BRSCC DELIVERS GRANDSTAND SEASON CLOSER AT DONINGTON
Dramatic was certainly the appropriate word to describe the action from Donington Park this past weekend as the BRSCC Midlands Centre oversaw the final major race weekend of the season, with several championships still with titles on the line to decide – and some even went down to the very last race of the year to determine the outcome.
The main attraction on Saturday would be the final 4 hour race for the FunCup Championship as four teams headed into the last round with a chance of winning the title. Points leaders Track Torque 2 Rent Domino’s could only manage 11th fastest in the qualifying session before pulling out 15th in the random grid draw for the race, while Team7 Fun:Bikes 3 and Apollo Motorsport shared the front row. Apollo’s pace during the first hour was enough for them to hold the lead ahead of CCS Media and outgoing champions JPR Uvio, while 2Rent Domino’s had charged through to 4th place. This became 2nd behind JPR Uvio after half distance had been reached through the pit stop sequences, with Team Viking head of Apollo. The latter would change with Apollo moving to 3rd place by the end of the third hour with no change in the top two places, but during the final sequence of stops the 2 Rent Domino’s team of Chris Hart and Henry Dawes took the lead and thus held on to not only win the race but secure a long awaited first FunCup title. Having come close on more than one occasion, finally the ultimate prize was theirs. Apollo Motorsport’s team of Zoe Wenham, Guy Wenham and Ryan Burke came home a satisfying 2nd from the Team Viking pair of Mark Holme and Nick Nunn in 3rd. Another thrilling FunCup season came to a close with some of the best moments the series had ever seen, and 2019 once again looks set to be even better.
The most dramatic of all the championship battles was found in the finale of the Mazda MX-5 Championship, where Will Blackwell-Chambers and Samuel Smith went head to head to settle the fate of the title. Neither of them ended up topping their respective qualifying groups, meaning that for the first Group A race Smith would start 4th while Blackwell-Chambers had to settle for 9th on the grid. Smith was able to clinch a 3rd place in that first Group A race, while there joy for first time Group A winner Jason Greatrex as he swept to victory ahead of Ben Short, while Blackwell-Chambers couldn’t better 6th. Both title contenders matched their first race positions in the second Group A race with John Langridge clinching the win ahead of AB Motorsport teammate Oliver Allwood, but it would be the final race of the season that would settle fortunes – although not quite in the way anyone had hoped or wanted.
Four laps into the last race, the water pipe on another competitor’s car cracked, leaving fluid across the track at Coppice corner and seeing the car in question slide off into the gravel. What followed was severely unfortunate, with as many as a dozen cars hitting said fluid and skating off the road in the process. Unbelievably, the race leaders were caught in the melee apart from then leader Ben Short, but more crucially both Smith and Blackwell-Chambers were amongst those caught out. While the latter managed to dig his way out under his own power, Smith wasn’t so lucky and remaining stranded in the gravel, it was a tragic end to his championship chances. The restarted race eventually went the way of original leader Short, followed by a first Group A podium for Stephen Foden in 2nd place and Brian Trott in 3rd, also securing the same position in the standings in the process. Just behind them in 4th, Blackwell-Chambers banked the points he needed to clinch back-to-back Mazda MX-5 titles, although he himself admitted that seeing Smith’s chances end through no fault of his own wasn’t the way he’d wished their fortunes to have gone. Nevertheless, he now has another chance to defend the #1 on the door in 2019, should he wish to do so.
The Mazda MX-5 Super Series boasted its best entry of the season for its final rounds of the inaugural season, and once again it turned out to be business as usual for the regular frontrunners Joshua Jackson and Jake Bailey. While Jackson captured the pole for Race 1, Bailey was able to take the win but only by just over a tenth of a second, with Richard Breland hounding both of them all the way to the flag to ensure the podium was covered by less than a quarter of a second. Jackson was able to get his own back in the second race by taking victory, while second place allowed James Kell to secure a long overdue maiden podium finish, followed by Breland in 3rd place with Jake Bailey 4th ahead of father Sam. Race 3 took place with Donington Park bathed in a warm Autumnal orange glow as the sun set on the season, and Jackson ended it as he’d started the year with victory over the Baileys, Jake ahead of Sam. It’s been an incredible first year for the Super Series with 41 drivers registering over the season, and that number is only set to have increased by this time next year!
