The Formula Renault UK Championship is set to return to UK shores next year.
Backed by British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) and French car giant, Renault, the reinvigorated series will utilise all-carbon Signatech chassis and a class of 1.6-litre, 140hp Twingo Renaultsport engines.
Aimed at drivers between the ages of 16 and 19, the series will market itself as a post-karting / pre-Formula Renault 2.0 or Formula 3 category. When finalised, the 18-20 race calendar is set to fix a break during examination periods, in order to promote minimum study disruption those competitors still in school.
Drivers who join the series will also be required to sign up to an MSA-monitored fitness programme and will also receive training in media relations, sponsorship procurement and presentation skills.
It is an interesting launch, although one must again question the need for yet another junior category in the UK.
Although the BRDC Formula 4 category has filled grids for its inaugural season through very low costs, there is still little indication as to how this will perform in the long run. With that, the renewed Formula Ford category has struggled to obtain more than twelve entrants per round this year.
BARC have been running the Protyre Formula Renault series in the UK this year, also with relatively small grids; however that has been more of a stepping stone to fill the void left by the original FRUK at the end of 2011. Rather than being a strict replacement for the Protyre series, it is believe the new FRUK series could run parallel to the existing Formula Renault UK series.
Championship manager Simon North commented, “We’re thrilled to announce the birth of the Formula Renault UK 1.6 Championship, it’s the perfect category to bridge the gap which currently exists in Britain between karting and the higher levels of junior single-seater racing, such as Formula Renault 2.0,” while also adding, “Formula Renault 1.6 is an inexpensive first step for drivers coming out of karting to take and, most importantly, the car is a proven, incredibly safe, fully carbon chassis.
“We didn’t want to see drivers as young as 16 racing having to develop a brand new car, so a proven chassis with an excellent safety record was the only option for Renaultsport and the BARC.”
North maintains that the new Formula Renault category will be more than just another championship in an already cluttered market. “Not since the 1990s has there been a strong, truly ‘junior’ formula in UK motorsport. But we’re not just introducing another car and another championship, we’re bringing a different direction, with fully linked programmes, which enable drivers to have maximum focus on their education at the same time as setting off on the path towards a professional motor racing career.”
He concluded, “Our aim is for the Formula Renault UK 1.6 Championship to prepare drivers for Formula Renault 2.0, which is why we’ll be reviewing our existing 2.0-litre category to see what steps we can take to maintain a proper progression between the two.”