BRSCC SHINES AT SUPERB CADWELL PARK SUMMER RACE FEST


There was a reason to smile and be happy this past weekend for the BRSCC, as the club took several of its top championships north to Lincolnshire and the magnificent Cadwell Park circuit for the first two-day race meeting of 2020, which took place in mostly glorious sunshine and clear skies – apart from a cameo appearance from the rain towards the end of Saturday’s racing. While two championships carried on from their opening races at Oulton Park, a further ten series kicked off their delayed campaigns in fantastic fashion.

The majority of the timetable was dominated by all five championships on the Caterham Motorsport roster, all but one of whom were making their first on-track starts this year. The exception was the Caterham Academy, who were thankfully enjoying much better conditions than those they had to deal with for their very first races at Oulton Park. The Green Group competed first, with first-round rivals Tom Cockerill and Chris Skillicorn on the front row together again, and while Cockerill led the opening lap it was Skillicorn who took the lead a lap later before the safety car appeared after two laps to clear up an incident between Micah Lazarus and Bruce Duckworth. When racing resumed, the pair ended up racing away from the rest of the pack again, swapping places back and forth several times before Skillicorn drove to the flag for his first win of the season. Cockerill was forced to settle for 2nd while Gwyndaf Jones managed to end up as best of the rest by claiming the final podium place, managing to beat Deniz Erkan-Bax by less than a second to the line to hold on; Colin Gould completed the top 5.

A completely different front row turned up for the White Group race as Taylor O’Flanagan clinched pole alongside Simon Shaw, with O’Flanagan managing to hold the lead on the opening lap but with Hugo Bush making a quick start to slot into 2nd place ahead of Shaw. O’Flanagan led in the early laps before Bush managed to find a way past on Lap 4 and was able to fend off most of Taylor’s attacks aside from letting him slip by on Lap 7. After Bush repassed him and remained in front for a few more laps, it was left to the final sprint to the line to decide the win, with O’Flanagan just stealing it by over a tenth of a second while Shaw picked up 3rd ahead of Oulton Park winner Domenique Mannsperger and Ian Brown in the top 5.

The first combined Caterham grid of the weekend saw the Roadsport and Seven 270R Championships, with the Roadsport drivers allocated into Groups A, B and C after qualifying in order to ensure everyone was able to contest two races each. Groups A and B raced first with Wes Payne on pole alongside Dimitris Melas, but despite the rain falling just before the start of the race, it was a rapid launch from Tom Wyllys that helped him hit the front for the first few laps before he was shuffled down to 3rd by Payne and Melas on Lap 4. A safety car quickly followed, but on the restart Wyllys wasted no time in not only working his way back into the lead, but also amongst some of the faster 270R machines! From here he was dominant, as he managed to create a gap of just over nine seconds in the end for an easy win with Carl Jones also pouncing on an opportunity to claim 2nd place as pole man Payne had to settle for 3rd.

Payne had a chance at redemption on Sunday for the Groups A and C race, starting again on pole with Blair McConachie alongside him as top Group C runner. Again, the front row pair were beaten away, this time by Harry Eyre from the second row, but he only remained in the lead for two laps before Wyllys was able to lead once more for a couple more laps as the two drivers swapped positions again. In the end, Wyllys would end up never headed for the remainder of the encounter, taking the win with McConachie trailing in his wake by more than five seconds to pick up P2 and Eyre several seconds further back in 3rd to complete the podium from William Brunt and Wes Payne. The third Roadsport race was standalone for Groups B and C, putting Melas on pole alongside McConachie, with the Scot managed to lead from the front row and was ultimately never headed. Nick Allbones managed to take 2nd place on Lap 2 from Melas, who would sadly retire from this race, and with Eyre in 3rd the podium places stayed the same, ultimately resulting in a safety car finish after a late incident. McConachie, Allbones and Eyre would take to the podium,ahead of Carl Jones in 4th and David Gracey in 5th.

Over in the two 270R Championship races, Harry Cook would start on pole for both but couldn’t hold the lead at the start of Race 1 thanks to Lars Hoffmann sneaking through to take the lead. He would do so until just before the safety car when Cook was able to repass in time before they reached the boards and flag, and that move ultimately helped Harry maintain his place at the head of the field and win the first race. Andrew Murgatroyd did a sterling job despite Cadwell’s tight confines to move up from 6th on the grid to finish in 2nd place ahead of Hoffmann in 3rd, followed by Andy Lees and Angelos Alvanos in 4th and 5th. Murgatroyd’s front row start for Race 2 allowed him to head the field at the start and would do so for the first laps before Cook took over on Lap 6 and was again never headed from there, ensuring he began the season with a double victory ahead of Hoffmann and Alvanos, while Murgatroyd dropped to 4th ahead of Giuseppe Felet.

