Plans for a new three-round Renault GP Cup have been announced, a new initiative that will allow the stars of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship to make guest appearances in the CERTINA Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship.
The Renault GP Cup will allow drivers already registered for the Formula Renault BARC Championship to enter their 'BARC' specification cars into three rounds of the Formula Renault UK championship, in support of British Formula 3 at Silverstone and the British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham and Brands Hatch.
The Renault GP Cup will not form part of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, so with no championship points on offer drivers will not find it compulsory to enter, but series organisers for both championships see it as a chance to boost grid numbers in the UK championship by giving the young BARC drivers a chance to get some additional racing time on some of the UK's biggest racing packages.
The new partnership will be a replacement for the proposed ‘Formula Renault Junior’ class in the UK Championship. This was set to see the Tatuus FR 2.0 cars, as raced in the BARC series, re-introduced into the main series with a different engine restrictor, but with entry numbers expected to be low, this plan has now been scrapped.
The Renault GP Cup Championship will commence in support of British F3 on 8/9 September around the Silverstone GP circuit, before running on the BTCC package at Rockingham on 22/23 September and Brands Hatch on 20/21 October, the final meeting of the season. This is in addition to the Formula Renault BARC Championship joining the BTCC package at Silverstone on 6/7 October for its final rounds, where it will run as stand-alone races.
The announcement has already received early praise from Richard Ollerenshaw, team principal of Formula Renault BARC outfit Hillspeed. Ollerenshaw said: “The planned introduction of the Junior class in Formula Renault UK was an ideal opportunity to provide drivers with a halfway point between BARC Renault and the full UK championship. Unfortunately, the current climate means the desire just isn't there to do that – the economics don't support it.
“What has been put forward now with the Renault GP Cup has the benefits of the Junior class but in a programme the BARC drivers can be offered at an acceptable budget level. We definitely welcome this as a good step forward and support it wholeheartedly.”
Full 2012 Formula Renault Calendar (UK rounds in support of BTCC unless specified):
31 March/1 April – Brands Hatch Indy – (Rounds 1, 2 & 3 Formula Renault UK)
7/8 April – Snetterton 200 (Rounds 1, 2 & 3 Formula Renault BARC)
14/15 April – Donington Park (Rounds 4, 5 & 6 Formula Renault UK)
28/29 April – Thruxton (Rounds 7, 8 & 9 Formula Renault UK)
19/20 May – Rockingham (Rounds 4, 5 & 6 Formula Renault BARC)
9/10 June – Oulton Park (Rounds 10, 11 & 12 Formula Renault UK)
17 June – Thruxton (Rounds 7 & 8 Formula Renault BARC)
14/15 July – Zandvoort (Rounds 13, 14 & 15 Formula Renault UK in support of F3 Masters event)
21/22 July – Croft (Rounds 9 & 10 Formula Renault BARC)
11/12 August – Snetterton 300 (Rounds 16, 17 & 18 Formula Renault UK)
18/19 August – Donington Park (Rounds 11 & 12 Formula Renault BARC)
8/9 September – Silverstone GP (Rounds 19, 20 & 21 Formula Renault UK, with Renault GP Cup, in support of British F3)
22/23 September – Rockingham (Rounds 22, 23 & 24 Formula Renault UK, with Renault GP Cup)
6/7 October – Silverstone National (Rounds 13 & 14 Formula Renault BARC in support of BTCC)
20/21 October – Brands Hatch GP (Rounds 25, 26 & 27 Formula Renault UK, with Renault GP Cup)