TCR UK & CO SMILE FOR THE CAMERAS AT SILVERSTONE
In some cases, the phrase “history in the making” gets overused, however on this occasion its use was undoubtedly justified as this past Easter weekend was seen as a landmark occasion for British motorsport – the first-ever rounds of the new TCR UK Touring Car Championship. An exciting element to the weekend was the incredible live online coverage provided for TCR UK and several of the supporting series on Facebook, YouTube, the TCR website, Motorsport.TV and MotorTrend On Demand with positive reactions from all interested parties.
TCR UK Touring Car Championship
Sporting a 13-car entry for its inaugural two rounds, a tantalising qualifying session saw Daniel Lloyd snatch pole position for the opening race in the dying moments to line up in the WestCoast Racing VW Golf ahead of Aiden Moffat in the Laser Tools Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Third fastest went to an emotional Howard Fuller, who steered his Sean Walkinshaw Racing Honda Civic Type R to the second row in his first competitive race weekend for three years. Former Fiesta Championship frontrunner Lewis Kent took his Essex and Kent Racing Hyundai i30 N to P4 in an impressive display for the young charger, while former Caterham and BMW racer Ollie Taylor marked his first front wheel drive experience with 5th fastest in another Honda Civic, run by Pyro Motorsport.
Lloyd swiftly converted Race 1 pole into the lead and was able to keep Moffat’s Alfa at bay by at least 1.5 seconds for the duration of the race, leaving the cars behind them to fight amongst themselves throughout the initial 30-minute encounter. Some great battles in the opening race saw positions traded and debated all the way through the top 10, although Darelle Wilson’s Vauxhall Astra was an early casualty after ending up in the gravel at Becketts.
Back at the front, Lloyd went into the history books as the first ever TCR UK race winner, but while Aiden Moffat crossed the line in 2nd on the road, a 5 second penalty for track limits pushed him off the podium in the result initially, putting Taylor and Sweden’s Andreas Backman in another WestCoast VW Golf into P2 and P3 respectively. However, just as the festivities were taking place a successful appeal from Laser Tools Racing reinstated Moffat in 2nd with Taylor nudged back down to 3rd.
Race 2 saw the grid decided by the 2nd fastest qualifying times with the top 10 reversed, leaving Stewart Lines and Ollie Kangas in their CUPRA TCRs on the front row. However, race 1 winner Lloyd wasted no time to storm from 9th on the grid to 3rd by the end of the opening lap and eventually into the lead shortly after. As Lloyd kept his cool at the front once again, a battle for 2nd developed between Moffat and Andreas Backman with the pair practically nose-to-tail for the majority of the race. Sadly, Moffat would fail to see the flag when a fuel problem forced him to retire in the final minutes, leaving Backman in an unchallenged 2nd place ahead of Taylor.
In front, Lloyd completed a practically flawless weekend to take his second win of the season with Backman completing a superb WestCoast Racing 1-2 finish and Taylor again taking to the podium. Behind them, Stewart Lines would take both wins in the DSG Trophy ahead of fellow CUPRA driver Carl Swift, although Lines intends to upgrade his CUPRA to the sequential gearbox before the next rounds at Knockhill. That is where TCR UK heads next on May 12/13, after a very positive start to its life in British motorsport with the prospect of more teams, cars and drivers joining before the next meeting and throughout the season. Whatever happens, TCR UK is here to stay and it’s only set to get bigger and better with every race weekend that passes.
Mazda MX-5 SuperCup
While the main event did enough to entertain spectators, their compatriots on the permanent support package put on a sensational display of racing all weekend over their respective hat-tricks of races. The Mazda MX-5 SuperCup exploded into life on Saturday afternoon in damp conditions, where it also discovered a potential new star. Former Lotus Cup youngster Will Stacey stunned the regular frontrunners as he unapologetically took the fight to them in the battle for the lead, after starting on the front row of the grid. Stacey eventually took the lead after much position swapping, before pulling out a 2-second gap by the chequered flag to earn his first SuperCup win. Former BMW Compact Cup champion Steve Roberts claimed a superb 2nd place, while Jonathan Greensmith was delighted with 3rd.
