BRSCC PRODUCES A SUPREME WEEKEND IN SCOTLAND
A recent trip across the border proved to be quite the adventure for all attending formulae as the BRSCC ventured back to the awesome mini-rollercoaster that is Knockhill Circuit in Scotland, where all of Caterham Motorsport’s quintet of factory championships were in action and joined by exciting tin-top affairs from the BRSCC Fiestas and BMW Compact Cup, all of which were just as entertaining as the next. All competing championships had two very different experiences across the weekend with the regular direction layout used on Saturday, before switching to the Reverse layout for Sunday.
CATERHAM ACADEMY CHAMPIONSHIPS
Both Caterham Academy groups had to make the long trek north to complete the next instalment of their inaugural racing season as they visited Knockhill for the first time. Both the Green and White Groups were out in full force with a race each day allowing them to experience in both directions.
Rrutuj Patki and Ravi Patel had to endure two starts to Race 1 after a red flag incident stopped the first just seconds in, but once properly underway the pair were instantly locked into combat with Darren Butler, as Patel made an impressive side-by-side pass at the chicane to take the lead. Patki used the tow from Patel to clinch a new lap record as the top two battled endlessly and switched positions on multiple occasions, before a backmarker briefly broke them up in the closing stages. On the last lap, Patel hit the back of Patki’s car under braking at the final hairpin, losing 2nd to Simon Sabin at the death as Patki took victory.
On the reverse layout, Sabin got the better of Patki off the start and led most of the way, even surviving an off exiting the chicane downhill early on. Sabin and Patel made light contact at half distance with Sabin carrying on while Patel dropped way back shortly after with a puncture. Despite a number of attacks and mishaps, Sabin stubbornly clung onto the lead during the second half and looked like he had it locked in, but a mistake exiting the last corner allowed Patki and Craig Boyle to steal P1 and P2, leaving Sabin to settle for P3 instead.
Another first corner skirmish took place starting the first White Group race of the season and early battling within the front pack allowed Ben Timmons to make an early escape in the first race. Key rival Tom McEwing took a few laps to close him down and pass for the lead at the half way mark, as Lyonel Tollemache also latched onto the back of the pair afterwards. Timmons didn’t take long to get back in front and pull away, eventually taking the first win of his weekend ahead of McEwing and Duncan Mallett capturing a podium with 3rd.
All of the top three ended up side by side into the first corner on the Reverse layout on Sunday, but Ryan Wilby worked his way into the lead while Timmons and Mallett brought out the safety car on Lap 2 when they tangled and ended up in the gravel. Once the safety car had finished its duties bunching the pack up, Wilby survived a hairy moment at the hairpin but lost the lead to McEwing with Tollemache also following through moments later. The two leaders combatted briefly, but McEwing was able to keep Tollemache at bay to secure another race win, while Edward Cozzi completed the top three with 3rd place.
CATERHAM ROADSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP
There was just a point between Geoff Newman and Charlie Lower heading to Scotland in the Caterham Roadsport Championship, with both drivers eager to get one over each other as the end of the season closes in. Newman ended up on the front row alongside Freddie Chiddicks with Lower on the row behind Geoff for Race 1 and the pair shot off out in front from the outset.
Their advantage was cut short by the safety car for an incident at the hairpin, meaning Chiddicks and co were on their tail at the restart and Freddie pounced on Charlie to take 2nd place. Now a leading trio, all three drivers tried to leave the rest behind but a train formed to build the front group with as many as seven cars grouped together and fighting the podium. After Theo Theato, William James and Marc Jones all tangled late on, the top four were left to themselves as Newman clinched the race win while Lower and Chiddicks touched in the final corners but remained 2nd and 3rd respectively.
With Newman extending his lead heading into Sunday’s race, he couldn’t stop Lower from beating him to the lead from the start, as Geoff dropped back to 4th in the opening few laps before being hit from behind by Paul Woodman but carrying on. Lower, meanwhile, ran off the road at Clark Curve, dropping to the battle for 5th. There would be more contact in the final minutes with Marc Jones at the hairpin with two laps to go, as Chiddicks caught eventual leader James Cook and challenged him on the final lap. Cook only just held on at the flag from Chiddicks, while Mark Kendle also survived a last gasp challenge to hold onto the podium in 3rd.
