Mixed fortunes for a determined Webb as he ends rookie WSR season on a high

Posted on in Latest News

10 October 2011

 Mixed fortunes for a determined Webb as he ends rookie WSR season on a high







Track:                           Circuit dé Catalunya, Spain

Track length:                4.655 km (2.892 mile)

Date:                            Friday 7 – Sunday 9 October, 2011

Race 1:                         29 laps

Qualifying:                    Pos: 8; Time: 1m 33.246s  + 0.682s

Result:                          Pos: DNF

Race 2:                         26 laps            

Qualifying:                    Pos: 17; Time: 1m 33.661s  + 1.318s

Result:                          Pos: 6; + 20.945s

It was a weekend of highs and lows for British racer Oli Webb at the final race meeting of the 2011 World Series by Renault (WSR) season at the Circuit dé Catalunya, Spain. After his strongest qualifying performance of the year, Webb was forced to retire from the weekend’s first race, while a difficult second qualifying spurred the young rookie on to end the season on a high, finishing in sixth place.

The MSA Elite driver made a strong start to the weekend, quickly feeling comfortable with his car set-up and optimising track time throughout free practice. This put him in a strong position ahead of qualifying for the first race of the weekend and, running on a new set of tyres, Webb was immediately challenging the front-runners. Consistently competitive lap times throughout the session saw him looking good for a top 10 grid slot , and as the chequered flag fell, the 20-year old rookie was in a eighth place, alongside PONS Racing team mate Nick Yelloly.

A difficult start to the race saw Webb lose a place off the line, but he showed his true determination and regained eighth place into turn one, and made up a further two positions by turn four running close behind Yelloly. However, as Webb approached the turn 10 hairpin, a late move by Anton Nebylitskiy saw the Russian outbrake himself and make contact with the fast-charging Brit.  This impact caused a puncture and extensive damage to the rear suspension of Webb’s car bringing his race to a premature end.

Looking to put the disappointment of Race 1 behind him, Webb showed real pace in the second qualifying session of the weekend. Webb was again near the top of time sheets from the start of the session, and after his initial run he was sitting in third place. The BRDC Superstar was feeling increasingly confident in the dry conditions around the 4.655 km circuit and, on his second run of the session on a new set of tyres, he posted the fastest time overall. However, an electrical fault cut this run short and Webb was forced back to the pits as the session approached the end, meaning he was unable to improve his time and had to watch as he dropped back through the field, finally ending the session in 17th.

An extremely strong start to race two saw Webb immediately move forward two places on the run down to the first corner, and he continued this charge taking two further positions with a bold move up the inside of turn three. He then set about chasing down 12th position, before the deployment of the safety car saw him hold position as the grid was closed up. After the restart, Webb was stuck in 13th for a number of laps, behind Kevin Kourjous who was struggling with a gearbox problem.  Once he made his way past, Webb set about closing the gap to the group in front.  Making the most of the clear track, he pushed hard and posted a number of extremely quick lap times before making a scheduled pitstop for new rear tyres.

A quick stop by the PONS Racing team, and a clean exit, saw Webb rejoin the track in sixth place, and the Knutsford-born star then started to work on the gap up to the group of three cars in front battling over third. Despite pushing hard, and making the most of the extra grip offered by his new tyres, Webb was unable to progress any further through the field, crossing the line in sixth place, and as second placed rookie.

After the final race weekend of his rookie World Series by Renault season, Webb explained: ‘This has been a really mixed weekend for me and the team, but overall I am pleased with how we’ve performed.  We showed some real pace throughout qualifying and things looked good for the first race but we had some really bad luck, simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  We were really unfortunate in second qualifying, which set us back for today, but it was a great race and to be able to move up through the field and finish with my best result of the year, and on the rookie podium in the last race, is a great way to end the season.

Webb continued: ‘The PONS Racing team has really helped me this weekend, and throughout the whole season. It’s been a steep learning curve, but we have really progressed and this weekend has shown some of our true potential. I’m really glad I could get on the podium for what is the team’s home race – a great end to what has been a fantastic season.’

This sixth-place finish earns Webb eight championship points, and takes his season total to 17 overall. Webb finishes the season 21st in the overall standings.

Webb now heads to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the U.S. state of Nevada to prepare ahead of his competitive oval track-racing debut this weekend, 14-16 October, in the Firestone Indy Lights championship finale with ExpoSystems Team Jensen.

For more information on Oliver Webb, and to track his progress throughout the remainder of this season, visit http://www.oliwebbracing.com/ or follow him on twitter, www.twitter.com/oliverjameswebb