Stowmarket’s Josh Webster endured a luckless second event of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship season at Rockingham in Northamptonshire over the weekend, 19th/20th May, but the MSA Team UK driver still managed to score enough points to remain in the coveted series top three.Arriving at the Corby venue with a 14 point championship lead, having taken one win and two other podiums during the season-opening race meeting at Snetterton in early April, the 18-year-old had realistic hopes of continuing his excellent start to the campaign.Everything started to unravel for the MGR Motorsport racer though in the very first qualifying session on Saturday, a spinning car at Turn One of the oval banking leaving the British Racing Drivers’ Club Rising Star with nowhere to go and the resulting impact almost wrecked his FR 2.0 car.Forced to miss the second session due to the severity of the damage, Josh had to start round four from an uncharacteristic 16th on the grid while for round five he had to line-up at the rear of the 28 car field with an absolute mountain to climb in just 15 scheduled laps.Gaining several places in quick order in the first race on Sunday, despite his front wing collapsing, Josh moved into 11th by lap four and following a mid-race Safety Car period he broke into the top 10 on the 13th tour. During the last couple of laps, the wing problems became more severe leading to greater and greater understeer but he managed to wrestle his car to the finish in 13th position.His start to round five was nothing short of sensational, Josh managing to climb 12 places up the order into 16th position before moving into 14th by lap three – meaning he had overtaken half the 28 car field by the third racing lap!Soon after though at Tarzan Hairpin, he was unceremoniously hit from behind under braking and pitched into a spin which relegated him to the tail of the field. In the end, he managed to battle his way back into the top 20 to achieve a couple of extremely hard-earned points.Even though carrying damage to his car and locked in the lower order, the Nine Group, Admiral Solutions & Support and Integra ICT-backed racer managed to lap within just 0.4 seconds of the race winner’s pace – proof of what would have been possible without the catalogue of misfortune.
“It all spiralled off from the crash in qualifying, it was a really big shunt and the team did an amazing job to get the car back together”, said Josh, “The bad luck didn’t end there though. In the first race we had a problem with the front-wing detaching itself right from the start of the race, so I had monumental understeer which worsened throughout the race making it almost impossible to drive.“In the second race I’d had an awesome first three laps, making up 14 places, but into Tarzan someone just smashed into me and I had to wait for everyone else to go by before I could spin the car round. It’s been an awful, awful weekend but you still have to take away the positives – at least we scored some points!”He added: “The team did a fantastic job, massive thanks to Peter my engineer, Mark my mechanic and everyone else at the team for their hard work. It’s really gutting to have lost the championship lead through no fault of our own, but at least we took a few points and can maybe use one of these races as our drop score at the end of the year. We need to focus now on bouncing back at the next round.”There is now a four week break in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship calendar with rounds six and seven of the season taking place on Sunday, 17th June, at Thruxton in Hampshire.Provisional 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship Driver Standings (after Rd5):3rd Josh Webster, 99pts