BRSCC CAREERS INTO CROFT FOR TCR UK
Our second trip to the north of England this season sees us touch down at Croft Circuit in Darlington, North Yorkshire, with the venue chosen as the next in line to gain a first taste of the new TCR UK Touring Car Championship. With a typically strong and entertaining support package in attendance on the timetable to boot, this could be one of the best race weekends the BRSCC Northern Centre has hosted for some time.
With the end of the first TCR UK season in sight, the championship battle is boiling down to just two men – runaway multiple race winner Dan Lloyd and his WestCoast Racing Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR, and Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor in the current spec Honda Civic Type-R. In recent rounds, Taylor has been able to reel in and overhaul Lloyd to claw himself into contention for the title, thanks to a victory at Castle Combe that broke Lloyd’s win streak. Last time at Oulton Park, reigning BTCC champion Ash Sutton showed his class with a pair of wins, while the championship protagonists fought amongst each other behind him. Finlay Crocker regains the car Sutton used that day, while Darelle Wilson and Sean Walkinshaw reappear on the grid as do the Backman siblings Andreas and Jessica, Lewis Kent, Stewart Lines and Derek Palmer.
It remains as close as ever in the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup with Luke Herbert bidding to be the first driver to secure back-to-back crowns in the series, but chief rival Jack Harding is striving to put a stop to those ambitions and better 3rd place in the overall standings in the last two seasons. Both have taken multiple race wins and the pair plus Aidan Hills all took one each at Oulton Park. All this leaves Herbert leading by four points from Harding heading into this weekend with Hills in 3rd 36 points off the top, so right now it’s between these three drivers. Others who will undoubtedly look to spoil the party with their own glory include James Blake-Baldwin, Simon Baldwin, Steve Roberts, Jonathan Greensmith and Carl Garnett.
Over in the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship, 2016 champion Niall Murray looks on course to add a second National title to his repertoire. After maintaining a lead of over 100 points with a win and second place at Oulton Park, the Irishman almost has one hand on the title – in fact, he could even seal it come the end of the weekend. Michael Eastwell will push him all the way in a bid to take it to the final rounds at Donington Park, while Murray’s Team Dolan teammate Matt Round-Garrido is sure to give support whilst also seeking his own glory. Joey Foster, Luke Cooper and Jamie Thorburn will also be expected front runners once again.
Also nearing their championship finale is the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup, where Jamie Bond leads the way from Matthew Wilson by 24 points, although neither took a win last time at Oulton. This championship is ultra-competitive with a mix of VW Golfs, Sciroccos, Polos and a pair of Audi TT Cup racers all thrown together on track, and it makes for quite a spectacle. Race winner Toby Davis and former BMW Compact Cup racer Ruaridh Clark will also be hoping to take home silverware of their own, plus be sure to watch out for former BTCC ace Martin Depper as he is set to share the circuit for the first time with son Jack, who makes his debut this weekend.
Michael Watton increased his win tally in this year’s Speed Group F1000 Championship to nine at the previous rounds at Castle Combe, also supporting TCR UK, as he claimed a clean sweep of all three races. Even so, a weekend to forget earlier in the season at Snetterton with mechanical issues means that 2nd placed Dan Clowes is only 22 points behind, after finishing every single round since the beginning of the season. Adam Walker’s consistency has also rewarded him with P3 at this stage, while Alok Iyengar and Paul Butcher have some catching up to do. Butcher in particular is a driver where his results don’t tell the whole story, as his pace is quick enough to win races yet mechanical problems have cost him valuable points. Former champion Lee Morgan is on the grid too this weekend, as is young karting graduate Reece Lycett making his championship debut.
Making their second away trip of the season, the Kerax Hyperdrive ST-XR Challenge heads to Croft for the first time in several years. The battle at the top of the overall points standings is being fought by a trio of Class A drivers, as Justin Roberts heads Steve Poole and former champion Mike Heath in the battle for supremacy. While Lee Bowron leads Class B, his absence this weekend will play into the hands of Mike Blackburn as he will surely take over the lead as a result. As for the other classes, Mike Noble and Chris Rowlands represent Classes C and D respectively, while keep an eye on the Class E battle for non-LSD equipped Fiesta XR2s with Paul Green and Matthew Morton facing off.
Supporting the BRSCC content on the timetable is a local favourite of a series – the Darlington and District Motor Club’s Northern Saloon & Sportscar Championship. Expect a fine and eclectic mix of make, models and car types here as BMWs, Caterhams, Fords, Hondas and a small selection of kit cars are amongst a superbly varied entry.