The Snetterton 300 circuit in Norfolk basked in beautiful Easter sunshine, clear skies and high temperatures as the BRSCC East Anglian Centre hosted its first race weekend of the season for a selection of the more higher profile championships on the roster. While two were already moving on to their second weekend of racing, the other three were kicking off for the first time in 2019 after a long off-season.

Topping the bill with some of the brightest young, up-and-coming talent in single seaters, the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship featured a somewhat international entry for the opening rounds with drivers from the UK, Ireland, the USA and continental Europe on the grid. Also joining the ranks was two-time F1 eSports champion Brendon Leigh, electing to make his circuit racing debut aboard a Kevin Mills Racing prepared Spectrum chassis. The opening race saw pole sitter Ross Martin and Rory Smith resume their battles from the Northern rounds at Oulton Park just a week prior, with Martin leading for most of the first half of the race before Smith passed the young Scotsman on Lap 4 and remained in front for the rest of the encounter. Smith clinched the first National win of the season, with American rookie Spike Kohlbecker collecting 2nd place on his UK racing debut ahead of Martin in 3rd. Just behind them, Brendon Leigh finished an incredible 4th place on the road, however a post-race time penalty for driving standards moved him down the result to 10th.

The second race was a two part affair after a red flag after three laps saw Leigh, Aaron Jeansonne, Henry Chart and Nicole Woods all involved in an accident that forced the stoppage. When the race did restart, it turned into a three lap sprint to the chequered flag with Kohlbecker bettering his Race 1 result to collect a superb first win from Martin in 2nd place and Scotsman Neil MacLennan in 3rd. Amazingly, the teams repairing the cars involved in the red flag incident managed a rapid turnaround and ensured every car was back on the grid for the start of Race 3. In that race, MacLennan made sure it was three different winners from the first three races, resisting race long pressure from Martin to clinch victory and delivering a Scottish 1-2 in the process; James Clarke brought his Cliff Dempsey Racing prepared Ray home in the final podium place in 3rd. As for Brendon Leigh, problems getting away from the grid at the start forced him to retire before the race had even begun, but Brendon has vowed to make further Formula Ford appearances as the season progresses.

Also beginning their 2019 campaign after months of waiting was the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 SuperCup, the top line championship for the Mk3 generation of the Mazda MX-5 sportscar. After qualifying it was Aidan Hills that would start Race 1 from pole with his closest title rivals Jack Harding and double SuperCup champion Luke Herbert starting around him for the opening two races. However, Herbert took the lead from the start and held on until the flag to claim the first win of 2019 and pick up where he left off from taking the title in the past two seasons. Harding and Hills took turns in 2nd place throughout the race until Harding won the battle and claimed the place by the flag. Hills would have his revenge in Race 2, however, as he would go on to fend off Herbert and Harding for the entire race from pole to take a lights-to-flag win and the third of his SuperCup career. Harding would then take his turn at the top of the rostrum as he picked up victory from 6th on the grid in Race 3 to ensure each of the podium finishers had a win to their name leaving Norfolk. This could mean that once again they will be the main contenders for the title, but with seven race weekends still to run, anything could happen.

The third championship to start their season on Norfolk was the Disklok Civic Cup, revelling in the recent news of their newly announced title sponsor and welcoming a fresh influx of new and returning drivers to the grid. One such name was 2017 champion Lee Deegan, ready to reappear and reclaim the crown after taking a year out racing elsewhere. Proving he’d lost none of his pace, Deegan went straight to the top of the times in both practice and qualifying before keeping Daniel Reason at bay to make the perfect start to his comeback with victory; Phil Wright would come out on top of a race long scrap between the pack from 3rd down to 9th to claim the final podium place. In Race 2, Deegan endured a poor start but fought his way back up to 2nd place by the finish, as Reason took full advantage to pick up the win. Alastair Camp collected the final podium place with 3rd.

The Alfa Romeo Championship saw the second chapter in the emerging struggle for power in the Modified class between the Alfa 156 of Barry McMahon and newcomer Richard Thurbin in his exquisite four-wheel drive Lancia Delta HF Integrale. With McMahon taking overall pole by almost 0.8 seconds, the Irishman then went on to dominate the opening exchange, pulling out the gap to just over 10 seconds at one stage before his lap times dropped off and Thurbin eventually closed in to finish just 1 second back at the flag. Mervyn Miller was a somewhat distant 3rd place, while Paul Webster was an unchallenged Power Trophy winner. Andrew Bourke led the first part of the race in the Twin Spark Cup before Richard Ford and then eventual victor Jon Billingsley took over at the front, with Billingsley going in to win with Ford and Tom Hill in tow.

Thurbin immediately led from pole in Race 2 as it was clear all was not well with McMahon’s 156 from the start. The Irishman would eventually wind up classified last in the result after various problems plagued him throughout the race. As for Thurbin, he like McMahon was easily the class of the field and took the pretty Lancia to its first overall race win in the Championship to his delight. Miller took his 156 to 2nd place ahead of Paul Webster in 3rd as he collected a brace of wins in Power Trophy. Billingsley led for almost the entire race in Twin Spark Cup, losing it on one lap to Ford before regaining it on the next and remaining in front until the end; Ford would be 2nd again with Bourke picking up 3rd this time.

Richard Styrin was the dominant force he’s known to be once again in the Toyo Tires Porsche Championship, as he would be untouchable in the first two races of the weekend, although for Race 3 he elected to sit on the sidelines. However, his car still competed in the hands of Garry Lawrence after a problem with his regular #3 Boxster forced him to switch cars. In the races Styrin did complete, he won Race 1 ahead of Lawrence and Nick Hull, while Andrew Porter took 2nd place in Race 2 behind Styrin with Hull once again picking up P3. Lawrence then put Styrin’s car to good use to make sure it completed the clean sweep as he won from Hull, with Mazda MX-5 convert Anthony Hutchins taking his first Porsche podium with 3rd. In the 924 class, Hugh Pear took a perfect hat-trick with rivals Jon Jones, Andy Pritchard and Chris Valentine sharing the podiums between themselves.

You can find the full breakdown of the results from Snetterton via TSL Timing HERE –

Scott Woodwiss


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