CHAMPIONS CROWNED AT DRAMATIC DONINGTON FINALE
Donington Park in Leicestershire turned out to be the perfect setting once more for the BRSCC Finals Weekend, with major championship titles to settle before the meeting was through. As ever, there was drama, elation and above all fantastic racing.
Luke Herbert was made to work for his MX-5 SuperCup title in all 3 races – it wasn’t easy! – Photo: Jon Elsey
Sporting their most significant entry in recent years and possibly of all time, the Mazda MX-5 Championship arrived at Donington with a mammoth 71 car entry ready to do battle. However, festivities didn’t start in the best possible way as a first lap incident saw seven cars out before it was even completed. Once the race was underway again, it was left to Oliver Allwood to control the race from the front in his bid to try and steal the title from under Will Blackwell-Chambers’ nose. Having waited an entire season to pick up his first win of the year, Allwood romped away to the flag by more than 5 seconds, leaving Samuel Smith to bat away James Harris, Joshua Jackson and Brian Trott to pick up 2nd place.
The second Group A race produced more of the same for Allwood as he would double up on top step visits, despite another red flag affecting the race. This time, Smith learned his lesson from Race 1 and made sure he kept Allwood in his sight throughout, reducing his winning margin to merely 0.6 seconds on this occasion with Harris taking his second 3rd place finish. However, Allwood couldn’t make it a hat-trick as it would fall to Joshua Jackson to somewhat spoil his party. The third Group A race saw Smith and Allwood swapping the lead all the way throughout, but an observing Jackson left it until the last lap to pounce and steal the win. Allwood and Smith would come home behind him in that order, the top 3 only separated by 0.8 seconds.
In the Group B races, Simon Woods enjoyed dicing with BC Cars teammate Matt Pickford and Jack Warry for most of the race before Warry retired late in the encounter. As a result, it promoted Adrian Burge up a place, and this would be the order they finished, with Woods picking up the win ahead of Pickford and Burge. Paul Tucker sadly had to concede defeat regarding the Masters title but made up for it somewhat with a victory in the second Group B race from William Stephenson and the returning Andrew Caird, while Race 3 went to Paul Maguire ahead of Michael Close and Jack Warry.
As for the champions? Well, Blackwell-Chambers knew he just had to finish and bank points in every round and that he did, as he picked up 6th, 5th and an impressive 11th place in the third Group A race from a pitlane start to confirm himself as the 2017 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 champion. Martin Tolley also did everything he needed to do with a trio of Masters wins to seal the crown for himself.
With the Mk1 title something of a formality, things weren’t so relaxed over in the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup with Luke Herbert and Tom Roche locking horns in their quests for the #1 spot. That said, neither of them would take a victory in any of the three races, as that honour was taken by Jack Harding. Finding a similar vein of form to that at the end of last season, Harding charged to pole position before scoring a lights-to-flag win from title rivals Herbert and Roche. The double-up in Race 2 would see him joined by two different podium mates in Liam Murphy and Jonathan Greensmith, with Roche taking the flag 5th on that occasion while Herbert couldn’t better 7th.
With everything on the line heading into the last race, Harding carried on as he pleased to complete the hat-trick, in a carbon copy of the Race 2 rostrum with Murphy and Greensmith. Roche claimed P4, but ultimately it wasn’t enough as Herbert’s 6th place was enough to crown him the 2017 MX-5 SuperCup champion. The drivers now head into the winter knowing the championship will be part of the support package for the new TCR UK Championship next year!
The BRSCC Fiesta Championship had 3 of its four classes and an overall title to settle, with the prize of the Motorbase Ford Focus BTCC car as the incentive everyone had to chase. Race 1 saw Josh Gollin repeat the form he showed back at Croft by picking up the win from Jamie Going, but it ended up being a photo finish with just 0.012s separating the pair at the flag! Simon Horrobin converted a front row start into P3, while behind them in Class D came a big surprise. In his first Fiesta race for almost a decade, Jam-Sport’s Dan Rose swapped his regular Golf GTi race car for a Ford and incredibly picked up the class win from John Cooper and champion-elect Jamie White. Mark Court superbly scored his first Class A victory, while Derek Robinson was the sole Class B car home after class leader Sean Banks dramatically retired.
