Seb Morris has taken the championship lead in the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin after his second win of the championship in Round Three at Rockingham.
The opening race in Northamptonshire saw greasy, wet conditions catching out a number of drivers throughout the race, but Morris coped with them perfectly to lead from lights to flag and give himself a ten-point lead heading into the final race of the series, the 16 year old having headed home a Fortec Motorsport 1-2-3
A great run in qualifying meant it was Morris who started from pole and although the Ginetta Ambassador got a good getaway, a lightning start for Luke Williams, who had quickly recovered after a spin coming out of the final corner on the green flag lap, meant the former Formula Ford racer was challenging heading into turn one.
Morris stuck his elbows out to maintain the lead, with Williams briefly losing out to Jack Aitken on the run into Deene, however the latter ran wide, slipping back to fifth behind Williams, Matt Mason and Hongwei Cao.
A lap later it was Mason’s turn to run wide, the championship leader heading into the race losing two places, while behind, another driver to get caught out in the conditions was Michael Epps, a slide into the Tarzan gravel ending his race and bringing out the safety car.
At the restart, Morris comfortably led away from Williams, while behind, another mistake at Deene for Mason dropped him to eighth behind Joe Ghanem, a fantastic start for the Lebanese driver having seen him work his way up from last on the grid after problems in qualifying.
Ahead, there was a Fortec Motorsport fight for third, with Aitken forcing his way past team-mate Cao at Tarzan, before quickly latching onto the tail of Williams in second. After pushing him for a couple of laps, Aitken challenged at Tarzan on lap eight, however the former Intersteps runner slid wide, maintaing third but losing crucial ground to Williams.
A couple of laps later both drivers had trouble at Deene, with Williams retiring and Aitken recovering to fourth behind Cao and Chris Middlehurst. Another driver with problems was George Gamble, the ex-Ginetta Junior racer running into the gravel at Tarzan, bringing out the safety car once again.
Morris, who had led by 9.3 seconds before the break in racing, was unnerved though and dealt with the restart with ease, driving off into the distance once again to win the race by 5.7 seconds, his seventh BARC race win of 2012.
Cao held on for a first ever BARC podium in second, while Aitken passed Middlehurst on the penultimate lap to compete the Fortec lockout of the podium and move himself into second in the points.
Mason recovered to fifth, while sixth after a great drive from seventh on the grid was Ivan Taranov. MGR Motorsport duo Tom Oliphant and Jake Hughes were next up, while finishing ninth was Matthew Brabham, the Team USA Scholarship winner having ran in the top six for long parts of the race until a mistake dropped him down the field.
Cameron Twynham completed the top ten for SWB Motorsport, while a frustrated Ghanem slipped to eleventh at the finish.
Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin Championship Standings (After Rd. 3):
- Seb Morris – 88 points
- Jack Aitken – 78 points
- Matt Mason – 76 points
- Chris Middlehurst – 75 points
- Hongwei Cao – 57 points