FUN CUP AND TCT/TCR HEADLINE FANTASTIC BRSCC SILVERSTONE RACE WEEKEND
Some incredible racing under some amazing weather took place at the recent race weekend at Silverstone for the BRSCC, which saw the headline Dunlop Touring Car Trophy/ TCR UK & Volkswagen Racing Cup races top a support bill packed with healthy grids and terrific on-track action.
The first TCT/TCR race saw Henry Neal start from pole position, but a poor launch from the line allowed Dan Kirby to take the lead in the opening laps in his CUPRA TCR, followed by Darelle Wilson’s Vauxhall Astra that made a quick getaway from the third row of the grid. It didn’t take long for Neal to get back to the head of the pack as he managed to repass Wilson and then Kirby within five laps. The pair stayed close behind Neal’s Honda Civic whilst also battling amongst themselves, only for that scrap to end in tears when they collided while exiting Luffield, sending Wilson into the tyre barrier and Kirby skipping through the gravel but losing places as a result. Neal, meanwhile, was unchallenged at this point and drove on to his second win of the season, while the Hyundai i30N TCR of Lewis Kent and the CUPRA of Max Hart inherited 2nd and 3rd respectively. In the VW Cup ranks, Bradley Kent led from start to finish to collect a dominant win, while a race-long battle for 2nd between Andy Wilmot and Paul Ivens ended in the former’s favour.
The second race didn’t produce a better start for Neal as he was beaten away by Kent from the front row into a lead that he would manage to keep for the duration, despite a constant watching brief from Neal who remained close all race long. Max Hart would also make sure it was three for the lead and the podium, but overtaking opportunities failed to present themselves and the trio would take up the rostrum once again, only this time it was Kent that brought his win tally level with that of Neal once more with victory in the Hyundai, with Neal in 2nd and Hart in 3rd. The VW Cup segment turned into a race of attrition as Richard Gilbert suffered race-long problems and Race 1 winner Bradley Kent didn’t even manage to start the race thanks to a lingering gearbox problem the end of the earlier race. With Wilmot also suffering a left front wheel problem, all this allowed Paul Ivens to cruise to victory with Jeff Alden in 2nd place, who had been forced to switch to a back-up car after a crash in qualifying the day before.
The rest of the timetable was packed with thrilling racing up and down the paddock. The BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship turned up to Silverstone with a capacity 60 car grid, with the entry split into three groups after qualifying and racing each other once to produce three separate races in total. The first race for Groups B and C saw Joe Wiggin climb from 5th on the grid to take the lead in what became a nine-car scrap at the front of the field, and after getting the best of early leader Brian Trott, Wiggin pulled away to take the win – or at least, on the road he did. Afterwards, in a post-race scrutineering check, a technical infringement was found on Joe’s car which disqualified him from the result, promoting Trott to take the win instead from Mike Comber in 2nd place and a first-ever podium for Matt Pollard in 3rd. The first of Sunday’s races put Groups A and C together, but the pack only got as far as the Wellington Straight on the opening lap before the race was stopped when Ed Worthington found himself clipped into a rollover, with Brandon Abraham and Peter Higton also falling foul and all three forced out for the rest of the weekend.
When racing got underway for a second time, pole position man Sebastian Fisher ended up in a big scrap with the cars around him. First Trott moved into the lead, then Fraser Fenwick and then Oliver Allwood, who diced with Trott in the final couple of laps before holding on to claim his second win of the season to his delight. Trott remained in 2nd with Fisher still able to pick up 3rd and his first podium too after showing superb enhanced pace. The final race for Groups A and B saw Fisher again on pole but beaten to the lead on the opening lap by Comber, before Jack Brewer squeezed past just before the safety car was called for an incident between Stephen New and Kevin Pemberton. Once racing resumed with just a couple of laps to go, Brewer tried everything he could to cling to his place in front to try and secure his first win, but Comber pounced into Brooklands and snatched victory away with Brewer still picking up his personal best finish of 2nd, while Wiggin managed to work his way through the pack to clinch 3rd.