Gollin did the same again in Race 2 from pole position, as the Class C podium remained the same with Going picking up 2nd and Horrobin 3rd. John Cooper would head Class D this time from Jack Youhill and Rose, with White unable to do better than 4th, with Court and Robinson once again winning their respective classes. If the Gollin family weren’t already proud, they sure were when both Josh and brother Nathaniel made it a Gollin 1-2 in the final race of the season, with Nathan Edwards ending a turbulent year dogged by bad luck on a high note with 3rd. As for David Nye, Class C points leader heading into the weekend, 7th and 5th in the first two races would be enough to win the class title, despite retiring from Race 3.
But the biggest celebrations were reserved for behind them, as while Rose took his second win of the weekend in Class D from John Cooper, Jamie White scored a 3rd place to assure him as Class D and overall BRSCC Fiesta Champion! Court completed the treble of Class A wins, likewise for Robinson as he managed to pull off an incredible upset to steal the Class B championship, despite Sean Banks finishing immediately behind him. Jamie White will now be preparing himself for the ultimate reward – his BTCC test drive!
Heading into the weekend, the BRSCC Fiesta Junior Championship was locked in a 4-way tussle between Jack Davidson, Nicholas Reeve, James Hillery and James Waite, with everything to play for in the final two races of the year. In Race 1, Davidson couldn’t beat surprise pole sitter Josh Hislop off the line and only overtook on Lap 4, but not long after Reeve muscled his way to the lead. Davidson made the educated choice of following Reeve home and banking the necessary points, which was precisely the case. Reeve and Davidson took the top 2 spots at the flag, followed by Matt Greenwood who earned his first FJC podium.
Reeve would end up doing the same again in Race 2, this time leading off from pole position, although a red flag early in the race was the only significant disruption. For Davidson, he knew that all he had to do was bring it home and the title was his. He did, and it was! The top two was a carbon copy to that of Race 1 with Reeve again heading new champ Davidson, while James Hillery capped an up-and-down 2017 season with a brilliant 3rd place despite starting on the final row of the grid in 11th. The Fiesta Junior Championship thus ends for another year, with the promise of coming back bigger, better and stronger in 2018.
The only other BRSCC crowns left to settle were in the Alfa Romeo Championship, but even they weren’t finalised without high drama! In qualifying, a massive accident for Andy Robinson forced him out of the event with injuries, leaving Race 1 to take place without him on the grid. In the race itself, the Modified cars dominated as expected with Barry McMahon driving away to an excellent overall win from classmates Graham Seager and Barry’s sibling Roger. Paul Webster was Power Trophy winner, while in the all-important Twin Spark Cup, it was the reappearance of former regular Andy Hancock that caught everyone off guard! His pace hadn’t dissipated as he took a win from Simon Cresswell, with Dave Messenger picking up 3rd.
That, however, was nothing compared to the events of Race 2. While the top 3 remained the same on the overall and Modified podium, albeit Barry McMahon followed home by Roger this time with Seager 3rd, and Webster again topping Power Trophy, one moment on the opening lap decided the title’s fate. Tom Hill elected to attempt a dive past both Cresswell and Messenger into McLeans, but his misjudgement left all three careering into the gravel trap. Messenger kept going, but for Cresswell and Hill, the latter excluded as a result of the move, their championship hopes lay in tatters. Hancock would complete the Twin Spark double ahead of James Browning, while 3rd place was enough for Bourke, who had been forced to a backup car after an accident at Mallory Park, to become the champion. An unbelievable end to what had been a very closely fought contest all year.
Support over the weekend came in the form of 3 races from our friends at HRDC, with the Coombs Heritage Challenge for classic Jaguar saloons up first on Sunday. It would prove to be a very lucky day for John Young, whose Coombs performance left him winning the race (and Sopwith class) by over half a minute from Richard Dorlin (also Sears class winner) and Tom Barclay. Not satisfied with that, Young would even dominate the Touring Greats/ TC63 race alongside co-driver Nigel Webb, as they were victorious by more than 45 second this time from a pair of Speedwell tuned Austins driven by Chrissy Palmer and Colburn/ Morgan respectively.
As for their third and final race, the Allstars/ Academy & A-Series Challenge, that would also see a runaway victor, as Peter Chambers drove his Lotus Ford Cortina superbly to pick up the win, with a Ford whitewash on the podium. Larry Tucker’s Shelby Mustang GT350R took 2ndplace, ahead of Chris Clarkson’s Falcon Sprint in 3rd.
A massive thank you goes to all of our drivers, teams, Club personnel, officials, marshals and spectators throughout 2017 for making it one of the most intense and exciting years on track for the BRSCC, with the premise of 2018 being even bigger and better!
You can find the full breakdown of the results from Donington Park here via TSL Timing – DONINGTON RESULTS.