BRSCC BASKS IN THRILLING PEMBREY EASTER ACTION
Bright blue skies and warm temperatures greeted the competitors this past weekend as the BRSCC headed back to South Wales, courtesy of the South Western Centre, for its first race meeting at Pembrey Circuit in Llanelli since 2011. Regardless of the absence, the action on track made it a worthy return to the “Home of Welsh Motorsport” as the new Clubmans layout was utilised for the first time too.
Once again, the biggest presence in the paddock was made by the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship as more than 40 cars made the trip for their second meeting of the season. Points leader Ben Short made an late entry on Thursday afternoon to defend his position at the head of the table he’d achieved after scoring two wins at the opening rounds at Brands Hatch a few weeks earlier. When it came to qualifying, John Langridge would the man to head the field for the first Group A race with local favourite Jason Greatrex lining up alongside him. The top two remained the same from the start and for most of the opening encounter, before double defending champion Will Blackwell-Chambers found a way through into 2nd place before chasing Langridge all the way to the flag. In the end, Langridge secured the win he missed out on at Brands Hatch, with Blackwell-Chambers unable to find a way through and settling for 2nd place ahead of Greatrex. Moving into the second Group A race, Blackwell-Chambers picked up the lead from pole man Langridge in the opening laps before stretching his advantage into a lead he would never lose, showing the same form that had taken him to championship glory the past two season. WB-C finally opened his 2019 win tally with victory ahead of Short, who had found a way past eventual 3rd place man Langridge at around the half way point. Despite losing out, Langridge would have his chance to strike back in the final Group A race, chasing down early leader Short before passing him at around mid-distance to collect his second victory of the weekend. A delighted Steve Foden picked up his first podium of the season with 3rd place, while Blackwell-Chambers was forced out of the race with mechanical troubles, ending his weekend on a somewhat sour note.
A safety car affected the opening Group B race in the Mazda MX-5 Championship on Saturday afternoon midway through, when Chris Molloy hit the pit wall after spinning exiting the final corner. This in turn allowed eventual race winner Bryn Griffiths to be closed down by both Thomas and Oliver Jenkins, but despite the pressure Bryn was able to fend off the pair in the final laps after the restart to collect the first Group B win of the weekend, with Oliver Jenkins able to get the better of Thomas by the chequered flag; Adam Craig also put in an impressive drive from the back of the grid to 4th place, which could have been more had he not been tagged into a spin early in the race. In the second Group B race, former Ginetta Junior star Matt Luff bounced back from a Group A race retirement to dominate proceedings and win by over 18 seconds from Dave Turton in 2nd and Scott Leach in 3rd. Jack Moody would then fend off all challengers in the final Group B race to take the chequered flag from Michael Knibbs and Thomas Jenkins, the latter picking up his second podium of the weekend.
Former Mazda MX-5 Mk1 champion Brian Chandler reminded everyone just how quick he was in the three Mazda MX-5 Super Series races, as he brought his newly built BC Cars Motorsport run Mk3 MX-5 to Pembrey in a bid to take the spoils for himself. He kicked off his ambitions with a dominant pole position on qualifying, followed by an equally impressive victory in a red flag affected Race 1 ahead of Joe Marshall and Alex Miller. The latter would then prove to be something of a thorn in Chandler’s side in the following two races, even challenging him for the lead in Race 2 before eventually settling for 2nd place, as Chandler doubled up while teammate Matt Pickford collected his first Super Series podium in 3rd. Despite once again battling for the lead in the final race, Miller would sadly drop out with mechanical issues, leaving Chandler to clean up and complete the hat-trick. James Kell recovered from a weekend full of misfortunes to collect 2nd place ahead of Joe Marshall in 3rd.
Equally as exciting were the trio of races for the BRSCC Fiesta Championship racing with MRF Tyres, as local man Samuel Watkins bounced back from an accident at the opening rounds at Silverstone to reappear in brother Joshua’s red Fiesta ST. He put it to good use by taking pole position in qualifying, followed by a race victory at one of his home circuits in Race 1 after being chased down by Fiesta Junior graduate James Waite all race, who would go on pick up 2nd place ahead of Silvestone race winner Isaac Smith in 3rd. Watkins then wasted no time in making it two from two in the second encounter, once again leading away from pole and winning by more than 6 seconds with Smith finishing a step higher in 2nd place this time, putting one over Waite who ended up 3rd. A new reverse grid draw system made its debut for the third race, with the top 6 drivers swapped around as a result. Despite starting back in 5th, Smith wasted no time in charging his way to the front of the field and then proceeding to dominate the rest of the field. He would end up collecting the final race win at a canter, extending a gap of some 11 seconds by the flag from JamSport team boss Jamie Going and Zachary Lucas. As for Watkins, mechanical problems forced to be rooted on the spot in the pitlane, forcing him to miss the start of the race and ultimately out of the race before it even started.
There were plenty of events happening for the first time in the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship racing with MRF Tyres as Joel Wren scored his first pole position since joining the series a couple of weeks ago at Silverstone. He would then use it to his advantage by storming away to a comfortable victory in Race 1, while behind him Alfie Glenie would collect his first ever FJC podium visit in 2nd place. Championship leader and double Silverstone race winner Olly Turner was forced to miss qualifying due to a required engine change, but he wasted no time in picking his way through to 3rd place by the chequered flag. Turner would then benefit from a gearbox problem for Wren as he slowed and retired from the lead, handing Turner his third victory from four races. Behind him something incredible was happening as debutant Joseph Loake followed up an incredible front row start in Race 1 with 2nd place later that day in Race 2 in only his second ever race! This performance overall was enough to earn him the Driver of the Meeting award on this occasion, while Glenie collected more silverware and his second podium finish with 3rd place.
Making a guest appearance at one of their local circuits, the Welsh Sports & Saloon Car Championship kicked off in fine style on Sunday, with favourite Keith Butcher bringing his fearsome new Audi R8 LMS to challenge the regular competitors. He would convert his Race 1 pole position into victory, but not before he was hunted down throughout by Damian Longotano’s rapid Westfield SE that would eventually take 2nd place; he would take it down to the final corner and just missed out on victory by 0.841 seconds, with Nick Crompton’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3 completing the overall podium. For Race 2 Butcher was challenged initially by late entry and championship regular Chris Everill in his Ginetta before it faltered and retired with mechanical issues. With Longotano also dropping out, Butcher looked set to dominate and pick up an easy double, but incredibly he too hit problems when his gearbox shifted in neutral just as he was starting the final lap of the race. Pulling up just after the end of pit lane, Butcher desperately worked to restart the R8, but not before a surprised and delighted Nick Crompton powered past to go on and take overall race victory. Butcher would indeed restart and finish 2nd, with defending WSSCC champ Mike Moss coming home 3rd in his Caterham Supersport.
You can find the full breakdown of all of the results from Pembrey via TSL Timing HERE – https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/191631