Southwell racing driver Matthew Mason made a solid start to the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Donington Park, taking eighth and ninth place finishes with MGR Motorsport in his first ever car races.
Working on a very limited budget, the Nottingham Urology Group sponsored driver headed to the opening rounds at his local circuit Donington with only half a day's testing at the circuit and only 6 days in the car overall under his belt.
Despite this though, Mason, who is just completing his first year at Oxford Brookes University where he is studying Business Management, set the twelfth and eleventh fastest times in the two sessions, giving him a sixth row start for both the two fourteen lap races.
Commenting on qualifying, Mason said: “I'm happy and I'm unhappy really, because I had quite a good first session, finishing twelfth out of twenty-two, which was quite a good start considering we'd only had half a day at the track testing and it was the first time putting new tyres on. I was happy with that, things were running smoothly.
“Went out for the second one, thought I had loads more to come and felt like I was pushing quite hard, but we only managed eleventh, which I'm a little bit disappointed at. I'd have been happier with about a top seven, as at one point in the session we were running fifth. All we've got to do is try and push on; it's all a learning curve.”
A slow start to the first race saw the 18-year-old drop to sixteenth, but a superb drive saw him fight his way back through the field to finish in eighth place. In the second race, Matt dropped down to eighteenth place at the start as he avoided a rival ahead that had nearly-stalled, before producing another great drive to climb through to ninth by the chequered flag. Two strong points scoring finishes sees Matt hold eighth place in the championship table after the first round, the second highest rookie in the series.
Reflecting on the races, Mason added: “Race one was really good actually apart from the start. I messed that up as I'd never done a start before, not even practice starts. I came through, did some good overtaking and it was quite a good, productive race. We were the fifth fastest out there, which is fantastic.”
“Race two I had an alright start, but then on lap two there was a load of carnage as people from the back of the grid came through and did some silly, desperate moves. It wasn't a very good first few laps, but we came through, despite one of the wing flaps falling off, losing me quite a lot of down force.
“We're a little bit disappointed with the race, but there's potential there. We were only fourth tenths a lap off the front five, which for my first race I'm really happy with. We had the potential for more and now I know what the score is having had a bit more time in the car, next race we'll be on it a bit earlier; get in and around the top five and cause some damage in the championship.”