Dino Zamparelli cruised home to victory in Round Nine of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Thruxton, the Antel Motorsport driver recording his third win of the season in a race-shortened by a late red flag.
The mornings qualifying session saw Zamparelli storm to pole position, a stunning lap of 1min 12.490s putting him 0.596s clear of his nearest challenger, championship rival James Thorp. Rookie Matt Mason came a season's best third, ahead of Josh Webster, Scorpio Motorsport's Kourosh Khani and Fortec Motorsport's Archie Hamilton.
A good start for Zamparelli saw him lead the pack around Allard for the first time, while a blinding getaway for Khani got him up third, before he passed Thorp around the outside at Campbell to take second. There was carnage behind, when Fortec's Victor Jiminez dived around the outside, colliding with Hector Hurst and Hamilton before spinning back into the tyre barriers. The incident caused all three to retire on the spot, virtually ending Hamilton's hopes of winning the title.
With no safety car required to clear the cars away, the race continued with Zamparelli clear at the front, with Khani holding second for two laps, before he was swamped on the run up Woodham Hill, with Thorp taking second and Webster moving into third.
Khani was soon caught by Mason, the MGR Motorsport driver getting past on lap four with a superb late lunge at Campbell, before repeating the move a lap later on Webster. Iranian Khani was to drop back further a couple of laps later, with RPD Motorsport's Steve Durrant leading a group of cars past him.
The race was to end soon after though when contact between SWB Motorsport's Jack Dex and Hillspeed's Zaamin Jaffer ended with both cars in the pitwall. After three laps behind the safety car, the red flag was brought out and the race over.
This gave Zamparelli the win, the former Ginetta Junior Champion having been over 7 seconds clear before the safety car. Thorp took second, while third was Webster, the Suffolk-based racer benefitting from Mason suffering a steering problem on the last racing lap. Mason held fourth though to record his best result of the season so far.
Fifth was Durrant, ahead of MGR's David Wagner, Antel's Callum Bowyer and Hillspeed's Howard Fuller, the trio having enjoyed a good close battle throughout the race. Khani stumbled home ninth, losing him more ground in the championship battle, while Russian driver Ivan Taranov took tenth for Daytona Motorsport, leading home Raoul Owens, Tom Walker and Sean Walkinshaw.
Race-winner Zamparelli said: “It would have been a dominant win had the safety car not come out, but I was about seven seconds clear before it came out. I managed to get my head down early on and break the tow. Once I saw there was a gap I just kept pushing and I got the fastest lap as well, which is great.”
Thorp commented: “My start was okay but not as good as Kourosh Khani's, so he managed to get into second in front of me, which I think allowed Dino [Zamparelli] to get away and make a bit of a gap. My focus then was to get second and we managed to get that place back, get our head down and focus on trying to catch Dino, but the safety car came out.”
Webster added: “It was probably the most exciting race I've ever driven with the amount of overtaking. Thruxton really does provide a good opportunity for racing with the long straights where you can get in the slipstream. I didn't get a great start, went down to fifth, but managed to pick a few off, had a bit of a battle with Matt Mason and just managed to get the better of him before the safety car. Not really happy with third in terms of the championship though.”