TCR UK & CO ENTERTAINS SPECTATORS IN CROFT SPECTACULAR


Croft in North Yorkshire delivered yet another fantastic weekend of racing with the BRSCC, as the Northern Centre played host to the latest rounds of the 2019 TCR UK Touring Car Championship and Dunlop Touring Car Trophy, with a whole host of exciting support races also entertaining spectators on both days of the timetable. The weekend’s racing was also live streamed via Alpha Live, ensuring that those who weren’t able to attend in person didn’t miss a moment of the action.
TCR UK ensured another competitive pair of races, with Essex & Kent Motorsport’s Lewis Kent finally able to shake off the troubles of the opening two meetings at Oulton Park and Donington Park to clinch the first two touring car victories of his career. Claiming pole position in qualifying for the second time this season, Kent drove away to a winning margin of almost 9 seconds in Race 1, leaving the Honda Civic Type R NGTC of Henry Neal and the Cupra TCR of James Turkington to both navigate past early 2nd place man Alex Day’s Audi A4 NGTC before taking 2nd and 3rd places respectively. The second race saw Kent survive two brief safety cars thanks to Day and Neal both retiring respectively, but maintained another lights to flag performance to complete the double. Turkington took 2nd place with Darelle Wilson enjoying a hard fought 3rd place in his Vauxhall Astra TCR.
An emotional Ross Martin cried tears of joy at the end of a dominant weekend in the Avon Tyres National Formula Ford Championship, as he took his Team Dolan Van Diemen chassis to three outstanding victories. After storming to pole in qualifying, Martin controlled the field from the front in Race 1 as he was never headed and took the chequered flag by 3.2 seconds after easing the car home in the closing stages. Rory Smith won a back and forth battle with James Clarke for 2nd place, with Clarke himself still waiting for his first National victory as he took 3rd. Race 2 was a carbon copy of Race 1 for Martin as he once again led every lap to another 3.2 second victory, with Clarke this time able to keep both Smith and Neil MacLennan in that order behind him to hold on to 2nd place. In the reverse grid draw, Jamie Sharp initially led but soon enough Martin was able to take advantage of a safety car period and storm past his Team Dolan teammate on the restart. From there, the young Scot yet again had the race in his grasp and completed the hat-trick in fine style, ahead of MacLennan and Spike Kohlbecker on the podium.
The main title contenders of the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 SuperCup reached the half way stage of their 2019 season with what was turning out to be one of the most closely fought and most competitive championship battles in recent years. Jack Harding took pole for Race 1, which translated into a 5 car train stacking up for the lead but none of them able to displace Harding from the lead. Jack went on to win that first race with main rivals Luke Herbert and Aidan Hills filling out the podium behind him. Harding once again started on pole for Race 2, where he once again completed a superb lights to flag win despite having to fend off, Herbert, Hills and Steve Roberts all race long in a brilliant defensive effort. Herbert and Roberts took 2nd and 3rd places, while a daring last lap outside dive at Sunny In left Hills in 5th position rueing what could have been. His luck didn’t get any better later in the afternoon, as a rare mechanical problem forced Hills out of the race on the formation lap, cementing his first DNF of the season. With a partially reversed grid, Garry Townsend took full advantage to head the field in the opening laps but was overhauled by the leading contenders in quick succession. It ended up with Harding and Roberts going wheel to wheel for the win with Roberts coming out on top to take victory, with Herbert also sneaking past to take 2nd place and demote Harding to 3rd. The rest of the season should be very interesting!