CATERHAM SEVEN 270R CHAMPIONSHIP
The theme of the same three drivers always occupying the top three places this season continued in the Caterham Seven 270R Championship, as Taylor O’Flanagan, Hugo Bush and Domenique Mannsperger carried on their almost endless back and forth battles in Scotland, as they once again took charge of the 270R field.
Hugo Bush initially led Race 1 with first O’Flanagan and then Mannsperger, the latter going with him as O’Flanagan dropped back to 5th place. Repassing both Philip Bianchi and Gareth Lucas in one move, he wasted no time in catching back up to the leading pair, managing to be on their tail by half distance. All three drivers diced endlessly back and forth as they traded the lead between themselves, but eventually the win fell to Mannsperger after O’Flanagan and Bush had a late battle over 2nd place which released the German up the road to take victory.
Picking up where he left off from Saturday, Mannsperger set off on Sunday with a view to securing a brace of wins and grabbed the lead from pole from the outside, but soon he was again under threat from both Bush and O’Flanagan with Gwyn Jones and Bianchi also in the mix too to form a leading quintet out front. Just past half distance, O’Flanagan took his turn to lead but only held on for another seven minutes before it was Bush’s turn to get out in front, leaving the rest to fight over each other. The leaders became spread out in the final minutes, allowing Bush to drive hassle-free to his first win since Brands Hatch in 2022, leaving O’Flanagan to pick up runner-up spot and Mannsperger to complete the podium.
CATERHAM SEVEN 310R CHAMPIONSHIP
Pete Walters was keen to try and hold onto his points lead in the Caterham Seven 310R Championship at Knockhill with Harry George only eight points back heading into the weekend. His run throughout the season had seen him take the bulk of the victories and two more in Scotland would do nicely for his 2022 title charge.
He couldn’t better 3rd on the grid in qualifying for Race 1 as Harry Cook and Jack Sales took up the front row, but out of all the front starters it was Alan Cooper who got the hole shot into the first corner. Cook and Walters didn’t take long to move into 1st and second respectively before the trio were joined by Sales, Harry George and more in what seemed to be a never-ending lead group of cars. First Cook, then Sales and then Walters all took turns to head the pack as the leaders remained 10 cars deep and it would be these three drivers that continued to trade the lead between them, until they entered the last corner three wide. Cook out-braked himself on the outside line, Sales missed a gear exiting the hairpin and Walters ended up with victory ahead of Harry George and Carl Jones coming from nowhere to pick up 3rd.
Walters and George were level pegging at the end of the first lap of Race 2, before Sales quickly inserted himself back into the lead battle early on with Cook and Cooper creating a familiar leading quintet. A safety car for an off at Clark Curve gave George the chance to hold position in the lead for a few laps, but soon enough both Walters and Sales were in the mix just after the restart demoting him to 3rd. He quickly moved back up to P1 and defended hard in the final minutes, but by the final lap he was chasing Walters and incredibly stole the win from Walters right on the line; Harry Cook rounded off the podium with P3.
CATERHAM SEVEN CHAMPIONSHIP UK
Both Aaron Head and Henry Heaton knew that outscoring each other would be the main aim from the Caterham Seven Championship UK weekend at Knockhill with ten points separating them as they headed to Scotland.
Initially, Heaton watched on as Head, James Murphy and Lewis Thompson passed P1 between them throughout the opening stages of Race 1, even going three wide through the hairpin at the end of one lap during the first half. Both Head and Murphy’s fortunes took a nosedive when the latter hit the former at the hairpin a few laps later, leaving Dale Head and Heaton to become Thompson’s main pursuers, but it wasn’t long before Thompson checked out in front to leave the pack to scrap for 2nd. Thompson took an easy first win of the weekend, while Aaron Head remarkably fought back to take P2 on the final lap but received a penalty which pushed him down to 9th, giving Jake Swann and Heaton P2 and P3.
