Victory and Championship Lead for Webster at Snetterton
MSA Team UK racer Josh Webster made an outstanding start to the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at his home track, Snetterton 200 Circuit, over the weekend, 7th/8th April, by claiming one win and two second places to open up a healthy 16 point lead in the driver standings.
With no preparation prior to the opening three rounds of the season, after striking an eleventh hour deal with MGR Motorsport to make an unexpected but welcome return to the category, last year's Vice-Champion overcame set-up issues in qualifying to star in all three races.
Rising from third on the grid in Saturday afternoon's opening round to take a richly deserved win in tricky, damp conditions, the Stowmarket 18-year-old was runner-up in Sunday's second and third rounds to enjoy a hugely successful start to the new season.
"To win on Saturday was great and if I'd known before the weekend I'd have a win and then two second places I'd have taken that", said Josh after round three, "Huge thanks to MGR and to all of my sponsors, if it wasn't for them we wouldn't have been on the grid at all this weekend."
Regarded as one of the country's top young single-seater talents, the Suffolk racer was due, of course, to compete in the Certina Formula Renault 2.0 UK Championship this year but a decision to postpone the series only three weeks ago - due to low grid numbers - left Josh with few options.
After a race against time, and thanks to the continued support of his portfolio of sponsors headed by Nine Telecom, Admiral Managed Networks and Integra ICT, he was able to secure a deal in the days leading up to this weekend's action to get back on track in Protyre Formula Renault BARC.
Qualifying proved a challenge as Josh piloted a car which was set-up in the expectation of drier conditions towards the end of the damp session. Intermittent rain meant the British Racing Drivers' Club Rising Star had a fight on his hands to secure anything like a front running position but he managed to post the third fastest time for round one and fifth on the grid for rounds two and three.
At the start of the season-opening race on Saturday, Josh made a superb launch from third on the damp track to move into second place and following a mistake for the race leader at the beginning of lap two he duly moved into the lead. On lap six, he was unseated from first place by Scott Malvern at the Esses but Josh moved back ahead on lap 11 and took the win by 4.6 seconds.
Round two was completely dry and the 2011 RSF MSA Young Driver of the Year instantly made progress again by moving up from fifth to fourth off the start. Pressuring third placed team-mate David Wagner hard, Josh grabbed the place on lap two and then took second from Malvern as they headed into the 18th and final lap.
Rain prior to the start of the final race made for difficult conditions but, yet again, Josh made a terrific getaway to climb from fifth into second through the first corner. Holding the place comfortably, he was never challenged throughout and sealed his third podium in as many races.
"MGR did an amazing job to put the car together in two days flat before coming here as the deal was so late, now we've got the chance to strip it down completely and improve it for Rockingham", said Josh, "Hopefully we can have an even better weekend there and really show what we're capable of."
Rounds four and five of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship will take place over the weekend 19th/20th May at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.
Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd3): 1st Josh Webster, 88pts