Reigning champion Luke Herbert, meanwhile, had a mechanical issue leaving the assembly area which forced him to fight from the back of the grid to 7th place after time penalties were applied, but he was on pole for Race 2 and ensured he was in the thick of the action this time. Sunday’s first race was an absolute cracker with positions amongst the leading group of cars swapping around almost every second and providing some spectacular entertainment. A scary looking incident occurred midway through when apparent brake failure into Becketts saw Race 1 winner Stacey career into Richard Wicklen’s car, forcing both out on the spot. By the flag, Herbert took the win on the road, but a subsequent time penalty pushed him down to 6th in the result, promoting Harding to the top step from Blake-Baldwin and the first-ever podium for Aidan Hills.
But the best was saved until last for Race 3, with a partially reverse grid leaving Colin Bysouth on the pole. He bravely remained in the lead pack for the entire race amongst others, while around him 1st place changed hands seemingly at every single corner. At one point, Herbert led, but a suspected missed gear out of Becketts dropped him down to 4th, as Blake-Baldwin scythed his way to the front and attempted to pull away. By the final laps, his tyres had faded leaving him under attack from Harding, Herbert and Greensmith and despite being pushed all the way to the flag, Herbert couldn’t usurp Blake-Baldwin who triumphed over the rest and won the final race of the weekend from Herbert and Harding. Some breathless racing which is only set to carry on and get even more intense as the season goes on.
Avon Tyres National Formula Ford 1600 Championship
The same can be said for the single-seater element of the package, the remarkable and iconic Avon Tyres National Formula Ford 1600 Championship. With another stellar entry, the field was peppered with a great mix of Formula Ford veterans and young chargers making their debuts. Saturday’s race was also run on a mostly wet track, with the main protagonists turning out to be reigning Walter Hayes Trophy champion Michael Moyers, 3-time Formula Ford Festival winner Joey Foster and 2016 National and returning champion Niall Murray. While Josh Fisher led the opening laps, Foster quickly took over at the front before a successful challenge from Murray saw him pick up the lead – but only briefly. Foster promptly reclaimed 1st place and remained there until the end to take the first victory of the season as Murray and Moyers followed in behind.
Sunday’s first race was a textbook Formula Ford encounter with 9 cars making up the lead pack and all of them keeping everyone second guessing as to just who would take to the rostrum. Moyers led the first half of the race, but Murray would find a way through on lap 9 and took over. Murray was lucky to get away with being hit from behind by Josh Fisher, with the damage suffered by the latter putting out of the race shortly afterwards. While all this was going on, Luke Cooper was sensational and stealthily climbing his way up the leading pack until on the penultimate lap he bad a bold yet unbelievable outside pass at Brooklands on Murray to take the lead. Cooper would then hold on to earn an emphatic win from Murray with Moyers completing the top 3.
For the final race of the day, the reverse grid draw put another former National champion in Stuart Gough on pole alongside Jack Wolfenden. Gough led the opening two laps before yet again Murray took over and then proceeded to gap the rest of the entry in rather an un-Formula Ford like fashion, setting a string of fastest laps in the process. Once more, the scramble for 2nd place was as frenetic as ever, with the joker in the pack seemingly being Matt Round-Garrido, a teammate in Team Dolan to leader Murray. Joey Foster was also up at the front again, but a spin after contact with Wolfenden at Brooklands pushed him right down to the fringes of the top 10; he would eventually battle back to finish 9th. At the front, Murray was unchallenged all the way to the chequered flag and was visibly delighted at his first National FF1600 win on his return. Round-Garrido was equally overjoyed with his first ever National podium in 2nd place, while race two winner Cooper rounded off a super weekend with 3rd. Again, Formula Ford proved to many people that the ethos and core of its excellent racing culture and status as a critical formula in the career ladder of a racing driver is still as strong as ever, even though the category is just over 50 years old!
Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup
After a year’s hiatus, the Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup returned to the BRSCC roster with Round 1 of their 2018 season taking place on a wet track. Sweden’s Dennis Strandberg wasted no time on his return to the series with pole in qualifying, and while it looked as though in the early stages that Strandberg would run away with the victory, Jamie Bond apparently had other ideas. He closed in and passed Strandberg on Lap 15 before the Swede retook the place two laps later, followed by Bond being hit with a 5 second time penalty for track limits. This left Strandberg the winner from Bond with Toby Davis a delighted driver on the rostrum in 3rd. Simon Tomlinson topped the 3-car VAG Trophy contingent.
