He has been improving consistently as the season has progressed, has Callum Bowyer, so it was only fitting that he should save his finest performance of the 2011 Formula Renault BARC campaign until the Silverstone finale – and in so doing, the talented young Peterborough speed demon secured himself a top ten championship finish for good measure.
With his previous highlight having been a brace of fifth places at Oulton Park and Croft, car racing rookie Callum headed to Silverstone’s National layout bullish about his chances of coming away with an even better result. Unfortunately, after shining in practice, qualifying would transpire to be rather more frustrating.
“I was feeling quietly confident going into the weekend,” he affirmed. “I like Silverstone, and testing there had gone quite well for us, so the aim was to just keep on improving like we have done throughout the year. With it being the last meeting of the season, too, I was keen to finish with a really positive result.
“It was a bit disappointing that when it mattered, we couldn’t do any better than tenth on the grid – we certainly gave ourselves a lot of hard work to do in the races after that! It was a combination of me and the car and consequently not getting the maximum out of either the tyres or the tow – and obviously that showed in the lap time. We improved things before the races, though – and happily, that showed through as well.”
Indeed, the highly-rated Gunthorpe-based hotshot would waste little time in scything his way past a whole host of more experienced adversaries, lapping second-fastest at one stage in race one as he closed inexorably in on the scrap over the final podium position ahead whilst simultaneously controlling the gap behind him like a seasoned veteran. He went on to take the chequered flag an excellent fourth.
“Unlike in some races, nothing was given to me,” Callum revealed. “I had to work for every single position and be careful not to risk losing any time in my overtaking moves because I knew there were drivers right behind me, too. I had to really plan out where and when I was going to make my moves.
“With the National circuit being such a short lap and everyone knowing where to cover, it’s really hard to progress through the field, but it all went well and finishing fourth was a very successful outcome – we were really happy with that. We were so close to the podium at the end of the race, but if we just keep chipping away and making the improvements that we are making, I’m sure our moment will come – it’s just a matter of time.”
The 17-year-old’s pace picked up as his confidence inside the cockpit grew, and that would be further evinced in race two as he expertly showcased his peerless overtaking prowess once again. Following a brilliantly opportunistic opening lap that saw him very nearly steal two positions for the price of one on the run down to Maggots corner, he then briefly slipped outside the top ten as early understeer took its toll.
Once that had disappeared, however, Callum determinedly fought back and bravely re-took ninth place around the outside into Maggots, before snatching eighth and then relieving Hector Hurst of seventh with a late dive from a long way back 11 laps in. Able to lap a lot quicker once he was in clean air, the Antel Motorsport star subsequently homed in on early-season championship leader James Thorp.
When Kourosh Khani went off-piste on the penultimate lap, seventh suddenly became sixth, and Callum’s own personal fastest lap on the very final tour narrowed the deficit to Thorp to a mere four tenths of a second at the flag.
“It was very close around the first lap,” he recalled. “It always gets a little bit tight there, but you just have to try to make your moves and make the biggest impact, because after that, the field spaces out a bit more, which makes it harder to come through.
“Over the first five laps, we were suffering from quite bad understeer, which allowed the drivers behind to close up onto the back of me and the guys ahead to pull away, but once the car came to me and everything got up-to-temperature, it was a case of catching the others unawares. They would have a quick look behind and see I wasn’t quite there, but then when they switched to focussing on the corner ahead, I had time to make the most of the slipstream. Some of my moves were very late, but that’s what I had to do!”
Palpably possessing the confidence to pull such bold manoeuvres off – ‘The car was absolutely perfect,’ he admits – Callum was left afterwards to reflect upon a rookie campaign that culminated with an impressive tenth spot out of the 26 competitors in the final Formula Renault BARC standings. And lest we forget, just 12 months ago, he was still racing a kart – a far cry from the fearsomely-fast single-seater he now calls his office.
“Looking back at the first round at Donington Park where we qualified 18th and 17th, and now we’re finishing fourth and knocking on the door of the podium – I think that says it all, really,” the former double British Karting Champion concluded. “We definitely improved again at Silverstone, and overall, it was our strongest weekend yet. The whole season has been a big learning curve, but I’ve learned so much. I began the year down at the wrong end of the grid, and now look where we are!
“I owe a big ‘thank you’ to Antel Motorsport for having worked so hard with me throughout. To end up tenth is really good – that was the aim all year. After the first round, we were 22nd having scored just two points at Donington, so looking back from then to now, we’ve progressed through half the field and I’m really pleased.
“It is a little disappointing knowing what could have been without the three DNFs, but tenth in our first year in cars considering all the bad luck we’ve had, yeah, I don’t think we can complain too much – and with hopefully a bit more time in the seat, there’s a lot more still to come...”
Callum is seeking sponsorship to help him to continue progressing his burgeoning motor racing career in 2012; if you are interested in supporting him, please contact Tracey Bowyer on 01733 701099 or 07960 400731, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org