BRSCC CHAMPIONSHIPS REVEL AND EXCITE IN THRUXTON THRILLER
The British Racing & Sports Car Club were greeted with warm temperatures and clear weather and track conditions as it made its first visit back to the fast and flowing Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire for several years. What followed would be some exciting, intense and thoroughly enjoyable racing as sportscars and tin-tops ruled the timetable and overtaking set to be ten to the dozen at least.
Danny Winstanley left this past weekend as champion elect in the Avon Tyres Caterham Seven 420R Championship, after scoring a pair of wins to just about put himself out of reach in the points standings. The defending champion wasn’t allowed to have it easy in race one, as he ended up trading the top spot with William Smith and Stephen Nuttall before coming out on top. His task in the second race was somewhat easier as he romped to a dominant and unchallenged 15-second victory, while a high-speed last lap incident in the chasing pack behind him exiting Church corner left Sean Byrne taking 2nd place followed by Smith, as Mike Evans and Stephen Nuttall were amongst those caught up in the melee.
Danny’s achievement is made all the more impressive when put into context. This would be the first time in the 420R Championship’s history (including years prior when it was known as the R300 Championship) that the same driver has won the title in back-to-back years, and as he did in 2017 Winstanley has just about sewn it up with a race weekend to spare. In addition, Danny hasn’t finished off the podium in every single race he’s completed in the last two years, notching up 13 race victories in the process.
The rest of the Caterham championships provided position swapping aplenty; The first Santander Caterham Seven 310R Championship race saw five different race leaders throughout the 30-minute encounter, with title contender Chris Hutchinson eventually coming out on top after starting back in 8th place on the grid. A sensational 2nd place went the way of David Yates who also took the initial lap record for the series, while Christian Szaruta had to settle for 3rd. A safety car affected second race allowed 2017 title winner Lee Bristow take advantage and remind everyone just how quick he was, as he beat Gordon Sawyer and Szaruta to the flag despite a last corner skirmish at the Club chicane which saw Hutchinson hit strife after contact.
Matt Topham was one of a handful of first time winners to grace the podium over the weekend with a victory in the opening ALACO Motorsport Logistics Caterham Seven 270R Championship race. He was able to edge out title favourites Jay McCormack and Jamie Falvey in a very impressive fashion to secure his initial top step appearance, and was a constant front runner throughout both races. Falvey and McCormack proceeded to engage in a battle of their own in the second race and swapped positions several times until a pair of backmarkers embroiled in their own duel ended up baulking McCormack’s efforts. This left Falvey to take the race win and the championship lead heading into the final rounds at Silverstone with it all still to play for. Several second back, a titanic battle pack squabbled for 3rd place but Race 1 winner Topham would eventually come out on top to take the final podium step.
James Murphy suffered a front wheel bearing issue which left him without a qualifying time for the opening Draper Tools Caterham Roadsport Championship race, leaving him to start from the back of the grid. While his ambition was merely to gain as many places as he could for a better starting spot for Race 2, an inspired drive through the field saw him dubbed “Superman” after storming to 3rd place following a restart, due to an opening lap incident on the first attempt which took out three front running cars – pole man Tom Allen, Oli Pratt and Daniel Halstead. In the meantime, James McCall just held on to secure his first ever Caterham race win by beating Caterham CEO Graham MacDonald to the line, who ended up in the lead of the race more times than any other driver despite just missing out on the win. Murphy went one better to pick up second place in race two with title rival Daniel French claiming third, as McCall did the double with his second race win of the weekend.
The pair of CarThrottle Caterham Academy Championship races provided ample excitement of their own, as German rookie Larrs Alexander Hoffmann ended up rubbing wheels on the run to the chequered flag with Will Rossetti to snatch the win in a thrilling finish to the Green Group race, with Greg Smith a coming home a few tenths back in 3rd. Over in the White Group encounter, there was somewhat less of a dramatic end but it was just as close; race winner Chris Moore, Gregory Monks and Dan Piper all finished together and were merely separated on the podium by less than half a second.
Class C points leader Harry Gooding and the returning Specialized Motorsport teamboss Simon Horrobin shared the honours in the pair of races for the BRSCC Fiesta Championship racing with MRF Tyres, although it was far from a walk in the park for both of them. In Race 1, Gooding had to fight back the efforts of polesitter Samuel Watkins before the 20Ten Racing driver was forced out of the race with a wheel bearing issue, leaving the 2016 Fiesta Junior champion to win by a comfortable 8 seconds from reigning Class C champ David Nye and Tom Hutchins. Over in Race 2, Horrobin’s win came from an intense battle with old sparring partner Jamie Going, as the pair swapped positions and rubbed door handles back and forth before Horrobin eventually made a break and completed a victory on his comeback weekend, with Joshua Watkins collecting a strong third place.
Defending overall champion Jamie White took both Class D wins with Zachary Lucas picking up a pair of 2nd places and both Tim Bennett and Luke Bannister sharing a pair of 3rd places each, while Class A saw Mark Court and Colin Newbold take a Class A victory apiece, with Court retiring due to fuel problems in the second race after leading the class early on.
Nothing could separate Fiesta Junior Championship racing with MRF Tyres rivals Magnus Kriklywi and James Waite all weekend as they sparred with each other in both encounters. After capturing pole position in qualifying Kriklywi would go on to take the win on the road on both occasions, however he would only jump on to the top step for his Race 1 success. A track limits penalty handed to him in the second race would therefore give Waite the victory instead and allow him to further consolidate his lead in the points standings with just four races left to go in the season. Isaac Smith took a 3rd place in the first encounter for his new team after switching to Race Car Consultants for the rest of the season, while Nathanael Hodgkiss equalled his best ever FJC finish with the same placing in the second race, despite duelling with Smith all race in order to achieve it.
Another driver who is virtually assured of his championship retention is Steven Dailly as he has just about achieved his ambition of clinching a second consecutive Nankang Tyres BMW Compact Cup title. While he was on pole for the first race, he eventually ended up coming second best to another new race winner in Tom Griffiths, whose impressive display earned him his inaugural accolade; Matthew Parkes would pick up 3rd place behind them. In the second race, Dailly again had to fight tooth and nail to remain in the lead but by the chequered flag, he had done just that and picked up yet another win ahead of Race 1 winner Griffiths and Ben Huntley.