SILVERSTONE STUNS IN SEASON SIGN-OFF
James Blake-Baldwin added the MX-5 SuperCup title to his Mk1 crown – the first man to have won both! – Photo: Jon Elsey
The final meeting of the year for our BRSCC Midlands Centre provided as much high drama as, potentially, every other meeting they’ve held this year put together! Every championship in attendance had a title battle to settle and all of them ended in spectacular fashion across two days of ferocious competition.
It began in earnest with the first of 3 scintillating races to complete the Excool OSS Championship season. There were class champions to crown along with a 3 way duel for the overall title between Graham Cole (Class A), Craig Mitchell (Class B) and Josh Smith (Class C). Amazingly, none of them would see the podium in the first race as perennial frontrunners Duncan Williams and outgoing champion Mike Jenvey swapped the lead throughout the encounter. Williams would eventually get the better of Jenvey and take the flag first, while a sensational 3rd went to Matt Manderson in the Bowlby Mk2 that had been piloted all season previously by Ginger Marshall. Smith and Cole finished 4th and 6th respectively, winning their classes respectively while Mitchell took 7th.
The second race’s big talking points were the retirements of both Smith and Mitchell, seemingly leaving the door open for Cole to take full advantage. However once again, it was Williams who hit the front and stayed there throughout, consistently pulling away from Jenvey to end up with a 13 second margin. Invitational driver Jon-Paul Ivey took an exceptional 3rd place overall, while Cole couldn’t better 6th place once again. Josh Smith now had it all to do from 22nd place on the grid for the final race, but in the end he was forced to rack up another retirement with more mechanical woes. However, it appeared that his rivals were unable to capitalize enough and as such, Smith was confirmed not only as Class C champion, but the overall OSS title holder for the second time in 3 years. As for the race, it produced a fabulous nose-to-tail duel between Jenvey and Williams, with the #1 Jenvey-Gunn TS3 able to hold station ahead of Williams lap after lap until the chequered flag. Douglas Bowkett would take the final podium finish in 3rd, whilst Mitchell and Cole were also confirmed as winners of their respective class championships, along with Richard & John Gillman (Class D), Daniel Prendergast (Class E) and Kevin Suenson (Aquila Synergy Cup). As it was, the curtain came down on the best season in OSS history!
The final races of the year for the Mazda MX-5 Championship looked as though that, on paper, it would be an easy task to claim the Mk1 crown. So it probably came to many people’s surprise when AB Motorsport’s team boss Ali Bray stuck his car on pole for the first Group A race! Roche still lined up alongside, but initially it was an AB 1-2-3 with Michael Fisk, Stuart Symonds and Bray leading the line with Roche 4th. The green #125 Blendini machine soon picked them off one by one, taking the lead from Fisk with 5 laps to go and remaining there to take yet another win, while Oliver Allwood was promoted to 3rd after Bray was handed a time penalty for track limits. Roche just about did it again in the second Group A race, as he steadily pulled a 3 second gap to Fisk behind before it stabilized until the end. James Harris put in a superb effort to wind up on the final step of the rostrum in 3rd place. Roche would dearly have loved to have completed a hat-trick on his way to the title, however he was denied a final race win by Allwood, who stole it from him on the very last lap of the season. Roche still took 2nd ahead of Fisk which in the process handed him, subject to official confirmation, the 2016 MX-5 Mk1 Championship.
However, his fortunes in the battle for the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup crown took a rather different turn. It started well with pole for Race 1 alongside fierce title rival James Blake-Baldwin, but while he may have taken the win on the road, a time penalty for track limits pushed him down the order to 4th and off the podium, leaving Blake-Baldwin to steal a key race victory ahead of Jonathan Greensmith and Jack Harding. There was more tension come the second race, as a duel for the lead between Roche, Blake-Baldwin and Greensmith (the latter at the head of the trio) ended early with Greensmith getting hit from behind by Roche, putting him out of both the race and the championship hunt altogether. In the end, Jack Harding would take his 3rd win of the season with Blake-Baldwin 2nd, while 3rd place went to ex-BTCC man Paul O’Neill after Roche was excluded for the contact. This left him at the back of the back for the final race, yet he eventually turned quite possibly the drive of the season as he charged through to take a very impressive 4th. Alas, it was not enough to deny Blake-Baldwin as the final podium played out as a carbon copy of Race 2, with 2nd place enough for James to take the SuperCup title home after the most frantic season it’s ever had!
