Alice Powell wrote her name into the history books as the first ever female Formula Renault champion after victory Round 12 at Thruxton saw her secure the 2010 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship. Starting from pole, the Hillspeed driver led from the lights to flag to pip season long rival Mitchell Hale to the crown by just eight points.
Crucially, it was Powell who began the race on pole position, with team mate James Theodore making it a Hillspeed one-two in second. Dino Zamparelli lined up third, with Hale down in fourth, despite being just 0.06 seconds off Powell's pole lap, proving the close nature of the BARC series.
Powell got a perfect start to hold her lead, with Theodore slotting into second, allowing him to act as a rear gunner for his team mate. As he had done in the weekend's earlier race, Joseph Reilly produced a superb start to move into third, ahead of Hale and Zamparelli.
Reilly quickly began to pressure Theodore hard for second, but the Hillspeed driver defended well. As the pair tussled for second, Powell was able to begin building a lead at the front of the pack.
No sooner than he was fighting for second, Reilly had dropped to fourth, a superb move by Hale at Allard moving him into third as he looked to keep his title dreams alive. Those dreams were quickly shattered though, an individual mistake on lap three seeing him run out onto the grass, dropping him right down the order to fifteenth.
This meant the pressure was off Powell, who just had to bring the car home. She had to contend with two safety car periods during the race, but coped with both well to maintain her lead, aided by the fact team mate Theodore wasn't placing her under any pressure from behind.
The safety car periods did aid Hale's recovery through the field though, the Fortec Motorsport ace showing all his talent to make a determined drive up the order. Into the top ten by lap nine, the youngster continued to progress, getting into the top five as the race headed towards its conclusion.
To take the title, he needed Powell to run into problems, but this wasn't to happen. Powell crossed the line to take her second win of the year and with it the 2010 championship title. Theodore capped off a great weekend for himself and his team in second, with Zamparelli crossing the line third on the road. However a two second penalty placed on him post race dropped him to fourth, promoting Josh Webster into his fourth podium of the year.
Hale ended an eventful race fifth, ahead of Privateer Cup champion James Birch, series newcomer James Thorp and with Reilly ending a frustrating race eighth. A great race for Welch Motorsport's Kourosh Khani saw him finish ninth, despite starting 18th, with Luke Wright rounding out the top ten.
The final championship standings show Powell on top after overturning a 16 point deficit over the final weekend. Hale finishes second after a superb season, which saw him top the points all season until the final race. A win and a second see's Theodore leapfrog Webster into third place in the standings.
Commenting on her title win, Powell said: “I don't know what to say! It's been a cracking year and I'm obviously so pleased to win the title the way we have this weekend. Mitch [Hale] did a great job all season, he's been right there all year. Thanks to all of the guys at Hillspeed for doing such an amazing job all year and to my race engineer Sarah Shaw from Manor Competition, it's been a real team effort.”
Final 2010 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship drivers' standings:
1st Alice Powell GBR Hillspeed 288
2nd Mitchell Hale GBR Fortec Motorsport 280
3rd James Theodore GBR Hillspeed 254
4th Josh Webster GBR Fortec Motorsport 251
5th Joseph Reilly GBR Fortec Motorsport 231
6th Luke Wright GBR SWB Motorsport 229
Final 2010 Privateer Cup standings:
1st James Birch GBR 180