DONINGTON DECIDES PROVISIONAL CHAMPS AS BRSCC ENTERTAINS ONCE MORE
Donington Park in the autumn is a scenario that usually leads to a fast and furious mix of racing action in varied weather conditions, but thankfully the recent visit from the BRSCC on the full Grand Prix circuit stayed dry throughout both days of competitions. Three championships were provisionally settled and concluded, while others continued on with the finishing post on the horizon and title battles continuing to intensify.
BRSCC MAZDA MX-5 CHAMPIONSHIP
With a 50 point lead arriving at Donington Park, Fraser Fenwick just needed to keep out of trouble to remain atop the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship and did so across the three races run – however, his main rival for the title showed a level of dominance all weekend that could have Fraser sweating just a little at the season finale.
Steve Foden began his Donington weekend as he meant to proceed by dominating qualifying to sit on pole by almost seven tenths of a second and wasted no time in setting about doing the same thing in Race 1. From the outset, his pace was just untouchable and for the duration, no-one was able to bring his gap down at all. His victory was an easy one and seemed to set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Behind him, Courtney Milnes initially held 2nd place but lost it to Fisher starting Lap 3 as a feisty battle back quickly formed. Eventually both Fisher and teammate Oliver Graham had the podium places all to themselves and comfortably finished P2 and P3, leaving the rest of the lead group they’d been part of to fight over 4th backwards.
Another strong start for Sunday’s first race gave Foden the lead again from the off, and while Fisher and Graham initially gave chase again, a quick moving Fenwick made light work of both by the end of Lap 2. Both got past again shortly after and with Callum Greatrex, Brad Jones and Adam Craig they put on a fabulous display of racing between them as they constantly swapped places for the remainder of the race. As Foden commanded the race once more by a staggering 12 seconds at the flag, a definitive podium didn’t shake out until the final lap, as Graham’s defence of 2nd place allowed Tom Smith and Fenwick to move past Fisher, the latter of the two getting pinged with 5 second track limits penalties which helped secure Smith’s P3.
Yet again, it was Foden’s first corner with another superb start to Race 3 while Graham straight away lost places on the opening lap to Jason Greatrex and Fenwick. A car off at the Fogarty Esses brought the Safety Car into action for a couple of laps, with the restart allowing Fenwick to pressure Foden for the lead for the first time all weekend. Fenwick did manage to snatch the lead into the Melbourne hairpin with just over six minutes to go, but Foden was able to repass at McLeans a few moments later. Fenwick quickly slipped back to 4th and Greatrex got through in quick succession, leaving the podium top three sealed in that order as Foden completed an emphatic and emotional hat-trick.
BRSCC MAZDA MX-5 CLUBMAN CHAMPIONSHIP
The BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Clubman Championship entered a crucial stage in the fight for the title as Declan McDonnell, Harry Storer and Chris Dawkins continued their battle to take the #1 away for the 2022 season. Donington Park produced another strong entry with all three drivers hoping to take away more strong results ahead of the critical Snetterton finale.
McDonnell captured pole in qualifying and converted it into the lead at the start of Race 1 on Sunday, as he led Jon Pethick and Dawkins who gave chase on his tail and switching 2nd and 3rd between them as they did. Soon enough Storer moved into 4th and set off to catch the top three, but eventually dropped behind Nick Le Doyen and Matthew Fletcher into 6th and into the clutches of teammate Jack Warry. Out in front, McDonnell came under big pressure and the three cars had a clumsy moment into the Fogarty esses, eventually putting Pethick into the lead and staying there to the flag, taking victory with McDonnell securing 2nd and Dawkins in 3rd.
Another clean start from McDonnell helped him get the hole shot into Redgate starting Race 2 and he quickly tried to gap the cars behind, but once again had Pethick, Dawkins, Storer and Warry chasing his tail. In almost no time at all, Dawkins relieved McDonnell of the lead and with clear track ahead of him he began trying to build a lead himself, leaving McDonnell to absorb the pressure from Pethick and Warry behind him. In just a few laps, Dawkins had a lead of over three seconds and was delighted to seal victory in the end, while McDonnell took another 2nd place and Warry only just kept Pethick at bay at the line to secure 3rd place. Now the battle heads to Snetterton for the finale where there’s plenty to play four between the top five!
BRSCC MAZDA MX-5 SUPERCUP
There’s something to be said about the competitiveness of the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup in 2022 when the season is set to crown a brand new Mk3 champion out of one of its most competitive fields ever, and Donington Park only intensified the current duel between Will Blackwell-Chambers and Colin Bysouth at the head of the Pro Class points.
