2013 SEASON REVIEW: BRSCC MAZDA MX-5 CHAMPIONNSHIP
Tom Roche is the man when it comes to racing an MX-5! Photo: Jon Elsey
Unstoppable Welsh flyer Tom Roche was the man in form as he notched up his third successive MX-5 championship and eighth overall Mazda title.
Once again, nobody could hold a candle to the Cardiff-based driver who claimed the 2013 crown at Donington Park with two rounds still to run. The Mazda maestro was in a class of his own, winning 14 of the 19 races throughout the year, despite a mid-season wobble when James Blake-Baldwin rose to the fore taking five wins beginning at a very damp Cadwell Park. It was a shame that his campaign was not a complete one, and it was it was left to Brett Smith one of only a handful of drivers to truly challenge Roche this year, Alan Henderson and Alex Preston to vie for second, third and fourth position in the final round at Silverstone.
The never-dull season went right down to the wire, with Henderson and Preston equal on points going into the final race to determine who would take third in the championship behind Smith. In the end, Henderson clinched that particular battle and in the top ten final standings were also Charlie Charman, Simon Goddard, Will Blackwell-Chambers and newcomer Johnathan Clements. It was heartening to see drivers maturing and progressing in leaps and bounds, including Clements, Blackwell-Chambers and Dan Rogers.
Another driver to show promise was Ed Gay and had it not been for a costly accident at Anglesey that brought about a premature end to his season, he could arguably have stayed at the sharp end for longer.
The question remains; is there anyone out there who can take the fight to Roche next year, and add their name to the roll of honour?
After the BRSCC took on the mantle of running the UK’s premier MX-5 championship, the 19-round adventure started in April at Rockingham and showcased spectacularly close racing throughout the field as a key feature. Living up to its reputation as a firm favourite with club racers and spectators alike, the Mazda boys (and girl Jade Edwards) didn’t hold back from challenging each other bumper to bumper, door handle to door handle on the UK’s premier circuits.
The programme took the 68 registered drivers around the country, from Snetterton in the east to Anglesey in the west, and Brands Hatch in the south to Croft in the north, finishing in style in October at Silverstone.
The sheer number of entrants led to a new-for-2013 split grid system at certain rounds which proved popular with the drivers and offered some midfielders the chance of podium glory.
Affordability has always been key to MX-5 racing and the basically standard 1600cc Mazda MX-5s are strictly policed to ensure a level playing field for all, where driver talent is allowed to shine through. Hence, this is a real drivers’ championship, which produces a friendly rivalry on track that also stretches into the paddock. The whole BRSCC Mazda experience also benefitted from a dedicated race day coordination team, hospitality, competitions, TV, photography and online coverage that combined to make it yet another vintage year for MX-5 racing in the UK.
Summing up a great inaugural season, Championship coordinator Drew Furlong said, “Almost 70 drivers have competed this year and we have a very worthy champion in Tom Roche. I’d like to say a big thank you to all of the drivers and teams who put their trust in us to deliver such a good championship. I promise that 2014 is going to be even better!”