Privateer racer Brett Paris (Southampton) set the early pace by going quickest during pre-season testing in the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship at Rockingham Motor Speedway on Wednesday, 29th April. The 20-year-old driver, who returns to the single-seater Championship after finishing sixth last season, posted the fastest time in both the morning and afternoon sessions, his best at 1min 18.343s (89.14mph average).
Northern Ireland’s Josh Mulholland (Randalstown), one of six independent drivers competing in the Privateer Cup, went second quickest for the day with Tempus Sport’s Callum Holland (Quainton, Buckinghamshire) third fastest around the 1.94-mile International circuit.
The morning session at the Northampton track got underway in glorious sunshine. Paris quickly went to the top of the timesheets showing good early pace before setting what would become the fastest time for the session on his 28th lap with a 1min 19.060s (88.33mph average). Hillspeed’s James Theodore (Telford) went second fastest with Mulholland, Reon Motorsport’s British/Italian driver Dino Zamparelli (Bristol) and Apotex Scorpio’s Joe Crook (Hailsham) – running in the same team which guided Ollie Hancock to the title in 2008 – also among the leading drivers.
The opening session was also an opportunity for drivers to familiarise themselves with the use of a Safety Car – a New Laguna Coupé – which is being introduced for the 2009 season, bringing the low-cost Championship in line with the national-level Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship. Formula Renault BARC is also widely recognised as a feeder series to Formula Renault UK with nine out of the 29 drivers this year having previously raced in the club-level series.
The three-hour afternoon test session saw the track temperature drop following an increase in cloud cover. Paris once again went to the top of the timesheets setting the fastest time of the day – a full 0.778s quicker than his closest rival.
A consistent Mulholland also continued his positioning at the top as did Holland, Theodore and Zamparelli. Returning driver Don de Graaff (Weybridge) also showed good pace for Tempus Sport.
Commenting after the second session, Paris said: “I’m a fan of the Rockngham circuit having ran well here last year. We’d set a target time of half a second quicker than the rest of the field so to go almost eight tenths faster is fantastic and a credit to the team and how well the car is running. It’s given me a huge boost in confidence going into the first round at Oulton Park and shown that despite being a one-car team we can still go quick.”
The first round of the Protyre Formula Renault BARC Championship takes place at Cheshire’s Oulton Park circuit on Saturday, 23rd May.