Hector Hurst proved his potential as a championship contender in the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship with a strong debut weekend at Donington Park with Scorpio Motorsport. Hurst was a frontrunner throughout the weekend, taking a solid top five finish in his first ever car race, before showing superb speed when recovering from an early mistake in race two.
With no pre event testing before the weekend, Hector's first track time on the circuit for over a month came in the two high pressure qualifying sessions. The 18 year old kept his teams nerves up throughout both, leaving it until his last lap in each before setting his quickest times.
The first session saw him set a 1m 08.041s to line up fifth for the first race, before going narrowly quicker in the second session, with a 1m 08.014s putting him fourth for race two.
Hector said: “Qualifying was actually quite good. It would have been nice to set a record and get a pole, but realistically a fifth and a fourth in my first ever qualifying in cars, in a very competitive field, is a great result.
“Being the top rookie by quite a long way is also quite nice, shows that we're doing a good job. I'm not going to do anything stupid this weekend, just looking for some good points to start off the championship.”
When race day came around, Lymington-based Hector was feeling slightly nervous ahead of his first ever car race. As the race began, a slow getaway saw him drop a couple of places into seventh at the first corner, but he grew in confidence as he completed the first few laps and began going on the attack.
Consistent quick lap times saw him move onto the tail of the drivers ahead, quickly moving into sixth place before chasing down Archie Hamilton for fifth. As the race headed towards its conclusion, Hector knew he had to make a move and made a superb move at McLeans to take the place, before holding on to it till the finish to take a great haul of points from his opening race.
Commenting on his debut race, Hector said: “Race one was pretty good. It was my first ever race start and it didn't go great, meaning I dropped back a couple of places. But then I managed to get back up to fifth which I held to the finish. I was pretty pleased with that for a first race as I got some good points.”
Just a couple of hours later race two was upon him and lining up on the second row, Hector hoped to push for a podium finish. However a mistake on the start line saw him go too early and jump the start, leading to a drive-through penalty which he took during a safety car period a few laps later. However when doing so, he went through a red light at the end of the pit lane, which saw him breach the rulebook and end up with a second drive through penalty of the afternoon.
After successfully completing this one, Hector began putting in some blistering lap times as he worked his way onto the back of the field. Picking off drivers throughout the remainder of the race, Hector finished up in a strong thirteenth place, less than thirty seconds behind the race winner, setting the third fastest lap of the race in the process.
Reflecting on race two, Hector commented: “I jumped the start, so got a drive through penalty for that, and then got another drive through penalty for doing my first one during a safety car period. Two drive through penalties is obviously terrible, but I still somehow managed to bring it home in thirteenth, so got a surprising amount of points for the second race. Obviously nowhere near what we wanted, but I still got points and just missed out on fastest lap, which was a shame as that could have been a couple more points.”
The whole weekend proved a real learning curve for the Hampshire driver, as he explains: “It's good to get the whole format of the weekend out the way. Being quick in testing in one thing, but then doing it in qualifying and the races is another. I showed I've got a bit to learn on the start of the races, but it's all good experience and I've learnt a lot I can apply in the future.”
Despite the disappointing end to the weekend, Hector and his team were happy with a really strong debut in the series, bringing the car home for two finishes with no damage and showing pace throughout the weekend that's indicates they'll will be a real threat for race wins and the championship title as the season continues.
Next up for Hector is Rounds three and four at Brands Hatch on 14/15 May. The teenager heads to Kent lying seventh in the championship standings, holding the position of top rookie, and is looking for some real success at Brands, concluding: “We're now heading to Brands Hatch, where we should be very competitive and honestly I'd be disappointed if we didn't get two wins.”