BRSCC ENJOYS HIGH-SPEED ENTERTAINMENT AT THRUXTON THRILLER


Thruxton in Hampshire lived up to its reputation as the fastest circuit in the country as the BRSCC descended for two days of fast and exciting racing action, with a healthy mix of sports car, saloon car and endurance racing on display for the spectators in attendance – and they didn’t disappoint in providing plenty of entertainment!

Caterham Motorsport brought all five of its championships that feature on its factory roster for their second race meeting altogether after the majority started their 2020 season at Cadwell Park at the beginning of the month, starting with their rookie drivers in the Caterham Academy. The Green Group produced a brand new pole-sitter in Gwyndaf Jones, with current championship leaders Tom Cockerill and Chris Skillicorn starting 4th and 2nd respectively. Skillicorn took the lead on the opening lap and from there he, Deniz Erkan-Bax and Cockerill engaged themselves in a healthy three-way tussle for the win. A safety car late in the race helped to produce a spectacular sprint finish, which ended in Skillicorn and Cockerill making contact on the approach to the Club chicane on the last lap as they battled for the lead. Cockerill ended up taking the win despite damage to the rear right corner of his car, while Skillicorn managed to limp across the line after trekking across the grass in 13th place, rueing what could have been. Erkan-Bax claimed 2nd place while Toby Boyes scored his first podium finish by claiming 3rd just ahead of Andy Lund and Peter Mott.

The White Group’s day of racing ended up featuring a little bit of confusion. After the first start was red-flagged for an incident triggered by Ian Brown spinning at the Club chicane after launching over the kerbs, the planned restart didn’t quite go to plan, forcing the race to be moved to the last of the day instead. When it finally did get underway, it was initially a three-car fight between Simon Shaw, Taylor O’Flanagan and Domenique Mannsperger with the trio all taking turns in the lead of the race for its duration, but Mannsperger’s chances at victory evaporated on the final lap when he arrived too hot into the final corners, running deep at Club and undoing all his hard work and leaving him to take the flag in 9th. As for the win, that went to Shaw from O’Flanagan in 2nd with James Walker, the YouTuber also known as Mr JWW, claiming his first podium with 3rd place.

The Roadsport and Seven 270R championships once again shared a grid together, with 270R points leader Harry Cook starting the first race from 3rd place as Angelos Alvanos once again showed his single-lap pace with pole alongside Andrew Murgatroyd. A leading group of six quickly developed with the above trio joined by Lars Hoffmann, Andy Lees and Ben Lopez-Appleton, and the sextet stayed together for just about the entire race, apart from a small coming together between Hoffmann and Lopez-Appleton at Club forcing the pair to catch back up in the second half of the race. After several laps of position swapping, Cook eventually came out on top after Alvanos gave away his lead exiting the final chicane, forcing him to settle for 2nd place with Lees in 3rd from Lopez-Appleton, Murgatroyd and Hoffmann. The second race featured mostly more of the same as Alvanos led the early stages, but ended up in a healthy four-car battle which was headed by Hoffmann throughout the second half of the race, ending up with the win from Lopez-Appleton and Alvanos with Lees in 4th and Giuseppe Felet driving brilliantly from the back of the 270R grid to 5th after he was disqualified from Race 1 for overtaking under yellow flags.

The Roadsport segment of the first combined grid race was equally as thrilling, as a breakaway trio of Tom Wyllys, Blair McConachie and Wes Payne dominated at the head of the field as they duelled both on their own and then amongst some of the 270R backmarkers. McConachie may have ended the first lap in 6th place, but he managed to work his way to the lead on the next lap and would trade positions with Wyllys and McConachie on several occasions until McConachie won the sprint to the flag against his main rival from last year’s Caterham Academy White Group, with the persistent Payne on their tail in 3rd place. Carl Jones managed to make the most of a rapid start to jump into the lead in the opening laps and then traded the lead with Wyllys and Eyre, but in the end, Wyllys was able to pull away in the lead to the tune of just over 3 seconds through the lapped traffic to claim his third win in four races with Jones and Eyre rounding off the podium.

