The 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship reaches its midway point on Saturday 28th May, as Oulton Park in Cheshire hosts Rounds Five and Six. With four different winners in the first four races, and just seventeen points covering the top five in the points, the season is developing into a real classic, with fans sure to enjoy two close, exciting races around the Island circuit.
James Thorp continues to lead the driver standings following last weekend's outing at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit. After a near perfect start at Donington Park in the opening rounds, where he took one pole position, a second place and a race win, the Mtech Lite driver wasn't truly satisfied with just tenth and second place finishes at Brands, so is looking to get back on the top step of the podium at Oulton.
After a slow start at Donington, Dino Zamparelli got his title charge back on track at Brands, following up a sixth in Round Three with his first win of the season in Round Four, moving the Antel Motorsport driver up to second in the championship, just eleven points adrift of Thorp. He will hope his experience over his rivals will come into play at Oulton, one of the UK's most challenging circuits.
Fortec Motorsport's Kieran Vernon added his name to the list of winners with a tremendous drive in Round Three, backing up a debut podium finish at Donington. He sits sixth in the championship however, a little way off the leading pack, after a spectacular off in Round Four when his throttle stuck open.
The season's other race winner is fellow Fortec driver Josh Webster, who took the opening victory at Donington, but suffered a non-finish in Round Two. Second and fifth place finishes at Brands leaves him just six points adrift of Zamparelli, however splitting them up are Fortec's Archie Hamilton and RPD Motorsport's Steven Durrant. Both have impressed in the opening rounds, Hamilton taking two podiums, with Durrant picking up one as well as two fourth place finishes.
Topping the next group of drivers are Howard Fuller, running with reigning champions Hillspeed, and top rookie in the standings, MGR Motorsport's Matt Mason. The duo lie joint seventh in the standings, with Fuller picking up a fifth place finish at both Donington and Brands, while Mason recorded his best finish of seventh in Round Four, making it four consecutive top ten finishes.
Making history at Brands Hatch was Scorpio Motorsport's Kourosh Khani, who took his maiden series podium with third place in Round Four and became the first driver from Iran to ever stand on a Protyre Formula Renault BARC rostrum. With confidence high, he'll be hoping to challenge for podiums at Oulton, as will his team-mate Hector Hurst, the Hampshire-based rookie hoping to bounce back from a start line shunt in Round Three.
Drivers are in for a busy day at Oulton Park, with all the action taking place on a single day. A 20-minute qualifying session will see the driver's fastest lap setting the grid for Round Five and their second best times sorting Round Six's starting order.
Provisional 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Points (after Rd4):
1st – James Thorp / MTech Lite 99pts
2nd – Dino Zamparelli / Antel Motorsport 88pts
3rd – Archie Hamilton / Fortec Motorsport 86pts
4th – Steven Durrant / RPD Motorsport 83pts
5th – Josh Webster / Fortec Motorsport 82pts
6th – Kieran Vernon / Fortec Motorsport 73pts
7th= Howard Fuller / Hillspeed 54pts
7th= Matt Mason / MGR Motorsport 54pts
9th – Kourosh Khani / Scorpio Motorsport 53pts
10th – Zaamin Jaffer / Hillspeed 51pts
Photo Credit: Simon Paice