Matt Mason made a successful return to Protyre Formula Renault BARC action with a double pole position in qualifying for the opening rounds of the 2012 Winter Series at Brands Hatch.
The opening fifteen minutes session on a damp track saw Seb Morris quickest early on, before Mason nipped to the top of the timesheets just before the red flag came out, Anton Spires having span into the wall at the exit of Clearways.
At the restart, Mason’s MGR Motorsport team-mate and 2012 ADAC Formel Masters runner-up Gustav Malja briefly topped the timesheets at the restart, but Mason was soon back on top, the 2012 Intersteps runner-up taking pole with a best time of 1:40.642s.
Malja made it a MGR lockout of the front row, while early title favourite Morris was third. Chris Middlehurst went fourth quickest, while a strong performance for Joe Ghanem saw the Lebanese racer take fifth.
An equally impressive run for Intersteps graduate Jack Aitken saw him take sixth, ahead of Team USA Scholarship winner Matthew Brabham, Michael Epps, Formula Ford graduate Luke Williams and Russian Ivan Taranov.
The second session, taking place on a now completely dry track, had a lengthy delay early on after a big off for Matthew Rao led to a tyre wall needing to be rebuilt. At the restart, the times started tumbling, with Mason, Aitken and Morris emerging as the three in contention for pole.
Aitken kept returning to the top of timesheets as the session drew to a close, but Mason was to benefit as being the last driver to cross the line, with a stunning final lap of 1:26.401s giving him his second pole of the weekend.
Aitken took a superb second, just 0.044s ahead of his more experienced Fortec Motorsport team-mate Morris, with Brabham and Middlehurst completing the top five. Core Motorsport duo Taranov and Epps were next up ahead of Ghanem and Hongwei Cao, while Cameron Twynham improved from a disappointing nineteenth for race two to secure himself tenth on the grid for race two, just ahead of a frustrated Malja.
Full qualifying results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2012/124203bfw.pdf