The opening outing of 2024 for the TCR UK Touring Car Championship burst into life on a bright and sunny spring BRSCC weekend at Brands Hatch in Kent on the Indy circuit, as three tin-top races provided some spectacular entertainment across both days. In addition, the support package was just as thrilling with action up and down the paddock in all formulas. It certainly was a memorable occasion for all involved!

The TCR UK Touring Car Championship headlined Brands Hatch with the first triple header of races for the season, featuring a grid that included champion Carl Boardley plus a great mix of returning and new names that featured the debut of both Swedish TCR ace Viktor Andersson, and a first UK appearance of the Lynk & Co 03 TCR courtesy of Pro Alloys Racing.

Andersson and the Lynk & Co made an instant impact with a front row starting spot for race one alongside pole sitter Callum Newsham before beating him to Paddock Hill Bend first time. Resisting severe pressure from behind by Newsham, Boardley and co, Andersson drove superbly to hold them back and claim his and Lynk & Co’s first ever TCR UK wins on their respective debuts, ahead of the CUPRAs of Boardley and Adam Shepherd.

A lightning start for Shepherd saw him leap from eighth on the partially reversed grid to the lead at the start of race two, never looking back and clinching a comfortable win in the CUPRA ahead of Newsham in second and Joe Marshall’s Audi in third. Then it was time for Newsham to step forwards and claim his first win in TCR UK at last, starting race three from pole once more, beating Andersson to turn one this time and surviving an early safety car to take victory. Andersson originally took P2 before post-race disqualification for failing ride height checks, promoting Boardley and Shepherd to second and third.

The trio of races for the Milltek Sport Civic Cup proved to be just as energetic as many had anticipated, especially with such a talent stacked grid of drivers for 2024. 2023 champion Max Edmundson began his title defence from pole in race one, and kept newcomer Spencer Stevenson at bay to start the season with a win, with former TCR champion Josh Files collecting a fine third on series debut.

A pair of red flags coloured an action-packed second race on Sunday morning, but the race did allow former Civic champion Alistair Camp to prove his pace in the newer shape FN2 model, and he would be declared the victor in his first weekend in the new car, followed by Harvey Caton and Will Redford. More heated battles took place early in race three before the Area Motorsport trio of Edmundson, Lewis Kent and Files completed a team lockout of the podium at the chequered flag.

BRSCC’s young racers in the Fiesta Junior Championship turned out at Brands Hatch for their first points-scoring races of the year after many began at the non-points Silverstone weekend a few weeks prior. The weekend began with a win for Jenson O’Neill-Going in race one after leading from start to finish, ahead of Mk7 class winner Jacob Hodgkiss from Finn Leslie and Tommy Harfield, before the same first three drivers made up the top of race two’s results with Jenson Mason third in Mk7s.

A gearbox issue for O’Neill-Going’s car forced him to drop back in race three, allowing a terrific three car fight at the front between Leslie, Hodgkiss and Mason. Finn would get to the chequered flag first to claim his first win of the year, topping the Mk7s with the aforementioned Hodgkiss and Garford behind him. O’Neill-Going was still top Mk6 as he was all weekend, with class podiums also shared between Callie Clifford and Michael Wheeler.

The new AIRTEC Motorsport Fiesta ST240 Championship season also produced plenty of entertainment on their first weekend permanently supporting TCR UK. Zachary Lucas mimicked his start to 2023 by taking pole for race one and holding the lead from start to finish through a late safety in Saturday’s encounter, despite heavy pressure from Alastair Kellett behind him in second, the pair ahead of Gary Miller in third in Pro class. Am class victory went to FJC graduate Dan Lewis ahead of fellow former Juniors James Pope and Henry Howarth.

A red flagged start to race two gave Kellett the chance he needed to get a good enough start to beat Lucas to turn one and despite Zachary keeping the Irishman on his toes all race, Kellett kept his nerve to claim his first win of 2024, the pair again ahead of Miller in third as they all topped Pro class. Am class went the way of Pope this time from Lewis and Caitlyn May.

