Matt Mason stormed to a maiden win during the final round of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Silverstone, while a hard fought third place for Dino Zamparelli gave him the 2011 championship title.
MGR Motorsport's Mason started on pole position for the first time and despite a decent getaway, was pipped by Josh Webster at Copse. Fortec Motorsport's Webster headed into the race ten points adrift of Zamparelli at the top of the standings and knew he needed to win to have any chance of taking the title, but he was to drop to second at Brooklands after a stunning late move by Mason saw him retake the lead.
A great start by Kourosh Khani put him up to third ahead of Archie Hamilton and David Wagner, with a slow getaway for Zamparelli dropping him to sixth. The Antel Motorsport driver knew a third place was enough to give him the title, so went on the attack, but was unable to make progress straight away.
Zamparelli gained a place on lap nine when Hamilton ran into the back of Khani at Brooklands, the Fortec Motorsport driver losing his front wing and retiring from the race. With Wagner and Zamparelli forced to slow up in avoidance, a five way battle for fourth developed, with James Thorp, Hector Hurst and Callum Bowyer joining the battle.
At the front, Mason continued to hold the lead, but was under severe pressure for multiple laps as Webster looked to take his second win of the weekend, but a slight mistake at Copse lost him some time, putting a small gap between the front two.
With Webster still second and holding the fastest lap, fifth wasn't enough for Zamparelli to take the title. The next lap saw him go back on the offensive, diving past Wagner at Brooklands to take fourth, before setting the races fastest lap, to cement himself at the top of the standings.
This left Zamparelli behind Khani, the two having had a tremendous battle in the weekend's earlier race, which saw Khani excluded from the results for his zealous defending. Weary of this, Zamparelli bided his time and pressured Khani into a mistake at Becketts, the Iranian running wide at Becketts, allowing Zamparelli into the all-important third place, while Khani dropped three more spots to seventh, splitting up an interesting battle between Thorp, Bowyer and Hurst.
Ahead, Mason was maintaining his lead and crossed the line for a stunning maiden win in only his first season of car racing. Webster took second, just missing out on the title, as Zamparelli took third and with it the championship glory. MGR Motorsport's Wagner took fourth, a season's best finish, with Mtech Lite's Thorp fifth to cap off a disappointing end to the year.
Rookie Bowyer ended the year sixth, ahead of Scorpio Motorsport team-mates Khani and Hurst. Steve Durrant and Howard Fuller completed the top ten, ahead of series returnee James Theodore. Anton Spires took twelfth , a great result on his series debut, the KG Motorsport driver overcoming an off track moment early in the race.
An elated Zamparelli told thecheckeredflag.co.uk: “I knew I had to finish third, that was all I knew. I could see where Josh [Webster] was and I just had to get my head down every lap and pick them off one by one. I kept cool, I didn't think too much and it all came naturally to me. I knew I had to be a bit brave, there were some dangerous characters ahead, based on yesterday, but I got third and came across the line elated, what a fantastic result.”
An equally delighted Mason commented: “Brilliant! It feels perfect, couldn't have happened at a better event. It's the best round of the championship, such a prestigious circuit. The team have worked so hard, my sponsors, my family, I've worked hard and it's all pieced together at just the right time, live on ITV4. It just couldn't be better.”
A disappointed Webster added: “After yesterday I felt confident and thought that good things were going to happen, but in the race I made a couple of mistakes pushing behind Matt [Mason]. With a lack of aero it was just impossible to get square up to him and when I did, certain moves he made meant it was impossible to get past. Second just didn't quite make it for the championship and as soon as I saw Dino [Zamparelli] in third place, I knew it was over. I fought to the end and it came down to the wire, so I've got to hold my head up high.”