SILVERSTONE’S SENSATIONAL SEASON ENDER
Jamie Stanley impressed a lot of people with a win and 3rd place in Supersports – Photo: SnappyRacers
Despite continuously overcast skies, nothing could dampen the spirits of those competing in the Finals Weekend at Silverstone, which provided some incredible races to finish off the 2015 season in style for a selection of our championships, as well as also sealing the deal for those bidding for titles.
Caterham Motorsport completed another incredible year with all 6 of their championships competing and 4 of them still with the top prize on the line. One of them that had already been settled was the GQ Academy Green Group, as Rui Ferreira had wrapped his title up at Oulton Park. Rob Yates won from pole after a cracking scrap with Rob Watts, with Oulton winner Will Lloyd completing the rostrum. In the White Group there was still a champion to crown and the duel was between Russ Olivant and Andy Perry. Olivant took the early advantage with pole while Perry could do no better than 7th. Despite doing everything right and winning from the front, Olivant couldn’t prevent Perry from claiming the White Group as his own after driving through to 2nd to claim the points he needed.
With the main honours out of the way, there was one more opportunity on Sunday afternoon for the Academy drivers to properly bow out of their freshman year of racing. An invitational Autumn Trophy race saw almost all of this year’s class take part and gave the newly crowned champs from both groups their first chance to face off against each other. Sadly, the duel was short lived as Perry became caught up in a first lap incident which put him out on the spot. Eventually, it was Russ Olivant who took a second win of the weekend and the bragging rights ahead of Rob Watts and Andy Larholt. The 36 Academy drivers that entered were joined by championship co-ordinator Abi Hay as a guest driver contesting her very first race, qualifying 34th and finishing a respectable 28th.
The Avon Tyres Roadsports had to wait until the very last scheduled Caterham race of the weekend to decide who took the championship. Their first race on Saturday saw title contender Antony Barnes claim the win from pole ahead of Steve McCulley and Olly Wigg, while David Webber, also in the hunt for the title, finished just off the rostrum in 4th. In that second race, it was Olly’s turn to take the top step while Webber finished ahead of Barnes to become Roadsport champion. No mean feat considering the misfortunes he’s suffered at the season opener at Snetterton, making his charge to the championship thereafter all the more sweeter.
If there was one championship that couldn’t have been any closer or competitive by season end, it had to the the Avon Tyres Tracksports. Trying to work out exactly who would win and how they’d do it proved to be a nightmare for all involved, but thankfully in the end it was resolved! Race 1 saw Jack Brown clinch his 4th win of the year only less than half a second ahead of Max McDonagh, while a sensastional 4-way scrap for 3rd went the way of Tim Dickens, who took vital points away from rival Henry Heaton who had to settle for 5th, sandwiched in between Dan Gore and Christian Szaruta with the quartet separated by less than a second!
With the gap at the top just a single point going into the final race, there was high drama early on when Dickens spun in the opening laps, pushing him down the order. While Heaton raced his heart out he couldn’t better 7th, while Brown took victory again from Gore and Richard Ainscough. Dickens, meanwhile, finished right behind Heaton in 8th, meaning a tie on points! It was declared that Dickens had taken it on countback of dropped scores, ending one of the most closely fought championships all year.
In the Avon Tyres Supersports, things were much simpler. All Stephen Nuttall practically needed was two podiums to seal the deal to become champion, with Clive Richards aiming to put a stop to his aspirations to add another title to his collection. One factor they hadn’t counted on was guest driver Jamie Stanley making such an impact to try and spoil the party. In Race 1, he started from pole and despite heavy opposition behind held off the chasing pack to win, albeit from Nuttall by just 0.158 seconds! Richards found himself some 20 seconds back in 3rd and because of this, the title was out of his reach with Nuttall becoming a 4-time champion! Stanley once again had to fight hard for position, but impressed on his first weekend in a Caterham as he was wedged in a 5-car lead battle along with Richards, Danny Killeen, Philip Jenkins and William Smith. At the flag, it was Killeen who claimed a long-awaited first race victory of the year after trying so hard all year, with Smith 2nd and Stanley 3rd. Nuttall sat out the final race to stay out of trouble and assure his championship.