The Mazda MX-5 SuperCup was also an incredible spectacle to watch with 36 cars producing one of, if not the biggest grid the championship has ever seen. Luke Herbert set out on a quest to continue his march towards a fourth consecutive title and managed to claim pole for both races, but in each, he was put under major pressure from the guest driver and 2014 champion Abbie Eaton. The pair headed a five-car group in the first race which also consisted of points leader Samuel Smith, Patrick Fletcher and Colin Bysouth, and try as they might, none of them nor Eaton could shift Herbert out of the lead despite constant pressure. Yellow flags at Becketts and then subsequently Luffield for separate incidents put paid to any key overtaking opportunities, and in the end Herbert was able to hold on for the win with Eaton in 2nd and Smith in 3rd, although Smith would receive the points for 2nd given that Eaton’s guest driver status ensured she didn’t impact on the championship battle and therefore did not earn any points herself. Eaton once again tried all she could to take victory in the second encounter with Smith also joining in the foray and swapping places with her, while both kept Herbert in their sights but had to settle for the rostrum places below him. Herbert once again put up a stellar defensive effort in the lead to take a win which was secured when an incident between John Langridge, Simon Baldwin and Michael Knibbs produced an early stoppage to the race, with Herbert awarded the win ahead of Smith and Eaton.
Saturday’s main event was the four-hour endurance race for the Fun Cup Championship, which produced drama on the opening lap when GT Radial and UVio Hofmanns Lotus tangled at Becketts setting off a chain reaction, forcing the safety car to make an early appearance. The trio of Make Happen Racing cars were in good form on this day and their #212 car of Greg Evans and Stephen Walton took the lead just before the safety car was called and held on just after the restart, before their teammates in #49 of Harry Mailer and Chris Walton took their turn in front and held on through the first hour. After the second round of stops the #267 Axiametrics car of Chris Dovell, Kristian Rose and Riley Philips caught and passed the #49 Make Happen Racing machine and from here, they appeared to have the race firmly under control. Throughout the remaining pit stop windows and all through the second half of the race, Axiametrics dominated proceedings to eventually take the chequered flag and victory by almost a lap, while the third of the Make Happen Racing cars, the 2Rent Dominos duo of Henry Dawes and Chris Hart, took 2nd with Evans and Walton in #212 completing the podium.
There was much excitement and anticipation for the latest rounds of the Fiesta Junior Championship racing with MRF Tyres, which featured an increased grid of 15 cars with four new additions since the season opener at Cadwell Park. Double winner Joseph Loake once again tooK pole but the chasing pack had caught up with Will Orton less than a second behind him on the front row. Loake’s lead in Race 1 was never more than just over one second as Orton chased him down all the way. Despite Loake’s tyres starting to go off after a few laps, a mistake from Orton ensured that the 2019 vice-champion held on to pick up his third straight win, while behind 2nd place it was a thrilling first podium for newcomer Jake Weston on his first FJC start of the season. The leading group was closer in the second race initially, but Loake was still able to pull away in the second half of the race, leaving Weston to defend from both Dylan Hotchin and Orton. With just a couple of laps to go, a lunge from Hotchin at Becketts for 2nd resulted in both he and Weston making contact and sliding wide, allowing Orton a free pass to P2 which he was lucky to pick up after an ABS problem manifested before the start of the race. Weston survived to 3rd place while Hotchin was forced to retire with broken steering.
Their senior counterparts in the Fiesta Championship racing with MRF Tyres were graced with the presence of two more of the new Invitation class turbo Fiesta ST180s, driven by current Britcar front-runner Danny Harrison and BTCC favourite Paul O’Neill. Over in the Championship point scoring ranks, Ethan Rogers and Samuel Watkins initially ran away with proceedings in the first race with the latter managing to take over the lead from his 20Ten Racing teammate midway through, and Watkins then proceeded to control the Fiesta Championship portion of the race until the chequered flag. It ended up being a 1-2-3 for the team as Rogers maintained 2nd place with first-time attendee and former Clio Cup UK champion Ben Winrow marking his first Fiesta race with 3rd. In the Turbo ranks, John Cooper saw the flag first ahead of Harrison and David Nye. Watkins then managed to double up his fortunes in Race 2, effectively leading from start to finish and staking a claim for the title with his second win of the weekend. Winrow looked set to pick up another podium, but an issue on the final lap left him unable to take the flag. Instead, two of this season’s rookies picked up the podium places instead, as Dominic Bush took 2nd and Spencer Stevenson adding to his points tally with 3rd, just ahead of a recovering Olly Turner, who had been spun down the order in Race 1 and had been fighting back up the pack in both races ever since. David Nye, meanwhile, would claim the Invitation win for the turbo ST180s ahead of Cooper and Harrison, while Paul O’Neill would make the finish of both races in 4th place each time in class, praising the car and the championship in the process.