Blackwell-Chambers took pole in Saturday’s qualifying session and fended off both fellow front row man Ali Bray and a fast starting Richard Amos to defend 1st place heading into Redgate for the first time. However, Amos made a daredevil move at the Old Hairpin to get to the lead before the first lap was complete with Bray quickly following through. It didn’t take long for Blackwell-Chambers to repass both to reclaim P1, but then slipped back to 3rd as Amos and Patrick Fletcher got by just before the safety car was scrambled. The top five broke away together on the restart but quickly shuffled itself around until Bysouth gave pursuit of leader Fletcher and passed him with six minutes left. The chequered flag was waved just before the timer hit zero due to a car off the road, awarding Bysouth the win followed by Patrick Fletcher and Michael Knibbs in 2nd and 3rd, after Amos and Nic Grindrod were given 5 second track limits penalties despite finishing ahead of them on the road. Club class honours went the way of Daniel Rose on this occasion with victory from Dan Parrans-Smith in 2nd and Robert Way in 3rd.
Amos did his fast starting trick again beginning Race 2 on Sunday morning, but couldn’t make it stick as Blackwell-Chambers ended up leading the opening lap from pole this time from Fletcher and Saturday winner Bysouth. Colin didn’t take too long to pick off Fletcher and then Blackwell-Chambers to get back to the lead again, and from here the two championship protagonists ended up in a race of their own out in front with Fletcher in tow. The top three remained static for the remainder of the race as Bysouth captured his second win of the weekend, leaving Blackwell-Chambers to defend 2nd place from Fletcher in the final laps. An excellent first Club class win of the season went the way of Dan Parrans-Smith, this time finishing ahead of title favourite Scott Wright and Robert Way in 2nd and 3rd.
Ali Bray and John Langridge took up the front row for the partially reversed Race 3 grid, but Bray dipped for the pits before the start leaving Langridge on his own on pole. Despite a great start, he ended up off the road exiting the Old Hairpin, leaving Cossins to head Blackwell-Chambers and Bysouth on the opening lap. The top three ended up in a brief scrap with each other as Bysouth moved back into the lead as Amos crept up on 2nd and 3rd places, but soon enough WB-C was breaking free to chase after the leader. By half distance, the pair were bumper to bumper again, but Cossins ended up trading P2 with Will in the closing minutes until Blackwell-Chambers was back in the runner-up spot. He came close to Bysouth’s bumper at the flag as Colin completed the hat-trick, but settled for the points to hold a slender lead heading to the Snetterton showdown. Scott Wright ensured a third different Club class winner of the weekend with Parrans-Smith again in 2nd and Adrian Burge taking the final podium spot.
FUN CUP ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP
With two races left to run in the season, the Fun Cup Endurance Championship headed to the Donington Park GP circuit with the real possibility that points leaders GCI Racing could provisionally wrap up the title before the final round at Oulton Park. The random grid draw dropped them in P12 while one of their main rivals Stobart Sport drew pole alongside Vapeclub with EDF Motorsports, and double Anglesey winners UVio/ Hofmann’s Lotus started at the back courtesy of their most recent success.
Stobart Sport held onto the lead from pole, but both front row men were quickly under pressure from the Shire GB car driven by Sam & Ted Smeeth – in fact the Greensall Motorsport-run car was into the lead before the end of Lap 1. Behind them, UVio were making incredible progress up the order from the rear, carving their way up the pack until they reached P2 in 18 minutes. Setting a string of fastest laps, the #1 car didn’t take long to catch Shire GB and only ten minutes after taking 2nd, UVio made a move stick to get in front. It was the fastest they’d gone from back to front all season.
The first safety car of the race occurred just after the first pit window, with UVio maintaining the lead through the stops from Shire GB and Team Olympian. Team Viking threw themselves into the mix as the Shire car slipped to 4th behind Viking and Olympian, but through the second pit window Viking dropped to 6th while Olympian held 2nd behind UVio and ahead of Shire GB and GCI, who had slowly and steadily climbed the order once again. Another safety car dropped right on half distance for the FF Corse team car in the gravel at the chicane, and through a busy pit window and a switch in strategy for UVio, it allowed Shire GB back into the lead from Viking, Olympian and PLR Racing, with UVio rounding off the top five on the restart.
