Josh Webster has closed the gap at the top of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championships standings with a pair of victories in Rounds Eight and Nine of the season at Croft in North Yorkshire.
After starring with a pole and a second in qualifying, the MGR Motorsport driver was able to take his third and fourth wins of the season on race-day, moving him to within seven points of championship leader Scott Malvern, who took fourth and second place finishes.
Ultimately this is what we wanted to do, close-up on Scott [Malvern] and take a double win – it's exactly what I needed”, said Webster, “The team has done a phenomenal job here, the car has been awesome all weekend so massive thanks to the guys at MGR.”
The opening race saw Webster on pole ahead of Kieran Vernon and James Fletcher. Despite Vernon's best efforts, Webster led throughout the encounter, with Vernon settling for his third consecutive podium in second, Fletcher cruising home in third for his third podium of the campaign.
Seb Morris ran fourth early on ahead of Malvern and Macaulay Walsh, the trio coming to blows on lap three at the complex. Contact between the trio saw Morris loose his entire left sipepod, battling on until the end of lap six when he eventually retired. Walsh crashed out two corners late at Clervaux with a puncture, front-wing and suspension damage, while luckily Malvern emerged unscatched, able to bring his Cullen Motorsport car home in fourth.
A sensational race for series returnee James Theodore saw him work his way up from eleventh on the grid in to fifth ahead of David Wagner, who worked himself up from a starting position of fourteenth.
A penultimate lap move gave Diego Menchacha seventh from Sean Walkinshaw, who was just lucky to be racing as he spectacularly rolled his car during qualifying. Jorge Cevallos took ninth, while securing his best result of the season in tenth was Michael Epps, the JWA-Avila driver working his way up from nineteenth on the grid.
The second race saw MGR's Wagner on pole, however a blistering start from Webster gave him the lead from Malvern, with Wagner slotting into third. Webster had a much harder race this time round, Malvern pressuring him throughout, but he was able to keep him at bay by 0.6 seconds to complete his Croft double, Malvern taking his sixth podium of the season in second.
Championship leader Malvern commented: “It's been an ok weekend – a bit of damage limitation really. In second qualifying I'm sure we could have had pole, the data showed the lap I was on when the red flags came out was good enough. I knew this would be the hardest weekend but we've had a podium and almost a win so I'm happy enough.”
Wagner came out on top in a close fight for third to take his first podium since the opening race of the year, with Cliff Dempsey Racing's Theodore taking an impressive fourth. Vernon continued his great return to the series with fifth ahead of Mexican duo Menchaca and Cevallos.
Fletcher overcame contact with Morris at the hairpin on the final lap to take eighth, with Morris slipping to eleventh, having worked his way up from tenth on the grid into the top six. Suffering worse luck was Walsh. After a superb effort by the Scorpio team to repair his car and get him out for the race, the driveshaft on his FR 2.0 failed on the out-lap, ending his race before it had started.
The results mean Malvern still holds the championship lead heading into the final five races, but only just, with Webster seven points behind. Another tough weekend has seen Morris slip away from title contention, while behind Wagner had benefitted from Walsh's woes to move up to fourth in the points, but only four points separate Wagner, Walsh, Vernon and Fletcher.
Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings(After Rd. 9):
- Scott Malvern – 234pts
- Josh Webster – 227pts
- Seb Morris – 161pts
- David Wagner – 147pts
- Macaulay Walsh – 144pts
- Kieran Vernon & James Fletcher – 143pts