The other shared grid for Caterham Motorsport would be the combined line up for the Seven 310R and newly rebranded Seven UK Championship, formerly the 420R Championship but changing its name after the series gained National status from Motorsport UK during the off-season. Greg Monks ended up heading a close four-car battle for the lead between long time leader James Murphy (who held on until lap 18), Tom Grensinger and Matt Sheppard, with the quartet finishing in this order separated by just over 1.5 seconds, while Lewis Thompson was a further two seconds back. Grensinger would then get the jump on both front row starters Monks and Murphy in the second race, immediately taking P1 and holding on from start to finish to win, despite Murphy getting incredibly close towards the end of the race. Lewis Thompson scored a superb first podium followed by Race 1 winner Monks and James Wingfield.

Ahead of them in the Seven UK ranks, defending champion John Byrne picked up where he left off from 2019 by clinching the first Superpole of the season and was effectively never headed in either race. The main action was behind him for 2nd place and Race 1 was a contest between Gordon Sawyer, Stephen Nuttall and Henry Heaton for the position, where despite the initial advantage for Sawyer, he went back and forth with Nuttall as they switched places a number of times. The 310R traffic eventually helped Heaton work his way past both Sawyer and Nuttall before moving away from them to clinch 2nd behind winner Byrne, with Sawyer on the final podium spot, Nuttall in 4th and Jake Swann-Dixon clinching a top 5 finish. While Byrne ran away with another victory to do the double, despite pressure in the early laps, the duel for 2nd place was intense as Heaton and Sawyer were once again duelling with each other with Nuttall and Swann-Dixon tagging along. In the end, it became a frantic scrap for the runner-up spot and on the sprint to the chequered flag, a typical photo finish occurred with Sawyer only just pipping Heaton by a mere 0.001 seconds – one-thousandth! Nuttall and Swann-Dixon completed the top five once again.

Outside the Caterham Motorsport action, the largest entry was found within the Mazda MX-5 Championship, with the grid split into three groups after the traditional two qualifying sessions to determine who gets allocated where. Oliver Allwood and Joe Wiggin shared the front row for the first race for Groups A and B, but it was Wiggin who would lead the way in the first race as he resisted immense pressure from both Allwood and former double champion Will Blackwell-Chambers. Wiggin managed to fend both off to take the first win of the year, while Allwood took back 2nd from Blackwell-Chambers after the first few laps and defended to take 2nd with WB-C in 3rd, followed by Jack Brewer and Fraser Fenwick. Wiggin was at it again in the Groups A and C race, leading once again from pole and remaining in front for every lap to complete a superb double. After early battles with Luff before the AB Motorsport driver spun off the track at Hall Bends early on, MCR teammates Mike Comber and Blackwell-Chambers switched places a couple of times with Comber claiming 2nd place ahead of his champion teammate, while Brewer took another 4th place and Sebastian Fisher a personal best with 5th. 

The final race of the weekend for Groups B and C gave AB Motorsport a chance to flex their collective muscles, as the trio of Allwood, Brian Trott and Luff had a titanic scrap with Comber and another fellow MCR driver in Steve Foden. The race had to be red-flagged at two-thirds distance after a bizarre accident for Jake Taplin which thankfully he managed to walk away from, but when racing resumed for the final three laps, the AB trio exerted their authority as Allwood took his first top grid win in a couple of years at last, with Trott in 2nd and Luff only just beating Comber to the flag for the final podium place, and Foden completing the top 5.

More Mazda entertainment came from the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup with a bumper grid of almost 30 cars thanks to the championship reuniting with competitors from the MX-5 Super Series to create a full grid of Mk3 MX-5s once again. James Blake-Baldwin claimed pole position but only really make the most of it for two flying laps as an early safety car for Martin Plowman’s stranded car at The Mountain put him under pressure on the restart from three-time defending champion Luke Herbert, who found a way past on Lap 5 and absorbed the pressure from thereon in to claim the first win of the season. Blake-Baldwin finished 2nd, but after the race was excluded for a technical infringement due to an incorrect ECU serial number, therefore promoting former Mk1 title contender Samuel Smith to 2nd place and a long-awaited first podium went the way of Patrick Fletcher in 3rd. With Blake-Baldwin also suffering engine issues preventing him from starting Race 2, Smith was left on his own at the front of the grid and enjoyed a mega battle with Fletcher, Jack Sycamore and Simon Baldwin for most of the green flag running. A safety car finish due to a car stopped out on circuit meant the finishing order was locked in, giving Smith an amazing first win on his debut SuperCup weekend, followed by a best finish for Sycamore with 2nd and Baldwin taking 3rd.

All of those drivers were competing in one of the two new classes that had been created for 2020, with all those aforementioned in the Pro Class. In the Club class, Xavier Brooke won in Race 1 ahead of Liz Walton and Gary Mitchell, before Clive Powles made up for missing the first encounter by dominating the 2nd, followed by Brooke and Walton on the podium. In the Masters contests, George Grant would take the flag as top driver in Race 1, while Simon Baldwin’s 3rd place overall was more than enough to mark him as top Masters contender in Race 2.