Once again, Viking and Olympian tore past Shire GB when racing resumed and soon enough UVio were there two to put the top three nose to tail for the lead. UVio then swept past both cars ahead of him in one lap to lead once again, but they would also end up following the #104 EDF Motorsports car as they stubbornly unlapped themselves and then proceeded to head the entire field on track while the leaders squirmed in frustration and bemusement behind them. After what seemed like an age trying to repass them for track position, UVio and co finally found a way by EDF Motorsports, but not without bodywork damage which began to rub on the tyre of the #1 car just before the penultimate pit window opened again.
With an hour to go, UVio remained leaders from Olympian, GCI, Shire GB, PLR and Viking and it appeared as though the race was now settling down to a drama-free finish – but this is FunCup, so where was no chance of that! The JPR Black Widows car stopped on track at Melbourne hairpin right in the middle of the final pit window, leading to a lengthy last safety car as everyone caught up in the train. All of htis promoted Shire GB into the lead again with UVio, Olympian, Viking, PLR and GCI all on the lead lap. Racing resumed with 14 minutes to go, as Shire GB tried to escape the inevitable but were caught and passed by Olympian and UVio in quick succession, while PLR’s race ended prematurely with mechanical problems.
Viking quickly arrived on the scene as the top two diced for the lead as the final minutes ticked down, but Teddy Wilson was ensuring the Viking car was firmly in contention and watched as Olympian and UVio traded the lead between them a couple of time over the next few minutes. There was no telling just who would end up the winner between the top three, but the resolution all came to a head on the final lap. After picking off UVio on the penultimate lap, Wilson dived up the inside of Olympian into Redgate on the last to try and steal the lead. Olympian held on for the next couple of corners, but the Old Hairpin their luck ran out as they lost the back end of the car and spun straight into the path of the hapless UVio, dropping both cars off the podium and the Olympian car out on the spot. Wilson, meanwhile, kept his nerve to take Viking’s first win of the season and his first in a FunCup car in extraordinary circumstances. Shire GB took a hard-fought 2nd place, while GCI inherited 3rd on the podium which was deemed more than enough to put the title out of reach and provisionally crown them 2022 FunCup Endurance champions!
A wild day out at Donington Park for FunCup – but who will take the spoils of the championship podium places alongside GCI at the traditional season finale at Oulton Park in October?
AVON TYRES NATIONAL FORMULA FORD CHAMPIONSHIP
It had been quite the back and forth affair for the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship throughout 2022 and heading to the final rounds of the year at Donington Park, it was left between Jordan Dempsey and Colin Queen to settle the fate of the title. The final rounds attracted the most talent stacked entry of the season as several familiar names such as Niall Murray, Joey Foster, Michael Eastwell and Rory Smith were all on the grid to prepare for the upcoming Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch on October 22/23.
Dempsey began the weekend as he needed to with pole in qualifying with main rival Colin Queen lined up alongside him for Race 1. Dempsey’s start was good, but running wide exiting Old Hairpin lost him momentum and in his efforts to recover, he ended up tagging the rear of Shawn Rashid’s Ray and damaged the front left wheel. This forced him to the pits to quickly repair it, but this was a real setback for his championship chances given that there was no ability to drop scores from the final weekend. As he rejoined and wound up 12th in Pro Class in the end, out in front it was a titanic scrap between the Ammonite team cars of Queen and Rashid and guest driver Murray, along with Lucas Romanek. Queen inherited the lead initially, but Murray was quick to get in front and do what he does best in a Formula Ford with the two young Americans behind him snapping at his heels. Soon enough Lafond was in the leading group and the quartet remained in sequence until the chequered flag, which was thrown three minutes early due to another incident elsewhere on track. Murray therefore took the overall victory, but Queen in 2nd took the maximum points as the first non-guest car home ahead of Rashid in 3rd, whose result was also doing wonders for his Rookie class title chances.
For Queen, Race 2 was all about picking up where he’d left off from Saturday while Dempsey needed to do as much damage limitation as possible in order to ensure he had the best possible chance of putting the title out of reach, should results favour him. Murray led from pole with Queen, Rashid and Foster giving chase and both Lafond, Romanek and Smith quickly latched onto the lead group too. Rashid passed Queen in the opening laps and tried to charge down Murray, but soon enough Queen passed them both to reclaim the lead, leaving them in the mire of the chasing pack that began squabbling over 2nd downwards.
The top six were glued together in the second half of the race, but there were little changes in the order and the top three finished as Queen taking overall victory from Rashid in an improved 2nd and Murray settling for an outright 3rd place. As for Dempsey, his efforts to stay clean helped him to 6th and scored 18 points, leaving a 34 point gap between himself and Queen. This effectively put the provisional title in his hands regardless of what happened in Race 3, but until that was complete he couldn’t quite relax just yet.
