Rounds Three and Four of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Brands Hatch produced a mixed bag of results for reigning champions Hillspeed. Howard Fuller and Zaamin Jaffer both made progress up the championship standings with strong results, while Sean Walkinshaw produced his most competitive qualifying performance of the season so far.
Fuller led the way in qualifying for Round Three, the Kingston-upon-Thames driver setting the fourth fastest time, just 0.021s off pole position. He slipped to fifth at the start of the race and stayed there for the remainder of it, with overtaking extremely difficult around the 1.2mile Indy circuit.
He went on to start Round Four from seventh and another slow start saw him lose a couple of places off the start. He worked his way back to eighth at the finish, with his fastest lap less than a tenth of a second from the fastest of all. The two strong points finishes moves the 18 year old up to seventh in the championship standings.
Indian racer Jaffer qualified eighth for Round Three and a good start saw him gain a position on the opening lap. Like Fuller, he was unable to make any further progress through the race, finishing seventh. Starting twelfth for Round Four, a strong start saw him move into the top ten, before gaining a further place around mid-distance to finish ninth, the two top ten results moving the 21 year old into the top ten in the championship.
For rookie Walkinshaw, a damaged radiator and then a clutch problem restricted his running in Friday testing. He overcame this to post his best qualifying effort of the season so far, putting him eighteenth on the grid for Round Four, less than a second off pole. An unfortunate retirement in Round Three after taking avoiding action due to an incident ahead was followed by a strong run in Round Four, where he finished twentieth.
Team Principal Richard Ollerenshaw said: “It was a tough weekend really. The action at Brands Indy is never anything other than processional in the main and it's more a qualifying competition as there just aren't enough realistic overtaking opportunities in a BARC Formula Renault, which doesn't show the championship off in its best light.
“Howard showed exceptional speed in qualifying and was very close to being on the front row of the grid for the first race – had he managed that he could easily have been on the podium. Zaamin did a good job all weekend too, he started and raced very well and just needs a bit more time at the Indy track to find those final few 10ths of a second.
Sean holed a radiator on Friday in the first practice session and then his clutch was damaged in session three so he lost a lot of vital track time. In race one he had to avoid an accident ahead and that resulted in his retirement but we were pleased with his pace in qualifying, especially the second session. To be within 0.9 seconds of pole position was a very promising effort.”
Photo Credit: Simon Paice