Thompson did as he’d left off from Saturday and shot into the lead in the first Reverse layout race on Sunday, and Swann was able to chase after him in the early stages. Staying close most of the way, his attempts to take the lead were eventually foiled by Head who stole 2nd in the final minutes and took his turn to steal Thompson’s second win of the meeting. Ultimately he was unable to as Lewis took the flag first, while Swann took his revenge again on the line by beating Head to get back his 2nd place.
There were some nervous looks on the grid for the final race with a light rain show dampened the circuit slightly, as Thompson pushed back an initial James Murphy move to remain in the lead as the pack twitched its way around the opening laps. Aaron Head had a massive moment exiting the chicane which pushed him back down the order to 10th, leaving Thompson to make his third escape from Murphy and Swann. The top three stayed as it was for most of the race, even through a late safety car, although the recovering Head made Murphy and Swann’s life difficult in the final couple of laps, but in the sprint to the line the top three remained as Thompson, Murphy and Swann in the end.
AIRTEC MOTORSPORT FIESTA CHAMPIONSHIP
The title battle in the AIRTEC Motorsport Fiesta Championship took more critical twists and turns on its latest outing to Knockhill in Scotland, as Jenson Brickley looked to try and keep his point lead as healthy as possible over main rival Alastair Kellett. Experiencing both directions of the circuit across both days would mean two very different challenges to cope with.
Defending champion Rob Smith kept up his race-winning form from Cadwell and stuck it on pole for Race 1, leaping straight into the lead from Brickley and Spencer Stevenson in the opening couple of laps before Alastair Kellett took P3 from Stevenson. Initially, Brickley put the pressure on Smith and kept the lead gap under a second, only to come under pressure from a charging Zachary Lucas who had taken 3rd for himself and was on his tail. As 2nd, 3rd and 4th traded places amongst themselves throughout the second half of the race, Smith was able to extend a lead out in front, one that would not be challenged by the chequered flag as he won by over three seconds. In the end, the rest of the podium places were taken by Brickley in P2 and Lucas in P3, with Kellett just missing out in 4th. Joseph Knight started off his weekend well in the ST150 class with the win there from Nick Moore and Thomas Davis.
A rocket start from John Cooper saw him climb from 6th on the grid to the lead at the start of Sunday’s first race with a hungry battle pack on his tale from the outset. His lead only lasted three laps as William Kellett worked his way to the front of the group, bringing Brickley with him as the top two began to drift away from the rest. Ultimately, despite Jenson pushing as hard as he dared given his championship situation, the younger of the two Kelletts appeared to have more than enough pace to keep him at bay and pull a larger lead gap to as big as almost four seconds at one point. Brickley would come back at him in the final laps and only finished 1.6 seconds away at the flag as William Kellett took his first overall ST240 race win in the championship, while Spencer Stevenson did an excellent job to take 3rd. Nick Moore found his way back to the front of the ST150 pack ahead of Davis and Burdis this time.
The third race was the most frantic of them all, as well as being one that Jenson Brickley would rather forget. On the approach to the first corner, Brickley lost control and ended up careering into the side of Barry-John McHenry down at the hairpin, effectively ending up on his side. Both cars were out on the spot and done for the day, leaving Cooper on his own on pole for the restart, and from here he managed to put right that which he wasn’t able to maintain in Race 2. Cooper saw off pressure from Stevenson and then Lucas until the latter went off on Lap 8, eventually leading to the race being red flagged once again and this time declared. Cooper held on to the win, while the Kelletts took full advantage with Alastair gaining key points in the championship fight with 2nd and earlier winner William taking P3. It now sets up an intense showdown at Brands Hatch for the title between Brickley and Kellett which will certainly be something to watch!
BRSCC FIESTA JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP
In their first visit ever since the championship began in 2012, the Fiesta Juniors made their inaugural trip to Knockhill in Scotland with Sid Smith fresh off the back of a hat-trick of wins to increase his lead in the points over Thomas Jack Lee. Thomas needed to get his own back this time and set out get the better of Sid and the rest of the pack from the outset.
