CROFT SHINES IN A WET-DRY WEEKEND


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John Cockburn-Evans (#77) took his long-awaited first MX-5 victory on Sunday – Photo: Jon Elsey

Come rain or shine, there was no dampening the spirits of those on track this past weekend at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire. Mazdas, Porsches and Alfa Romeos joined local and guest championships for a race meeting that provided thrills and spills aplenty in varying conditions.

The Mazda MX-5 Championship featured the most over the two-day weekend as the 5 way scrap for the title headed towards its climax. Straight out of the box, Brian Chandler wasted no time in exerting his authority with pole in wet qualifying on Saturday morning. Moving into the afternoon, Chandler negotiated the adverse weather with ease to grab his first win of the weekend in Group A from Simon Goddard and Euan Milne, who impressed to claim his first podium of the year.

By the time Sunday came around, it was blue skies and sunshine and it was certainly beaming down on Chandler as he went on to claim two more dominant wins to complete another clean sweep. Sam Smith was his closest pursuer with a pair of 2nd places, while Darron Lewis and Martin Tolley swiped a 3rd place each.

In the Group B races, there were wins for Andrew Caird, Michael Fisk and John Cockburn-Evans, who reached the top step of the podium for the first time ever in his Mazda career – a result which proved very popular amongst the paddock.
Meanwhile, the Mk1s’ younger brethren in the MX-5 SuperCup saw three flawless victories from points leader Alan Henderson. He didn’t have it completely his own way all weekend, however – Race 1 saw him work hard to overhaul main title rival Jonathan “JJ” Clements on a damp but drying track, finally grabbing the lead with 2 laps to go. Simon Goddard took another visit to the rostrum with 3rd.

Henderson managed to produce a lights-to-flag win in Race 2 from Clements once again, however this time it was former Porsche champion Jonathan Greensmith who claimed 3rd. Race 3 was a carbon copy for the top two, while a titanic scrap for 3rd place resulted in Paul Sheard snatching it on the road, only to be handed a 5 second penalty for track limits which gave the final podium spot to Liam Murphy. Reigning SuperCup champion Abbie Eaton had a less than smooth comeback to the series she once called her own and was forced to settle for a trio of 5th place finishes after struggling with car setup for most of the weekend.

In the Toyo Tires Porsche Championship, it was once again the comeback kid Richard Styrin who powered his way to wins in all 3 races. He was pressed all the way for the victory in Race 1 as Richard Avery gave a race long chase to eventually end up in 2nd, while Adam Southgate survived an excursion to finish P3. Styrin and Avery resumed their duel in Race 2 with Angus Archer completing the podium, before Styrin completed the hat-trick with P1 yet again with Garry Lawrence completing a stellar turn in fortunes with P2 after a race ending first corner shunt in the race prior had forced hurried repairs to ensure he was on the grid for Race 3. Avery completed his trio of podiums with 3rd.

The 924 class eventually saw a champion crowned as Adam Croft delivered the results he needed to put the championship out of reach for his rivals. A win in Race 1 ahead of Alfred Piesinger and Karl Rossin did no harm and neither did P2 in Race 2 the following day behind Niza El-Chamaa, with Piesinger coming home 3rd. Croft believed that was enough for the title, however he claimed another win in Race 3 just to be sure, with Piesinger and El-Chamaa in tow.

On to the Alfashop Alfa Romeos, which featured one of the healthiest grids of the weekend. Graham Seager’s GTV took race 1 as he continued overall title struggle with Twin Spark’s James Bishop. The win did no harm as he succeeded ahead of Clive Hodgkin and James Nicholls, the Twin Spark Cup win went the way of Paul Plant with Australian Simon Cresswell and Stephen Potts joining him on the podium. Race 2 provided a win for the 33 1.9 16v of Bryan Shrubb ahead of Seager and Nicholls, with Twin Spark success heading to Plant once again, while Tom Ford and class leader Bishop claiming 2nd and 3rd respectively.

In support of our championships, the weekend also saw an appearance from our friends at the Darlington & District Motor Club. Their Northern Saloons and Sportscars provided a wonderful and eclectic mix of machinery of all shapes and sizes, from high performance thoroughbreds to road cars adapted for the track. Both races were won by Danny Kennan in his MK Indy RR, however as an invitational driver he was ineligible to score points. Instead, those points went to Peter Cook’s Mitsubishi Evo 9 in Race 1 ahead of Mike Cutt’s BMW M3 and Andrew Morrison’s SEAT Leon Cupra Cup. Cook’s Evo expired in the second race, leaving Cutt to grab the maximum points ahead of Morrison and Andy Wilson’s mighty Holden Monaro.

Last but certainly not least, the Irish Global Lights made a welcome appearance with 3 races, all of which provided some cracking battles for victory. Peter “Mad Max” Drennan, Richard Finlay and Mark Braden all scored a win each in what was touted by some in the paddock as some of the best racing all weekend. No doubt we would be happy to have them once again in the future!

There’s no time to rest for the club as three more meetings take place this coming weekend at Cadwell Park, Rockingham and Oulton Park. The latter will see a take over of the Cheshire circuit by Caterham Motorsport, while Cadwell plays hosts to Mighty and Super Mighty Minis and Rockingham will receive action from Time Attack and Pickup Truck Racing to support our Fiesta Juniors and Jam-Sport Fiestas.

A full run down of all the results from this weekend can be found at CROFT RACE RESULTS.

Scott Woodwiss