ABBIE EATON RETURNS TO MX-5 SUPERCUP THIS WEEKEND AT DONINGTON PARK
Abbie Eaton will fly the Clapham North colours at Donington Park, as she replaces George Grant for the second round of the 2020 Mazda MX-5 Supercup, returning to the championship she won in 2014 in the Rob Boston Racing-run entry.
Clapham North driver and ambassador Eaton has raced a variety of machinery since that title, competing in the British GT Championship, Australia’s Super2 Series and the FIA Formula E-supporting Jaguar I-Pace eTrophy, as well as featuring as a test driver for Amazon Prime’s The Grand Tour. She is also due to race in W Series from 2021.
For Eaton, Donington Park has even greater significance, as it’s at the Leicestershire circuit that she took her 2014 MX-5 Supercup title, while she will also face off against her former MX-5 rival Luke Herbert.
Having stepped up from the series after winning the championship, Eaton returned for a one-off race at Croft in 2015, which is where the Yorkshire driver and Grant first met. “George and I were both in the same paddock, racing together on track when I came back for a race at Croft a year after my title-winning season,” Eaton said.
“He is a lovely character and was willing to help me out with my racing, so I’m hopefully going to give back by stepping in for him at Donington Park. It’ll also be good back to go up against Luke Herbert who I raced against in 2013.”
The cars and circuit have had some slight alterations since she last raced there, but Eaton is confident that the significant track time drivers get in the MX-5 Supercup, as well as a planned pre-event test, will be enough for her to get back up to speed with guidance from the Rob Boston Racing outfit.
“We haven’t done any testing yet, but I think we’re going to do a little bit of testing on the Thursday before the weekend,” Eaton added. “You do get plenty of track time over the weekend, so it should allow me to get back into the groove.
“Last time I drove these cars they were different, and Donington has been altered. The times are about two seconds quicker now and you can carry a lot more speed into the Old Hairpin. It’s a nice track where I have had good times and bad times, but it’s a circuit I know well, so I’m confident of getting up to speed quite quickly.
“I’ve not worked with Rob Boston before, but I’ve raced against him and I know he sets up a very good car. I have no doubt the car will be competitive enough, but I’m not coming into this with any expectations. I’ve been out of a proper race car for a while, so it’s just about getting back on the track and having some fun.”
After the first round at Cadwell Park, Grant leads the MX-5 Supercup Masters Championship standings, with three rounds at Donington Park, Silverstone and Brands Hatch remaining, and the Kingston upon Thames ace is in line to return for the latter two events.
Established in 1960 by George’s father Ronnie, Clapham North is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary. The team began racing six years after its foundation in 1966 and has worked alongside legendary Formula 1 engineers including Sir Patrick Head and Sir John Barnard.
Although he won’t be at the Donington meeting, Grant is looking forward to seeing the Clapham North-branded car in the hands of Eaton. “I think it is fantastic for Abbie to return to the grassroots where she started her career,” Grant said. “She will be driving the Clapham North car at a time when we are celebrating our 60th anniversary and I’m sure she is looking forward to it.
“She hasn’t been in an MX-5 for a while, but I think it will be great to see her back in the car and in the championship once again. She is a fantastic racing driver, very gutsy and has made it to the top level of motorsport all on her own. I’m obviously sad not be racing at Donington Park, but I cannot wait to see her in action.”
Eaton is also looking forward to representing Clapham North this weekend, sighting its significance across the automotive and motorsport world: “The history of Clapham North is fascinating, and it has a lot of heritage, which isn’t something you often say about MOT garages. When you just look at what they’ve done for motoring and indeed motor racing, then you have to think it’s pretty impressive.”
Text: Clapham North