Lafond and Smith took up the front row for the partially reversed grid for Race 3, as Smith got the better run through Redgate to head the field from the start. They quickly gapped the rest of the field with Queen giving chase in 3rd, but the largest fight was back in 5th downwards as several drivers locked horns battling for position including champion-elect Dempsey. Out in front Smith dropped behind the two leading Ammonite drivers and despite constant pressure from Queen all the way to the end, Lafond kept his cool to score his first National Formula Ford win, while 2nd saw Queen bag another solid score but ultimately not enough to claim the championship. Smith took 3rd to complete the final podium of the year, while Dempsey’s 7th place was enough to see him provisionally claim the National Formula Ford title after a fine campaign all year.
Now the focus turns towards the all-important Formula Ford Festival in a few weeks’ time, where many of the regular National drivers will be in the hunt to walk away from Brands Hatch with the Neil Shanahan Trophy!
AVON TYRES NORTHERN & SUPER CLASSIC FORMULA FORD CHAMPIONSHIP
Joining the National drivers on a combined grid once again, the Avon Tyres Northern & Super Classic Formula Ford Championship enjoyed their one and only “away day” of the 2022 season at the most Southern venue they would visit all year. One or two of the regulars were unable to attend due to prior commitments, but many of the usual suspects made the trip and were joined by an interesting guest entry.
That guest entry was Callum Grant, driving the Van Diemen his father had raced back at the Moose Trophy Invitational at Oulton Park while Callum had been dominating out front. He instantly proved to be untouchable from qualifying as his pole time put him 1.2 seconds faster than anyone else in the entry, setting him up nicely for the two races that lay ahead. Grant was untouchable right from the start and not only did he have the clear advantage over his fellow Super Classic runners, but was also capable of getting amongst the tailenders in the National ranks, eventually finishing an impressive 13th overall as he won the Super Classic segment by 11 seconds. Andrew Schofield finished 2nd and won his class respectively, ahead of John Murphy in P3 as he too took the max points for his class due to Grant’s guest status in Super Classic A. Paul Crosbie (Super Classic C) and Roger Arnold (Super Classic D) also won their classes respectively.
Beginning Race 2 on Sunday as he meant to go on, with Grant again starting on pole thanks to his win on Saturday and making a fast start to put himself firmly amongst the back half of the National runners, rising through the overall order at an impressive rate and not only dominating his fellow Super Classic runners, but finishing the race in 11th place overall in a true showcase of his ability and the car’s pace. The overall Super Classic top three was filled out by Garath Buckingham and John Murphy respectively with max points for class wins going the way of both Buckingham and Murphy as well as Crosbie and Arnold once again. The Super Classics now move onto their final rounds of the year at Oulton Park on October 22nd.
MOTORSPORT UK BRITISH SUPERKART CHAMPIONSHIP/ BRITISH SUPERKART GRAND PRIX
Donington Park marked not only the final rounds of the Motorsport UK British Superkart Championship, but both of those races would also count as the heats that would decide the grid for the non-championship British Superkart Grand Prix, with the winner either retaining or gaining the coveted GP plate for another year.
Liam Morley started from pole for the first race on Sunday, immediately fighting over the lead with Lee Harpham at the head of the large field of superkarts on the entry list. Both immediately made a break from their nearest rivals as Carl Kinsey passed Thomas Rushforth for 3rd on the second lap, but neither of them had the pace to catch the top two, who continued to extend their advantage further lap after lap. Harpham managed to find a way past around half distance and remained ahead until Morley dived into the Melbourne hairpin on the last lap to take a last gasp win, with Andrew Gulliford taking the final step on the overall podium.
Morley hit drama at the first corner when he ended up spinning on the exit of Redgate, but he was given a reprieve when the red flag was called straight away for an incident elsewhere in the pack. He was allowed to take his place on pole again for the 10 minute restart, but Harpham again took the lead around the outside as Carl Hulme also challenged after an equally great start. Harpham and Morley went side by side into Coppice and ended up trading the lead several times between them before Morley made a pass stick into Redgate despite contact between the pair. However, on the penultimate lap smoke poured from Morley’s engine which gradually began dropping fluid behind him. Despite pressing on as hard as he could, his kart seized exiting the Fogarty Esses and after a subsequent moment for Harpham, Carl Hulme squeezed past to take the race win. This in turn would give Harpham the British Superkart title, while Hulme earned himself a front row start for the Grand Prix final. Dean Forward ended up completing the overall podium with 3rd place.
