The boys and girls of the Caterham Academy had their initial taste of racing action! – Photo: SnappyRacers

With a large array of various single seaters, sportscars, sports prototypes and saloons, those who attended Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby this past weekend were spoilt for choice in terms of championships to indulge in. Thankfully, whatever anyone was there for, the racing across the board was nothing but spectacular all the way from start to finish.

Taking part in their first ever competitive race weekend on a circuit, both groups of The City Magazine Caterham Academy were all keen to show what they could do with everyone in their individual groups lining up alongside each other for the first time. The Green Group ventured out first and what followed was an exceptional battle between pole man Tom John and Peter Spencer. The latter won out in the end, but not before a race that never saw the pair separated by more than 0.676s all race. An equally large race long battle for 3rd also broke out Pete Walters and Steven Tozer with Walters claiming the last podium spot.

The White Group’s inaugural circuit encounter wasn’t so smooth, unfortunately. An incident towards the beginning of the race saw one car make heavy contact with another, first forcing out the safety car and then a red flag. The restarted race was also safety car hit at one point, however once the racing got underway once more until the end it resulted in another brilliant race. Early leader James Beardwell dropped down the order halfway through, leaving Jay McCormack and Ben Gillias to fight it out. McCormack eventually won out by less than half a second, while Beardwell did manage to push back through and was only a tenth a way from 2nd placed Gillias at the line.

A trio of incredible races for the Excool OSS Championship saw action all the way in all 3. For the first race, Duncan Williams almost took a complete lights to flag victory in the Juno however reigning champion had other ideas. A charge in the latter stages of the race saw him momentarily steal the lead, however Williams was quick to take it back and eventually beat the #1 to the line by 0.3 seconds. Class C debutant Joe Stables impressed many with an excellent 3rd place, with he and Williams taking wins in Classes B & C respectively. Graham Cole’s powerful red Jade claimed Class A, Daniel Prendergast snatched a new class lap record while scoring Class E honours and Paul Watson become the first Aquila Synergy Cup winner of the weekend.

Cole managed to strike back in Race 2 as he was never headed the entire race to win overall and in Class A, while Jenvey was the man that took Class B spoils after the #10 Juno’s second driver Jordan Sanders suffered technical issues that forced him out just past the halfway point. Stables once again put in a grand effort to take another Class C win and 3rd place overall for the second race in a row. Sadly, no Class E cars were present as Predergast’s Contour had mechanical woes that couldn’t be cured overnight, whilst Danish youngster Kevin Suenson was top Aquila Synergy.

Race 3 was arguably the best of the trio as a magnificent 4 way skirmish occurred between former champion Josh Smith, Jenvey, Craig Mitchell’s Ligier and Stables. Eventually with a couple of laps to go, Stables took the lead and crossed the line in 1st, however after the race the stewards sadly handed him a 5 second penalty for unsatisfactory driving standards, giving Smith his second overall win of the year. Jenvey completed a hat-trick of overall 2nds, with Mitchell also clinching his first podium of 2016 for the Ligier. After a long winter rebuilding his Jade, Doug Bowkett scored a sensational Class A win with Suenson again unbeatable in the Aquilas.

Another step on the Mazda Road To Indy was taken this past weekend for our Avon Tyres Formula Ford 1600 National Championship drivers with a pair of races on the Saturday. A tight qualifying session left former Formula Ford Festival winner James Raven on pole and in Race 1 he, points leader Niall Murray, American Chase Owen and Finland’s Patrik Pasma drove away to battle amongst themselves. Despite a brief safety car period, Raven held on the entire way after stealing the lead on the first lap to win with Murray 2nd and Owen 3rd. For the second race, Raven lost the lead in the opening laps to Murray before taking it back again on lap 3. From there, James remained at the head of the pack with another short appearance from the safety car closing the pack up once more. Even so, Raven had enough to do the double with Pasma clinching an strong 2nd place and Owen making his second podium visit of the weekend with 3rd. In the Pre ’90 contingent, Michael Beaver was the runaway winner in both races, taking home a massive haul of points towards the category.

