2015 SEASON REVIEW: TOYO TIRES HONDA VTEC CHALLENGE


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Marc Kemp's ex-BTCC Honda Civic was a regular VTEC Challenge front-runner – Photo: Lindsay Fletcher

2015 saw the Honda VTEC Challenge enter into its 5th competitive year, but it was to be our first running with the BRSCC. With a bumper crop of drivers lining up for the season, the year stretched out in front of us promising plenty of action and excitement along the way.

With a great calendar consisting of the usual 7 rounds provided by the team at the BRSCC, everyone was excited about the year ahead and with AJK TV filming the exploits for airing on Motors TV, drivers would be able play back their races over and over again.

The opening rounds at Silverstone saw a welcome return for many of last year’s drivers as well as those trying out for the first time. Overall race wins went the way of Rob Burkinshaw in his DC5 which dominated 2014. Matthew Walker took runner up spot in each race, whilst 3rd was shared between Phil Wright and Martyn Kemp who was taking place in his first competitive event.

It was on to Rockingham for Rounds 3 & 4 where grids continued to grow, with more new drivers looking to make their 2015 debut. With a car only finished the night before, Martyn Kemps Civic (driven by son Marc) promised great things, but gremlins side lined the car at turn 1. Rob Burkinshaw and Peter Dixon would dice for the win throughout both races, with Dixon taking a brace of wins. Following on from 3rd overall at Silverstone, Phil Wright would go on to add another 3rd place in race one, whilst Kemp came through the pack to take 3rd overall in race 2.

The series headed to Snetterton for Rounds 5 & 6 and with a freshly rebuilt ex BTCC Civic at his disposal, Marc Kemp pulled out two race wins. For race 1, the popular S2000 of Mark Bennett fought hard against stiff competition for 2nd place with Martyn Kemp in his supercharged “Super Tuner” Civic took the final podium. The Integra of Burkinshaw suffered contact which saw an uncharacteristic retirement and needing repairs in between races. With rain falling for the second race, it would be anyone’s guess as to who would emerge victorious. Although Marc Kemp would eventually secure a second overall win in his car’s debut, it wouldn’t be without drama as Burkinshaw stormed through from the back of the grid in the tricky conditions. Picking off the drivers in front, Burkinshaw climbed to 2nd place before the chequered flag fell. First time entrant Chris Adams took the final podium step.

Rounds 7 & 8 was our first ever visit to the popular circuit of Castle Combe, where we were met with a great entry list and supporting crowd. After a tricky start Marc Kemp went on to secure another win, whilst Rob Burkinshaw never gave up hope to take 2nd place with local driver Matthew Walker an impressive 3rd. Disaster at the start of race 2, saw Kemp hand over the race to the charging Burkinshaw, who went on to pull out a handsome lead for the race win. Local duo Matthew Walker and Dan Ludlow battled for the entire 15 minutes of race two, finishing with Walker taking 2nd and Ludlow 3rd.

Brands Hatch was home for rounds 9 & 10, with a continually growing grid making the trip to Kent. Marc Kemp continued with his winning form after overcoming a problematic start, where his Civic bogged down on the line. Burkinshaw and Bennett (who had returned for the latest meeting) went on to take 2nd and 3rd overall respectively after a race long battle. A retirement from race 2 saw Burkinshaw out of the running and Marc Kemp again out in front for the win. Mark Bennett secured 2nd place in race 2 and with a storming drive through from the back of the grid was Stewart Hutchinson in his rapid DC2 Integra.

Rounds 11 and 12 saw the competitors and teams head off to Mallory Park in Leicestershire for the first time in 4 years. On the back of a successful Brands Hatch, Marc Kemp went on to secure a race one win, with Stewart Hutchinson hustling hard for 2nd place overall. Matthew Walker in his EK9 Civic was to take the final podium spot with a well-earned 3rd. Race two saw plenty of action, but for Kemp a winning streak came to an end with electrical gremlins. Matt Walker was the one to capitalise, with his first overall win of the season. Production class drivers Phil Wright and Matt Le took 2nd and 3rd after action all the way to the finishing line.

The final races of the season saw the series at Donington Park for the BRSCC “Finals”. A fantastic grid of Honda’s meant it would be an action packed event, and we weren’t wrong!

Adding to his run of success, Stewart Hutchinson went on to win both races outright, which were Stewarts first race wins at the wheel of his Integra. Racing hard with Mark Bennett throughout both races provided some of the most breath taking action the series has seen. With barely nothing to split them, both drivers gave it their all with fantastic results. Bennett would go on to secure 2nd place in both races, with first time entrant Steve Barden using his local knowledge to great advantage with 3rd place in each race.

A great season for this popular series, which combines value for money and good clean racing with a paddock atmosphere that is both friendly and supportive to those needing any help to get out racing.

2016 is already in planning and we hope to pick up where 2015 left off and we’ll hopefully see the grids continue to grow.

Happy Racing!

Jonathan Fletcher