Josh Webster leads the way after six rounds of the 2011 Formula Renault BARC Championship, the Fortec Motorsport driver taking two wins on his way to a 19 point championship lead. The season has produced close, exciting racing, with five different drivers taking race wins so far.
The seventeenth season of Formula Renault BARC has been blessed with a large entry, with over twenty cars competing, comprising of a mixture of experienced racers and rookies making their first steps into car racing.
The season began at Donington Park in April, where the series supported the British Truck Grand Prix. Webster cruised home to win the opening race from James Thorp and Steven Durrant, but suffered disappointment in race two when he retired with a mechanical problem. Mtech Lite's Thorp took the victory in that race, giving him the early championship lead, with Fortec pair Kieran Vernon and Archie Hamilton making it five different podium finishers in two races.
Three weeks later the series headed to Brands Hatch, with Vernon taking the opening win, however his weekend was to turn sour with a big crash in race two when his throttle stuck open. Fortec made it a one-two-three in race one with Webster and Hamilton completing the podium. It was Dino Zamparelli who won Round Four, many peoples early favourite for the championship finally recording his first podium after a slow start to the season. Thorp maintained his title lead with second, while Kourosh Khani took third for his maiden series podium.
The third meeting of the season took place at Oulton Park and ended up a chaotic weekend, with both races red flagged and restarted due to incidents and rain. Webster took his second victory of the year in race one, leading home Vernon and Hamilton for a second Fortec one-two-three of the year. History was made in the second race when Khani became the first Iranian ever to win a race in the series, the Scorpio Motorsport driver leading home Webster and Antel Motorsport's Zamparelli.
As they entered the summer break, the standings looked like this:
|1||Josh Webster||Fortec Motorsport||144|
|2||Archie Hamilton||Fortec Motorsport||125|
|3||Kieran Vernon||Fortec Motorsport||123|
|4||James Thorp||Mtech Lite||117|
|5||Dino Zamparelli||Antel Motorsport||115|
|6||Kourosh Khani||Scorpio Motorsport||107|
|7||Steven Durrant||RPD Motorsport||93|
|9||Matt Mason||MGR Motorsport||72|
|11=||David Wagner||MGR Motorsport||53|
|11=||Russell Danzey||MGR Motorsport||53|
|13||Hector Hurst||Scorpio Motorsport||44|
|14||Ivan Taranov||Daytona Motorsport||42|
|15||Callum Bowyer||Antel Motorsport||39|
|16||Jack Dex||SWB Motorsport||38|
|17=||Victor Jiminez||Fortec Motorsport||34|
|17=||Andrew Jarman||SWB Motorsport||34|
|19||Macaulay Walsh||SWB Motorsport||29|
|20||Tom Walker||JW Racing||26|
|21||James Theodore||Mtech Lite||20|
|22||Raoul Owens||SWB Motorsport||18|
The 2011 champion will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of their predecessor Alice Powell, who made the step back up to the main Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship after winning the BARC crown. Four podiums in six races gives Webster the advantage so far, but the championship is hardly over, with early season favourites Hamilton and Zamparelli still in with a shout, as well as the impressive Vernon and Thorp. The series heads to Croft at the end of July, then Thruxton in early September, before it joins the British Touring Car Championship for its finale at Silverstone.
TCF's three to watch:
- Dino Zamparelli – The Italian has not quite lived up to his early season expectations, but he is still in with a shout of the championship. Despite this, he says he's not focusing on championship and just going for as many race wins as possible now, meaning he should be exciting to watch in the second half of the year.
- Kourosh Khani – After signing a late deal to contest the season with Scorpio, Khani made a slow start at Donington, but once settled with the team, has gone on to finish within the top four in the last four races and take his maiden win. He'll be hoping to add more wins to his tally and maybe put in a late championship bid.
- Matt Mason – The rookie has enjoyed a consistent start to his debut season in car racing, taking five top ten finishes. Finishing sixth in the last race at Oulton, he's steadily improving and may well be challenging for podium finishes before the end of the season.