After a superb opening weekend at Snetterton in early April, the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship is back in action this weekend for Rounds Four and Five at Rockingham.
The championship kicked off in Norfolk six weeks ago, with the triple header producing three different race winners in a close-fought opening meeting, the driver's having to cope with treacherous wet conditions throughout the weekend.
Seb Morris took one of the race wins after dominating qualifying around the 300 circuit, the reigning Ginetta Junior Champion taking pole position for each of the three encounters. Despite it being his debut in the series, the Fortec Motorsport star still left Snetterton frustrated with only being able to convert one of them into a win, and is looking to add to his tally at Rockingham.
Morris said: “We had a lot of firsts at Snetterton – my first pole positions in a single-seater, my first races in a Formula Renault in the wet, and my first win in the championship. It didn't all go according to plan though.
“Obviously qualifying was great but I made a few mistakes in the races and without those I should have been leading the championship. Our expectations are high for Rockingham and we'll try and do our best. We've been strong each time we've tested at Rockingham so there's no reason we shouldn't be again next weekend.”
Another Formula Renault BARC debutant at Snetterton was reigning Formula Ford GB champion Scott Malvern. The Ilford-based driver performed well on his 'slicks and wings' racing debut, taking two podiums, including a maiden win, despite no pre-season testing.
Leading the championship after a superb weekend at his local track was Josh Webster. The 2011 vice-champion secured a late deal to return to the championship and instantly showed his class, with one win and two other trips to the podium meaning he left Snetterton with a fourteen point championship lead.
Webster commented: “Everything was so rushed for Snetterton, it was touch and go whether we'd be on the grid at all and the MGR guys had to get the car built in just a couple of days so it was pretty manic. To achieve what we did, with no testing and only a base set-up, was fantastic and all credit to the hard work of the team.
“We're all really looking forward to Rockingham now and feeling pretty confident. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going and, now we've had a chance to properly work on the car, show what we're really capable of and try and increase the championship lead.”
Webster led the way on an impressive Snetterton weekend for MGR Motorsport. Second year racer David Wagner took three top six finishes, including a maiden podium, while also making a first trip to the podium in the final race was his rookie team-mate Jake Dalton. James Fletcher also took some strong results, with a best finish of fifth, and all four MGR drivers will be looking to continue their good starts at Rockingham.
Other driver's impressing on the opening weekend were Scorpio Motorsport's Macaulay Walsh, who took a maiden podium in the opening race, American Trent Hindman, who took fourth place in his first race with Cliff Dempsey Racing, and Fortec Motorsport's Diego Menchaca and SWB Motorsport's Jack Dex, who both took three top ten finishes apiece on a consistent opening weekend.
An outstanding twenty-five cars made it to the grid for Snetterton and all will return at Rockingham, with the potential there for up to five additional cars. Mtech Lite have confirmed two new recruits to boost their entry to four, with Lebonese racers Joe Ghanem and Shahan Sarkissian joining the team. Ghanem returns to UK racing after spells in Formula Renault UK and British Formula 3 in the past, while Sarkissian is set to make his motorsport debut.
RPD Motorsport are hoping to make their return to the grid with Ovie Iroro, Hillspeed are working hard to finalise a deal to have a third driver on the grid and privateer Max Robinson could also be back out in Renault BARC if he can raise the budget, meaning there could be a phenomenal thirty cars on the grid at Rockingham this weekend.