Despite Smith taking pole for the first two races, Lee was quick to move into the lead from the start of Race 1, crossing the line almost two seconds ahead of the rest of the pack at the end of the opening tour. Albert Webster had managed to take 2nd place and held strong at the head of the chasing collective until Smith retook P2 on Lap 4, but by this point Lee was already over 3 seconds out in front. The lead gap steadily fluctuated for the rest of the race until it remained steady enough for Lee to comfortably drive to the flag unchallenged. Lee was victorious from Smith in P2 with Ben Mulryan working his way past Webster to complete the podium in 3rd. Brand new guest driver Sam Neser also impressed greatly with 5th place on his first FJC start.
Moving onto the Reverse layout for Sunday’s action, Lee was again able to hit the front from the outset, as both Smith and Webster took turns in 2nd place early on. Once Webster was through, his sights were firmly set on catching and passing his Race Car Consultants teammate and remained under a second away for most of the encounter. It was only when Webster made a mistake with a couple of laps to go that Lee’s lead extended to over three seconds by the chequered flag, and Albert would face more deja vu as he lost 2nd to Smith on the final lap too, something that was shades of Snetterton’s final race earlier in the season.
The third race looked as though it played out much the same as the other two, with Lee getting into the lead and Webster, Smith, Mulryan and co doing the chasing behind him. Mulryan managed to move to 2nd from the start, but teammate Webster slipped by him after a couple of laps and again set off after the leader. However, this time the circumstances changed a little – Lee’s enthusiasm to use as much track as possible ended up landing him a five second time penalty for track limits, which forced him to push harder and pull out a lead of 5.5 by the finish, ensuring that Webster stayed behind him on the timing screen by just 0.5 seconds once factored in. Mulryan again picked up P3 and with Smith finishing in 4th, it left Lee considerably closer in the standings as the Brands Hatch finale beckons.
NANKANG TYRE BMW COMPACT CUP
With the end of the season approaching fast in the Nankang Tyre BMW Compact Cup, time is running out for anyone to stop the almost inevitable title victory for Mikey Doble, and the recent latest rounds at Knockhill in Scotland were the latest chance for his rivals to try and put the brakes on his runaway charge.
Ian Howes made a great start to proceedings with pole in qualifying on Saturday, and he was quick to convert this into the lead straight away in Race 1, with Guy Davis and Doble falling into line behind him. The top three remained in the same order for the opening five laps, before a mistake from Howes saw him slip to 4th as Davis took over in front. Also in the mix making his second guest appearance of the year was Steven Dailly, now running 3rd at this stage and keeping the top two in his sights. For most of the remainder of the race, it looked as though the top four would stay as it was, but an incredible late charge from Howes saw him pick off each of the top three one by one in the last five laps, eventually ending up behind Richard Sutherland who had somehow climbed into the lead late on but dropped to 5th on the final lap. Howes’ recovery saw him snatch the win ahead of Doble in 2nd and Davis completing the podium. Sutherland was still able to take the Masters win nonetheless.
Now onto the Reverse layout for Sunday, Howes set off as he had done the day before, leading from pole but only for two laps this time before Doble made his way in front. Mikey quickly built up a 1 second lead, but this would be the furthest he’d end up from Howes as Ian was able to slowly reel him back towards him in the closing stages. By the time the chequered flag flew, Doble was only victorious by just over three tenths, while Dailly collected 3rd place but the points for that position were taken by Gareth Claydon thanks to Dailly’s guest status. Mike Doble’s P6 overall also gave him another Masters win.
Pete Smith was the man who picked up pole for the randomly drawn top 10 for Race 3, but both Doble and Dailly quickly picked him off to push him to 3rd on the opening lap. Both Doble and Dailly raced off on their own and didn’t waste time building a large gap to the rest of the field. Dailly kept on Doble’s bumper and waited until the right moment to pass for the lead on Lap 15 and using all of his experience and guile, Steven kept Mikey at bay all the way to the flag, taking his first Compact Cup victory since the final round of 2021. Of course, being a guest meant Doble took the full points instead in 2nd, while Gareth Claydon’s excellent 3rd place completed the podium. Mike Doble Snr was also another Masters Trophy winner.