Callum Bowyer has announced his plans to graduate to the 2011 Formula Renault BARC Championship with Antel Motorsport. The youngster has a deal in place to join the team and has been testing with them over the winter, but is still requiring some last minute sponsorship to ensure he's on the grid.
Bowyer will make the step up to car racing after a successful five year karting career that has seen him finish in the top four of the British Championship every year bar one. The Peterborough driver also won both national titles in the Mini Max class in 2008 and those performances instantly alerted the Antel Motorsport management.
Antel team principal Brett Parris said: “We watched Callum in KF3 and KF2 karting, and he stood out to us immediately. I rate him extremely highly and we've been desperate to get him into our car for well over a year now, so I'm thrilled that we've managed to put a deal together for 2011.”
Gunthorpe -based Bowyer added: “We did our first test with Antel before Christmas to see how we got on, and after that went well, we tried to get everything sorted. They're a great bunch of guys – they've really welcomed me, and we all work together really well. I'm already very comfortable as part of the team, and it feels like I've been here for ages – I really feel at home at Antel. Hopefully, that will all translate into good results on-track this year.”
Bowyer will be helped in his first season in the series by experienced team-mate Dino Zamparelli, who won the 2008 Ginetta Junior title and competed in Formula Renault BARC series in 2009. Bowyer hopes sharing data and working with Dino will push both himself and the team forward.
A busy winter schedule has seen Bowyer already test his car at Oulton Park, Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Thruxton and Croft, with a test a Donington Park planned to ensure he has run at all six circuits on the 2011 calendar before the season starts.
Commenting on testing, Bowyer said: “I was quite open-minded going into the first test about what to expect. Apart from a Ginetta Junior shoot-out last year, all the experience I've had so far has been in karting, which is very different. I knew it would be a big step-up; I've seen other drivers going from karts into cars, and some have struggled whilst others have done quite well. Obviously it's a big jump in terms of the speed and the size of the tracks and the cars – I certainly can't go for little gaps anymore like I used to!
“It was quite straightforward getting used to the car, to be honest, although pulling out of the garage for the first time did feel a bit strange. The BARC Formula Renault has a lot of power – at Thruxton in the wet I was heading up towards the chicane at 135mph and sitting just an inch off the floor! It's an amazing feeling. I've got a gearbox to deal with now and weight transfer to have to think about, too. It just takes time to get used to it all, and the weather hasn't helped us – it's rained at nearly every test so far. That has made it difficult to learn, but you've just got to get on with it.
“The aerodynamic grip has been one of the biggest changes to adjust to. It's all a question of mind-over-matter – you go into a corner and you've got no grip, and then you go into the same corner again but 20mph faster and you've got loads of grip, because the extra speed forces the car down to the ground. That's been one of the hardest things to learn, simply because it's the complete opposite of what you would expect – you think you'll go off if you go in too fast, but the car just reacts to it and grips around the corner. I still haven't quite mastered that yet, but I'm getting there.
“Every circuit we've gone to has been a lot of fun and really good to drive, with plenty of undulation and demanding corners – I've really enjoyed them all. Testing has gone really well so far, and we just need to keep on building upon that now every time we go out. I'm getting consistently closer to the pace, and we've never been that far off, in truth – even on my first day in the car I was straight into the top ten, which was really encouraging. Since then, I've had five more days and seem to be getting closer-and-closer every time.
“It's still quite difficult to assess where we are in the pecking order at the moment – in karting, I knew who would be quick and who I would need to look out for from one year to the next, whereas in BARC Formula Renault, I'm not really sure who's who yet – but at the media day at Silverstone every driver competing in the championship should be there, so that will be a good opportunity to gauge our relative position. I'm really looking forward to it.”
Despite all the testing, Bowyer is not yet guaranteed to be on the grid for 2011. With a deal in place, he just needs to find a bit more sponsorship to help him reach his goals. Anyone interested in backing Callum can contact Tracey Bowyer on 01733 701099 or 07960 400731, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org