Race three was a momentous occasion for Dan Lewis in particular. After shooting the gap between the front row pair, he dominated out in front to claim his first ST240 win on his debut weekend and became the first Am class driver to take a victory outright. Lucas Hayden was top Pro driver in second ahead of Lucas in third, while Kellett completed the Pro top three and Archie Johnson and Pope were on the Am podium.

There was much hype and anticipation for the first ever points-scoring races for the Audi TT Cup Racing Championship, their first as a fully fledged championship. A bumper capacity entry allowed all competitors to race on one grid together. They made an incredible sight on track as race one got underway, with pole sitter Carl Swift leading initially before battling with Matt Luff over top spot. The top two were in a race of their own with Swift holding station to claim the first championship race win in TTCup history, with Luff second and Harry Yardley-Rose a few seconds back in third.

There was no change in the winner for race two as Swift quickly created a gap while Luff ended up facing the wrong way at Druids on lap two. Swift pushed on to grab the second win of the weekend, ensuring he took near maximum points from the meeting with Bradley Burns capturing second this time ahead of Yardley-Rose once again in third.

Former Vinyl Detail Fiesta ST150 Challenge champion Mike Blackburn ensured he kicked off his 2024 campaign in the best possible way by leaping into the lead in race one on Saturday afternoon. He was chased for the entire 15 minutes by eventual podium finishers Matt Pimlott and Dan Robinson after they’d passed Dillon Davis mid way through, but Mike held steady to clinch the first win of the season.

Blackburn then duplicated his start from race two and again was unshaken from P1 for the duration, benefitting from a late safety car that saw him get a big jump on the rest of the pack thanks to Pimlott suffering mechanical issues and pitting just before the restart. Blackburn made it two out of two at the flag, joined on the podium this time by Robinson in second and Davis in third.

Then came the partially reverse grid race three, where Sam Watkins shot forward from P8 to the lead in a matter of seconds and simply drove up the road to take an excellent lights to flag victory, again aided by a safety car mid race. Behind him, all the action was for second place as teammates Liam Browning and Stephanie Sore scrapped with Blackburn and co over the podium places. It would be Browning that took second in the end while Sore survived a last lap tangle in the final moments to clinch a first rostrum visit with third.

The sprint racing action was also added to by the mega little pocket rockets of the Hickford Construction MG Metro Cup, and even they produced their own drama come the conclusion of race one. Mike Williams led from the start and looked comfortable out in front – however, heading into the final moment, the engine on his Metro gave up the ghost which forced him out and lost him the win. Dick Trevett gained P1 as a result, taking a surprise victory with a late safety car cementing the result from Robbie Kenning and Jon Moore.

The engine failure put Williams out for the rest of the weekend, leaving the rest to scrap over race two honours. Kenning leapt well from the outside of the front row to lead from the outset and did his best to leave the cars behind to dice amongst themselves. As Robbie drove on to claim his first win of the year, some slight confusion under a late safety car saw Dick Trevett overtake Jon Moore under yellow flags which led to his demotion to third place and giving Moore second as a result.

Right at the beginning of Saturday’s action, the SW Motorsports ClubSport Trophy kicked off the show with a magnificent 45 minute pit-stop race sporting a sold-out capacity grid. Julian Daniel in his VW Golf managed to defend from front row mate Liam Crilly’s BMW Z4 at the start before the latter lost out to the VW Scirocco of Phiroze Bilimoria. A brief early safety car kept the trio close and remained so afterwards, before another was called just as the pit window was opening due to several cars stopped around the circuit.

Once this second, more lengthy safety car period was concluded after some 15 minutes, Daniel continued in front from Bilimoria and David May’s Nissan 370Z, before an issue for Daniel dropped him out of contention. This left Bilimoria to drive on to ClubSport Trophy victory in the end, more than three seconds ahead of May’s Nissan, followed by fellow Class A runners Crilly, Daniel and Rob Andrade in his VW Golf. Other class winners included Nick Watling and Jack Wheeler’s Ford Fiesta ST150 (Class B), Brendan Murphy’s BMW E36 Compact (Class C), Stephen Harrison’s Renault Clio (Class D) and Matt Adcock and Ian Jones’ BMW E36 Compact (Class E).

Written by Scott Woodwiss


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