Another championship making headlines was the Speed Group F1000 Championship, with 18 cars on the grid marking their biggest entry of the season. As well as title contenders Michael Watton and Dan Clowes on the grid, former champions Lee Morgan and Andrew Dunn also made an appearance, along with a highly anticipated return to circuit racing for Colin Brown, a former karting world champion that was one of Lewis Hamilton’s fiercest rivals at that level. Morgan was able to put his foot down and not just take pole but the race win by almost 6 seconds, but 2nd and 3rd would be the focus of everyone’s attention. Brown showed everyone exactly why he was so highly rated with a sensational 2nd place on his debut, while 3rd place for Watton was enough to clinch the 2018 F1000 title after Clowes’ car faultered and retired at half distance. The same top three would take to the podium in Race 2, but this time Brown would go one better and incredibly take an emotional victory, followed by Morgan and new champ Watton, while rapid karting graduates Reece Lycett and Rob Welham both did superbly to finish 4th and 5th respectively. Spirits are high in the F1000 paddock as a strong end to its first season under its new brand means it has plenty of momentum to carry into 2019.
While Adam Southgate may have sealed up the Race Boxster class in the Toyo Tires Porsche Championship, that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to attend the final rounds and miss out on some end of season fun. At the same time, the 924 class was yet to be resolved as a battle between Gavin Johnson and Hugh Peart was ready to be resolved. The Race Boxsters had also been bolstered by the returns of Richard Avery and multiple Porsche champion Richard Styrin, meaning there was plenty of anticipation in the air for the races that lay ahead. Southgate began as he meant to go on with pole position for Race 1, but instead it would front row mate Avery that would end up taking the win on his comeback after Southgate retired at half distance. Garry Lawrence took 2nd ahead of a first podium finish for Toby Smales in 3rd place. Race 2 provided a slightly different podium as although Avery still took his second win of the weekend, Styrin reminded everyone of his pace with 2nd ahead of Coleman in 3rd. Styrin then completed his return in fine style by taking victory in the final race of the season, followed by Coleman and Lawrence.
In the 924s, Gavin Johnson took two class wins to secure the title ahead of Hugh Peart, who could only manage a pair of 3rd places and a 2nd, every time finishing behind David Jones who collected two 2nd places of his own and a class win in the third race.
There was still one more championship to resolve on Sunday and that was the Teekay Couplings Production GTi Championship, with both Mk2 and Mk5 titles up for grabs. An impressive 28 car entry took to the track for Race 1, where pole sitter Simon Hill went on to take an unchallenged win in the Mk5 class and overall. James Colbourne battled his way past Adam Hance and then John Mawdsley to take 2nd place with Hance settling for 3rd on this occasion. The second race produced a carbon copy of the podium in the first race with Hill again winning from Colbourne and Hance, however the pair of 2nd places from Colbourne were enough to become the first ever Mk5 class champion in Production GTi history.
In the Mk2 contingent, defending double champion Chris Webb was determined not to let his crown go without a fight and did everything he could to ensure it went down to the wire. Webb would end up winning the class both times on Sunday, but apart from that there was nothing more he could do. Tim Hartland banked two 3rd places to wrap up the Mk2 16v crown for himself, while Pete Milne and Chris Hart, one half of the newly crowned FunCup champions each took a 2nd place.
In addition, Mk5 racer Paul Blackburn suffered a nasty accident on Sunday which required a trip to hospital as a result. However, he is recovering well and Paul has wished to express his public thanks to the marshals, ambulance and medical crews who attended to him and ensured he would be able to make a recovery.
It’s been another thrilling season of racing for the British Racing & Sports Car Club and we’d like to thank every single one of the drivers, teams, officials, volunteers and marshals who made it another sensational year. Here’s to even bigger and better things in 2019 and beyond!