Fortec Motorsport's quartet of rookies enjoyed a positive start to the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Snetterton, with Seb Morris leading the way with three pole positions and a maiden victory.
Morris dominated a wet qualifying sessions to take three clear pole positions for the weekend's races. The opening race saw Morris hold a 1.4 second lead after the opening lap until he went wide on lap two, re-joining outside the top ten. Morris fought back though to claim sixth place at the finish.
Team-mate Diego Menchaca started the race twelfth and raced well, making up a number of positions to finish eighth. Laura Tillett had a tough start to her first car race, getting hit on lap one, but she did well to bounce back and get a points finish in twentieth. Martin Cao meanwhile also had a tough start, a collision forcing the Chinese teenager to retire.
Sunday's opening race was dominated by 16 year old Morris, the reigning Ginetta Junior Champion leading from lights to flag to take victory, seven seconds clear of his closest rival. Mexican Menchaca enjoyed another great race, showcasing excellent race craft as he made his way through from eleventh to another eighth place finish.
20 year old Tillett managed to avoid a bunch of spinning cars around her in the midfield to race home to eighteenth place, while Cao was enjoying some great wheel-to-wheel battles as he finished twelfth from fourteenth on the grid.
A wet third race started disappointingly for Morris, the Welshman stalling on the grid. He fought back through to fifth at the end of the opening lap, but dropped back outside the top ten again. Another superb recovery drive saw him salvage fifth at the end, finishing the weekend second in the championship.
Menchaca, part of the Escuderia Telmex driver programme, capped off a strong weekend with ninth place, to make it three top ten finishes in his first BARC weekend. Cao made strong early progress, but was hit from behind and forced into a spin, dropping him to nineteenth, while Tillett gained more valuable experience in wet conditions and finished just outside the points.
Formula Renault BARC Team Manager Steve Lynch said: “In all it was a very positive weekend for the team. Seb did a great job to take pole for all three races by such a margin – his performance in race two was faultless and he was utterly dominant; it was obviously a shame that he couldn’t convert the other two poles to victory but he did a fantastic job to recover two more top-ten finishes and his pace was fantastic so that bodes very well for the season ahead.
“Diego put in three very mature, solid drives and he made his way up through the field very well and the more he learns about the car, the better he is performing so that’s really encouraging. As for Martin and Laura, they were both unlucky at times but fought very hard and came back with some positive results, with Laura making significant progress in her first few races in cars. We head to our next rounds in very positive spirits and we know there’s a lot more to come from all of our drivers.”