There was some great hot hatch action with a combined grid between two more championships, as the Hyperdrive ST-XR headed to Cadwell Park for its second race meeting of the season and welcomed onto their grid the BRSCC Fiesta Championship racing with MRF Tyres. The developing battle for the title between William Heslop and Mark Robinson continued in Lincolnshire as they drove away from the rest of the pack in Race 1, with Robinson leading most of the way apart from a brief switch early on and taking his second win of the season, while Tensport Performance teammates Sam Beckett and Chris Grimes finished in team formation with Beckett in 3rd and Grimes in 4th place, while Lewis Bowron took 5th. Wet conditions for the second race saw an early stoppage when Lee and Lewis Bowron both crashed in the opening corners, forcing a restart. When it got underway again, Heslop took his turn to lead from the front and did so at a canter to beat Robinson by five seconds to bring the event win tally level, as Grimes took his turn in 3rd place from Beckett and Jason Hennefer,. Thankfully the weather was considerably better for the final race on Sunday and it was Heslop who broke the deadlock, but only just as Robinson picked up P2 just half a second back in the end and Grimes collecting 3rd once more with Beckett 4th again. Jason Hennefer finishes all three races as the sole Escort XR3i with a best overall result of 6th, while Matthew Morton picked up two wins in Class A in his Fiesta XR2 before Simon Robinson repaid the hard work of his mechanics the night before to not only win the class in Race 3 but a superb 5th overall.

The Fiesta Championship not only had the usual points scoring runners but also a special pair of Invitation Class cars as John Cooper and David Nye piloted a pair of turbocharged Mk7 Fiesta ST180s. Both cars started at the head of the pack in every race, but also started a lap down by default to ensure they remained out of the way of those who were battling for points. Last year’s Fiesta Junior champion Olly Turner had set the pole time in qualifying, but a driveshaft issue when leaving the grid for the formation lap left him out before the race had started. The battle in Race 1 ended up being between 20Ten Racing’s Sam Watkins and newcomer Luke Pinder, although it was resolved in an unfortunate way when the pair made contact at the Hairpin, leaving Watkins in the tyres as Pinder drove to victory from Joshua Watkins, Ethan Rogers and rookies Spencer Stevenson and Dominic Bush. The Watkins brothers were able to master the damp conditions in Race 2 as Joshua took his turn at the front and won by almost 4 seconds ahead of sibling Sam, while Turner put in a stellar drive to go from the back row of the grid to his first senior podium in 3rd from Pinder and Stevenson. Sam Watkins then made up for being denied the win in Race 1 by taking it in the final encounter on Sunday, fending off race-long pressure from Turner and Stevenson, with the latter stealing 2nd place on the final lap to cap an excellent debut weekend as Turner claimed another senior podium ahead of Rogers and Pinder.

The superb young racing stars of the Fiesta Junior Championship took to the track to race for the first time in 2020 with ten of the eleven car entry making their circuit racing debuts. One driver that already had a grasp of both the car and the circuit was Joseph Loake, who lived up to his 2019 vice-champion status by putting in a sensational lap in qualifying to take pole by just over two seconds! In both races he was simply on another level, charging away from the front on both occasions, leading every lap and taking two dominant wins with the fastest lap in each to boot to fire an early warning shot to his new rivals. Of the new breed of Fiesta Junior racers, it was Will Orton who ended up strongest of the lot as he clinched a pair of hard-earned 2nd places for new team Alastair Rushforth Motorsport, while 3rd places were shared between Albert Webster in Race 1 and Dylan Hotchin in Race 2, both times achieved after some incredible racing in the lead pack behind Loake. Bradley Beavers and Jenson Brickey also managed to claim at least one top-five finish each to mark a successful first weekend of racing.

The last, longest and most highly anticipated race of the timetable came on Sunday afternoon with the BRSCC Clubsport Trophy 45-minute mini-endurance pit-stop race, featuring the all-new BRSCC CityCar Cup on track for the very first time. A superb mixed grid took to the tight and twisty confines of the Lincolnshire circuit and racing was exciting up and down the field. Having started on the front row of the grid, the Lotus Exige of former MX-5 champion Brian Chandler drove superbly through the entire race to claim the overall and Class A win at the flag, with former Formula Ford Festival winner Crissy Palmer scoring 2nd overall and Class B victory in his Mazda MX-5 Mk4 and Olly Samways’ Toyota MR2 SuperGT 3rd overall and second in Class A. Declan Lee and Aidan Hills survived a late stop and go penalty to take Class C honours in their Mk3 Mazda MX-5, the sibling pairing of Craig and Gary Butterworth reached the end in their Class D Renault Clio, and Adam Read’s BMW Compact was best of the Class E drivers as well as 13th overall.

Over in the CityCar Cup portion of the race, ten cars qualified but nine would take the start after Andrew Schofield’s Citroen C1 sadly had an engine problem. Poleman Nic Grindrod drove as if he was in a different league to the rest, quickly drawing away from his rivals and eventually becoming the first-ever CityCar Cup race winner by just over ten seconds. Bad Obsession Motorsport’s Richard Brunning managed to claim a comfortable 2nd place in his C1, a lap ahead of Steve Laidlaw in the first Peugeot 107 home, with Tim Evans taking 4th for the sole Toyota Aygo and Liam Browning’s Citroen completing the top 5.

Scott Woodwiss