Tom Roche was nigh on unstoppable in the MX-5 Championship races – Photo: Jon Elsey

With the first race meeting of any new season, there’s always plenty of anticipation and excitement and this past weekend was no different. The BRSCC East Anglian Centre ran theirs and our first race weekend of the year at Snetterton, with action aplenty straight from the first race in glorious weather.

The biggest number of drivers in the paddock came from the Mazda MX-5 Championship, with just over 40 cars entered for the first two rounds, meaning the split grid format had to be utilized. Race 1 for Group A saw former champion Tom Roche make a stunning return to his favourite stomping ground with a comfortable victory in his first race back. He took the flag by 8 seconds from one of the big surprises of the meeting in Oliver Allwood. The man from Godalming, now with AB Motorsport, made the most of his pre-season track time to clinch 2nd place ahead of Championship frontrunner from last season Simon Baldwin. The second Group A race saw Roche storm to an even more dominant victory, complete a brace of wins by almost 14 seconds at the flag. It was an incredible race to the line for second between Allwood and Baldwin, with the latter just snatching it by 11 one-thousandths of a second!

In Group B, there was another pleasant surprise as circuit racing debutant Jack Warry wowed the paddock with a brilliant drive to take a victory in his first ever race – not a bad way to begin your racing career! He took the top spot ahead of Patrick Collins and Bryn Griffiths, the latter having to resist pressure from Kevin Brent and Michael Close (4th and 5th respectively) all the way to the flag. Unfortunately, the second race for Group B had to be abandoned due to a driver from the Quaife Fiesta Championship race beforehand being attended to after an accident. This race is set to be run as the first of the meeting at their next rounds at Anglesey on May 7/8th.

In the MX-5 SuperCup, there came to be a fantastic battle all weekend between four drivers, including reigning champion Alan Henderson, in a bid to stake an early claim for the title. Henderson kicked off his title defence in the best possible way with a win in wet-dry conditions thanks to overnight rain, picking up where he left off to take P1 ahead of a strong Tom Roche, also planning to run a full Mk3 campaign alongside the Mk1s, and James Blake-Baldwin who banished his car problems of last season to claim 3rd. His second race went even better as he came out on top of a titanic 4 way scrap for the win between himself, Henderson, Roche and Jonathan Greensmith. Contact between Henderson and Roche put the latter out of contention with a damaged wheel rim, leaving Blake-Baldwin to eventually romp to victory from Henderson and Greensmith respectively.

There was action aplenty amongst the biggest grid in the history of the Fiesta Junior Championship with 17 cars lining up for race 1 and Elliot Wilson storming to pole position. He followed this up with an impressive drive from the front to complete a lights-to-flag victory, the first of his circuit racing career. Top rookie James Waite completed an impressive 2nd place ahead of a strong looking Carlito Miracco. The same three drivers graced the podium in race 2 with Wilson completing a clean sweep of the weekend, with Miracco and Waite keeping him honest in that order to round out the podium., while an impressive 4-way battle for 4th ended with Ronan Quinn winning out ahead of a race to the line between Harry Gooding, Lochlan Bearman and James Hillery, the trio taking the flag in that order separated by just over 0.3 of a second!

Their senior counterparts in the Quaife Fiesta Championship saw history made in Race 1, as outgoing Fiesta Junior champion Aaron Thompson completed his graduation in the best possible way by jubilantly clinching his first senior win, although he was chased hard by Samuel Priest, Jamie Going, Kevin Stirling and Simon Horrobin all the way. Priest was 2nd on the road, however after the race he was handed a time penalty for driving standards which pushed him down to 7th. This promoted Jamie Going and Simon Horrobin up one place each and onto the podium. Race 2 saw Going involved in a first lap incident which ultimately ended his day prematurely, causing the race to be stopped. On the restart, Priest righted the wrongs of Race 1 and charged home to claim victory from Thompson and Stirling. Class D honours went the way of Daniels Motorsport prepared driver Alastair Kellett in both races, with John Cooper, Jessica King and Stuart Robbins sharing the podium places between, Jessica’s P2 in Race 2 being her best ever result.

Formula Jedi provided the single seater balance with Robert Sayell winning the first race of the weekend and claiming the first Jedi win of his career, some 5.5 seconds ahead of Dan Clowes with Paul Butcher rounding out the podium. Two drivers who were expected to be frontrunners were Michael Watton and newcomer Bradley Hobday, although technical problems forced them out of Race 1. Sadly, while Watton’s pace was clearly evident, further issues prevented him from scoring any points from the weekend in Race 2. Speaking of which, Dan Clowes held off the advances of Sayell all the way to the as the pair took the flag side by side, Clowes taking the win by just under 2 tenths of a second. Bradley Hobday scored his first podium in only his second place to redeem himself from his Race 1 troubles with 3rd.

The Toyo Tires Porsche Championship kicked off in exciting fashion with 3 races for both the Race Boxster and 924 Classes combined. Former champion Rick Styrin was embroiled in a battle for victory all weekend with Ed Hayes, whose regular car suffered engine problems which forced him to use one of Styrin’s spare cars for the weekend. Styrin’s regular race car was still quick enough to hold off Hayes for the Race 1 win by just under a tenth of a second! Race 2 saw a turn of fortunes for Styrin as it seemed the win was in the bag, however a fuel miscalculation saw him drop away on the final lap allowing Hayes to claim victory, with Styrin getting home 2nd and Taylor just behind again in 3rd. Race 3 saw Styrin put things right with a win by 4 second from Richard Avery with Hayes having to settle for 3rd. The 924 class was dominated all weekend by newcomer Pip Hammond, who was unbeatable throughout and snatched all 3 class wins in his debut weekend. Linda Warren took a hat-trick of 2nd places behind, with Niza El-Chamaa and Hugh Peart sharing the 3rd places between them.

Last but certainly not least, the Alfa Romeo Championship began once more for its 3 classes across two races. The small contingent of Modified and Power Trophy class cars meant that the vast majority of the field was comprised of the ever popular Twin Spark Cup, which for this weekend only included TV baking superstar turned racing driver Paul Hollywood. Roger McMahon commanded Race 1 as his own from start to finish as he easily cruised to a dominant victory. He was joined on the podium by Twin Spark runners Tom Hill and Andy Hancock, who also finished 1st and 2nd in their class respectively, while Stephen Potts completing the class podium. Race 2 saw Christopher Oxborough’s rapid 75 V6 sweep Race 2 ahead of McMahon’s 147 GTA with Power Trophy’s Ray Foley, also in a 147 GTA in 3rd overall as well as winning his class. Hill, Hancock and Potts took the Twin Spark podium once again in the same order as Race 1. As for Paul Hollywood, he could only make it out for Race 1, where he finished a respectable 12th overall and 11th in class.

So, 2016 is finally up and running and what a weekend we had to kick it all off. Now things can only get bigger, better and more entertaining from here with more meetings this coming weekend at Oulton Park and Brands Hatch. The main thing to take away is simply this – the new season is underway and it feels good!

For a full breakdown of the results, you can find them via TSL Timing HERE.

Scott Woodwiss


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