Hector Hurst suffered another frustrating weekend in the latest rounds of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship around Oulton Park, with a red flag and then contact by a rival ruining his first race when he looked set for a strong finish.
Scorpio Motorsport driver Hurst headed to the picturesque Cheshire circuit hoping to make up for a tough weekend last time out at Brands Hatch. The 18 year old had a mixed start to his weekend in pre-event testing on Friday, running comfortably quickest in wet conditions in the morning, but as the circuit dried, he took his time to get on the pace, only getting back near the top of the timesheets in the day's final session.
Hurst said: “Friday was wet in the morning and our pace was fine, before it dried out pretty quickly. During the day we were off the pace to be honest and I was a bit worried, but then in the final session on our tyre run we were bang on it.”
The strong end to the day meant rookie Hurst was hopeful of a competitive run in the single 20 minute qualifying session on Saturday morning. The Hampshire based driver endured a frustrating session though and was unable to convert his pace into front-running times, leaving him tenth and ninth on the grid for the two races.
He commented: “We headed into qualifying quite confident of a strong result. I just didn't put the laps together though, which was my fault, leaving us ninth and tenth for the races. All the sectors were fine and my theoretical was good for the front few rows, but I just couldn't get a rhythm going with traffic and didn't get on it properly.”
Race one saw Hector produce a great start to move into eighth at the first corner, before avoiding an incident in front of him at the hairpin to slide into a brilliant fourth place. His sensational opening lap was in vain though, as two laps later the race was red flagged after another incident on track. The officials restarted the race with the original grid, forcing Hurst to start back in tenth.
Another strong start saw him move into a solid seventh place in tricky conditions, after a brief rain shower. He was looking set for a strong points finish, but around mid-distance he had his race ruined by a rival. Approaching the Island hairpin, Hurst defended the inside line, but the car behind drove into the back of him, forcing him to retire, a disappointing end to a promising race.
A frustrated Hurst said: “Going into race one, I figured that because I knew I could do the lap times, I was going to enjoy chopping through the people in front of me, getting to the front and then seeing what we could do. That worked pretty well, I got up to fourth and caught the front three up, but then we had a safety car and restart.
“After the restart, everything was looking good again until someone forgot to brake behind me into the hairpin, ending my race on the spot, which was annoying as it could have been a really good haul of points and a strong bounce back from Brands Hatch.”
He looked to make up for the disappointment in race two, which he started from ninth. He began strongly, but got slowed by an incident ahead, dropping him back a few places that he was unable to regain, despite being clearly quicker than those ahead, meaning he ended the race an unspectacular fourteenth
He said: “Throughout the weekend we had the performance but weren't really able to show it, so this was our last chance to. I got a good start but then there was an accident ahead of me, everyone stopped and I got mugged, as the people behind me had the momentum I didn't. Then it proved pretty easy for the people ahead to defend, despite being much slower, and it was only a short race, so I just brought it home.”
Despite the disappointing results, Hurst heads to the next rounds at Croft on 23/24 July with many positives to take from Oulton, after overcoming his race start problems and once again showcasing strong pace and great racecraft that indicates he can still challenge for podium finishes this season.
He concluded: “With the pace and everything, we're definitely on for podiums soon. I had a weak spot with starts, but we've sorted that out, so it's now just putting everything together in a weekend and there's no reason we can't be right up there on the podium.”
Photo Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography