Josh Webster led home a MGR Motorsport one-two in the opening round of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship after Scott Malvern succumbed to mechanical problems whilst leading.
A superb performance in qualifying had seen Seb Morris take pole position and the Fortec Motorsport man led away from the start, whilst behind Webster stormed past Malvern to take second. Behind, there was disappointment for Michael Epps after a stall on the line dropped him right to the back and a long way off his closest rival.
Morris led the opening lap but at Riches on lap two, a mistake saw him run wide across the wet grass, dropping him to sixth and promoting Webster into the lead. Cliff Dempsey Racing's Malvern soon closed on the leader and on lap seven he forced his way past with a great move at the Esses.
Behind, Morris' race was going from bad to worse, the reigning Ginetta Junior champion losing spaces to Jack Dex and Trent Hindman in the opening half of the race to fall to eighth. American Hindman was on a real charge, catching up and passing Dex, who was held up trying to pass Jake Dalton for fifth.
At the front, Malvern looked in utter control of the race, pulling a clear gap to Webster behind, however there was to be disappointment for the reigning Formula Ford champion a few laps from the end when his car started suffering from a gearbox problem, dropping him right down the field.
This promoted Webster into the lead and the 2011 series vice-champion controlled the remainder to open the season with victory. Running in a comfortable second to complete a MGR Motorsport one-two was Scotsman David Wagner, his first Formula Renault BARC podium, while taking third for his first podium was Scorpio Motorsport's Macaulay Walsh.
Taking fourth after a last lap move on Dalton was Hindman, the Cliff Dempsey Racing driver capping off the drive of the race. Dalton took fifth in his debut race, having completed the whole race with wheel damage after contact with Morris when he returned to the track on lap two, while Morris himself finished sixth after passing Dex towards the end.
Behind, a fantastic race-long battle for eighth went the way of Diego Menchaca, the Mexican just beating Ivan Taranov and Chris Middlehurst, the latter finishing just behind Taranov's Antel Motorsport team-mate Raoul Owens, who fought through well from sixteenth on the grid. Twelfth place went the way of Brazilian Henrique Baptista, just ahead of a severely disappointed Malvern.
Race-winner Webster said: “A win is great, though obviously luck was with me a little bit cause Malvern had a problem with the car. With us, the tyre pressures were too low which meant the pace didn't come until right until the end, so I think we could have challenged Malvern anyway as we got faster and faster.
“MGR have done a fantastic job with the car. I entered BARC last week, so they got a car ready over just a few days and for it to be able just to come and win a race is a fantastic job by them. Massive thanks to my sponsors too, they've come and given me a boost, without them we wouldn't be on the grid.”
Wagner commented: “I'm really happy with that result. It should have been better than fifth in qualifying, but I got a good start and managed to get up to fourth. Morris threw it off early on and Malvern had a problem, so it was a case of trying to keep second and I did, which was good.”
Walsh added: “I got a good start and was going well. We started coming through mid-race and was catching Wagner. Unfortunately Malvern had a problem, but luckily we got a podium from that, it's a good start to the year.”
Full race results can be found at: http://www.tsl-timing.com/barc/2012/121421bfr.pdf