Antel Motorsport's Callum Bowyer showed superb progress during Rounds Three and Four of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship around the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, the car racing rookie knocking on the door of the top ten in only his second race weekend.
The Peterborough-based racer showed impressive pace on his debut at Donington Park three weeks earlier, but was taken out of both races. This meant he headed to Kent with the main ambition of getting two race finishes under his belt. Although he had tested at the circuit over the winter, that was only in wet conditions, meaning his first experience of the circuit in the dry came during Friday practice.
Bowyer commented: “It definitely helped having the practice day. That meant I could re-familiarise myself with the circuit – as it had been quite a while since we had been there – and learn it in the dry, too! I certainly felt more confident after that – the extra track time is never going to do any harm.”
Qualifying saw the teenager set the sixteenth and fifteenth fastest times in the two sessions, with session two seeing him improve by three tenths over his previous effort and his times putting him a second closer to pole position than he was at Donington.
However with overtaking at a real premium around the tight Indy layout, Bowyer knew he had a mountain to climb, but he started well in race one, a superb start shooting him into the top ten. However his progress was scuppered when the red flag was shown after a start line shunt, meaning the race was to be restarted and Callum would have to do it all over again.
Bowyer recounts the race from the restart: “It wasn't a great spot on the grid in terms of the gradient of the hill, but I got a really good start. Then after I got into a rhythm, I concentrated on trying to pick off the cars ahead one-by-one. With overtaking being so difficult around the Indy Circuit, it was always a case of trying to pressurise the driver in front into making a mistake – that's the only way you're ever going to get past someone there.
“I managed to make a move into Paddock Hill Bend, and then I later went around the outside of another driver into Druids. There was a train of cars right ahead covering each other on the inside line, which slowed them all down. I had to try something different – if I hadn't, I wouldn't have gained anything anyway – so I went to the outside and was able to make up a place. You don't see that happening very often – but we pulled it off.
“Towards the end, we were catching the three drivers in front, but they were so close together they were almost joined, and even though I got onto the back of them pretty quickly, I knew it was going to be near enough impossible to find a way past. Our pace in the race was definitely a lot better than it had been in qualifying again, though – that's one of our strongest suits – so we just need to work on our qualifying form now.”
He ended up eleventh at the flag, within a second of a top eight finish, with his fastest lap within three tenths of his hugely-experienced team-mate Dino Zamparelli. In the second race, the former British Karting Champion found himself stuck in fourteenth place throughout the race, with rivals defending hard making him unable to gain any places. However the finish was another positive result for Bowyer and he hopes to build on it next time out at Oulton Park.
The 16 year old concluded: “The pace was definitely there in the races. It was just that with it being so tough to overtake, we couldn't really put that pace to good use. That was slightly frustrating, but it's all a learning curve and we are getting there.
“By the end of the weekend, we were only a few tenths off the best. There are a lot of positives to take from that, and I'm really looking forward to Oulton Park now – it should be a lot easier to overtake there, for starters! We've made brilliant progress so far, and we're getting closer every time we go out on-track.”
Photo Credit: Simon Paice