While a string of unfortunate incidents means the championship standings may show otherwise, Hector Hurst enjoyed a hugely competitive season in the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, the Hampshire-based racer happy with the pace and potential he has shown in his maiden car racing season.
Scorpio Motorsport's Hurst headed into the year hoping to produce some impressive performances in the club-level championship, the 19 year old set to compete against many other car racing rookies. A strong debut at Donington Park saw him qualify fifth and pick up a first top five finish in the races, which laid the way for a consistent maiden year, which has seen him regularly amongst the frontrunners in terms of pace.
Unfortunately for Hurst, he hasn't been able to pick up the race results that his pace has deserved. A host of on track misfortune costi him many strong finishes, leaving him a lowly thirteenth in the championship standings with just two top five finishes to his name. Hurst admits it's been hard to remain positive through the year, but has done so thanks to the support of those around him.
Hurst said: “To say that I could have stayed positive all by myself would be obscene, so I have to say Gloria, my mind coach, Kieran, my driver coach, the whole team and everyone I've worked with, the support I've got from them has made me how I've wanted to be, rather than feeling let down and wronged after several very unfortunate incidents which have cost us some seriously good results in the first year of my car racing career. They've allowed me to keep positive and take all the positives from every time we've hit the track and fortunately there's been a lot of positives to take.”
Throughout the year Hurst has been on the receiving end of some questionable driving from his rivals, something that has cost him strong results on more than one occasion. At Oulton Park, he looked set for a strong finish when a rival drove into the rear of him at the hairpin, ending his race. At Croft, Hurst was on the final lap on his way to a season's best fourth place finish when at the penultimate corner, an ambitious move by a rival spun him round, dropping him to ninth. Then at Thruxton, Hurst was showing potential for another strong race when on the first lap, a rival careered down the grass and into the side of him, ending his race and extensively damaging his car.
Hurst has been frustrated with the driving standards of others, but admits that it's part of racing at this level, commenting: “It's been pretty horrendous at some times to tell the truth. In some ways that's racing and when you're in an entry level category there's going to be more amateur level drivers and if you don't manage to qualify on pole you're going to be around them. I guess you could say that if I was on pole I wouldn't have those troubles, there's always ways to make your own luck and hopefully I can learn from it all and take it into what I race next year, which won't be Formula Renault BARC.”
Throughout the year Hurst has been working with Scorpio Motorsport and the teenage racer acknowledges the great work they have done this year. On more than one occasion, the team have, against all odds, managed to repair a severely damaged car in a short space of time, ensuring that Hector has made the grid for every session this year. As well as this, the team and Hector's driver coach, 2009 Formula Renault BARC champion Kieren Clark, have been instrumental in developing Hurst as a driver during his maiden season.
Hurst commented: “Scorpio have been perfect, I think that's the only way you could describe them. We had a fantastic, safe car at the start of the year, which was quick, and then as I grew in confidence with the car, we've developed it more and more to make it more aggressive and made it suit my driving style which I've developed. Kieran, my driver coach, has been perfect as well, focusing me on every single area, more areas than I knew there was, so he was perfect, as were the whole team.”
Despite a lowly thirteenth place finish in the championship standings, Hurst ends the 2011 season in positive mood, feeling that the pace and potential he showed throughout the year more than makes up for the disappointing results on paper. The Boldre Estates Ltd-backed driver is now turning his attentions towards 2012, where he is hoping to step up to the Formula Renault Eurocup championship and impress on the European stage.
Hurst concluded: “I believe that I've shown a lot of what I can do, not everything obviously, but I'm happy with myself and really happy with the laps I've been doing and the starts I've been doing in the second half of the year. The racecraft as well, I've never hit another car, despite having some really good, close racing.
“I think there's a huge amount of positives I can take from this year and everything that I've learnt this year I can put forward into next year. Throughout the winter we'll be doing a little bit of racing and as much testing as our budget allows. Also we'll be spending as much time as possible finding as much budget as we can, to race in the championship we aim to next year with the team we want to. There's no reason why 2012 shouldn't be a fantastic year.”