s Macaulay Walsh delivered a sensational performance at Thruxton Circuit on Sunday, 17th June, by scorching to his second Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship podium of the season on his first ever visit to the challenging 2.35-mile Hampshire venue.

Northampton-based Macaulay, in only his first full season of single-seater racing, took no time at all to get up to speed and although qualifying didn’t go fully to plan, he sliced through from 12th on the grid into fifth place in round six before climbing the podium, from eighth on the grid, in round seven.

Securing a total of 45 points from the third event of the campaign, the 17-year-old consolidated his top four placing in the series standings and actually opened up an increased 23 point advantage over his closest rival.

“It’s fantastic to get back on the podium, we had two good races this weekend and although we didn’t quite get qualifying right, we got too much traffic to do a proper lap, it’s still worked out pretty well”, said the Mike Craig Electrical Products Limited and Piers Sexton-supported driver, “I’m really pleased with how well things are going, the team’s doing a great job.”

Despite having never been to Thruxton prior to this weekend, Macaulay was instantly on the pace in the short 15-minute practice to post the third fastest time behind experienced racers Scott Malvern and Josh Webster.

With confidence high for a similar performance in qualifying, a decision to hold back and push for times later in the session when the track’s grip was at its best didn’t pay off unfortunately when the Scorpio driver continually found his laps compromised by traffic.

Therefore lining up an uncharacteristic 12th for the first race, Macaulay produced a superb opening lap to climb into the top eight and then took sixth soon after to show what might have been possible had he started on the first couple of rows. Climbing into fifth on lap six, the Northampton racer pushed hard all the way to the finish – posting his best lap of 1m14.310 seconds on the final tour.

Starting an improved eighth on the grid for round seven, the youngster again made an excellent start to move immediately into the top five prior to the appearance of the Safety Car for several laps due to an early multi-car incident. At the re-start, Macaulay applied huge pressure to Jake Dalton and he made the breakthrough on the ninth tour to move into fourth.

Then, on lap 14, he gladly took third at the expense of former leader Malvern who dropped back after he and Webster got a little too close for comfort into the chicane. Maintaining third for the last couple of laps, Macaulay’s pace was continually strong and his fastest lap was again hugely impressive, a time of 1m13.912 seconds just 0.15 seconds shy of race winner Webster’s best.

Macaulay will be back in action in his Protyre Formula Renault BARC FR 2.0 car during the fourth event of the season, rounds eight and nine, which will take place at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire on 21st/22nd July.

Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd7):
1st Scott Malvern, 182pts; 4th Macaulay Walsh, 140pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.