Scott Malvern led from lights to flag to secure a potentially decisive win at Donington Park in the battle for the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship.
After chief title rival Josh Webster took victory in Round Ten, Malvern knew a win in Round Eleven was crucial to re-gain the points lost and the reigning Formula Ford champion did just that to stretch his advantage to thirteen points.
Malvern started from pole and got a fantastic start to lead into Redgate for the first time, whilst fellow front-row starter David Wagner dropped to fourth behind Seb Morris and Webster. Behind, not everyone had got away though, Scorpio Motorsport’s Henrique Baptista stalled on the line and with nowhere to go, series newcomer Falco Wauer made heavy contact with him.
With the cars out on the spot and left stranded in the middle of the pitlane, the decision was made to red flag the race to aid their recovery, leading to a full restart of the race with a new twelve lap duration.
This gave MGR Motorsport’s Wagner a second chance at the start and second time round he delivered, comfortably slotting into second behind Malvern. A slow start for Morris saw him drop to fourth behind Webster, while a great getaway for Chris Middlehurst saw him climb up to fifth.
A great scrap developed behind James Fletcher for seventh, with Kieran Vernon, Jake Dalton, Macaulay Walsh and Michael Epps battling it out. Dalton ended up as the driver to lose out, dropping behind Walsh, Epps and briefly Jacob Nortoft, before fighting back to regain tenth from the Hillspeed driver.
With Malvern building his lead to over two seconds and Wagner in a comfortable second, all eyes focused on a three way battle developing for third, with Middlehurst being the man on the move. Buoyed by his maiden podium in the last race, the reigning Formula Ford 1600 champion squeezed past Morris on the approach to Redgate for fourth on lap five.
After slowly catching Webster, Middlehurst got his chance for third on the final lap coming out of Redgate. Webster ran slightly wide, allowing Middlehurst to get his nose alongside and after running side by side down the Craner Curves, Middlehurst made the move stick at the Old Hairpin.
Ahead, Malvern stormed to the line for his third win of the season, finishing nearly four seconds ahead of Wagner, with Middlehurst taking his second consecutive podium in third.
A struggling Webster was only just able to hold off Morris for fourth, a drag race to the line seeing Webster take the place by 0.009s. Fletcher took fifth ahead of Vernon, Walsh and Epps, with Dalton just holding off Nortoft for tenth.
Race winner Malvern told thecheckeredflag.co.uk: “Yesterday, unless I got him off the start, which was tough as Josh makes pretty good starts, I wasn’t going to get him as it’s just so hard to overtake around here. So that meant today it was important to convert the pole into a win and to win by a reasonable margin with the fastest lap, I’m really pleased with that. It was a really important win to claw back some of the points Josh has been taking off us the last few races.”
Wagner commented: “Yeah I was happy to get the restart. I really didn’t get a good start at the first shot at it, but second time round I got a better one and got into second. Initially I tried to stay with Malvern, but I struggling around the back, made a couple of mistakes and he got those couple of car lengths ahead. Starting from pole next time, we’re going to make some changes to the car and will hopefully have the pace to lead away, if not I’ll defend like mad.”
Middlehurst added: “We’ve made a big step forward with the car and I’ve been working hard from the last rounds. We did some testing prior to the meeting and changed the car set up slightly, putting it more towards my driving style, making the rear end looser like I had in Formula Ford, and it’s really transformed the car and I really feel confident in the car now, more so than I have so far this year. I hope we can carry on this momentum into the next race, Silverstone and next year.”