DONINGTON DELIGHTS IN THE SUN AND RAIN
Jonathan Greensmith gave a spellbinding wet weather performance to clinch his first MX-5 SuperCup win – Photo: Jon Elsey
With a staggering 21 races to work through over two days, the race weekend at Donington Park for the BRSCC Midlands Centre was always going to be fast and most definitely frantic. Indeed the racing action that followed, in both dry and wet conditions, was nothing short of spectacular from start to finish.
With 4 races across the two groups, the Mazda MX-5 Championship saw many of its competitors ready to present their plans on how to stop dominant points leader Tom Roche. As it was, Roche started on pole again for the first Group A race, but had to withstand AB Motorsport’s Michael Fisk on his tail for the entire race, despite a red flag and restart for a multi car incident at Roberts Chicane on the first lap. Roche did eventually take the flag in the restarted race despite constant pressure from 2nd placed Fisk, while Simon Baldwin took a hard fought 3rd place fending off Oliver Allwood and Brian Trott. While it was just one pursuer Roche had to deal with in the first encounter, the second Group A race saw one driver after another mount a challenge, but incredibly to no avail. In the end, Roche did manage to pull away and complete the double with Brian Trott taking a very impressive 2nd. It was another tight fight for P3 with Fisk eventually beating Baldwin and Allwood to the flag.
For those contesting Group B, it was a hard fought but well deserved first MX-5 win for Paul Bateman as he drove well from 6th on the grid to reach the top step. He was able to drive away from the rest of the field to the tune of just over 5 seconds by the end by Go4It Racing’s Andrew Adams, completing a very impressive performance finishing 2nd. Paul Maguire would be the 3rd and final driver to complete the podium on this occasion. Later in the afternoon as the sun began to set, it was once again Joshua Jackson who added another Group B winner’s trophy to his collection after a race long battle with Richard Collins, Adam Craig and Simon Woods. Collins managed 2nd after starting the race from pole, while Woods had lined up 4th but was able to end his overall frustrating weekend with some silverware for 3rd.
After competing in the championship for almost two seasons, Jonathan Greensmith was finally able to leave a race weekend of the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup as a race winner. Amazingly, it came in less than favourable conditions as rain left the track sodden and treacherous to negotiate. Nevertheless, Greensmith grabbed a superior launch from the front row to polesitter James Blake-Baldwin, consistently extending his lead and ending up 8 seconds ahead at the flag from Tom Roche and Liam Murphy. With the weather for the second race a complete contrast to Saturday’s race with clear skies and sunshine, Greensmith spun at the end of the first lap, leaving Blake-Baldwin at the head of the field with a seething mob of pursuers on his tail including Roche, Murphy, Jack Harding, Tom Collins and eventually the resurgent Greensmith. Eventually, Blake-Baldwin scored win number 5 of the season to take over the points lead with Jack Harding grabbing his 2nd podium of the year and Greensmith completing a sensational comeback to 3rd. Tom Roche, also in the Mk3 title hunt, was forced to settle for 6th.
Richard Styrin will certainly be wishing that he had an opportunity to restart his weekend in the Toyo Tires Porsche Championship as a series of poor fortunes seemed to befall him from start to finish. Despite taking pole for Race 1 and maintaining the lead for the first half of the race, through a safety car for a collision between Garry Lawrence and Ed Hayes, a call to the pits pushed him to the back of the field. As it was, Richard Avery scored his 3 win from the last 4 races ahead of returnees Andrew Hack and reigning champion Ed Hayes in the Race Boxster class. Avery was able to double up in Race 2 after Styrin sadly found himself in the MacLeans gravel trap on the opening lap, with the #6 completing a brace from Hayes and Kevin Molyneaux, but for the 3rd and final race Avery’s luck ran out as his weekend ended in the gravel at Redgate at the start. As it was, Andrew Hack resisted advances from both Hayes and Molyneaux to take a fantastic first Porsche win – something he was very happy about!
In the 924 class, Ryan Lowry kicked off his association with the Porsches in the best possible by claiming victory is his first ever 924 race, beating reigning champion Adam Croft and series regular Jamie Callender into 2nd and 3rd respectively. Not content with one win, Lowry incredibly did it again in Race 2 with David Jones his nearest pursuer in 2nd and Croft forced to accept 3rd on this occasion. Come the final race, Lowry was sadly, like Avery, unable to complete the hat-trick as it was John Broadley who powered through to steal another popular victory from Jones and Callender.
