Hector Hurst was once again left questioning the driving standards of his rivals during Rounds Seven and Eight of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Croft. The Scorpio Motorsport driver was harshly punted off on the final lap of the opening race, when he was set for a season's best finish of fourth, with damage from that incident then hampering his progress in race two.
19 year old Hurst, competing in his first season of car racing, headed into the weekend confident of some good results in the first meeting back after an eight week mid-season break. After a slow start in Thursday testing at the North Yorkshire circuit, he was right on the pace in Saturday's two twenty minute qualifying sessions and was it not for minor problems on his tyre runs, he would have been on the front two rows of the grid, instead having to settle for sixth and seventh place starts.
Hurst said: “After practice on Thursday, we had Friday off, during which we found a major failure with the right rear suspension, which in some ways was a relief because we were a bit off the pace on Thursday. Going into qualifying, the car felt fantastic, as I've come to expect from the Scorpio team. I got my best lap on the tyre lap, although unfortunately I did have to overtake someone at the last corner which did compromise my lap time.
“We tried to play the track as much as possible in the second session, going out late so that our tyres were at their peak when the track was at its peak. My lap was good until again I had a problem in the final sector, where I got held up by a driver on his out lap, so that really compromised my whole qualifying lap and left me in seventh.”
The opening race saw Hurst avoid carnage at the first corner to slot into a superb fourth place behind his team-mate Kourosh Khani. He showed great pace to hold the position comfortably throughout the race and looked set for his best result of the season, until just like at Oulton Park last time out, a reckless move from a rival ruined his race. This time on the final lap, he was slammed in the side by Luke Wright at the penultimate corner, spinning him round and by the time he got going again, he could only recover to take ninth place.
A frustrated Hurst reflected: “The start was okay, I got to the first corner and I saw everyone was getting a bit frisky ahead and subsequently all the drivers from one team wiped each other out. I avoided all of them and slotted nicely into fourth place, right behind my team mate.
“I chased him all the way through the race, I felt I was quite a bit quicker but just couldn't find a safe place to pass, as I didn't want to risk a strong team finish. But then on the very final sector of the last lap I just got t-boned straight off the track by an unintelligent driver, which dropped me right down to ninth place. That was a real shame, as it would have been a great way to jumpstart our second half of the season.”
Hurst, from Lymington, Hampshire, looked to make up for the disappointment of race one with a strong showing in the day's second race, but he was to endure a frustrating race. With his car suffering from severe understeer problems, Hurst was powerless to prevent a couple of rivals passing him, demoting him to an eventual finishing position of ninth.
The Boldre Estates Ltd backed driver commented: “We'd been playing with the set up because we knew the tyres go off massively here, so we were trying a compromise of straight-line speed with getting the car pushed right down with the aerodynamics. Unfortunately I think we got it slightly wrong and I didn't quite work out how to get the most out of the car, like a more experienced driver perhaps might have.
“It was a race I was just quite happy to get to the end of to be honest, as we were a fair bit off the pace. To come home in ninth, had you said that before the race I'd have been disappointed, but looking at our lap times relative to others it was probably where we deserved to be.”
After the race though, the Scorpio team found that Hector's FR 2.0 car had a bent front steering arm. This damage, caused by the race one incident, was the reason behind the understeer issues Hurst faced throughout the second race, which added to the slight misjudgement on set up, explains the slow pace he was showing in the race.
Despite the two results, Hurst was happy with the front-running pace he once again showed throughout the weekend, commenting: “Of course we'd have liked to have taken all of the points we deserved to, but that wasn't to be, though if you look beyond that we have taken a big step towards where we should actually be, where our pace deserves.”
Next up for Hector is his home event at the high speed Thruxton circuit in Andover, Hampshire, which he is feeling confident ahead of: “Thruxton is a track where there's very limited running because of noise regulations, which is a shame because it's quite an enjoyable track. I've done a small amount of laps around there, but those laps have been quick relative to our opponents, so I'm looking forward to it.”