Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship returnee Jack Dex (Daventry) starred during official pre-season testing at a warm and sunny Silverstone this afternoon, Tuesday, 27th March, by heading the timesheets almost a full second inside the existing category lap record.
With a very healthy 22 cars on track for the championship’s annual Media Day, the SWB Motorsport driver lapped the 1.64-mile National Circuit in 55.449 seconds (106.50mph) to just shade the equally impressive Macaulay Walsh (Northampton) in his Scorpio Motorsport car by a mere 0.095 seconds.
“What an awesome day, I can’t believe it”, said an elated Dex, “We didn’t have a great year last year, it was a bit of a learning curve and then I had to have my foot operated on after shattering my ankle in a quad bike accident. This is a great result for the team, everything’s come together and hopefully this is where we can be on the grid for the first round at Snetterton!”
For Walsh, who was only able to contest half of the 2011 season due to serious budget difficulties, his top two performance served as a strong reminder of not only his ability but also that of 2008 and 2009 champions Scorpio.
“We started off the day pretty good to be fair and we just got faster and faster”, said Walsh, “In the last run we went for a qualifying type run, it was good but I messed up the last sector a bit so that was disappointing. Other than that, it’s been a good day. For Snetterton I definitely want a podium, if not a win.”
Third fastest today was Fortec Motorsports driver Seb Morris (Marford, Wrexham), the reigning Ginetta Junior Champion just 0.2 seconds outside Dex’s pace and fractionally ahead of Mexican team-mate Diego Menchaca – the latter the quickest of the five international drivers in attendance.
“Third is ok but we should have been quicker”, said Morris, “As we went to go out today, we found some problems with the rear-right on the car so that lost us quite a lot of track time compared to everyone else. We ran first on new tyres, everyone else then put new tyres on when the track was slightly cooler so I slipped from first to third. I’m still happy with that though, the car is really good.”
Antel Motorsport’s Ivan Taranov (Oxford) was fifth fastest with MGR Motorsport’s David Wagner (Glasgow) rounding out a top six split by little more than 0.4 seconds. In fact the top 18 cars were all within one second of the outright pace to underline the competitiveness of the championship.
Privateer Cup to run in 2012…and more new names expected
One of the best performances of the test at Silverstone today undoubtedly came from privateer runner Max Robinson (Northampton) who concluded the three and a half hour session a fantastic seventh overall with a best lap of 55.889 seconds (105.66mph).
Fellow privateer Oliver Sirrell (Ingateston, Essex) made strong progress throughout too and ended up just 0.4 seconds outside Robinson’s pace in 16th place overall. Good news for the pairing is the announcement today of the re-introduction of the Privateer Cup for 2012 so both will be able to enjoy battling for the ‘championship within a championship’.
“I’m pretty happy, we’ve done well today”, commented Robinson, “We haven’t been out that much this year, we’ve done a couple of test days and did the race here last year but that’s it. We didn’t really get the luck we needed in the last run, I had a bit of traffic so we couldn’t put the lap in we wanted, but to be P7 I can’t complain – I couldn’t be happier with how things have gone really.”
Along with the newly confirmed signings of Dex and Walsh to bolster the already impressively strong 2012 grid, SWB also fielded Ginetta graduate Louise Richardson (Grantham) who ended the test a highly creditable 15th fastest, just 0.7 seconds shy of the pace. She earned the mantle of the fastest of the female drivers with Fortec’s Laura Tillett (West Malling, Kent) concluding the day 21st overall.
Rounds one, two and three of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship will take place at Snetterton in Norfolk on 7th/8th April.