James Theodore and Joseph Reilly both enjoyed lights to flag wins in Rounds 9 and 10 of the 2010 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway last weekend, with the two teenagers stealing the limelight away from title rivals Mitchell Hale and Alice Powell. After a tough weekend for both, Hale remains at the top of the standings with just the season finale at Thruxton remaining.
Hillspeed racer Theodore took pole position for Round 9 and got away to a great start, comfortably leading the pack into the Deene Hairpin for the first time. Behind, a quick starting Luke Wright was soon up a place into second, dropping Josh Webster to third. RPD Motorsport's Steven Durrant and Triple Eight Racing's Sezlan Sirajudin were other drivers making moves up the field on a close opening lap.
At the front, Theodore swiftly set about building a lead at the front and soon shook off the attentions of Wright. There was to be a change for third, with a determined Reilly dispatching Webster, who soon lost another place to Powell. The youngster was struggling on the circuit and soon lost another spot to team mate Hale at Tarzan, but this time fought back and regained his fifth place.
Another driver soon to be struggling was leader Theodore, with the youngster beginning to suffer understeer problems, allowing Wright and Reilly right onto his tail. As the three fought hard, it was Reilly who made the decisive move, getting a better run out of the chicane to drive past Wright for second.
In the midfield, a terrific battle was emerging between Antel Motorsport's Brett Parris, newcomer to the series Tommaso Menchini and Durrant. It was soon to end in tears though, with contact between Menchini and Durrant on the exit of turn one ending both drivers races, with the safety car inevitably deployed.
As the cars began to lap behind the safety car, it soon became clear that the Marshalls were going to be unable to clear the track in time, leading to the race ending behind the safety car, a disappointing end to an exciting race. This gifted Theodore the win, his second of the season, ahead of Reilly and Wright, with the former also securing the fastest lap of the race. Hillspeed's Powell came home fourth, despite suffering from a blocked catalytic converter, ahead of Webster and more importantly, title rival Hale. In the Privateer Cup, class honours went to James Birch.
Pole position for Round 10 went the way of Fortec Motorsport's Reilly, with Theodore lining up alongside him and title rivals Hale and Powell behind on row two. A solid start for Reilly saw him lead away, with a slow start for Theodore giving Hale the jump into second, with Webster working his way up to third to make a Fortec 1-2-3. A poor first lap for Powell saw her drop outside the top ten.
Like his rival, Hale was to soon beginning dropping down the order, promoting Webster into second, with Theodore now making up the podium places. Powell however was beginning to make a determined recovery drive, making her way back up to seventh within a couple of laps, but soon became stuck behind Parris, who 'came out of retirement' to replace series regular Kasper Krogh for the weekend. Behind them, a three way was emerging for eighth, between Durrant, MTech's Jake Rattenbury and Privateer Cup leader James Birch, with the trio running nose to tail lap after lap.
Back at the front, Webster was unable to make a challenge on Reilly, despite recording the fastest lap of the race, allowing the leader to pull out a lead of nearly 3 seconds. He maintained this to the end to take the win, his second of the season, with Webster completing a Fortec one-two for his third podium of the season. Theodore completed the podium, ahead of Wright and Hale, with Powell unable to find a way past Parris, keeping her in seventh. Birch finished tenth to again take the Privateer Cup honours.
Next up for the single seater stars is the 2010 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season finale at Thruxton on October 16th/17th. Hale leaves Rockingham with a 16 point advantage at the top of the standings, while also leaves with a special Renault Sport prize for doing so. As the championship leader after Round 10, Hale has been given the chance to test a Formula Renault 2.0 race car at the home of the Spanish Grand Prix, the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. He will hope this is just the start of the prizes he will be picking up this season.
2010 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship provisional drivers' standings – round 10:
1 Mitchell Hale GBR Fortec Motorsport 260 pts
2 Alice Powell GBR Hillspeed 244 pts
3 Joseph Reilly GBR Fortec Motorsport 207 pts
4 Josh Webster GBR Fortec Motorsport 204 pts
5 Luke Wright GBR SWB Motorsport 193 pts
6 James Theodore GBR Hillspeed 190 pts
Privateer Cup – round 10:
1 James Birch GBR 151 pts
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography