BRSCC BRAVES ALL WEATHERS AT THRILLING CROFT RACE WEEKEND


Eight more championships and series kicked off their 2021 campaigns this past weekend as the British Racing and Sports Car Club battled through the sun, rain and even hail at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire in a superb display of British club motorsport, all streamed live once again for fans and enthusiasts to enjoy and thanks to the first visit in dry conditions since the resurfacing of the circuit, both qualifying and race lap records were broken across just about every championship.

The Mazda MX-5 paddock provided the biggest collection of cars with more than 90 in attendance across the three championships. The Mazda MX-5 Championship for Mk1 models kicked off on Saturday where Jack Brewer converted his first pole position into an incredible first-ever win, managing to fend off race-long attention from Michael Knibbs as the pair broke away with Knibbs settling for 2nd place, followed by 2020 title contender Oliver Allwood in 3rd. Brewer did the same again in Race 2, albeit with Allwood and Knibbs swapping places on the podium but it might have been a different story in the final race of the weekend. Tackling severe wet weather in a safety car interrupted third race, Brewer had to hold off a charging Steve Foden whose setup was working wonders in the rain but just had to settle for 2nd place. Brewer, meanwhile, held on to complete a memorable hat-trick of wins which puts him in good stead for the rest of the year, while Fraser Fenwick completed the final podium.

That wasn’t the only Mk1 MX-5 action during the weekend as Croft marked the debut of the new Mazda MX-5 Clubman Championship, providing a one-day, two-race format for those wanting a slightly different way of competing on the same weekend. Harry Storer took to the new championship with flying colours as he drove on to make history as its first-ever winner, managing to pick up a pair of wins on Saturday to leave with the points lead, while podiums were shared between Rob Greensmith and Jay Shepherd in Race 1 and Richard Bartlett and Kevin Bird in the second. More cars are already entered for the next rounds at Silverstone with at least 20 expected on the grid.

A superb entry featured in the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup with 39 cars lining up to race amongst the Pro and Club classes on the same grid. All three races saw drivers picking up the first wins of their careers in the championship – Patrick Fletcher took a long-overdue first SuperCup win in Race 1 after resisting race-long pressure from both the charging returnee Jack Harding in 2nd, and defending champion Samuel Smith who rounded off the podium in 3rd. The same result occurred in Sunday’s first race as Fletcher doubled up, but a mistake in the partially reverse grid third race left him down in the pack. In that race, another new race winner emerged as Hills Motorsport’s James Cossins conquered the damp conditions to take his first top step visit, while Harding’s 2nd place put him as the all-time podium finisher in the championship’s history and Smith completed the first weekend of his title defence with another strong podium in 3rd.

The new Mk7 Ford Fiesta ST180 Turbos made their official points-scoring debut in the BRSCC Fiesta Championship over the weekend with no less than 10 examples lining up on the grid for the opening rounds. John Cooper, the man who spent more time behind the wheel of the new spec car than anyone else in 2020, was somewhat unsurprisingly the man to beat as he and teammate Zachary Lucas ran in tandem at the front early in Race 1 until Lucas had to retire with a mechanical issue. This left Cooper to drive on to the first race win of the year followed by former Clio Cup star Luke Pinder and Rob Smith. Cooper remained unseated from the top spot in the second race as he doubled up on wins with Smith going one place better with 2nd, while championship stalwart Simon Horrobin made a welcome return to the podium in 3rd. Over in the evergreen ST150 segment of the grid, young racer Ethan Rogers managed to come home top amongst his rivals twice, while Jack Youhill, Rosie Hunt and Briannie Davis all took class podiums behind him across both races.

Much was anticipated in the opening BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship races of the season as newcomer Deagan Fairclough took a sensational pole position on his first attempt by a mere 0.001 seconds from Alex Ley in qualifying. Despite only being his second day driving the car, Fairclough headed up a sensational Race 1 which saw some incredible battles and overtaking, but through it all Deagan kept his cool to pick up an amazing victory on his series debut, followed to the flag by Sid Smith in 2nd and Joseph Knight in 3rd. The heavens opened before the start of Race 2, which left the junior drivers tackling torrential weather conditions and despite a safety car interruption midway through, Fairclough ensured he remained head of the pack and completed a memorable double victory followed by Ley and Smith. With more cars joining from Oulton Park, the Fiesta Junior Championship continues its sensational charge back to the top of junior racing!

Saturday saw two thrilling encounters to kick off this year’s Nankang Tyre BMW Compact Cup, and while Steven Dailly picked up pole for Race 1, a less than ideal start coupled with a nudge at the first corner left him chasing Oliver Faller for the remainder of the opening 15-minute race. Despite throwing everything he could at him in a bid to get by, Faller held steadfast in front to become another new race winner over the weekend, impressively keeping the multiple-time champ back to P2, with Ian Howes putting in one of his best drives to complete the podium. The rain started falling as Race 2 began later in the day, where Dailly put in a performance typical of his experience and success, leading from start to finish and claiming victory from Faller and Ian Jones.

An amazing 30 car grid turned up for the opening ETSL ST-XR Challenge races of 2020 with the majority choosing the increasingly popular Ford Fiesta ST150 in Class D. Former XR3i class racer Chris Jones marks an amazing switch to the newer cars as he fended off Sam Beckett in the opening laps, after he was forced to retire after damage sustained from collecting a tyre stack. Jones would drive on to a dominant Race 1 win with father and son Lee and Ryan Bowron making it a family affair on the podium with 2nd and 3rd respectively. The wet weather made conditions tricky for Race 2 on Sunday as the XR collective of cars started ahead of the ST150s, and with a safety car breaking up the action mid race, it allowed Jones to work his way to the overall lead of the race and a second win of the weekend. Simon Robinson held on through the late restart to finish as top XR runner and 2nd overall, while Lee Bowron collected 2nd in the ST class and 3rd overall.

The weekend’s racing ended with the first 45-minute mini-endurance pitstop race from the BRSCC Clubsport Trophy, with 34 cars taking the start spread across the six competing classes. The pole-sitting BMW of Tom Stanway managed to lead with the Nissan 350Z of Mark Skeats and David May and the BMW Z4 of Liam Crilly giving chase throughout the first stint of the race. Eventually Crilly took the lead and remained in front through the pitstop phase, which also briefly saw Stanway’s BMW get tagged by the Nissan out at Hawthorns on track. When the stops had cycled through it left Crilly still in the lead, but the charging Jamie Going chased him down in his Fiesta ST180 Turbo and made the move in the final minutes before racing away by a few seconds. Going took the flag first as top Invitation class car while in the regular classes Crilly would pick up Class B victory, with the other classes falling the way of Kelly Brabbin’s Toyota Celica (Class A), Ivor Mairs’ Mazda MX-5 (Class C) Rob Boston and Nick Rutter in another MX-5 (Class D) and Compact Cup race winner Oliver Faller’s BMW (Class E)

A massive thank you and shoutout must go to our partners and friends at runyourfleet for coming on board this season and providing us with our exquisite new Jaguar XF Sportbrake safety and course car. Make sure you look out for it at BRSCC race events up and down the country this year and beyond and check out runyourfleet.com to see how they can help you with all your vehicle fleet management needs!

Scott Woodwiss