A DAMAGED floor in qualifying ultimately cost Josh Webster the chance to move top of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship after rounds three and four at Brands Hatch.
Overtaking is difficult in single-seat racers at the Kent circuit, meaning the teenager’s hopes of passing were at a premium and he finished second in race one, where he had started.
Webster then took fifth in race two, having qualified sixth, with the damaged front floor having a detrimental effect on his car’s aerodynamics.
The results left the 17-year-old second in the championship, a feeder series for Formula 3, and he remained confident of vastly improving on last year’s overall fourth place.
“It’s been a good day for the championship, but with the nature of Brands Hatch it was impossible to overtake in the second race,” said Webster. “I did try a couple of times, but the track is so narrow and you lose downforce behind people, which makes it impossible.
“People have had worse days in the championship, and I’m looking forward to Oulton Park, which is a really good circuit — hopefully we will be strong there.”
There was so nearly disaster in race one, when two drivers failed to get away from the line and were still being pushed away by marshals when the leaders raced round Clark Curve on to the start-finish straight.
Fortunately, frontrunner Kieran Vernon and second-placed Webster — racing at speeds of almost 100mph — were able to react quickly to avoid what could have been a fatal collision with the marshals.
After the race was belatedly red flagged, they got under way again for a revised 19 laps, but the safety car was needed after just eight when Hillspeed’s Sean Walkinshaw became beached on the gravel at Druids.
Andrew Jarman had also had a big crash into the tyre barrier, but there was little more action after the race resumed and Webster had to settle for runners-up spot, 1.168 seconds behind Fortec team-mate Vernon.
Championship leader James Thorp finished in 10th.
“They came into view when we were doing about 95 or 100 miles per hour,” said Webster of the incident at the start. “It was a bit of a hairy moment.”
After a great start in race two, passing Archie Hamilton for fifth into the first corner, Webster was pipped on the outside of Druids by Steven Durrant.
However, a big smash for Vernon at Graham Hill Bend promoted the Stowmarket race ace back to fifth, where he stayed until the end, with Dino Zamparelli racing to a dominant victory.
The Antel driver was the series’ fourth winner from four rounds this season — Webster won the first at Donnington Park — in an extremely competitive championship.
“I was fourth last year and then won the winter championship,” added Webster, whose car was kitted out in the colour of his main sponsor Nine Telecom Group for the first time. “It’s my second year in it so I am aiming to win it — you can get so much out of winning a championship like this. That’s my main ambition, and if we get some good positions and a couple more wins, I think we should be able to do it.”
Standings (top six with worst result for each driver dropped): James Thorp (MTechlite Ltd) 88; Josh Webster (Fortec) 82; Kieran Vernon (Fortec) 73; Dino Zamparelli (Antel) 72; Steven Durrant (RPD) 69; Archie Hamilton (Fortec) 68.
n There are opportunities to sponsor Josh in his quest for the Formula Renault championship and his motorsport career beyond the series, which could next take in Formula 3.
For more information on these sponsorship opportunities, call Pam Webster on 07917780502