Formula Jedi had a rather high quality field present with two former champions amongst the entry. One of them was Andrew Dunn, who ran Paul Butcher close throughout the entire race and when it looked as though Butcher would finally get that first race win of the season he’d been hoping for, Dunn snatched it away at the last moment to take the flag, while Snetterton winner Rob Sayell made a successful return from holiday to take 3rd. For Race 2, polesitter and 2014 champion Lee Morgan held the lead early on before retiring, leaving Sayell to eventually take advantage and claim win #2 of his campaign. Dunn once again had the better of Butcher on track, coming home 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Rob Burkinshaw made sure his return to the Toyo Tires Honda VTEC Challenge came off in fine style, as he and his Integra went straight to the top of the podium in Race 1, but not before he was pressed all the way by the S2000 of Mark Bennett and an incredible performance from the Production class Civic Type R of Paul Donkin. For the second race, the top two were reversed and try and Burkinshaw might, he just couldn’t get the better of Bennett who, after years of trying, finally scored his first win in the VTEC Challenge, with Donkin once again coming in right behind them. Silverstone victor Adam Jones was the only Super Tuner car all weekend, while Burkinshaw and Bennett shared Tuner class honours between them and Donkin the dominant Production class car.

Once again faithfully joining the Hondas on track were the Smart 4Two Cup with only one driver claiming a double podium all weekend – such is how competitive the championship is! For Race 1, the win fell to Martin Clatworthy by some 5 seconds, while 2nd was hotly contested all the way by Greg Owens, David Nash and James Palmer, with the former two making the podium. Race 2 saw Alan Palmer victorious while Nash and Owens swapped around this time with the former a step higher on the rostrum.

Although the numbers were lower than some would have liked, there was still some quality sportscars on display in the Dunlop TVR Challenge. Jason Clegg’s Class A Tuscan Speed Six was nothing short of dominant all weekend as he romped to victory in both races. The first saw him win ahead of fellow Class A driver Hugh Marshall in his more traditional Tuscan, while Chris Ridge’s Class A+ adapted “S3bera”, which effectively is a modified Tuscan racer, ended up 3rd. Mathew Smith was the one everyone in Class C had to chase, while the sole Class B car of Mike Luck sadly had his Chimaera faulter on him and fail to see the finish. Clegg doubled up in Race 2, with Marshall again 2nd and the ferocious red Cerbera of Jamie Golby in 3rd, overcoming a weekend that had seen a handful of issues. Clegg was once more top of Class A, Golby held Class A+ and Smith was again first past the post for Class C.

Onto the trio of championships provided by the Track Attack Race Club, starting on Sunday with the Nippon Challenge in conjuction with the Deutsche Marques Cup and a small selection of cars invited from the Tricolore Trophy. Most of the regular overall frontrunners appeared to hit problems throughout the first race, leaving the little Renault Clio 172 of Nick Gwinnett to steal the race win outright and best of the Tricolore Invitations, beating the charging James Mumbray in his M3; he also took the Deutsche Marques class in the process. As for the Nippons, Andrew Roberts’ Honda Civic EK saw off all comers from Miles Hodgson’s Toyota MR2 and Tony Markham in another Civic.

Normal service resumed for Race 2 with arguably the two cars seen as the class of the field hitting the front after working their way through. James Janicki was overall winner in his Super GT class Nissan Skyline R32, followed home by Lithuanian Nerijus Zabotka in the bright red Subaru Impreza. Race 1 winner Gwinnett still managed a superb 3rd as top Tricolore driver and James Mumbray came through once more for Deutsche Marques glory, ending up 4th outright.

When the Tricolore Trophy ventured out for the first of their two encounters, Gwinnett was continued his good run of form with pole position. However, try as he might he would fail to see the podium as the red Clio was forced to wind up 4th. The win did in fact got to Andrew Mitchell’s rapid little Peugeot 205 GTi ahead of the Clios of Tony Hunter and Ian Collins. With Race 2’s grid a reflection of Race 1’s result, in actual fact there was little to no change in the order at the front as the top 7 all remained in exactly the same order all the way through. This meant Mitchell doubled up on wins, Hunter took another 2nd and Collins was 3rd once again.

Finally, the MR2 Race Series took to the track to showcase pack racing in fine style. Towards the front of Race 1, it was a close run ordeal between Nathan Harrison and Adam Lockwood as the pair completed their race just over 3 tenths apart. The battle for 3rd was just as intense some 4 seconds behind them as anyone of four drivers could have joined Messrs Harrison and Lockwood, with the honour falling to Daniel Bryant. Harrison was once again the man they all had to beat in Race 2, completing a near perfect weekend with another win while Bryant did one better in 2nd and veteran Dave Hemingway stepped up to join them this time in 3rd.

For a full breakdown of results from all the races from the weekend, you can find them courtesy of TSL Timing HERE.

Scott Woodwiss


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