2016 SEASON REVIEW – EXCOOL OSS CHAMPIONSHIP
2014 champion Josh Smith's return to a full-time campaign produced a second overall title – Photo: Dave Maries
OSS' Sarah Fraser gives us a belated look back at the 2016, which saw the most popular and successful campaign in OSS Championship history. That momentum only looks set to soar even further this season with a non-championship "prologue" triple-header kicking off 2017 at Snetterton in April.
It turned out that 2016 was to be a season of bumper grids for the Excool OSS Championship, featuring 13 different manufacturers with a host of old and new drivers all experiencing the joy of open regulation sports car racing. We welcomed thirty drivers new to OSS, most of whom drove in the championship, resulting in our most competitive year yet with 36 drivers scoring points across five championship classes. Our new Invitation Class proved a hit with nearly 20 drivers trying us out and we also hosted the Aquila Synergy Cup in this Class. The Aquila Synergy Cup was won by the Danish Driver Kevin Suenson who went on to be a Finalist in the Downforce Radio Overseas Driver of the Year.
At the sharp end of the grid, the season was dominated mainly by three or four drivers/cars that proved open regulation class racing works; Josh Smith in his 1440cc C Class Radical PR6, Graham Cole and his A Class 2300cc Turbo Jade Traxstar, and the 2000cc B Class Duncan Williams who started in the Juno and finished the season in the Ligier JS49. 2016 Champion Mike Jenvey in the B Class Jenvey-Gunn had a torrid start to the season but made up for it with a spirited comeback. These drivers, in remarkably different cars, across 3 classes, took all the outright finishes, with one spectacular race at Brands Indy, where all four of them finished within 1.4 seconds of each other!
JOSH SMITH is the 2016 Excool OSS Champion and the C Class Title Winner. From the start of the season he headed his Class and maintained the lead through to the end, with the only wobble in the final races. WSC Motorsports mates Hill and Smart ended level on points but Hill took 2nd place on countback of wins leaving Smart in 3rd in his first year in C Class. Rookie Adam Dale took 4th and the honour of the only OSS car to have finished all 14 races! Newcomer Heath was 6th despite a late start to season. Child 7th and Sanders 8th.
B Class ended on a nailbiter of a final race with Jenvey and Mitchell only a point apart. In the end Craig Mitchell took the class honours and 3rd overall despite never winning a race, proving the strategy that reliability can take the class win. Jenvey was 2nd in class. Williams took 3rd and 6th; having swopped halfway through the season between paired with Sanders (6th) and single (3rd) he lost out on overall class points. Newcomer Lackford was placed 4th and won the Ginger Marshall Veteran’s Trophy awarded to the driver 65 & over who gains the highest overall points. Marshall (who retired partway during the season) came 5th. R.Gillman, Baker & Harris, also newcomers, were placed 7th, 8th & 9th, while D. Smith was 10th with the Hart, Forrest and Dallas racing in various pairings achieving 11th and 12th. Manderson collected points for a 12th.
Graham Cole held on to the lead of class A for the year taking the class win and 2nd overall in the championship. For a while it looked like Spencer (SR8) might challenge Fearns (SR8) for 2nd place in class but reliability issues meant Fearns took 2nd comfortably. Of the three remaining Jades, Bowkett ended in 4th, Lewis 7th and Hawkes 8th. Matheson made the long journey from N. Ireland to capture 5th place and Page had a good ending with the Zeus to gather points for a 6th place.
D Class was revived for the final meeting with John & Richard Gillman who brought their Radical Clubsport into the Championship and raced it as championship contenders, setting a lap record at Silverstone International as a result.
Daniel Prendergast, E Class Winner, returned to OSS in E Class with a new car, the Contour, and set about lap records. Tim Harmer chose to debut his Revelation LF-R1 chassis and in doing so won the first E Class race and set a fastest lap at Silverstone National.
The annual LAP RECORD fest continued into 2016, spurred on by the Champagne handed out by Alcon Specialist Brakes & Clutches. Daniel Prendergast was supreme in his Contour/E taking class records at all five meetings, including a spectacular under one minute (59.886) for a 1000cc at Silverstone National. Duncan Williams set a new circuit outright (1:01.672) at Silverstone International in his Ligier JS49 and four records were set at this meeting, ending the season with 12 new records set. [Prendergast/E (Silverstone National, Rockingham ISSCL, Brands Indy, Donington Park National, Silverstone International. J.Smith/C (Brands Indy, Donington Park National, Silverstone International) Williams/B (Silverstone International – Circuit Outright), Cole/A (Silverstone National) J.Stables/C (Rockingham ISSCL), J.Gillman/D (Silverstone International).
We introduced Speed Group Driver of the Race in 2016. Chosen by a Marshal Post unknown to the driver, this popular Trophy is an award for spirited and fair driving. It was presented to: Silverstone National: Wilkes, Robert Gillman, Spencer, Rockingham ISSCL: Williams, Jenvey, Bowkett, Brands Indy: Hill, Cole, Suenson, Donington Park: Hill, Williams, Silverstone International: Manderson, Carter, R.Stables
SBD Motorsport Best Prepared Car of the Meeting in 2016, also new for 2017, was chosen by the Scrutineers. Silverstone National: #47 Spire GT3 – Alan Hogg. Rockingham ISSCL: #4 Norma20FC – Bryce Wilson, Brands Indy: #76 Bowlby Mk2 – Marshall & Fraser Racing Team, Donington Park: #3 Radical SR3 RS – Adam Dale, Silverstone International: #32 Radical PR6 – Lackford/Corinium Technology
We’d like to thank all the competitors and their support teams who joined us in 2016 and helped make the championship what it was, as without them it would not be so competitive, fun and friendly. We look forward to them joining us again for 2017 season.