Just six points separate the top three drivers in the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship as the series heads to the high-speed Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire for the penultimate two races of an incredible season. Rounds Nine and Ten, both taking place on 3rd September, will prove crucial in determining who will head to the televised season finale at Silverstone on top.
Leading the championship by a single point is Antel Motorsport's Dino Zamparelli, who is the man in form after a superb weekend last time out at Croft. The pre-season championship favourite picked up a win and a second place to take the championship lead for the first time this season.
Looking ahead to Thruxton, Zamparelli said: “I’m very much looking forward to Thruxton, it's a track that I like a lot and have been fast at in previous races. I am out to win both races so as to put a firm grip on the championship title. I’m feeling fit and ready for it so can’t wait to get stuck in.
“The title race has been good this year so far. I’ve had quite a few races where I should have won but have made small mistakes which I can put down to last year’s ‘year out’ and me not being as sharp as perhaps I would have been. However, I have learnt from them and I guess that’s the main thing. I’ve had some brilliant races this year, however I will be happy with two boring races in the lead at Thruxton!”
Leading the series heading to North Yorkshire was double race-winner Josh Webster, the Fortec Motorsport driver having picked up wins in the opening round at Donington Park and then again at Oulton Park. The Suffolk-based racer lost ground at Croft though when an unfortunate accident with two of his team-mates saw him retire from the opening encounter, dropping him to second in the points.
Webster commented: “I feel confident and well prepared ahead of Thruxton. The Fortec team have worked really hard on rebuilding my car following the damage sustained at Croft, and I’ve been training hard so I’m looking forward to next weekend.
“With just one point between Dino Zamparelli and me at the top of the standings it’s certainly close, but I won’t be thinking about the points, I’m interested in race wins, and that’s my focus for Thruxton.”
Third in the championship is James Thorp, who heads to Thruxton with the most work to do. The Mtech Lite driver, unlike his title rivals, is affected by the category's 'drop-score' ruling at the end of the year, so with eleven points to drop, will need two strong results to remain in contention and he will be aiming to add to his wins from Donington and Croft.
Thorp added: “I'm really looking forward to going to one of the most exciting circuits on the calendar, I'm sure it will be the home of some close races for the weekend. My goal for Thruxton is to win both races. In order to achieve this I know it will be imperative to get the best qualifying result I can achieve, if I can focus on achieving this and drive my own race I won’t have to think about any of my competitors for the title.
“I know it will be yet another close race which is why I will have to be on my best form and I believe, with the preparation that i have had, i will be in the best form of the season.”
As well as the top three, there are three others drivers still in with a shout at glory, proving how competitive the 2011 season has been. Leading them is Scorpio Motorsport's Kourosh Khani, who has enjoyed a strong run recently, picking up podiums at Brands Hatch and Croft, as well as his maiden series win at Oulton Park. He is joined by Fortec team-mates Kieran Vernon and Archie Hamilton, who have both been consistent podium finishers over the season, but both lost ground after the unfortunate collision with Webster at Croft.
As well as the top six, there are plenty of other drivers aiming to make a name for themselves around the iconic Thruxton circuit. Best of the rest in the championship is series rookie Zaamin Jaffer, leading a group of drivers including series veteran and 2011 podium finisher Steven Durrant and impressive rookies Matt Mason and Hector Hurst, the latter hoping to impress at his local circuit.
Provisional 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Points (after Rd8):
1st – Dino Zamparelli / Antel Motorsport 175pts
2nd – Josh Webster / Fortec Motorsport 174pts
3rd – James Thorp / MTech Lite 169pts
4th – Kourosh Khani / Scorpio Motorsport 152pts
5th – Archie Hamilton / Fortec Motorsport 150pts
6th – Kieran Vernon / Fortec Motorsport 149pts