Josh Webster closed the gap at the top of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship with victory in the penultimate round at Silverstone, meaning he heads into the final race tomorrow just ten points behind the championship leader Dino Zamparelli.
Webster started on pole with Zamparelli alongside him and got a getaway to lead the pack away, while a poor start for Zamparelli saw him drop to fourth behind Archie Hamilton and Kourosh Khani. Antel Motorsport’s Zamparelli was instantly on the offensive and challenged Khani, who defended hard on the run to Copse on lap two.
This slowed Zamparelli and allowed David Wagner to slip past into fourth. MGR Motorsport’s Wagner held the place for two laps before Zamparelli worked his way past at Brooklands, putting him right on the gearbox of Khani.
As Webster raced clear and Hamilton settled into a comfortable second, all eyes were on Zamparelli challenging Scorpio Motorsport’s Khani. The championship leader was all over the back of Khani, but couldn’t find a way past.
With a few laps remaining, the race saw a series of drive through penalties handed out for drivers exceeding the track limits. Wagner was the first to receive one, the Scotsman taking it straight away, dropping him out of a strong fifth, while Khani was the next to get one, though the Iranian racer didn’t enter the pitlane, instead continuing defending from a frustrated Zamparelli.
Ahead, having no such worries was Webster, the Fortec Motorsport driver cruising home for his third win of the year, with Hamilton making it a one-two for the team with his best finish of the campaign. Khani crossed the line third on the road, but post-race he was excluded from the results, promoting Zamparelli to a vital podium.
Ending up fourth was Callum Bowyer, the Antel driver finishing just ahead of fellow rookie Hector Hurst. Completing the top six on his return to the series was James Theodore, while the championship hopes of James Thorp ended when the Mtech Lite driver took seventh.
Howard Fuller was the best of the Hillspeed runners in eighth, with Matt Mason ended up ninth after a turbulent race, which saw him stall on the green flag lap, forcing him to start from the pitlane and fight his way through the field from the back. Completing the top ten was SWB Motorsport's Jack Dex, while series debutants Max Robinson and Anton Spires finished fourteenth and fifteenth respectively.
Webster said:“It's just satisfying to be able to do what I needed to do, fastest lap and a win. Hopefully I've done the engineers and the team proud, it feels really good. People were saying it looked like a cruise, but that wasn't the case, I was pushing every lap as even though I had a gap, I could still see Archie there. It's three wins now and hopefully can go and get another tomorrow.
“I definitely trusted Archie [Hamilton] more behind me than other drivers and I know theres that mutual respect there, that we wouldn't do anything stupid. Still on the first lap, he got a good start and it was down to the wire. It was pretty hard racing to be honest, side by side down to Brooklands, locking up, it was definitely exciting.
“I'm not going to start counting points, looking at what I need to do and what he needs to do, cause I'm just doing the best I can and if I keep my head clear, hopefully I'll perform better. Just going to look forward to tomorrow and see how it goes.”
Zamparelli commented: “Kourosh Khani made sure I wasn't any higher than third, stopping me from challenging Archie [Hamilton] for second. I had the inside line a couple of times alongside him on the pit straight and he pushed me into the wall, forcing me to back out, and also got alongside on the Wellington Straight and he pushed me on the grass, where again I had to back out again. He was excessively weaving on the straights, three or four times, but its racing and I got the position in the end, when he was excluded.
“We know the pace is in the car, which is good, so tomorrow we can attack fully, 100%. There's ten points in it now, so there's nothing for me to do now apart from go out and attack, so I'm looking forward to it, I like going out and taking risks, I like overtaking. It's not the best position to be in, we'd have liked to have wrapped it up already, so I've just got to hope we have a bit of luck tomorrow and don't have the same standard of driver ahead of me.”
Hamilton added: “It's a good result. I got a mega start and went for Josh [Webster] on the first lap, but I thought twice as he's in the championship fight and I didn't want to do anything silly. Then I just kept behind him and wanted to maintain the gap. I settled for second and that was fine.”