The other combined grid accommodated the Caterham Seven 310R and Seven UK Championships with defending Seven UK champion John Byrne once again dominating qualifying and the Superpole on his way to two more wins across both days to continue his 100% race-winning record in 2020. The first race on Saturday was affected by a mid-race rain shower as Byrne led the way with Henry Heaton in pursuit. Initially, a safety car kept everyone close together, but on the restart, Byrne tried to make his usual getaway and managed to extend a comfortable margin in the end despite Heaton taking back some time in the final couple of laps. Byrne would win from Heaton in 2nd place, while a constant back and forth battle for 3rd place saw Rob Watts managed to beat Jake Swann-Dixon by just over a quarter of a second for the final podium spot. Another early safety car in Race 2 made sure that, while Byrne still led from pole, his advantage was significantly reduced as Heaton, Swann-Dixon and Stephen Nuttall (making up ground after getting caught up in the Lap 1 incident in Race 1) kept him honest throughout the remainder of the race after the restart. The four cars circulated together for most of the race until a brief lead change put Nuttal just in front, but afterwards, the lapped traffic helped Byrne get back in front and edge away by a couple of seconds to make it four wins from four, while Nuttall took 2nd ahead of Heaton.

The 310R ranks were incredibly competitive with plenty of position swapping in both races. Lewis Thompson led from pole position with his closest opposition coming from James Murphy and Tom Grensinger in the early laps before Murphy moved into a lead that he would hold for several laps. Traffic once again played its part as Murphy was incredibly caught at one stage by the hard-charging Caterham CEO himself, Graham MacDonald who even led a lap in the latter part of the race before he was eventually shuffled down to 7th place at the finish. In front, Murphy resisted late pressure to claim victory in Race 1, while a skirmish at the final chicane ended up switching the order around to give Monks 2nd place and Don Henshall a surprise 3rd, followed by Thompson and Chris Moore. Beginning the second race, MacDonald made a storming getaway from the grid to charge from 7th to the lead at the end of the opening lap, but Murphy was able to pass him just before the safety car was called. Murphy continued to lead after the restart, but MacDonald managed to find a way past and back in front, where he would stay for several laps in command of the race. However, a big shuffle while contending with the slower Seven UK cars put Monks into the lead with a few laps to go ahead of Grensinger and Thompson with MacDonald down from 1st to 4th in one lap. Some fierce battling in the last three laps with plenty of back and forth passing eventually saw fortunes fall the way of Thompson, who charged out of the final chicane to take an emphatic and popular first Caterham race win followed by Monks, Grensinger, Murphy and MacDonald in the end.

Outside of Caterhams, there was plenty of superb racing to be seen and enjoyed. Saturday’s main event was an epic four-hour race for the FunCup Championship, making its very first appearance at Thruxton in its 18-year history, meaning a venture into the unknown with no certainty of who would be favourite to win. Axiametrics and PLR Racing shared the front row of the grid from the random draw, but the #106 car of Make Happen Racing/ 2Rent Dominos would move to the lead before the end of the opening lap and remained in front when the safety car was called for one of their teammates after they ended up hitting the barriers backwards at Noble, leaving the #49 car of Harry Mailer and Chris Walton out on the spot. When racing restarted, what followed was an epic three-car battle for 1st between the 2Rent Dominos car of Chris Hart and Henry Dawes, the #103 Enduro Motorsport team of Morgan Tillbrook and Chris Weatherill and the #249 Team 7 trio family trio of Alan, Rory and Sam Brown, all three cars constantly enjoying position swapping through to the first round of pit stops. However, by the end of the first hour, it was the defending champions Uvio/ Hoffmans Lotus that was now at the head of the lead group with the #221 DespatchBay Express duo of Andy Bicknell and Marcus Clutton in 2nd place with 2Rent Dominos and the Axiametrics car of Kristian Rose, Chris Dovell and Riley Phillips now making it a four-car battle for 1st place.

As the race moved through to the second half after the second round of stops, the race calmed down to something of a lull with Uvio/ Hoffmanns Lotus and Axiametrics swapping the lead back and forth between them, something that also lasted through the third pit stop window too, while the Team 7 WASPP car of Jay Shepherd and Ed Worthington held the final podium spot in 3rd. Just after the final hour commenced, the safety car reappeared for an issue for the TrackFocused car, bunching the pack back up with just one pit stop window left. Once it had all shaken out, Axiametrics led the way by several seconds with Uvio/Hoffmanns Lotus being closed down by Team 7 WASPP, and their cause was helped by a late final safety car to ensure the last few minutes provided a sprint to the finish. Immediately the top three had the advantage, and Team 7 WASPP wasted no time in picking off both Uvio/ Hoffmanns Lotus and Axiametrics to take the lead. Axiametrics would also take 2nd place, but wasn’t able to reclaim the lead as the chequered flag dropped, giving Shepherd and Worthington their first win for their Team 7 WASPP car, with Axiametrics in 2nd place and Uvio/ Hoffmanns Lotus in 3rd. 2Rent Dominos picked up 4th with DespatchBay Express filling out the top 5.

