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DOMINANT WEBSTER BECOMES FORMULA RENAULT BARC WINTER CHAMPION

Emerging motor racing talent Josh Webster capped off his first year of single-seater action perfectly at Pembrey in South Wales on Sunday, 14th November, by sealing his maiden championship crown with a dominant success in the Formula Renault BARC Winter Series.

Over the course of the six round campaign Josh, who hails from Stowmarket in Suffolk, has been the class of the field and during this weekend’s action he delivered a series of strong performances in tricky conditions to take four podiums from the four races contested – including a class victory.

In the end he earned the title by an extremely healthy 22 points and, added to that, he sealed the BARC Class pole position for all four Pembrey races by significant margins and also set the fastest lap in each encounter with seriously dominant pace.

All told, the MSA Academy driver won half of the Winter Championship races and finished runner-up in the other three – a tremendous tally which will hopefully go a long way to helping him secure the required financial backing to graduate to the premier Formula Renault UK Championship in 2011.

“It’s incredible to win the title, I’m very happy to have done it but actually pretty frustrated as well as I had an unassailable lead in the first race on Saturday before red flags were shown and we had a stoppage. The win was there for sure, I was over a second a lap quicker than the others, but at the re-start I got boxed in behind some of the UK Class cars and that cost me.

“We should have won at least two of the races this weekend but we showed dominant pace and I proved what I can do. As always huge thanks to my sponsors – Nine Telecom Group, Sunwise, Admiral Voice and Data, Synergy One, Melbek Technology, Norfolkline Ferries, Everyone Active and Flying Saucer – for their great support and to all the guys at Fortec Motorsport for a great car.”

During qualifying for rounds three and four on Saturday, 13th November, Josh took his first BARC Class pole position of the series by 0.5 seconds and his second best time of the session was also good enough for pole again, this time by four 10ths of a second.

In the first race of the weekend he enjoyed a strong opening lap but the racing was interrupted almost immediately with the appearance of the Safety Car. The re-start came on lap four but as the encounter reached its scheduled mid-distance, the red flags were shown and racing had to cease due to a stranded car on the track.

Having built a clear lead in the BARC Class, the stoppage was especially frustrating for Josh and after a delay round three got back underway. By virtue of his great performance prior to the red flags, he lined up on the new grid in among UK Class cars and this worked against him at the re-start as he got boxed-in at the first corner. Having to settle for second place at the finish, he did set the fastest lap of 54.661 seconds (95.89mph).

In round four Josh ran second in class throughout and just missed out on the BARC victory by a mere 0.6 seconds, although he did secure the bonus points for fastest lap with a time of 54.475 seconds (96.22mph). Furthermore, he took the chequered flag on lap 20 over four seconds clear of one of the quicker UK Championship specification cars – underlining his pace and performance.

Sunday morning’s wet qualifying session saw Josh take the BARC Class pole position for round five by a full 0.6 seconds while his second best time was an even better 0.7 seconds quicker than his nearest rival could manage, giving him his fourth pole of the winter series for round six.

Holding his lead at the start of round five, Josh was never troubled as he eased to a winning margin of almost two seconds with a very impressive drive. Yet again, he also took the bonus points for fastest lap – 1m00.242 seconds (87.00mph) – underlining his prowess.

Lining up on the class pole for the last race of the winter series, the Suffolk A-level student hoped to conclude the championship on a winning high but a drying track made tyre choice critical and that proved to be the decisive factor in determining the outcome.

Conditions improved throughout the day after a very wet start to proceedings and with a drying line ever more prevalent, Fortec opted to run Josh on slick rubber which looked to be the correct choice. Due to a couple of Safety Car periods during the 25-minute race though, those on wet-weather tyres were able to maintain more performance than would ordinarily have been the case.

For that reason, Josh had to settle for the runner-up spot but was only a second shy of the class win at the chequered flag. Reeling in the leader at a rate of two seconds a lap, he missed out on the win by a fraction but again had the consolation of the fastest BARC lap of 58.893 seconds (89.00mph) – quicker than five of the UK Class runners and on a par with at least half a dozen others from the headline class who were also on slick tyres.

Final 2010 Formula Renault UK Winter Championship – BARC Class driver standings: Champion: Josh Webster, 52pts