The 2019 season for the Teekay Couplings Production GTi Championship began in earnest at Silverstone just a few weeks ago, with a healthy entry full of familiar faces and new names to the paddock. After two exciting opening races on the National circuit, the Production GTi paddock moves north to the newly resurfaced Croft Circuit for Rounds 3 & 4 of the campaign.

The man to beat all weekend in the Mk5 class was Simon Hill, who finished off 2018 as the vice-champion in the class and was determined to start the new campaign in the best possible way. That he did, as he was able to beat last year’s inaugural Mk5 champion James Colbourne away from the line in both races and go on to take a brace of victories plus fastest lap in each. This left him with the perfect score of 44 points heading to this weekend’s races at Croft. Colbourne sits in 2nd 12 points back after collecting a pair of 2nd places, while two 3rds for Martyn Walsh sees him take up the respective points table position a further 6 points back. All three are starting to mark themselves out as early title contenders, so expect the trio to go back and forth all day on Sunday.

As it turned out, Walsh spent most of his weekend dicing with the likes of Simon Vercoe, James Howlison and Adam Hance, the latter two retiring from Race 1 and thus sitting towards the bottom of the class points after struggling to keep up with the leaders in Race 2. Vercoe, meanwhile, had a solid debut to the championship as he was locked in what seemed like a constant battle for 3rd place all weekend, coming away with two 4th places and ready to make more progress this weekend. Howlison and Hance, meanwhile, are both regular attendees on the podium as the pair scored five between them in 2018. They will be hoping Croft’s new surface will suit them, quite literally, down to the ground.

Peter Elliston made a solid start with a 5th place in Race 1, while John Mawdsley recovered from an incident with Richard Marsh in the same encounter that left him in the gravel at Becketts to pick up 5th place himself in Race 2. However, Elliston’s double points finish puts him 5th in the standings with 17 points, four ahead of PGTi newcomer Dawn Boyd. The experienced front wheel drive club racer did well on her debut, and the British Motorsport Marshals Club ambassador will be looking to give her fellow “Orange Army” members something to celebrate. Also reappearing on the grid will be Ryan Sayer, John Beale, Brett Wallace and Richard Marsh, while two more cars are set to add to all the contenders that competed at Silverstone. After his accident at the season finale at Donington Park last year, Paul Blackburn is excited to make his return to the grid having completed his recuperation over the offseason. Having taken a race win at Rockingham last season too, Paul won’t want to hang around and could give the front runners a further challenge. We’re also delighted to welcome Robert Howard on the grid for the first time as he makes his Production GTi debut this weekend.

Over in the Mk2 Championship contest, honours were split at Silverstone between double champion Chris Webb and former 8V Class front runner Matthew Eccles. Both enjoyed convincing victories while their rivals scrapped behind them, although expect both defending champion Tim Hartland and race winner Pete Milne to bounce back significantly this weekend. Hartland, in particular, had, by his standards, a less than a satisfactory opening weekend to begin his title defence, so we’re sure nothing less than a race win will do to get him back on track. Spencer Beale was another new name on the grid at Silverstone and did well to give some of the established names the runaround on his first weekend. He will undoubtedly have enjoyed his first day’s racing and will be keen for more as he makes the journey north.

After an exciting and competitive start to the season, Production GTi is only set to see the grids grow bigger and bigger as the season goes on. How much of an effect the new track surface will have and whom it benefits most remains to be seen, but whatever happens, it promises to be another thrilling season for the championship that provides the most cost-effective way to race one of the most excellent hot hatchbacks of all time!

Scott Woodwiss


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