Almost 20 cars will line-up on the grid at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent this weekend, 20th/21st October, for the opening two rounds of the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin – which will support the British Touring Car Championship season finale. More Formula Renault 2.0 cars are expected to enter rounds three and four at Rockingham in three weeks time taking the grid above 20.
Heading the 19-strong entry this weekend with four cars is Fortec Motorsports and among the team’s line-up will be one of the favourites for the title, Seb Morris (Marford, Wrexham) who concluded the main series third overall with five wins to his credit.
Morris, who arrives at Brands Hatch off the back of a visit to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium last weekend where he debuted in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup, will be joined by main season team-mates Hong Wei Cao (Stoke-on-Trent) and local racer Laura Tillett (West Malling) along with Protyre Formula Renault BARC newcomer Jack Aitken (Kensington, London).
Five teams will field two-car entries with Hillspeed retaining French-based Briton Matt Rao, who debuted with the team during the 2012 championship finale at Silverstone two weeks ago, to run alongside category rookie George Gamble (Nottingham) who makes a return to track action after a six-month lay-off following his withdrawal from the Ginetta Junior Championship in April.
MGR Motorsport has confirmed two cars, one for the returning Matt Mason (Nottingham) who achieved a race victory during his maiden season in Protyre Formula Renault BARC in 2011. He will team-up with Swedish racer Gustav Malja who makes his competitive UK debut at the weekend off the back of becoming Vice-Champion in the ADAC Formel Masters Championship.
Two more entries come from MTECH Lite with Sean Walkinshaw (Chipping Norton) and Lebanese driver Joe Ghanem both remaining with the squad. The former, son of the late Tom Walkinshaw, will be aiming to add to the podium he attained in the 2011 Winter Series while Ghanem will be bidding for his first top 10 finish in the category.
Cliff Dempsey Racing fields Team USA Scholarship winner Matthew Brabham, grandson of triple Formula One World Champion Sir Jack Brabham, who made such an impressive debut in Protyre Formula Renault BARC at Silverstone in the main season finale with a top six finish. The American-born Australian will be joined by Aussie newcomer Olly Rae (Birmingham).
Cullen Motorsport, the squad which took Scott Malvern to the 2012 Protyre Formula Renault BARC title, fields one car for Ryan Cullen (Wedmore, Somerset), although the Jamun Racing team – which provides support to Cullen – will make its ‘official’ debut in the series with Formula Ford race winner Luke Williams (Sowerby, Thirsk).
Experienced category racer Ivan Taranov (Oxford) will drive for Core Motorsport and the Russian will be joined there by the improving Michael Epps (Hemel Hempstead) who took a season best fourth place at Silverstone a fortnight ago with JWA-Avila.
Concluding the entry is double podium finisher Chris Middlehurst (St. Helens) with his family-run Middlehurst Motorsport GTR squad, SWB Motorsport field series rookie Cameron Twynham (Market Harborough) and new squad Kingdom Motorsport has entered a car for Anton Spires (Buckingham).
Commenting on the strong grid for the opening two rounds of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Winter Series with Michelin, championship promoter Simon North said: “Achieving a grid of 20 cars for the Winter Series is absolutely fantastic and I’d like to take this chance to thank our teams for such hard work over the past couple of weeks.
“They haven’t had a huge amount of time to agree deals with drivers since the conclusion of the main championship, so to have 19 on the grid at Brands Hatch this weekend really is testament once again to the strength of the series and the great value it offers. We’re delighted to be supporting the British Touring Car Championship again and looking forward to two fantastic races on the GP track.”
Qualifying for rounds one and two of the Winter Series will take place on Saturday, 20th October, at 09.00 and 12.45 respectively with the first race of the weekend following at 16.10. Round two, which will be screened live on ITV4, ITV4 HD and streamed online at itv.com/btcc, will get underway at 13.10 on Sunday, 21st October.
Along with headline sponsor Protyre, Formula Renault BARC is additionally supported by Michelin, The Lubricant Consultancy, Petronas Syntium and NGK Spark Plugs.