Formula Renault BARC

Middlehurst Takes Opening Win As Title Rivals Falter

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Chris Middlehurst led from lights to flag during Round Six of the 2013 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Thruxton, an action-packed opening race that saw a number of the championship leader’s main rivals fail to make the finish.

In an incident-strewn affair, Middlehurst was able to negotiate an early safety car interlude before pulling away for his fourth win of the season so far, the MGR Motorsport star benefitting from his rivals misfortune to extend his championship lead to 67 points.

A dominant display in the day’s earlier qualifying sessions meant Middlehurst started the race from pole position and a great getaway saw him lead into Allard for the first time. Jake Cook started alongside him on the front row, though he lost his place to Weiron Tan heading into the complex for the first time.

Cook tried to gain the position back at the end of the lap into the final chicane, however contact between the two led to a damaged front wing for Tan and a heavy hit on the kerb for Cook, the latter being forced to retire on track.

This saw the introduction of the safety car for the first time, with the stint behind it being extended when Wei Fung Thong slid out of fourth place into the barriers exiting the chicane.

When racing resumed, Middlehurst led away from Ivan Taranov and Joe Ghanem, with Jorge Cevallos working his way up to fourth place, having started ninth. As Middlehurst edged clear, the battle intensified for second place.

Taranov’s race came to an early conclusion on lap nine following a high-speed spin off track at Village, briefly giving the place to Ghanem before Taranov’s Scorpio Motorsport team-mate Henrique Baptista gained the place on lap ten, the Brazilian having passed Cevallos a lap earlier.

Baptista lost ground on the next lap though, with Ghanem briefly regaining the place before falling back himself behind Cevallos and Hongwei Cao, the Chinese racer having stormed through the field from seventeenth on the grid.

With Ghanem running wide and sustaining damage, leading to retirement, on the next lap, Cao was able to focus on Cevallos ahead and the Fortec Motorsport driver nipped past at the chicane to take second.

All this time, Middlehurst was streaking away, the BRDC Rising Star crossing the line to win by eleven seconds. Cao just managed to keep Cevallos at bay to the finish to take second, while matching his career best result in fourth was the recovering Baptista.

Matias Galetto capped off a great performance in fifth, with Jamun Racing’s Pietro Fittipaldi taking sixth after a strong run from fourteenth on the grid. His team-mate Diego Menchaca was next up, the Mexican making late progress to finish seventh ahead of Piers Hickin and Matt Rao.

Edward Brand completed the top ten ahead of Shahan Sarkissian and Tom Oliphant, while completing the finishers in thirteenth, a lap down after pitting for a new front wing, was Fortec’s Tan.

Tan’s team-mate Sam MacLeod also had a race to forget, the Snetterton race-winner having started sixteenth after power issues in qualifying, with the problems returning in the race, forcing him to retire as well.

Failing to start the race altogether meanwhile was Matteo Ferrer, a massive accident in the second qualifying session completely destroying his MGR Motorsport-prepared car, forcing him to sit out the remainder of the weekend.

Full race results can be found here:

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Simon provides coverage of the support championships for the BTCC, having been a fixture in the TOCA paddock for over six years.
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