Kieran Vernon led home a Fortec Motorsport one-two-three in Round Three of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Brands Hatch. Vernon led from lights to flag, successfully negotiating a full race restart and a safety car period, to take his first win of the season.
Vernon started on pole and a good start saw him lead into Paddock Hill for the first time, followed by Josh Webster and Archie Hamilton. There was chaos behind though, with a stall for Hector Hurst in ninth seeing him hit in the back by Macaulay Walsh. Both were forced to retire, Hurst with a damaged rear wing and Walsh after losing a wheel. Further back, stalls by Ivan Taranov and Russell Danzey left both stranded on the grid, forcing the race to be red flagged.
After a brief period recovering the cars on the grid, the race was fully restarted, with a new distance of sixteen laps. Another solid start for Vernon saw him hold the lead once again from Webster and Hamilton, while a great start for Scorpio Motorsport's Kourosh Khani saw him leapfrog Howard Fuller into fourth.
Holding sixth was Dino Zamparelli, ahead of Hillspeed's Zaamin Jaffer, who was beginning to come under pressure from Steven Durrant. The RPD Motorsport driver went for a move at Graham Hill Bend on lap two, but clipped Jaffer's rear, damaging his own front wing.
This dropped Durrant into the clutches of James Thorp and MGR Motorsport's Matt Mason. A great battle emerged between the trio for eighth, with Thorp making a move on Durrant at Paddock Hill, though a loss of momentum allowed Mason alongside on the run to Druids, with the Nottingham driver pulling off a great move around the outside of the hairpin to gain ninth place.
Making a strong charge through the field was Antel Motorsport's Callum Bowyer. After starting sixteenth on the grid, he was on a charge and passed MGR's David Wagner at Paddock Hill early on, before chasing down SWB Motorsport's Andrew Jarman. A strong move around the outside at Druids saw Bowyer take the place, before contact between the two at Graham Hill ended with Jarman spinning off into retirement.
At the front, Vernon successfully negotiating a brief safety car period after Hillspeed's Sean Walkinshaw ended up in the gravel at Druids, and held on to take the win, ahead of Webster and Hamilton, all three drivers taking their second podiums of the season. Khani held on for a season's best finish of fourth, with Fuller taking fifth for Hillspeed.
Sixth went to Zamparelli, who starts Round four from pole, with Jaffer seventh and Durrant holding onto eighth. Mason and Mtech Lite's Thorp rounded off the top ten, ahead of Bowyer and Wagner, with MGR's Danzey taking thirteenth after a strong drive through the field, having taken the restart from the pit lane. SWB's Raoul Owens, Taranov, Jack Dex and JWA Racing's Tom Walker completed the finishers.
Race winner Vernon said: “That's the ideal way to do it really. Josh was on me for the first half of the race, and then we had the safety car. I just focused on getting a good restart and then I had really good pace after that. I knew I had the speed in me and once we got away, I got a little bit of a gap and took the win.”
Webster commented: “Kieran drove really well. At Brands Hatch it's hard, as when you get behind someone you lose all your aero, so as soon as I got anywhere near behind him, I got understeer everywhere and he got away again. Second's good for the championship, some good points.”
Hamilton added: “Third's good for the points, it's a long championship and the second podium in two weekends is great. It's brilliant for the team, all their hard work has paid off and it shows who's got the best car on the grid.”
Photo Credit: Simon Paice