Seb Morris completed a near perfect weekend with victory in Round Five of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship, making it two pole positions, two wins and one fastest lap from the weekend for the new championship leader.
Morris was joined on the front-row by his Fortec Motorsport team-mate Martin Cao. While the pole-sitter got away well to lead into the first bend, a slow getaway for Cao saw him slip to fourth behind Scott Malvern and James Fletcher. Fletcher briefly got past Malvern into Deene, but Malvern quickly worked his way back into second place.
Unlike in the opening race, where Morris was immediately able to start pulling away from Malvern, this time round the reigning Ginetta Junior champion was unable to shake off the Cliff Dempsey Racing driver. Behind, Fletcher ran a comfortable third ahead of Ivan Taranov, the Russian having got ahead of Cao on the opening lap.
A train of six cars soon began to form behind Cao in fifth, with Jake Dalton the first to mount a challenge, before he was passed himself by Macaulay Walsh. Behind, Jack Dex moved up to eighth on lap five when he passed both Trent Hindman and Chris Middlehurst, the SWB Motorsport driver producing a superb opening few laps to move up from nineteenth on the grid.
While the front three broke clear, the action continued behind, with Walsh getting ahead of Cao for fifth. At the back of the train, the man of the move was Kieran Vernon, the Hillspeed driver getting past Middlehurst for tenth, with Middlehurst forced to retire a couple of laps later with a broken throttle cable.
Vernon continued his progress on lap nine, passing Hindman for ninth, before getting ahead of Dex two laps later. Ahead, Walsh was challenging Taranov for fifth, with the duo making contact into Deene. Both survived in position, though it bunched the pack up heading into Tarzan, with Vernon being the main beneficiary, getting past both Dalton and Walsh to take sixth.
At the front, Morris had managed to edge clear of Malvern and crossed the line three seconds ahead to pick up his third win of the season. Malvern took his fourth podium of the season in second, while Fletcher made it the same top three from the day's earlier race with another third.
Taranov ran fourth until he dropped a few places in the final two laps, with Cao getting ahead to post a season's best finish of fourth. Vernon took fifth after a superb drive through from seventeenth on the grid, with Taranov ending up seventh behind American Hindman. Hillspeed's Jacob Nortoft and Marcus Allen capped off a great race for the team in eighth and ninth, while Walsh recovered from his incident to round out the top ten. Raoul Owens was next up, with Dalton in twelfth after contact on the penultimate lap with Dex, ending the latter's race.
Finishing a disappointing twentieth was championship contender Josh Webster, who had started the race 28th after an accident in qualifying. A sensational opening lap had seen him gain twelve places and the 2011 vice-champion was up to fourteenth on lap three when he spun. He fell back to the rear of the field and unable to make the same progress back up the order.
Talking to TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk, race-winner Morris said: “I was focusing on trying not to push too hard in that one and I was able to keep a gradual pace, stay consistent and win the race, which is great. Apart from the one fastest lap we missed, this weekend couldn't have gone much better. Weekend's like these are what we're striving to get and after all our hard work, I'm delighted the results are coming. All we've got to do now is keep up the momentum into Thruxton.”
Malvern commented: “We made a change for the race and we were certainly stronger at the start, but I think we might have gone a bit too far and compromised the race at the end. It was frustrating watching him drive away down the straights, but we can work on it. Overall, we've jumped up to second in the championship, so it's not all bad and the gap to Seb's not that big. Thruxton will be interesting, a track I don't know and have never been to, but I'm sure we'll be fine.”
Fletcher added: “I'm glad I managed to stay in third as most the race I had a bent wishbone, I hit into the side of Malvern at the hairpin, which was why we were a few tenths off the front two, as we had loads of understeer in the left hander. At the beginning I thought I was going to get caught, but I managed to pull a gap. Two podiums, I couldn't have asked for a better weekend, happy days.”
Full results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/barc/2012/122021bfr.pdf