The ever-popular Nankang Tyre BMW Compact Cup burst back into life this past weekend at Croft Circuit as Saturday’s two races produced the typical door-to-door action usually found in the championship. Steven Dailly once again proved he was the man to beat, although he wasn’t able to claim both race victories on the day with one going to a first-time winner.

Dailly began the defence of his 4th consecutive title in the best possible fashion by claiming pole in qualifying, setting a new lap record in the process thanks to this being the championship’s first visit to Croft since the circuit had been resurfaced. He was joined on the front row by Mikey Doble, who was competing in a dual campaign in BMWs and Ginettas this season, while Oliver Faller and Wayne Flint lined up on the second row ahead of Ian Howes, Ray MacDowall, Ben Huntley and Lee Dendy-Sadler to make up the first four rows of the grid.

Dailly and Doble drag raced off the line towards Clervaux for the first time, but both ended up making contact after Flint locked up and hit the back of Dailly’s car, sending him into the side of Doble causing both cars to run into the gravel. Dailly quickly managed to drive across it and back onto the circuit, while Doble just about did the same albeit deeper in the pack. Incredibly, Dailly rejoined still in 3rd place as Faller took up the lead in the opening corners ahead of Flint, although Wayne’s P2 only lasted one corner before Dailly repassed him.

A separate incident at the first corner which saw Russell Cager end up beached in the Clervaux gravel produced the runyourfleet.com Safety car to intervene while Russell’s car was recovered. Thankfully, it was only a lap before racing was back underway with Faller now having to take up the challenge of defending from the four-time champion, who was right on his tail on the restart and ready to pounce. Even though it was clear Steven was in his usual rapid form, Faller also appeared to have just as much pace himself and together the pair began to pull away from the pursuers behind them.

From here, the rest of the race was relatively drama-free for the top two as Faller did his best to hold off Dailly lap after lap and despite the Scotsman’s best efforts, he was just unable to prize the door open and make a move stick. Therefore, after some excellent defensive driving that saw him put his car in all the right places at all the right times, Oliver Faller drove on to clinch his first ever BMW Compact Cup win a mere 0.383 ahead of the champion. Behind them, Wayne Flint managed to latch onto their tail by the chequered flag to end up just 0.8 off the win in 3rd on the road, but he was then disqualified after causing the collision at the first corner. Ian Howes, therefore, managed to collect his first podium finish in just his fifth ever car race meeting! Next up came MacDowall, Maguire, Jones and Huntley, with Lee Dendy-Sadler, Simon Welton and Rhys Claydon competing the first top 10 of the year.

The second race of the day feature a slightly damper circuit than had been experienced in the first earlier in the day. Dailly managed to beat Faller to the first corner on this occasion thankfully with no contact from behind this time, and while much of the pack made it through the opening corners unscathed, Rhys Claydon headbutted the tyre stack at Hawthorns and ended up spinning. Thankfully, he was avoided by everyone else and continued without further contact. Dailly headed the opening lap with Faller in his wheel tracks ahead of MacDowall and Jones in a similar arrangement, whilst Ian Howes headed up an exciting battle pack all scrapping over the top 10 places from 5th downwards.

The top two were effectively set in stone by the mid-point in the race, but for 3rd Howes had managed to creep onto the tail of the MacDowall-Jones battle to make it a three car fight for the final podium place. Soon enough Huntley also joined in to form a quartet, but Howes then made a mistake to drop him back down to 11th amongst a pack of cars that were frantically battling amongst themselves for position, including Mikey Doble and Wayne Flint who were attempting to score some strong results to make up for their misfortunes. Meanwhile Huntley squeezed past MacDowall into 4th place and immediately put the pressure on Jones for P3, although Ray did try to sneak back through at the Hairpin in a move that didn’t quite work.

As for Dailly, he simply drove in the typical fashion that he always does, leading from the front and proving untouchable in the lead. He rattled off the laps to go on and take his first win of 2021 with Faller some 5 seconds back in P2, with Jones just holding on to the final podium spot ahead of Huntley and Macdowall. Claydon came next in 6th from Maguire and Doble, with Welton and Guy Davis rounding off the top 10 for Race 2.

It’s a trip further north for the next rounds of the Compact Cup this season as Steven Dailly gets a chance to once again race at his home circuit. The exceptional Knockhill Circuit in Fife, Scotland comes next on June 12/13 in what’s certain to be a memorable weekend for all in attendance. For now, it appears to be a fight between Dailly and new contender Oliver Faller, but will it remain that way when the championship heads to the highlands?

Scott Woodwiss


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