MARK RACES WITH A PURPOSE
Mark Robinson made an emotional return to the XR Challenge. Photo:Bourne Photo
Mark Robinson raced in the Advantage Motorsport XR Challenge for the first time in 18 months when the BRSCC’s North Western Centre organised a weekend of action at the Anglesey Circuit on 3rd and 4th August. Mark dusted down his racesuit with a sense of purpose as his best friend, Chris Jones, and his partner Viv wanted him to go out and win in honour of their recently miscarried twins Joshua and Ella.
Robinson carried their names on his car and sped to a trio of victories, two of which were recorded in his usual dominant style. The only time he was challenged was during the second encounter the latter part of which was affected by rain. Michael Heath was best equipped to cope in the wet and reversed a 10 second deficit to reel in the leader on the final lap. He found excellent traction to draw alongside exiting the last corner but the timing transmitter on his car was 0.195 sec behind at the line. Nonetheless, a couple of runner-up finishes and a third were enough to extend Heath’s championship advantage.
For the Mazda MX5 Championship the weekend in North Wales might be regarded as pivotal at the end of the season. James Blake-Baldwin has been in great form of late and he has substantially reduced the points advantage of reigning Mazda MX5 Champion, Tom Roche. His fortunes further improved in the first of three races as Roche suffered a puncture when heading to the grid. Despite this disadvantage the current title holder led the opening laps until his challenger got better drive exiting The Banking and took the lead at Church.
As Roche fell down the order a penalty triggered by him exceeding the track limits was announced. When he did not call in at the pits for a 5 secs “stop ‘n’ go” a further 30 secs were added to his race time pushing him down to 16th in the results. This determined his grid position next time around but the Blendini Motorsport driver worked his way up to third by lap 8 although he was still over 5 secs behind Blake-Baldwin who was out infront. The leader slowed in the closing stages due to pressure from Brian Chandler which enabled Roche to move into striking distance. He was able to demote both in a remarkable final half a lap. Furthermore, a nudge from a rival during the course of some frantic manoeuvring at Peel pushed Blake-Baldwin wide enabling Ed Gay to nip into second.
When heavy rain fell during their final encounter Roche led throughout with Chandler right on his bumper. In contrast Blake-Baldwin struggled in the difficult conditions and dropped to eighth allowing Roche to re-establish his championship lead.
Having been challenged by Paul Rose’s Sakar through the first few corners of the opening Europak Euro Sports & Saloon encounter, the TVR Sagaris of Danny Winstanley eased away to a comfortably victory. This occurred in dry weather but it was a very different situation for their second thrash when the track was damp following an early morning shower. While Graham Davidson’s Noble M400 coped best with the treacherous tarmac, Winstanley gained pace as the conditions improved. He took second from Rose in the closing stages and then got a run on Davidson exiting Church on the final lap. The Noble driver lost control as the pair took School side by side and slammed into the tyre wall while the TVR man took another win.
Winstanley was scheduled to compete in three further events as the Dunlop TVR Championship made a welcome appearance to Anglesey after a four year break. These brutish sportscars were awesome on the fast sweeping corners. Winstanley didn’t quite have the pace of fellow Sagaris driver Tim Hood and then he suffered gearbox failure in the second appearance for this category leaving the way clear for Hood to claim his hat-trick.
Two Irish series had guest slots on the programme, the Reeltech Global Lights put on a fantastic display of superb racing on the quartet of occasions that they came under the starter‘s orders. Usually there was a four-way dice for the lead as Peter Drennan took
the laurels twice with Mark Twoney and Jake Byrne taking a win apiece.
Meanwhile, Alan Watkins completed a hat-trick of Stryker victories when he was first past the flag in a (nowadays rare) handicap event. He accomplished this feat despite starting 74 seconds after the first car. Having twice finished runner-up in the conventional races, Alan Auerbach was only classified fourth.
Finally, credit must be given to the marshals and officials of the BRSCC who had to endure some quite difficult weather conditions. Blazing sunshine and a gale-force wind on Saturday (which put those on post at risk of both sun-stroke and hyperthermia at the same time!) gave way to torrential rain on Sunday afternoon.
FULL RESULTS: Anglesey Data