Once more, the Fiestas shared a grid with the Hyperdrive ST-XR Challenge enjoying their annual away rounds at the Home of British Motorsport. It was anticipated that both William Heslop and Mark Robinson, the two winningest drivers in the championship so far overall and in Class D for the Fiesta ST150s, would dominate once again, but their main competition came mostly once again from the Tensport Performance duo of Chris Grimes and Sam Beckett. In race one, the trio of Heslop, Grimes and Robinson remained together and effectively remained in this order until the finish as Heslop claimed another win. Chris Jones stunned many with his pace in the Class B Ford Escort XR3i to not only win his class but also claim 4th overall, while Paul Green was the top Fiesta XR2 home in Class A. Grimes then drove on to go one better in the second race, as he stole the lead from Heslop early doors and proceeded to command the pace from there. Not only did he go on to take his first win and become the third person to do so overall this year, but 2nd place was also taken by Class D debutant Michael Blackburn as he used all his experience racing in Class B in previous years to pick up the runner up place in his first weekend in an ST150, while Heslop took 3rd. Chris Jones once again was dominant in Class B and Matthew Morton took his turn atop the Class A podium as he continued to defend his points lead.
Despite a smaller grid than in recent times, the Milltek Civic Cup still produced some fantastic racing in their two contests on Sunday. Championship leader Bruce Winfield once again proved the class of the field in Race 1 as he shrugged off pressure for most of the race from Alistair Camp to pick up his fourth win in five races while Max Lewis was also able to pull clear from the squabbling group of cars fighting over 4th to pick up another podium for his tally this year. The partially reversed grid for Race put David Buky and Jamie Tonks together on the second row behind Paul McHugh and Ross Darlington and immediately moved to the front from the start. It looked as though any chance of Buky finally taking his first win of the season sadly evaporated when he was given a ten-second penalty for an out of position start, and this was compounded further when Winfield eventually charged through from 10th to claim yet another win with Camp also climbing back to 2nd, but while at the time the penalty for Buky allowed young George Alp-Williams to clinch his first-ever podium, an amendment to the result saw him penalised instead as Buky’s own time penalty was rescinded to give him back the final podium spot.
To round off the event, the BRSCC Clubsport Trophy and CityCar Cup took to the track together once more after they’d shared tarmac between them at Cadwell Park. David Vincent put his Honda Civic Type R on overall pole alongside the BMW Compact of David Shead and Malcolm Edeson, and Vincent was comfortable in the lead until a drive-through penalty left him with work to do. Nevertheless, he put his foot down and managed to climb back through to the front, taking full advantage for an incident for Shead and Edeson when they collided with the Class D winning Renault Clio of Craig and Gary Butterworth at Becketts, giving Vincent a key chance to catch and pass the BMW. Vincent would go on to take Class A and overall honours at the flag, while the Shead and Edeson BMW won Class B with 2nd place overall and then the rapid MINI Clubman of Keith Issatt in 3rd overall. Class C was taken by Stewart Donovan’s Toyota Celica, while Class E was a win for Bill Taylor and Paul King in their Mazda MX-5.
In the CityCar Cup ranks, Cadwell Park winner Nic Grindrod led early on, but once the pit stops had shaken out as well as the two safety cars throughout, the lead was left to the Bad Obsession Motorsport entered Citroen C1 “WRC” of Richard Brunning, taking their first win ahead of Liam Browning in another C1 and a podium finish for the sole Toyota Aygo of Tim Evans.