MX-5 SUPERCUP READY FOR 2019 LAUNCH AT SNETTERTON
Every year the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 SuperCup provides thrilling single-make sports car racing at club level, showcasing some of the best talent British club motorsport has to offer season after season. After 2018’s dramatic finale, Luke Herbert became the first back-to-back champion in MX-5 SuperCup history and with the two-time champ set to return this season, starting this weekend, set to begin his quest to make it three on the bounce in 2019, it should be fascinating to see how another year of high-octane racing goes down as the new season begins this weekend on the Snetterton 300 circuit in Norfolk.
Herbert now heads into his second year in succession holding the #1 on the door, after taking six wins along the way whilst also banking multiple podiums along the way. Given that the final rounds took place in treacherous wet conditions at Donington, Herbert was able to just hold on against the tide of challengers lining up to dethrone him. Now with the 2019 season ready to get underway, Luke will have to steady himself for another challenge as those same familiar faces are back to try and pry the championship away from him.
One of them will be two-time vice champion Jack Harding, who surely must feel that 2019 will be third time lucky. Having had to come second best in 2017 and 2018, Harding has regularly driven like the champion in waiting he appears to be, taking many race wins and podiums but just missing out on getting the rub of the green he needed to seal the deal. This will now be Jack’s 5th season in the SuperCup ranks and after coming close on numerous occasions, he will surely feel this year will finally be his time.
Another driver hungry to get the job done will be Aiden Hills, a former junior rallycross champion that has swiftly adapted to circuit racing in the last couple of years. Having debuted in 2017 and obtained the “Rookie of the Year” accolade at the end of the season, Hills took his new found confidence and immediately injected himself into the front running pack as 2018 began. Having come close on a number of occasions in the first half of the year, Aiden finally picked up a hard fought first win at Oulton Park, backed up by a second at the end of season downpour at Donington. Now that he knows how to get the job done and win races, Hills must surely be setting his sights on mounting a serious charge for the 2019 title. Given his form in the second half of the year, betting on him to be champion could be a smart move if fortunes play out in his favour.
Then we come to 2016 SuperCup champion James Blake-Baldwin, another name you must never count out on any given weekend of racing. The past two seasons have been something of a rollercoaster for him, especially last season when an incident at Castle Combe saw him earn a penalty that would ultimately cost him any chance of clinching a second career title. James holds the accolade of being the only driver in BRSCC Mazda history to have won championships at both Mk1 & Mk3 MX-5 level, and wherever he races James is nothing short of ultra-competitive. Expect him to come out of the gates swinging come the first race on Saturday afternoon.
Steve Roberts has adapted well to life in an MX-5 over the past couple of years after securing multiple BMW Compact Cup titles earlier in his career. Steve was able to secure his first SuperCup win at the Donington finale in the very last race of the year, proving that he has the true pace to also be a threat for the title. Given his prowess in a rear wheel drive car, don’t be surprised to see him contending for victory right from the word go. Talented youngster Will Stacey is another name to throw into the hat, having shocked everyone with a win at the very first round last year at Silverstone. A crash later that weekend saw him miss out a number of rounds, but with his sights set on a full campaign in 2019 and having been successful racing Lotus Elises previously, Will really could turn out to be this season’s dark horse.
There are also plenty of other names to look out for this weekend and across the new season. Bradley Kent, younger brother of TCR UK star Lewis, is strapped in for a full season with Essex & Kent Motorsport while Simon Baldwin will be out in force to try and claim the Masters title as well as providing shotgun for step-brother James Blake-Baldwin. MX-5 stalwart George Grant looks to have made some impressive progress over the winter in his Clapham North MOT backed car, while two-time defending Masters champion Garry Townsend will be out to do the same thing Luke Herbert is also aiming for and clinch his third respective title in a row. David Henderson also makes a welcome return to the SuperCup paddock after a year away, while Jack Sycamore showed real flashes of brilliance at times last year and will hope his AB Motorsport prepared car will be a fast one.
Will Stephenson and Nick Rutter will also be hoping to make further progress up the grid, while a couple of newcomers will make their first forays into Mazda MX-5s. Former Clio 182 Championship frontrunner Patrick Fletcher makes a switch from front to rear wheel drive this year, so watching him develop will be intriguing across the season. We also welcome debutant Christopher Richardson to the ranks so and we’ll be hoping he adapts just as quickly.
So, place your bets now on who could end the season as the MX-5 SuperCup champion, as it’s going to be one hell of a wild ride from start to finish. Nonetheless, strap yourselves in and let’s get 2019 off to a flying start in Norfolk!