MX-5 CHAMPIONSHIP GOES WEST TO THE VALLEYS FOR INAUGURAL PEMBREY VISIT
The BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship makes its first appearance at Pembrey Circuit this weekend for Rounds 4, 5 & 6 of the 2019 season, with the opening rounds at Brands Hatch still fresh in the mind of many. That weekend saw some fantastic racing with one of the largest entries in recent times featuring just over 60 cars, and while there may not be exactly as many cars this time around, that doesn’t mean the racing will be any less entertaining. If anything, it’s set to make the current championship permutations a little more interesting.
Back at Brands Hatch, the top step in the Group A races was taken by Brian Trott for the first time in his career in Race 1, followed by two wins from MX-5 veteran Ben Short. However, here at Pembrey neither of them are set to make an appearance, leaving the winners’ trophies vacant for someone else to collect them instead. One driver who will be hoping to claim at least one is double defending champion Will-Blackwell Chambers, who will have spent the last few weeks aiming to fix an engine that was found to be down on power compared to his rivals. If said issue has been solved, Will won’t waste any time in gunning straight for a race win out of the gate in South Wales in a bid to restart his ambition to go for three titles in a row.
But, as we all know, it’s never as simple as that. As has been the case at every weekend over the last couple of years, WB-C will be looking in his mirrors to fend off all those who challenge him. One of his biggest rivals will be John Langridge, who unfortunately ended up missing out on a race win in the second Brands Hatch race due to contact with Blackwell-Chambers that saw the former Fiesta champion left in the Paddock Hill Bend gravel trap. Leaving this firmly in the past, Langridge will be back on the pace from the word go as he looks to stake his own claim for championship glory. Another driver to throw into the mix has to be newcomer Joe Wiggin, who impressed many in the Mazda paddock with just how quickly he was able to adapt to the Mk1 MX-5. A former BMW Compact Cup race winner, Wiggin displayed his rear wheel drive prowess with a 4th place in the first Group A race, followed by two 3rd place finishes the next day. With both Trott and Short not confirmed for full seasons this year, Wiggin arguably left Brands Hatch as the best of the “full time” drivers. Whether he can keep this superb start to the season going remains to be seen.
Other regular front runners will also be hungry to mount title challenges of their own, including Oliver Allwood and Jason Greatrex. Allwood has come close on two occasions previously and should never be counted out on any race weekend, as he’s always a driver that’s lurking in the front running pack ready to pounce on an opportunity. The same can be said for Greatrex, who will relish the first of two opportunities this season to race in his homeland of Wales – perhaps local support will push him to score a good result? Two time Masters champion Martin Tolley had a mixed bag of a weekend at Brands Hatch but is usually a beacon of consistency when it comes to banking results and scoring points, as has been proven over the last couple of seasons. Also, Steve Foden and Adam Bessell are two bright talents competing under Mike Comber Racing’s banner, the same that runs double champ Blackwell-Chambers. Both had their moments at Brands Hatch and will look to Pembrey to make further progress up the points table.
That’s only just a small portion of drivers when you consider the vast number that could go on and score solid results up and down the top 10. Former Ginetta Junior racer Matt Luff did incredibly well in his first MX-5 weekend as he was able to remain in the top half of the Group A field all weekend on his debut, while last year’s “Rookie of the Year” Matt Pollard will look to continue building on his solid first season in 2018. Jack Brewer was only stopped from racing at Brands Hatch due to logistical problems but with those sorted, he’ll be another driver eager to make up for lost time. Marcus Bailey did well to adapt to his first weekend racing on the new Avon Tyres and should also be quick, while Adam Craig, Jack Moody, Tom Smith, Ben Hancy, Richard Baxter, Charles Mugglestone and David Waters will all be ones to watch out for too.
The new Clubmans circuit layout at Pembrey features the newest edition to the venue with the tight and technical S-bend section adding an extra element to what is otherwise, for the most part, a rather fast and flowing track. The long corners, with the exception of the tight Hatchets Hairpin at the start of the lap, will really allow the drivers to push their cars harder and harder. Whatever happens, with both of this season’s race winners not entered this weekend, the top 10 in the points standings will look rather different indeed.