Topping the Caterham tree were the BookATrack.com Superlight R300-S’s, racing their way to the end of the year with the premise of bigger grids next year thanks to a number of Supersport drivers stepping up to take on the challenge. This lot were also joined by a guest driver – this year’s British GT4 champion and Britcar 24 Hours winner Jamie Chadwick. In her first R300-S qualifying session, she stunned everyone by grabbing pole position! Her inexperience at standing starts showed at the start of Race 1 as she dropped toward the midpack for the opening laps. She eventually ended up 9th after being hit with a time penalty, while at the front it was Jonathan Mortimer who gained redemption for just missing the win at Oulton Park, finishing ahead of Aaron Head and Lee Wiggins.
Head then jumped out in front in Race 2 like he was going for a Sunday drive, but didn’t work any less to completed a 15 second victory, securing 2nd in the standings, from Wiggins and Chadwick, who prevailed from an epic battle for 3rd with Mortimer, Paul Thacker and Jason Redding, before being handed with another time penalty that was subsequently removed afterwards.
Elsewhere the Formula Jedis had a score to settle as well. Ben Hingeley knew he had to take as many points away from the likes of Lee Morgan and Michael Watton by racing from the front and despite the fact he did this in Race 1, he was given a time penalty for a jump start that pushed him down to P2, with Morgan benefitting to inherit the win after a strong drive. Robert Sayell completed the rostrum for 3rd, while Watton suffered problems of his own and was for to settle for 7th. A 6 point gap between Hingeley and Morgan set up the final race, with the former knowing that if he won, the title was assured. This he did and the title was his, while Morgan’s bid barely lasted a lap to cruelly force him out of the running. Dan Clowes took his turn in 2nd with Sayell once again securing 3rd.
The Toyo Tires Porsche Championship may have had one class done and dusted with Adam Croft confirmed as 924 champion at Croft, but there was still Race Boxster honours to decide. With Richard Avery on pole for Race 1, he subsequently found himself embroiled in a fantastic 4-way battle at the front which thrilled the spectators no end. He was joined by Ed Hayes, Jayson Flegg and Adam Southgate and while Flegg took the lead from Southgate at one point, Avery overhauled him soon after to win from Southgate and Hayes. Southgate fought back in Race 2 to win with a comfortable 5 second margin from Nick Hull, while Hayes took another 3rd place which was enough to finally complete his title bid – the Race Boxster crown was his! Race 3 wasn’t any less frantic as Avery took his second win of the weekend from Hayes and Garry Lawrence.
In the 924 class, Croft decided his dominant form wasn’t over by winning the class in Race 1 from Simon Hawksley and Niz El-Chamaa, before the latter decided it was hit turn to stand on the top step in Race 2 to win from Croft and Hawksley – the same 3 men on the podium in the previous race, just in a different order. In the final race of the season, there was more business as usual for Croft as he racked up yet another win with Philip Waters squeezing to 2nd and Hawksley completing a hat-trick of podiums.
The Teekay Couplings Production GTis were the last championship to sort themselves out with an 8V class title still to hand out. Of course the 16Vs dominated proceedings with newly crowned king Tom Witts, fresh from his recent Clio Cup outing at Brands Hatch the weekend prior, claiming pole. Witts then went out and proved exactly why he was the champion with a flawless Race 1 drive to win from season long rival Jason Tingle and Chris Webb completing 3rd. Race 2 was more of the same with the top 2 duplicated once more, Tingle just as close to Witts as he had been all weekend. Nick Porter took his turn on the rostrum for 3rd, but the focus was more on the outcome of the 8Vs. In the end, favourite Craig Roberts did the double with two class wins to put it out of reach, while the remaining podium places were shared out by Matthew Petts, Alistair Sedwell and Luke Wales.
It has been a sensational year for on track action in 2015 and the club wishes to sincerely thank each and every championship, its co-ordinators and personnel for their hard work and tireless efforts and its competitors for giving us one heck of a show all year round. A massive congratulations should also go to all of our newly crowned champions, who now have the off season to celebrate their success. Here’s to an incredible season and an even better 2016! Cheers!
By the way, if you want a full breakdown of the Finals Weekend, then look no further than right here – SILVERSTONE RESULTS.