The mighty, powerful and diverse field of the Excool OSS Championship thundered into Donington for a pair of races and their penultimate race weekend of the season. Race 1 was all about a revitalised Mike Jenvey, who was able to show the pace that had taken him and his Jenvey-Gunn TS3 to last year’s overall title. He took the flag 16 seconds in front of Duncan Williams in his repaired Juno with Class C leader and title rival Josh Smith completing the podium. It was almost more of the same in the second race, albeit this time Williams hounded Jenvey all the way through and did managed to get in front before a red flag ended the race with seconds to spare. Thus, Williams claimed the overall win from Jenvey, while Smith’s Radical again completed the rostrum. Jenvey and Williams also shared a Class B win each in the process, Smith was the dominant man in Class C, Graham Cole and Richard Fearns both topped Class A and Daniel Prendergast was the sole runner in Class E. Paul Watson and Paul Hill shared the same Aquila Synergy and took a win each in the Synergy Cup.
It was certainly quality over quantity for the pair of Formula Jedi races over the weekend, which also had to deal with contrasting conditions. Just as the first race was about to get underway, a severe rain storm forced their race to be push back slightly to allow drivers to change from slicks to wets. Once they did get going, points leader Paul Butcher withstood the pressure and the conditions to claim his second win on the bounce from the returning Michael Watton and former champion Lee Morgan. The latter would find Sunday’s race in dry conditions much more to his liking as he dutifully drove a clean and calm race to take victory from Watton again, with Dan Clowes happy to take away a trophy for 3rd.
It looks as though the title is all but sorted in the Avon Tyres Formula Ford 1600 National Championship with the Mazda Road To Indy Shootout prize still the end goal. With his points lead head into the weekend standing at almost 100 points, Post ’89 leader Niall Murray was once again in top form taking pole in qualifying. Come the first race and as has often been the case this season, he led from the front and completed his first victory of the weekend 3 seconds ahead of fellow Irishman Stephen Daly, with the rapid Graham Carroll making a welcome appearance to finish 3rd. The second race saw more of the same, but this time Carroll was able to keep in touch with Murray much better. Alas, he was unable to overhaul him as Murray completed the brace, meaning he is virtually assured the National FF1600 crown thanks to his unassailable points lead. Carroll dutifully finished P2 with Luke Williams completing a brilliant weekend for the new Firman RF16 chassis with 3rd. Murray also appears to have wrapped up the Triple Crown honours in the process as well, along with claiming both wins towards the Northern championship too.
Over with the Pre ’90 class for older machines, Jamie Jardine made sure that his return wasn’t a quiet one as he firmly put himself amongst the likes of Jaap Blijleven and points leader Ben Tinkler to show why he’s a former champion. His impressive win in Race 1 saw him take it by a phenomenal 9 seconds with the Dutchman Blijleven just ahead of Tinkler at the flag as they completed the podium. Jardine couldn’t repeat his success in Race 2 as Tinkler got the better of him to claim another win and strengthen his lead in the Pre ’90 National standings, as Jardine and Blijleven dutifully followed him home.
Another welcome return came over the weekend in the form of the current reigning Alfa Romeo Championship winner Graham Seager, with his supercharged GTV once again proving to the class of the field both overall and in the Modified class. Back up to full strength, he took the lead from the front row at the start and drove away to an 8 second victory from fellow class contenders Bryan Shrubb and Andy Page, with Ray Foley again taking Power Trophy honours. However, it was Tom Hill’s win the Twin Spark class that was enough to see him crown class and overall champion for the season, finishing ahead of Paul Plant and Dave Messenger on his way. Amongst the celebrations, Seager would make it two from two in the second encounter, with Shrubb once again 2nd and Foley taking 3rd overall with another Power Trophy win. The Twin Spark top step went to Plant this time with newly crowned champ Hill in 2nd and James Ford in 3rd.
Once again with another capacity entry, the BMW Race Days Compact Cup saw another twist in the title race as Joe Wiggin decided now was the time to pull the pin and really show what he could do. Race 1 saw him put in an impressive drive to move away from James Gornall and Steven Dailly for victory, although the latter was forced into the pits in the final laps gifting Gornall 2nd. In a crazy final sequence, Owen Hunter stole 3rd from Ian Jones out of the final corner to take a last minute podium. Wiggin was able to complete a brilliant double with Dailly chasing him down this time and the gap open and closing lap after lap. In the end it remained in that order with Jones making up for missing out on the podium in Race 1 with 3rd this time.
So, with both rain and sun making an appearance and many drivers experiencing both weather conditions, it was certainly an eventful weekend with plenty of thrills, spills and even one or two championships settled. With Silverstone also keeping the Midland Centre busy, many thanks go to all Club officials and personnel involved, as well as all teams, drivers and our brilliant marshals. Donington will be back in action in October for the finals weekend featuring a whole host of Caterhams and more!
You can find the full breakdown of the weekend’s results from Donington Park via TSL Timing HERE.