BATTLE LINES DRAWN FOR SNETTERTON STARTER
Can Alan Henderson kickstart his MX-5 SuperCup title defence with victory? – Photo: Jon Elsey
The wait is over. The long off-season has come and gone, engines fire back into life and racing circuits around the country to echo to the sounds of exhaust notes once more. It’s time to for a new season to begin! The British Racing & Sports Car Club powers its way into Snetterton in Norfolk for its opening race meeting of the 2016 season featuring the usual eclectic mix of touring cars, sportscars and single seaters.
The “headline act” if you will is certain to be our pair of championships for the magnificent Mazda MX-5s. The Mk1 Championship is assured to see a new champion as for this season, the top 4 from last year have all moved on, meaning that the title race will be blown wide open from the word go. Simon Baldwin could be seen as an initial favourite as he was Championship leader for a lot of last season. Other drivers such as Martin Tolley, Paul Bishop and Paul Tucker all showed flashes of brilliance with consistent results, so this will certainly be a championship to keep a close eye on – at this rate, no-one’s turning out as a safe bet!
In the Mk3 SuperCup, the reigning champion Alan Henderson returns to become the first champion to aim to defend their title. One driver set to give him headaches is former Mk1 champion James Blake-Baldwin, whose torrid luck suffering car problems meant it wasn’t until the end of the season in a new car that he showed what he could really do. Expect him to aim for redemption this year. Additionally, Jonathan Greensmith’s title winning pace in Porsches shone through at times giving him a great chance to press for #1 this year, along with the aforementioned Simon Goddard, last minute returnee Liam Murphy and even Garry Townsend, whose vehicle hire company is one of the SuperCup’s main partners.
The Ford Fiesta Championship has seen an injection of interest compared to previous seasons. Defending champion James “JJ” Ross and last year’s Fiesta Junior Champion Aaron Thompson are expected to be rivals from the off in Class C along with Sam Priest, Jamie Going, Simon Horrobin and more, while Alastair Kellett, Stuart Robbins and John Cooper will all want to press for Class D honours. With a raft of new drivers and in-house administration this season, expect the Fiesta grids to blossom once more.
Priming the next generation of racing stars, the Fiesta Junior Championship starts 2016 with its biggest grid ever with as many as 20 drivers registered for the year! Carlito Miracco, Ronan Quinn & Lewis Kent are favourites staying on for a second season, but it’s the raft of rookie drivers that will attract attention. Callum Hawkins-Row, Angus Dudley & Nicholas Reeve have been touted as the best of the bunch, with the likes of Harry Gooding, Lochlan Bearman, James Hillery and Jack Davidson not far behind. If the “senior” Fiestas were expected to put on a show, the Juniors may just upstage them if the racing matches the level of talent on display.
Staying with tin-tops, the ever popular Alfa Romeo Championship allows those who love to race the magnificent marque from Milan a chance to compete against others who enjoy the same. Thanks to the 3 class system the Championship uses, it allows most Alfas of varying specifications to compete on as equal a playing field as possible. The Modified class allows a wide range of modifications, the Power Trophy bases cars on power to weight ratio and the highly competitive Twin Spark Cup pits all cars with the same 2.0L Twin Spark engine against each other. Reigning champion Graham Seager is back with #1 on the door to defend his Overall and Modified titles, but one driver who could spoil things is former champion Roger Evans, who is expected to turn out at some point this year with a brand new Giulietta sporting the 4.7L V8 from the 8C sportscar! Drivers returning across all classes include Andy Robinson, Vincent Dubois, Tom Hill and Simon Cresswell, while the star attraction is certainly going to be the celebrity guest driver in the form of The Great British Bake-Off’s Paul Hollywood, using this weekend to gain signatures for his racing licence ahead of his part season in British GT this year with Beechdean AMR in GT4.
It wouldn’t be a club meeting without some single seaters and thankfully, the mega little buzzbombs that are the Formula Jedis are back once again to entertain. Weighing just 325kg, powered by a 1000cc Suzuki bike engine pushing out 185hp and sporting a power to weight ratio of 523hp per ton, these little pocket rockets really do tear up the tarmac, cementing their status as one of the most exciting “slicks-‘n-wings” championships around. Michael Watton seems like he’s the one to beat, but with former champion Andrew Dunn returning along with an influx of impressive rookies, he may have to look in his mirrors more than once.
Last but certainly not least, there’s sportscar action from the Toyo Tires Porsche Championship, open for both the Boxster and 924 models of one of the most famous marques in motorsport. With classes for both Race and Production spec Boxsters as well as the separate 924 Class, it makes for brilliant inter-class competition. Ed Hayes is back to aim for back-to-back Championships, although he’ll have Rick Styrin pressing him all the way after the multiple champion made a comeback midway through last season. The 924s will feature the likes of Niza El-Chamaa, Karl Rossin and Jamie Callender as front-runners in their class.
Thankfully, this weekend's weather is set to be sunny for the entire meeting which is an extra bonus on top of what's set to be a fantastic opening meeting. If you want to check out the forecast for yourself, then make sure to take a look at SNETTERTON WEATHER. We think a pair of sunglasses may be required for this one!
Plus, the final instructions, timetable and entry list for the weekend can be found HERE.