AS HANCOCK EXTENDS SERIES LEAD
Northern Ireland’s Nathan Coulter (Hillsborough) and Germany’s Johannes Seidlitz (Skegness) took one win apiece in rounds six and seven of the 2008 Formula Renault BARC Championship at Croft on Sunday, 20th July. Championship leader Ollie Hancock (Hook) scored two podiums to extend his lead in the FR2000 Class standings to 34 points to new second-placed man Seidlitz.
In Club Class, Steven Durrant (Rayleigh) took two victories ahead of Fraser Smart (Kilsyth) and Edward Heinzelmann (Royston) to cut Smart’s lead in the Club Class standings to just five points with Heinzelmann only eight points further back.
Round six saw pole-sitter Coulter make a perfect start to lead the field into Clervaux for the first time. Mark Burdett Motorsport’s Seidlitz slotted into second with Alpine Motorsport’s Bahraini driver Isa Yousif (Southampton) passing Hillspeed’s Menasheh Idafar (London) for fourth. Hillspeed’s Ahmad Al Harthy (Hathersage) passed Mark Burdett’s James Dixon (Stockbury) for fifth, while Durrant took the Club Class lead from Smart on lap two.
SSS Motorsport’s Lee Dwyer (Huddersfield) passed Taro Motorsport’s Ash Davies (Conwy) at Tower Bend for ninth as the top eight broke away. Idafar passed Yousif at the Hairpin, while Al Harthy and Apotex Scorpio Motorsport’s Hancock, who had climbed from 11th on the grid, touched wheels on the exit of the Hairpin but remained sixth and seventh.
On lap six, Idafar made a bid for second place but tagged the back of Seidlitz, spinning the German out of the race with a puncture and breaking his own front wing. Dixon then came through to take second ahead of Yousif and Al Harthy as Idafar dropped back, while Coulter took advantage to build a huge eight-second lead.
A tremendous race continued with Yousif also struggling with an offset front wing, while Hancock and Dixon took to the grass after the latter suffered a puncture exiting the chicane. Al Harthy was now second ahead of Idafar and HS Motorsport/Antel’s Brett Parris (Southampton), while Hancock passed Yousif on the inside at the Hairpin.
In Club Class, there was still nothing to separate Durrant and Smart with the lead changing hands throughout the race. Heinzelmann’s pace dropped in the second half of the race but he was comfortably in third ahead of Adrian Dixon (Harpenden) and Steve Hanselman (Mayland).
The end of lap 12 saw Hancock gain another place at the Hairpin as a wide entry preceded a tight exit to pass Parris for fourth. Coulter began the last lap with an 11.5s lead, while Durrant went past Smart at Clervaux for a decisive lead. At the chequered flag, Coulter took victory from Al Harthy by 12.003s with Idafar less than one second further back.
After the race, Idafar was excluded following contact with both Seidlitz and James Dixon at the Hairpin, with punctures effectively ending the Mark Burdett Motorsport duo’s races when they had been lying second.
Round six winner Nathan Coulter said: “I hadn’t tested at Croft until this weekend so I’m very happy to get m first victory in Formula Renault BARC. In the first few laps I tried to get my head down and open a gap and I then kept calm to pull away later in the race.”
Second win for Seidlitz
Round seven saw Coulter bog down on the outside of the front row, while Idafar got away cleanly from pole position as a rain shower made conditions slippery. At the first corner, Idafar was spun into retirement in the gravel in an incident that also ended the races of his Hillspeed team-mates Al Harthy and Michael Lyons (Felsted), plus Lee Dwyer.
Having started 10th, Hancock immediately gained five places due to the retirements and Coulter’s poor start before going round the outside of Davies at Tower to lie fourth at the end of lap one behind Seidlitz, Yousif and Dixon. Durrant held the Club Class lead in 14th place overall, while Smart was again in a titanic battle, this time for second with Heinzelmann.