Events were somewhat simpler when it came to deciding the fate of the Toyo Tires Porsche Championship classes that weekend. The Race Boxster class was settled on Saturday with Richard Styrin making sure that all he had to do was follow eventual race winner Richard Avery home to the flag, securing enough points to take his 3rd Boxster class crown, while Garry Goodwin was satisfied with another 3rd place. With the title in the bag, Styrin went into Sunday in a relaxed mood and drove as only he knew how to win Race 2 by only a mere 1.3 seconds from Avery and Nick Hull, before stretching out a larger advantage in the finale to the tune of over 7 seconds. Garry Lawrence ended a turbulent year fortunes wise with a strong 2nd place, while Kevin Molyneaux bagged a 3rd place for his troubles in the last race of the year.
Over with the 924 class behind the Boxsters, number 1 status was still up for grabs. After a strong showing last time at Mallory, Philip Waters came to Silverstone in confident mood and it showed in his first race. He took a very convincing 10 second win from Pip Hammond in 2nd place, who had been rapid in his previous appearances throughout the year. John Broadley would take 3rd in class, while points leader Linda Warren was simply only doing everything she needed to bank points towards sealing the deal by finishing 7th. She did the same in the first race on Sunday, which was enough for her to secure her status as 924 Class champion for 2016, whilst Hammond got his own back on Waters by clinching the Race 2 win ahead of him with his Turn Eight Racing teammate Gavin Johnson 3rd. With all titles settled, the last race was open season for everyone and Waters made sure the final race win was his with Hammond and Broadley once again following him home.
Formula Jedi concluded a very competitive season with two races where any one of four drivers could inherit the #1 for 2017. The first race ensured that this number was reduced to two after Rob Sayell took the win with Paul Butcher 2nd, while 3rd place for Bradley Hobday pushed him out of the fight, along with Dan Clowes who retired early on. Going into the second and final race, it was left as a showdown between Sayell and Butcher, but neither would see the top step on that occasion. Instead former champion Lee Morgan clinched another race win from 2016, while Sayell’s 2nd place compared to Butcher’s 4th meant that he had secured the Formula Jedi Championship in the process. Dan Clowes gained some redemption for missing out with 3rd place.
The BMW Race Days Compact Cup brought its first season under the BRSCC banner to a close with a pair of races that also had a championship to decide. Points leader James Gornall would start both races on the front row of the grid alongside double pole sitter Ian Jones, but it would be Gornall who would get the better launch and hold on from there to win Race 1. Jones remained 2nd with Jon Watt 3rd, while the like of Joe Wiggin and Steven Dailly came to blows behind as Dailly retired and Wiggin ended up 11th. Moving into the second race, it was more of the same from Gornall who took the lead and commanded the race – but he probably hadn’t counted on Wiggin storming up from 6th on the grid before throwing caution to the wind and throwing a move down the outside of Gornall on the last lap at Stowe to steal an incredible. However, 2nd was more than enough for former British GT champion Gornall to add a BMW Compact Cup title to his CV. Ian Jones would end up as the final podium finisher.
Wow – WHAT. A. WEEKEND! That said, what a season. There’s been plenty of ups and down, thrills and spills and magical moments along the way, all of which confirms 2016 as a memorable year for the Club’s roster of championships. Congratulations do of course go to all of our champions and we look forward to seeing how you all get on next year. Thanks must also go to all spectators, marshals, officials and Club personnel involved for making 2016 what it was. We’ll be back next year for more top class club racing action!
A full breakdown of the TSL Timing results can be found here – SILVERSTONE FINALS WEEKEND RESULTS.