Scott Malvern became the third different winner in the first three rounds of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship after a comprehensive victory in the final race of an intriguing weekend at Snetterton.
After two dry races on Saturday afternoon and Sunday lunchtime, a wet track greeted the drivers for the final race of the weekend, a return to the conditions that they faced during qualifying. Seb Morris coped with it best then to take pole position, with Malvern joining him on the front row.
Morris produced great starts in the first two races but was unable to complete the hat-trick, stalling on the line to give Malvern the lead into Riches for the first time, with David Wagner in third also stalling behind him in avoidance, the duo dropping outside the top ten.
Malvern led away from Josh Webster, who produced a great start from fifth on the grid, and his MGR Motorsport team-mate Jake Dalton. Behind Morris was already forcing his way back through the field, getting up to eighth after the Montreal hairpin, before passing two more cars to end the lap sixth, however a moment early in lap two caused him to fall back to eleventh and have to start the fight-back again.
Malvern started to inch away from Webster, who in turn pulled away from Dalton, the front three having broken away from the pack. James Fletcher held fourth early on from Macaulay Walsh and American Trent Hindman.
Soon catching onto the rear of them was the recovering Morris and Wagner, the duo both working their way past Jack Dex and then Diego Menchaca at the bottom of the top ten. Morris was the first to attack, getting past Hindman at Brundle, before latching onto the rear of Walsh.
Morris tried hard to find a way past, but the Scorpio Motorsport man defended superbly, leaving Morris under threat from a determined Wagner, who had dispatched Hindman a few laps after Morris. The three drivers all gained a spot as the race headed towards its conclusion when Fletcher started suffering from gearbox problems.
At the front, Malvern was under control and after dealing well with some backmarkers, he crossed the line for victory to end a tough weekend on a high. Webster finished just under five seconds adrift in second to make it three podiums in three races and with it the early championship lead, while Dalton finished third for a sensational maiden podium on his first weekend in the series.
Walsh took fourth to end a great weekend ahead of Morris and Wagner, the duo both driving superbly to work their way back after their first lap problems. Fletcher managed to nurse his car home seventh, with Hindman, Menchaca and Dex completing the top ten.
Mexican Jorge Cevallos took eleventh for Mtec Lite ahead of Martin Cao and Michael Epps, the latter driving brilliantly to carve his way through the field after starting dead last. Fourteenth went to Marcus Allen, who picked up the first points finish of the weekend for 2010 champions Hillspeed, with his team-mate Jacob Nortoft missing the race after blowing his engine in race two. Chris Middlehurst finished fifteenth ahead of Ivan Taranov, the Russian having started seventh and fallen back early on.
Speaking to TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk, race-winner Malvern said: “I came into the weekend thinking I could get one or two wins if the car was okay, but obviously it's been giving us troubles, so I'm just relieved to have taken the first win. We're a bit behind in the championship now after our problems, but I'm confident I can start hauling him back in.”
Webster commented: “It's a great result and to come out the weekend leading the championship is a good feeling, so a massive thanks to MGR. The car was a lot better and my best was only a couple of tenths off Scott's best, which is good. It stayed pretty constant through the race, some laps he'd pull away, some laps I'd catch him, but I kept it consistent, kept it stable and second place is brilliant.”
Dalton added: “I'm very happy with that result. Obviously it's been a big learning curve for me, coming out of karting and only doing one Formula BMW race previously, so for my first weekend, it's really impressive with third place. Yesterday was a little disappointing with a little incident, same this morning, but we made up for it in the final one. It's a relief getting the first podium off my shoulders, as I'd put some pressure on myself over the weekend to get it and I'd like to say a big thanks to MGR and everyone who's hear to support me.”
Full results can be found at: http://www.tsl-timing.com/barc/2012/121421bfr.pdf
Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings (After Rd. 3 of 14):
1. Josh Webster – 88 points
2. Seb Morris – 72 points
3. Scott Malvern – 69 points
4. David Wagner – 68 points
5. Macaulay Walsh – 63 points
6. Trent Hindman – 47 points
7. Jake Dalton – 45 points
8. Diego Menchaca – 40 points
9. Jack Dex – 39 points
10. James Fletcher – 36 points
11. Ivan Taranov – 35 points
12. Chris Middlehurst – 23 points
13. Raoul Owens – 21 points
14. Martin Cao – 18 points
15. Jorge Cevallos – 17 points
16. Michael Epps – 16 points
17= Henrique Baptista – 13 points
17= Sean Walkinshaw – 13 points
19. Tom Oliphant – 11 points
20. Oliver Sirrell – 10 points
21. Matt Tiffin – 9 points
22. Marcus Allen – 7 points
23. Laura Tillett – 4 points
24= Henry Chart – 0 points
25= Jacob Nortoft – 0 points