Seb Morris dominated a wet qualifying session around the Snetterton 200 circuit in Norfolk to take pole position for the opening three rounds of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship.
Qualifying consisted of two fifteen minute sessions, the first creating the grid for the day's opening race and the second forming the grid for the next day's two races. On a cold morning, the rain started to fall just fifteen minutes before the sessions began. Despite the rain easing off before the session began, it still delved many drivers into the unknown as they prepared for their first ever wet running in the cars.
After a tentative few laps to find the grip available, the first meaningful times started to come in, with Scott Malvern and Josh Webster going quickest early on. The session was halted five minutes in though when Antel Motorsport's Henry Chart and Hillspeed's Marcus Allen went off at Coram, ruling both out for the rest of the two qualifying sessions.
At the restart, Fortec Motorsport’s Morris got onto track first and used the clear air to set quickest lap times on each lap, ending up on pole by over eight tenths of a second with a 1:19.990s. Behind, Malvern and Webster traded second between them, with Cullen Racing's Malvern coming out on top with a late lap of 1.20.823s.
Webster was first of a train of MGR Motorsport machines, with Jake Dalton fourth, David Wagner fifth and James Fletcher seventh. Splitting them was Scorpio Motorsport's Macaulay Walsh in sixth, while completing the top ten were Trent Hindman, Jack Dex and Ivan Taranov, the latter being 3.269s off pole.
Chris Middlehurst took eleventh, while Diego Menchaca emerged ahead in the battle of the Escuderia Telmex-backed Mexicans, the Fortec Motorsport driver just edging Mtech Lite's Jorge Cevallos into thirteenth. Henrique Baptista took fourteenth, while fifteenth for JWA-Avila was Michael Epps, though a late incident at Riches meant he missed the second session.
After a five minute break with intermittent showers, the second session began with the same result for Morris, the reigning Ginetta Junior champion going quicker and quicker throughout the session. Malvern got within half a second at one point, but a lap of 1:18.542s saw Morris on pole for the second race by 0.949s from the reigning Formula Ford champion.
A last gasp lap by Scotsman Wagner saw him go third as the top MGR runner, with team-mates Dalton and Webster completing the top five. Walsh was sixth again for Scorpio ahead of Fletcher and Taranov, with Walsh's Brazilian team-mate Baptista going a strong ninth.
Cevallos took tenth ahead of Hindman and Menchaca, while enjoying an improved performance was Jacob Nortoft, the Dane taking thirteenth for Hillspeed. Martin Cao took fourteenth for Fortec ahead of Middlehurst.
The second fastest times from the second session set the grid for the final race of the weekend, with Morris completing his hat trick with a 1:18.803s and Cliff Dempsey Racing with Cullen’s Malvern taking a third second place, 0.734s adrift.
Wagner was third again ahead of team-mates Dalton and Webster, with Walsh taking another sixth. Taranov leads the Antel Motorsport charge once again in seventh, with Fletcher, Hindman and Nortoft completing the top ten. Towards the back, The Checkered Flag blogger Laura Tillett put in a strong performance on her first session in the wet, qualifying twentieth for all three races.
Full timing of the qualifying sessions can be found here: http://www.tsl-timing.com/barc/2012/121421bfr.pdf