With the Superkart titles now provisionally settled, focused now turned toward the Grand Final for the Superkart Grand Prix. Harpham and Hulme made up the front row together and from the outset it was Hulme who got the better jump and had the better pace. He started to pull away from Harpham who didn’t seem to have an answer to the leader, but both would ended up looking over their shoulder as Liam Morley wasted no time in rising up from 15th on the grid in his charge to make up for missing out on retaining the British Superkart title. He ended Lap 1 in 4th, before passing Rushforth for 3rd and then Harpham for 2nd in quick succession. Morley then chipped away at Hulme’s one second lead and made the move heading down Exhibition Straight and had enough to keep Hulme at bay to clinch the Superkart Grand Prix win and the GP plate for the next 12 months – a fitting trade for missing out on the main title! Harpham rounded off the top three after a hard fought effort from the front row.
ZEO PROTOTYPE CUP
With an enhanced grid thanks to a flurry of entry courtesy of the Sports Prototype Cup including three striking Revolution chassis, the ZEO Prototype Cup brought an impressive mix of sports prototypes to play at Donington Park with many series regulars and familiar names turning out for the final two races of their 2022 season before parking up for the off-season.
Qualifying produced a strong last lap from perennial front runner Mike Jenvey who put his Jenvey-Gunn on pole alongside Michael Clark’s beefy Radical RXC, but while Jenvey retained the lead at the start of Race 1, it was James Abbott who leapt into 2nd with his Revolution. Both were nose to tail early on with Clark keeping near in 3rd place, before Jenvey’s tyres came up to temperature and the lead began to increase. From here, there was no touching Mike as he easily extended his gap and won by over six seconds with Abbott and Clarke joining him on the overall podium.
Race 2 was much more of a contest at the front with Sir Chris Hoy getting a demon start in his Revolution to jump into the lead ahead of a bemused Jenvey. Clark wasted no time in sticking the big Radical RXC past both the top two at Melbourne hairpin to steal the lead, as Abbott, Richard Morris and Graham Charman all joined the battle for the podium early on. The leading Revolutions then started to falter with Abbott dropping out early on before both Hoy and Morris fell back slightly in the closing stages. Out in front, Jenvey was again dominant and won this time by 11 seconds from Michael Clark improving to 2nd and Charman also thrilled with a hard fought 3rd place.
BRSCC CLUBSPORT TROPHY
Once again producing a fine entry of cars to complete the Donington Park weekend, the BRSCC ClubSport Trophy produced another stellar grid of 39 entries ready to scrap over 45 minutes into the sunset on the GP loop, with plenty of BMWs, Mazdas, Toyotas, VWs, Renaults, SEATs and more lining up for the start.
The sole Invitation class entry of David May and Mark Skeats in their Ginetta G55 sat on the overall pole, but not conforming to the regular classes would mean it would be invisible for the outright race win for those within the regulations running to the five class structure. From the outset, Phiroze Bilimoria led the pack in his VW Scirocco from the BMWs of Paul Hinson, Mark Burton and David Shead, the latter of the three wasting no time in taking 2nd from both cars ahead of him to set off after the VW. Racing was neutralised after Bruce Robinson’s Mazda left the road at the chicane, forcing an early safety car, and when racing got back underway the top two were nose to tail. However, an ambitious attempt to pass from Shead left his car damaged and Bilimoria stuck in the gravel just a couple of laps later, bringing another safety car right in the middle of the mandatory pit stop window.
This briefly caused a little bit of confusion in the order of the race, but when everything did shake back out and racing resumed with less than a third of it still to go, it left class leaders Burton (Class C), James Alford’s VW Golf (Class A) and Ashley Parsons (Class B) fighting over the overall race win with just a few minutes remaining. With headlights ablaze, the leading trio scrapped hard for overall victory, but through the clever use of traffic it would be the BMW of Burton that ended up crossing the line to take the ClubSport victory outright, as well as the Class C win. Alford and Parsons also won their respective classes as well as taking 2nd and 3rd overall, while else where additional class wins were taken by Daniel Silverster in his Toyota MR2 for Class D and the BMW Compact of Adam Read and David Drinkwater in Class E. Just two more ClubSport races remain for 2022 with the Silverstone International encounter coming up next before the special Race of Remembrance ClubSport contest in November – bring it on!