Coulter’s recovery drive began on lap four as he passed Davies at Tower for fifth place. On the following lap an identical move saw Hancock take third from Dixon after two failed attempts on the previous laps. Behind Coulter, Alpine’s Kenny Andrews (Orsett) passed Davies for sixth and then closed on Coulter and Dixon. Meanwhile, Hancock quickly caught and passed Yousif for second place at Tower.
In clear air, Hancock set the fastest lap to that point but Seidlitz hit back on the following lap to re-establish his 2.8s lead. In midfield, Welch Motorsport’s Kourosh Khani (Corby) held 11th place at the head of a train including Alpine’s Jordi Weckx (Southampton), Pearson Engineering Services’ Ian Pearson (Didcot) and Durrant, who was keeping up with the FR2000 Class cars.
Lap nine saw Coulter lock a wheel at the Complex allowing Andrews to take fifth before the Ulsterman hit back at Clervaux with a bold move. As backmarkers came into play, Dixon took third from Yousif on lap 11 and Seidlitz negotiated the traffic better than Hancock to open a 4.2s gap at the head of the race.
Lap 12 saw Heinzelmann briefly take second in Club Class before Smart hit back to regain the position. Yousif then passed Dixon for third place with Coulter coming up behind in fifth. As the final lap began, Coulter clipped the back of Dixon’s car but both cars continued. The contact allowed Yousif to cement third place, while Coulter went on to spin at the final hairpin and drop to a disappointing ninth place behind Tempus Sport’s impressive debutant Niki Faulkner (Rushdon).
For Seidlitz, it was a comfortable 4.305s win from Hancock with Yousif just over 10 seconds adrift in third. Dixon edged out Andrews and Parris in the top six, while Durrant came home 14th overall to lead Club Class. Smart was some eight seconds behind, edging out Heinzelmann by 0.233s to cap an absorbing battle.
Commenting after the race, Johannes Seidlitz said: “This win makes up for the disappointment earlier when I lost a podium place. I made a good start and with the problems behind me I was able to break away. Ollie came back at me but once I was through the traffic I could hold the lead.”
Championship leader Ollie Hancock said: “After qualifying 11th and 10th, to come away with two podiums is a great weekend. I knew wins were virtually out of the question barring a lot of rain but I needed to make up as many places as I could. I have to thank the team for making changes to give me a car that made it possible.”
Double Club Class winner Steven Durrant said: “The weekend went as well as possible for me. The first race was a great fight with Fraser and we did accidentally touch a couple of times. In race two I wanted to race with Ian Pearson and the other FR2000 Class cars but my team told me to back off, which was a shame in one way but the right thing to do for the championship.”
Provisional FR2000 Class drivers’ standings – round seven
1 Ollie Hancock GBR Apotex Scorpio Motorsport 87 pts 2 Johannes Seidlitz GER Mark Burdett Motorsport 53 pts 3 Isa Yousif BRN Alpine Motorsport 48 pts 4 Menasheh Idafar GBR Hillspeed 48 pts 5 Brett Parris GBR HS Motorsport/Antel 35 pts 6 Ahmad Al Harthy OMA Hillspeed 34 pts 7 Ash Davies GBR Taro Motorsport 30 pts 8 James Dixon GBR Mark Burdett Motorsport 26 pts 9 Lee Dwyer GBR SSS Motorsport 25 pts 10 Nathan Coulter GBR Driver 24 pts
Provisional Club Class drivers’ standings – Round seven
1 Fraser Smart GBR Driver 93 pts 2 Steven Durrant GBR Muzz Race 88 pts 3 Edward Heinzelmann GBR Heuthsports of Royston 80 pts 4 Adrian Dixon GBR Driver 44 pts
The Formula Renault BARC Championship has two classes within it. The FR2000 Class is for 2006-specification FR2.0 cars. Club Class is for pre-2000 Formula Renault cars.
For all the latest Formula Renault BARC Championship news visit the official Renault Sport UK website www.renaultsport.co.ukbuilt by Racecar