The Nankang Tyre BMW Compact Cup produced some superb action across all three of their races over the weekend. Steven Dailly managed to lead the way in Race 1, but was pressured all the way by a very fast starting David May, with a safety car on the opening lap after a multi-car incident exiting Church corner. Once the race restarted, Dailly and May ensured they were the class of the field, remaining in this order for the rest of the race until the chequered flag as Dailly took his first win of the 2020 season. May equalled his personal best result of 2nd place, while Tom Griffiths managed to make great progress from the restart to eventually rise up to 3rd ahead of Mikey Doble and Jordan Stilp. A red flag in Race 2 forced the race to come to a stop after the wet conditions caused May and Thomas Langford to come together as they attempted to negotiate Village on an increasingly damp track. This left a five-minute sprint for those still running, and through all the frantic skirmishes came Jordan Stilp, who worked his way to the front and stayed there to clinch his first Compact Cup win in only his fourth start in the championship, with Ben Huntley and Ian Jones following suit on the podium ahead of Oliver Faller and Guy Davis. The third race ended up turning out to be a classic Compact Cup race, with the field all bunched close together in the opening couple of laps with plenty of close battles. 

A strong start from Wayne Flint almost saw him in a position to lead the opening lap and while he did get in front briefly, it was Dailly who led from Griffiths and then Flint. It wasn’t long before both Ben Huntley and Ian Jones pushed their way towards the front to get into the fight for 3rd place, but by that time Dailly and Griffiths were now in a race of their own for the lead. By the end of lap 5, they were some ten seconds clear from the pack, which was putting on a sensational show for the spectators with positions changing hands every lap. But in the lead, it would be Griffiths that snatched P1 from Dailly with five laps to go and, despite a brief switch around on the penultimate lap, Tom would go on to become the first driver to win their second race of the season, ahead of Dailly in P2. As for 3rd place, the almighty sort out eventually fell the way of top Masters driver Wayne Flint who picked up the final podium spot ahead of Davis and Jones.

More saloon car action came on Sunday with the Milltek Civic Cup, which saw Bruce Winfield continue to stake his claim for the title by dominating Race 1. Leading from the front row and beating pole-sitter Morgan Bailey away from the line, Winfield would lead every single lap and despite managing to extend a gap of over four seconds at one point, he was closed down in the closing stages to win by only 1.2 seconds. The man catching him was Max Lewis, who picked up 2nd place but had to beat Alistair Camp to the flag in a drag race to take the position by just two-tenths of a second, followed by Paul Taylor and George Alp-Williams. With the top ten from the Race 1 result reversed on the grid for the second encounter, David Buky pushed his way through from 5th to the lead on the opening lap and managed to hold the place for the opening two laps, but a charging Morgan Bailey got onto his tail on Lap 3 where both their fortunes would change. As the pair approached the Club chicane, Bailey ended up clipping the back of Buky’s car, sending both skating off the road with Morgan hitting the tyres and Buky coming to a stop just before them. Thankfully, both drivers were OK but out of the race on the spot. The ensuing safety car bunched up the pack and on the restart, Max Lewis headed up Winfield for the remaining three laps to claim his first win of the season, with Winfield in 2nd place and Camp in 3rd once again from Alp-Williams and Taylor.

Also in support on this weekend was the excellent Toyo Tires Racing Saloons from Project 8 Racing, bringing a fantastic mixture of cars on the grid including those regularly found in series such as Z Cars and the Production BMW Championship. Across both races, it was domination from the BMW E36 M3 of Stuart Waite, as he cruised to two relatively easy wins at the head of the field, while former Fiesta and Production GTi racer Dan Rose claimed a pair of 2nd places in his VW Golf GTi Mk5. The overall 3rd places in both races would be shared out by Farard Darver in his E46 generation BMW M3 in Race 1, while Edd Giddings came home as the top BMW Z4 in 3rd place overall in Race 2.

Scott Woodwiss