Webster Closes On Malvern With Croft Double

Josh Webster has closed the gap at the top of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championships standings with a pair of victories in Rounds Eight and Nine of the season at Croft in North Yorkshire.

After starring with a pole and a second in qualifying, the MGR Motorsport driver was able to take his third and fourth wins of the season on race-day, moving him to within seven points of championship leader Scott Malvern, who took fourth and second place finishes.

Ultimately this is what we wanted to do, close-up on Scott [Malvern] and take a double win – it’s exactly what I needed”, said Webster, “The team has done a phenomenal job here, the car has been awesome all weekend so massive thanks to the guys at MGR.”

The opening race saw Webster on pole ahead of Kieran Vernon and James Fletcher. Despite Vernon’s best efforts, Webster led throughout the encounter, with Vernon settling for his third consecutive podium in second, Fletcher cruising home in third for his third podium of the campaign.

Seb Morris ran fourth early on ahead  of Malvern and Macaulay Walsh, the trio coming to blows on lap three at the complex. Contact between the trio saw Morris loose his entire left sipepod, battling on until the end of lap six when he eventually retired. Walsh crashed out two corners late at Clervaux with a puncture, front-wing and suspension damage, while luckily Malvern emerged unscatched, able to bring his Cullen Motorsport car home in fourth.

A sensational race for series returnee James Theodore saw him work his way up from eleventh on the grid in to fifth ahead of David Wagner, who worked himself up from a starting position of fourteenth.

A penultimate lap move gave Diego Menchaca seventh from Sean Walkinshaw, who was just lucky to be racing as he spectacularly rolled his car during qualifying. Jorge Cevallos took ninth, while securing his best result of the season in tenth was Michael Epps, the JWA-Avila driver working his way up from nineteenth on the grid.

The second race saw MGR’s Wagner on pole, however a blistering start from Webster gave him the lead from Malvern, with Wagner slotting into third. Webster had a much harder race this time round, Malvern pressuring him throughout, but he was able to keep him at bay by 0.6 seconds to complete his Croft double, Malvern taking his sixth podium of the season in second.

Championship leader Malvern commented: “It’s been an ok weekend – a bit of damage limitation really. In second qualifying I’m sure we could have had pole, the data showed the lap I was on when the red flags came out was good enough. I knew this would be the hardest weekend but we’ve had a podium and almost a win so I’m happy enough.”

Wagner came out on top in a close fight for third to take his first podium since the opening race of the year, with Cliff Dempsey Racing’s Theodore taking an impressive fourth. Vernon continued his great return to the series with fifth ahead of Mexican duo Menchaca and Cevallos.

Fletcher overcame contact with Morris at the hairpin on the final lap to take eighth, with Morris slipping to eleventh, having worked his way up from tenth on the grid into the top six. Suffering worse luck was Walsh. After a superb effort by the Scorpio team to repair his car and get him out for the race, the driveshaft on his FR 2.0 failed on the out-lap, ending his race before it had started.

The results mean Malvern still holds the championship lead heading into the final five races, but only just, with Webster seven points behind. Another tough weekend has seen Morris slip away from title contention, while behind Wagner had benefitted from Walsh’s woes to move up to fourth in the points, but only four points separate Wagner, Walsh, Vernon and Fletcher.

Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Standings(After Rd. 9):

  1. Scott Malvern – 234pts
  2. Josh Webster – 227pts
  3. Seb Morris – 161pts
  4. David Wagner – 147pts
  5. Macaulay Walsh – 144pts
  6. Kieran Vernon & James Fletcher – 143pts
  • SpeedFreek

    Me thinks could have been a different story in race two had it not been for the safety car! Malvern was on Websters gearbox and it would only have been a matter of time but Webster was fortunate that the safert car saved his bacon. Webstehad the rub of teh green this weekend, Malvern didn’t. But Webster is in his third year in this championship and is running with arguably the top team (I’m sure Mr Burt would agree), by contrast Malvern is in his first and now practically running his own car and racing on circuits (Thruxton, Croft) he has never seen before and still setting fastest laps and fighting for race wins.Other than a single day at Rockingham Malvern has also not done any testing. In the circumstances he is doing a great job and I for one wouldn’t write him off just yet!

  • Malvern, Webster and Vernon are all drivers I’ve watched/raced with in karting over the years and I have to say of the three, Scott and Kieran have displayed the sort of talent which make you sit up and think, ‘hang on a minute, these guys could do a job in car racing’. But Josh is the youngest of the trio, and he’s impressing elsewhere at the same time. I fear the other two need to obtain backing from elsewhere, maybe even get support from organisations such as the Racing Steps Foundation, otherwise they will join other very promising talents on the list of what could have been.

  • Have to agree, especially regarding funding. Vernon got the Porsche Scholarship prize but couldn’t get the extra funding required to use it, while Malvern couldn’t get the funding needed for F2/GP3, hence his entry to BARC. Both need, and deserve, a helping hand to move up the ladder.

  • SpeedFreek

    Webster may be the youngest but in terms of experience he has almost as much as the other two. Scott didn’t begin until 2009 at the relatively late age of 20 having worked previously as a mechanic. All three are the class of the field and all three really deserve to be racing higher up the ladder especially when you see some of the drivers currently in F3/GP3/F2. Websters F3 debut at Zandvoort two weeks ago, where he clearly out paced his more experienced team mate, proves that point. But as you say, without money or help from those in a position to help (such as RSF) it’s going to be very difficult for them.
    Scott’s circumstances make even Josh & Kieran look wealthy by comparison so you have to admire his will and determination to keep going and clearly there is no denying his talent. I’d love to see him get a break somewhere. I think he is very similar to Nick Tandy so maybe his future, if he has one, lies along a similar route. I know Scott enjoyed and impressed in his runs in the Mercedes DTM and McLaren GT3 cars so either would be a geat place to aim for. Good luck to him!