There was drama on Saturday in the pair of races for the Nankang Tyres BMW Compact Cup, as championship leader Steven Dailly had a nightmare of a meeting. Lacking pace in qualifying, this left him 8th on the grid for Race 1, but his weekend came to a crashing halt when he clipped a tyre stack at the Esses exiting Hawthorn bend. The damage to the left front of the car and possible injury to his wrist as a result left him out for the rest of the day and racking up a rare double DNF. As a result, this left Ian Jones and Matthew Parkes as the main contenders for victory all day, as the former outfoxed the latter on the restart after the safety car for Dailly’s retirement to win Race 1, although Parkes was still happy to be back on the pace in 2nd. For 3rd, however, it turned out that almost no-one wanted the place as Oliver Faller and Ben Huntley both found themselves in the midst of a battle with one another, before both incredibly spun off the circuit at exactly the same time! Faller avoided the barriers and carried on way down the field, but Huntley’s race ended there and then in the wall. This all left a bemused Wayne Flint to pick up 3rd place in the process, much to his surprise and delight. With Dailly out of action for Race 2, Jones and Parkes went at it again with the latter leading all the way until the last lap, when Jones made a last gasp pass in the final few corners to once again snatch the lead and complete a much needed double victory in his title aspirations. Tom Griffiths would round out the podium in 3rd place.
The Disklok Civic Cup saw Lee Deegan out to extend his points lead in a bid to claim his second title in three seasons, although he was beaten away from pole position in Race 1 by Daniel Hobson. However, a missed shift heading on to the pit straight a couple of laps in was all the invitation Deegan needed to snatch the lead, despite contact that almost saw Hobson lose control in a straight line. Deegan was then able to easily pull away and clinch the win by 4.5 seconds with Hobson settling for 2nd just ahead of Bruce Winfield in 3rd. Both drivers, along with Alistair Camp and Phil Wright would all hit strife in a hectic start to Race 2, with all four drivers involved in a chain reaction of incidents that put Hobson, Camp and Wright out on the spot. At the front, the reverse grid benefitted Jason Ballantyne as he put his season back on track with a win after fending off David Buky, while Deegan pushed on from his 10th place starting spot to take the final podium place.
A combined race for the Alfa Romeo Championship and Toyo Tires Porsche Championship saw both series racing on track together at the same time for the first time ever. Amongst the Porsches, Garry Lawrence ended up as the sole surviving Supersport Boxster in Race 1 as both Andrew Porter and Anthony Hutchins fell by the wayside. However, with Nick Hull also joining in the fun on Sunday, Lawrence was kept honest by Porter for the entire race but was able to beat him by just over 3 seconds by the chequered flag. However, Garry’s fortune ran out midway through the third race as a technical problem forced him out while leading. Porter went on to take an effortless victory as a result with Hull and Hutchins joining him on the podium on this occasion. In the 924 class, Hugh Peart took the first class win after Peter Smith was collected by Richard Thurbin’s FIAT Uno Turbo from the Alfa race. Smith managed to win the other two races on Sunday, with the third seeing a race long battle with Peart ending when Hugh ran wide and spun out on the exit of Sunny Out; Chris Valentine collected three 3rd places behind them each time.
Bryan Shrubb only had Race 1 to show his true pace in the Alfas, as he dominated proceedings and won convincingly before grinding to a halt just after the chequered flag fell. This left him unable to compete the next day in the second race, where Gary Miller’s Alfa 156 took on the mantle of dominator in this instance, reigning over the entire field to claim the overall and Modified class wins. David Messenger took a pair of Power Trophy class wins, while the Twin Spark Cup saw some interesting developments. Tom Hill was top TS car home in Race 1, however contact between Hill and Andrew Bourke left the #1 crabbing with rear suspension damage. Bourke won the class on the road, but was disqualified as a result leaving Martin Jones to take a surprise win instead.
Josh Coggan was able to rebound from two unsatisfactory Volkswagen Racing Cup races at Donington Park to collect the win in Race 1 at Croft, beating pole man Simon Walton to the lead and protecting his place at the head of the field for the entire encounter. Walton came home in 2nd place, while Ruaridh Clark maintained his starting spot to collect the final podium spot in 3rd. Rob Allum then made the most of the reverse grid pole position to duplicate the performance he put in at Donington minus the challenge from points leader Martin Depper, who wasn’t present this past weekend. Allum dominated the pack to win by over 7 seconds with Owen Walton and Mark Wakefield joining him on the rostrum.
In the DDMC Northern Saloon & Sports Car Championship, Paul Brydon’s Solution F BMW and Matty Cobb’s Lotus Elise would go on to take a win each with Brydon victorious on Saturday and Cobb finding success on the Sunday, amongst a wonderfully varied field of marques, makes and models.
Scott Woodwiss