Scott Malvern and Josh Webster are set to battle it out in front of the BTCC crowds at Silverstone to determine the destination of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship
For the second season running, the single-seater championship will be decided on the British Touring Car Championship bill at the home of British Motorsport.
Twelve months ago, Webster lost out on the title to Dino Zamparelli in the final race in front of the ITV4 cameras, a result that has made him more determined to taste success this time round. The 18 year old is heading to the meeting on the back-foot though, a tough weekend last time out at Donington Park leaving him fourteen points adrift on dropped scores.
Webster has taken five wins this season, more than any other driver, but the MGR Motorsport driver has needed them as he’s tried to catch up after a disastrous meeting at Rockingham in May left him a long way adrift.
Malvern has led the championship since Thruxton in June, the reigning Formula Ford champion taking three wins through the year. One of those was at Donington last time out, where he also picked up a pair of second places to make it eight podiums for the year and give him the lead heading into Silverstone.
The lead means that a pair of second places will be enough to secure Malvern the title, even if Webster went on to win both races and secure fastest lap in each, but in the competitive one-make championship, both driver’s know it won’t be easy to get the results required.
Challenging them for race wins will be four drivers who are battling it out for third in the championship.
David Wagner holds the spot after he secured his maiden win last time out at Donington, the MGR Motorsport driver holding a fifteen point advantage over those behind. A solid weekend should be enough to see the Scot finish third, but if he slips up, Seb Morris, Macaulay Walsh and Kieran Vernon will be quick to seize the place.
Morris will be hoping to end the season on a high after a tough few meetings have seen him drop out the title battle, having started the year with five straight poles and three wins. Scorpio Motorsport’s Walsh has enjoyed a consistent season, Croft aside, and will be hoping to add to his pair of podiums during the year and possibly snatch a maiden series win.
Former race-winner Vernon meanwhile is chasing his first win of the year, a result that would cap off his great run since returning to the championship a weekend late, the Hillspeed star having finished every race in the top seven with three podiums to his name.
Lying behind them in the points are three other drivers who are more than capable of stealing the headlines at Silverstone with a first ever series win, just like Matt Mason did last season.
MGR Motorsport team-mates James Fletcher and Jake Dalton have both tasted podium success this season, Fletcher picking up three through the season, with Dalton having one to his name from the opening round of the season, while reigning Formula Ford 1600 champion Chris Middlehurst was a revelation last time out at Donington, taking his maiden podium finishes with two thirds.
All year the championship has been enjoying huge grids, with a peak of 29 cars at the second meeting of the year at Rockingham. That figure is set to be beaten at Silverstone, with an incredible 32 cars set to take to the grid, including five drivers making their first appearances of the season.
Series regulars SWB Motorsport are returning with Jack Dex and series newcomer Tommy Ostgaard, while Anton Spires makes a return with new team Core Motorsport. Formula Ford graduate Ryan Cullen joins the series with his family-outfit Cullen Motorsport, while newly crowned Team USA Scholarship winner Matthew Brabham will make his UK race debut with Cliff Dempsey Racing.
With an enthralling title battle and at least eight drivers in the hunt for the race wins, the two Formula Renault BARC encounters at Silverstone will be must-watch races, filling the single-seater void BTCC fans have experienced in 2012.
The Checkered Flag will be providing full coverage of the final rounds of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship across the weekend, with qualifying reports, race reports and exclusive interviews.
Photo Credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography