Josh Webster took a crucial pole position for the opening race in the final weekend of the 2011 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, the Fortec Motorsport driver edging title rival Dino Zamparelli at the top of the timesheets, before Matt Mason stormed to a maiden pole position for the final race of the season in the second part of the session.
A frenetic opening session saw the top three Webster, Zamparelli and Archie Hamilton changing positions almost every lap, with a stunning late lap of 55.740s giving Fortec Motorsport's Webster a crucial pole position. Only 0.062s adrift was championship leader Zamparelli, putting the title rivals together on the front row for the day's race, while Hamilton ended up third, 0.136s off pole.
A superb performance for MGR Motorsport's David Wagner saw the Scotsman finish fourth, his strongest run of the season so far, while Scorpio Motorsport team-mates Kourosh Khani and Hector Hurst locked out the third row after good runs. Taking seventh was Matt Mason, another good performance for MGR, with series returnee James Theodore joining him on the fourth row.
Finishing a lowly ninth was Mtech Lite's James Thorp, the outside championship contender leaving himself with lots of work to do in the opening race to keep his title hopes alive. Taking tenth was rookie Callum Bowyer for Antel Motorsport, while eleventh was Max Robinson, a great showing on his series debut.
After a five minute break in the pitlane, the cars entered the circuit again for a second qualifying session, setting the grid for Sunday's televised race. Thorp set the early running before a brief red flag period, caused by Robinson pulling off at Brooklands with mechanical woes. When the session resumed, there were just five minutes on the clock for the drivers to set faster times.
After another busy few minutes which saw many different drivers topping the timesheets, it was Mason who secured a sensational maiden pole position in the series, the MGR driver setting a best time of 55.687s. In the championship fight, Webster put himself second, 0.032s off the top, while Zamparelli could only manage fifth, setting it up for a dramatic season finale tomorrow.
Third fastest for his strongest qualifying of the season was Wagner, just 0.122s off his team-mate at the top, capping off a great day so far for the MGR team. Iranian racer Khani took fourth ahead of Zamparelli, with Hamilton and Hurst lining up on row four, the top eighth split by just 0.282s. Thorp's miserable session continued, the title contender ending up ninth once again, while RPD Motorsport's Steven Durrant overcoming mechanical problems to take tenth with his only flying lap. Taking twelfth on his series debut was Anton Spires, running with KG Motorsport.
A delighted Webster said: “It's gone really well, I don't know how Dino [Zamparelli] is going to play it, but I've just got to go out now and be aggressive and go for two wins. The race later today is pole, got to go out there straight away and go for the win.”
Championship leader Zamparelli commented: “Race one is okay with P2, but race two we're in P5. It depends in race one to what I have to do in race two. Race one I've just got to get Josh [Webster] off the line, I did him at Croft so I know what to do. I've got to go full attack from the word go.”
An ecstatic Mason enthused: “Absolutely loving it! Really happy with it and surprisingly we went quicker on used tyres than the new rubber. In the first session, I got held up in traffic and when I got a clear lap, I just didn't hook it up. In the second one, I got a bit of clear space and hooked a lap up. I'm really happy, especially as there's more pace to come.”
Reflecting on his best performance of the season, Wagner added: “I'm really happy, in testing on Wednesday and Friday we really worked on set up and got the car more to my liking. Now whatever I want the car to do, it does it, which has really made a difference. All credit to the MGR team, they've all helped me get to the front, where we deserve to be.”