James Thorp cruised home to victory at Croft in Round Seven of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, his second win of the season, as Fortec Motorsport had a disaster, with its three championship challengers crashing into each other at the first corner.
It was Dino Zamparelli who started from pole, but the Antel Motorsport man was jumped on the line by Thorp, who swept into the lead from the front row. Behind, chaos emerged when Archie Hamilton got hit in the back by team-mate Kieran Vernon as the pack slowed for the tight Clervaux corner. This sent Hamilton spinning into fellow Fortec man Josh Webster, with the two of them ending their races in the gravel. Vernon was able to continue, but had to pit for a new nose cone, leaving him three laps down.
Emerging from this in third place was Kourosh Khani, the Oulton Park race winner just ahead of Scorpio Motorsport team-mate Hector Hurst. The duo were followed by Luke Wright, who's making a one off return to the series at Croft with MGR Motorsport. These three were soon left in a group of their own, as the front two began to break away.
Zamparelli put Thorp under some pressure on the opening few laps, but the Mtech Lite driver was able to shake him off and build a comfortable lead. Behind, Khani was beginning to get caught by Hurst, but the rookie sat behind his team-mate, rather than make a move and possibly jeopardise the teams results. This left him under threat from Wright and on the final lap the MGR man made a late lunge at the Complex and slammed into the side of Hurst, spinning him round and dropping him down the field.
By this point, Thorp was crossing the line to take the win and regain the championship lead, benefitting from Fortec's demise. Zamparelli took second to reignite his title charge, while Khani took his third podium of the season. Fourth went to Wright, with Callum Bowyer matching his season's best finish of fifth. Howard Fuller completed the top six for Hillspeed, ahead of Victor Jiminez, Matt Mason and a recovering Hurst, with MGR's David Wagner completing the top ten. Vernon ended up seventeenth and last.
Racewinner Thorp said: “We knew it was important for the race to get off the line well and I was able to get an almost perfect start. I just got ahead of Dino and from then on I didn't look in the mirrors, got my head down and tried to pull away. This win today is the best answer to all the people who said we were losing our head at Oulton, it's the best answer to win again and sort of say there you go, we're up there, we're the best.”
Zamparelli commented: “I'm not sure what happened at the start, it was a good launch, it's just the initial bite was wrong, but got into second. It's frustrating as Thorp had a lot of straight-line speed, but through the corners we were right on him. Second place is okay though, good points for the championship, just need to try and get a win now.”
Khani added: “I got a very good start and I could see the boys battling with each other in front. I managed to weave left and right, avoid all the debris and gravel flicked up in the air and clear it all. I could see a gap to Dino and James in front, I didn't want to do anything silly to try and catch them in front. I knew I could push, but the track is hard on tyres, so I just kept the gap to my team-mate behind. The aim for the weekend was just to score as many points as possible for the championship, so I'm happy.”
Provisional Championship Standings After Rd. 7 (Incl. Drops):
- Josh Webster 144pts
- Dino Zamparelli 143pts
- James Thorp 140pts
- Kourosh Khani 132pts
- Archie Hamilton 125pts
- Kieran Vernon 123pts