CROFT MAY 15/16 PREVIEW – BRSCC MAZDA MX-5 SUPERCUP


Anyone who knows the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 SuperCup will already know that it’s one of British club motorsport’s most popular, best supported and most action-packed championships around, attracting plenty of top driving talent and providing endless memorable moments and stunning racing. 2020’s reunification of the main championship and the Super Series helped to create an incredibly well-supported grid and for 2021, it’s incredibly reached new and even bigger heights. Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire seems like the ideal place to kick things off and with a capacity entry of 40 cars, this should be a thriller of a start.

Here’s a quick recap of last season – the championship battle in 2020 was intense, even if it did only last four weekends. Three-time champion Luke Herbert squared off against SuperCup debutant and former Mk1 vice-champion Samuel Smith as the pair traded wins through the first three race weekends. However, the fate of the championship only got settled at Brands Hatch in October, albeit probably not in quite the way either driver had anticipated or wanted. While Smith managed to claim two runaway wins to romp away with the crown in the end, Herbert’s challenge sadly ended in the first race when a spin exiting Paddock Hill Bend left him collected by another driver, causing enough damage to finish his weekend and championship prematurely.

Now with 2021 about to start, we’ve got to look ahead and see who are going to be the main contenders in the Pro Class first of all. The trouble is, there’s a small problem – there’s just so many drivers to choose from! Naturally we start with the champion, as Smith enters his second SuperCup season that not only was 2020 no fluke (it wasn’t, of course!), but also that he can carry that momentum forwards into another year of racing. Still with BC Cars Motorsport once again, Smith knows he has a winning partnership on his hands and will be looking to ensure it delivers the goods once again.

Of course, there are those who will be looking to throw a spanner into Samuel’s plans and there’s one driver who will be more fired up than any other to take it for himself. After making a cameo appearance at Donington Park and even winning a race in the process, Jack Harding is back once again more determined than ever to finally claim the SuperCup crown that has eluded him no less than four times in the last five years. He’s switched teams to Martin Plowman’s Paddock Motorsport squad and he’ll be looking to use all his experience alongside his Le Mans-winning team boss to take his pace to levels not seen before. He knows he has all the ingredients to get the job done and become a champion. Now he just needs to put them all together and deliver the goods.

But Jack’s just the tip of the iceberg as alongside him are drivers with proven championship and race-winning pedigree. Two of the most recent Mk1 champions look set to square off again as 2019 champion John Langridge and two-time title winner Will Blackwell-Chambers will be ready to reignite their rivalry. Langridge already has a year in the Mk3 under his belt while WB-C debuted at the Brands Hatch finale last year, but he’s already up to speed very quickly and will clearly be one to watch. Patrick Fletcher is another who has come close to that first win time and time again, but has just come up short every time. Now he must feel that 2021 is the year he can finally claim the top step, even if the competition this time is arguably the toughest he’s ever faced. Simon Baldwin also knows what it takes to win and will be hoping to put all of his expertise to good use to throw his name into the mix on more than one occasion.

More names come next as those who have established themselves as front-running contenders, but they too have yet to score a victory and have all the potential of doing so. Adam Bessell has joined Hills Motorsport, run by former title contender Aidan Hills, in what is now a five-car armada ready to do battle. He will have teammates Michael Knibbs, Declan Lee and James Cossins all for company as they vie for supremacy, along with newcomer James Wharrier. Tom Smith, brother of champion Samuel, is back in the championship once more and races with Ben Short’s BS Motorsport team in the bid to jump straight in at the deep end and start battling for strong results and having proven himself several times at the wheel of a Mk1, his hope will be that his ability translate seamlessly into the Mk3 ranks. Brayden Fletcher was last year’s Rookie of the Year and made great strides in his progress throughout the shortened 2020 season with the aspirations of going even better this time, while experienced racers Martin Tolley and George Grant are also expected to have made gains over the winter and will surely be in the hunt too. Watch out for George, as not only is he the series sponsor with Clapham North MOT, but he also sports a superb new paint scheme showcasing his latest acquisition over the off-season with the relaunched Downforce Radio featuring, now a 24/7 motorsport radio station and already off to a successful start.

Meanwhile, Luke Herbert has decided to hang up the driving gloves for the time being and has instead decided to focus on running his own team, Luke Herbert Racing. He already has his first two recruits with Tom Seldon and Leigh Britten joining him for their first MX-5 SuperCup seasons. Tom also gets the honour of extending the competition life of Luke’s championship-winning car, so no pressure there then!

Let’s take a look at the Club class entries to round off our opening weekend preview, as with last year’s first champ Xavier Brooke electing to switch to the Pro Class this year, it opens the door for a new name to step forward and inherit the crown. Drivers staying on here include Martin Heath, Seamus Heaney, Liz Walton (not present this weekend), Duncan Harris and Clive Powles, but they’re also joined by Scott Wright, Stephen New, Bruce Robinson and Michael Close, all of which will be hoping can be contenders from the off. Newcomers to the grid here also include Kevin Silvain and Luke Whitworth, who will use the Club class as a way to take their first steps in the championship and learn just how competitive and intense it can get.

So, who’s your bet for champion? It really could be anyone but we’re sure that this weekend’s opening races will certainly give us an initial indication of who’s likely to be in contention. With that said, there’s only one thing left to do – let’s go racing!

Scott Woodwiss