Race 2 was rather more attrition-filled than many had anticipated or would have wanted. Bond made it to the lead within two laps and held on for the majority of the 20-minute encounter. Strandberg made his way up to 2nd place and began applying pressure to Bond with Martin Depper and pole sitter Thomas Walker also in the mix too. Then with a few laps to go, both Bond and Walker retired leaving Strandberg relatively unchallenged in the lead. He would remain there until the flag to complete the double, while 2nd placed Martin Depper would finish there on the road but not in the result. He was disqualified for driving standards which helped lift the Audi TT of Owen Walton in P2 with Chris Panayiotou completing the podium in 3rd. Tomlinson again won the VAG Trophy class as the only car out of the three to finish. Such was the attrition rate throughout the race that only 10 of the 20 starters made the flag.
Cox Motor Parts Civic Cup
Starting their new life on the BRSCC roster, the Cox Motor Parts Civic Cup promised much in the way of its opening two races of the season regarding close racing and excitement – and they more than delivered on that promise.
Race 1’s wet conditions played into the hands of those at the front as Daniel Reason dutifully converted his pole position into the first race win of the season, while Lewis Rose put on a charge in the second half of the race to pick up second place from Mark Grice, who had held the spot for many laps before a mistake put him down to 3rd. 4th place was hotly contested throughout as a 4-car pack of Jason Ballantyne, Matt Bolton, Rob Baker and Daniel Hobson all took the flag in that order separated by less than two seconds.
The top 10 finishers were reversed for the second race, putting Mark Gibbons on pole position. However it was Daniel Hobson that wasted no time in sprinting to the front and led convincingly throughout. As he began to streak away, the fight for 2nd place raged between Rob Baker and Jason Ballantyne as first the latter held the position throughout the first half of the 15 minutes. Baker then slipped through on lap 9 and swiftly pulled away while ahead of him, Hobson went on to pick up the win by just over 4 seconds. Baker held P2 while Ballantyne became another victim of track limits, when a 5-second penalty for him after race saw him lose 3rd place to Mark Grice.
Alfa Romeo Championship
The opening rounds of the Alfa Romeo Championship for 2018 were also an exciting affair with a race each across both days. Saturday’s race saw Tom Hill incredibly set the fastest time overall in qualifying, at least taking a dominant Twin Spark Cup pole. At the head of the field, Chris McFie’s Fiat Punto would start at the head of the field, now eligible to score points in the Power Trophy class thanks to new regulations for 2018. However, it was reigning PT champ Paul Webster who stormed into the lead from the front row and never looked back, as Chris Mcfie’s race wouldn’t last longer than the end of lap 1. His brother Simon in the twin of Chris’ Punto took up the mantle and held P2 for the rest of the race as Webster took a comfortable class and overall win. Former Twin Spark champ Hill, meanwhile, would make 3rd overall as well as a convincing class in, with Michael Tydeman and Dave Messenger completing the class rostrum.
A significantly drier second race on Sunday afternoon once again would see Webster deliver more of the same aboard his Power Trophy Alfa Romeo 156, keeping the Modified class Alfa 75 of Chris Oxborough at bay all the way through the entire 20 minutes. Simon and Chris McFie ran nearby in their own private battle for 3rd overall throughout most of the race before Chris again was forced out with apparent mechanical issues. This left Simon to still pick up a podium in P3, while Hill came home shortly after with another Twin Spark Cup win ahead of Richard Ford and Michael Tydeman.
HRDC (COYS Trophy & Allstars)
Completing the weekend’s action was some stellar historic racing provided by HRDC, with the 45-minute COYS Trophy event taking place first. Despite starting on pole position, the #77 Lotus Ford Cortina shared by BTCC ace Andrew Jordan and Take That star Howard Donald wouldn’t lead the opening lap. Instead, it was Pete Chambers, also in a Lotus Cortina, that would shoot to the front and just about led the entire way. With a substantial lead before the pit stops, Chambers pitted with almost a lap’s advantage over the Jordan/Donald car after they had also stopped a couple of laps prior. Once everything shook out, and Donald had handed over to Jordan, the former BTCC champion put his foot down to pursue and catch Chambers. What followed was a nail-biting finish to the race, with Chambers somehow just holding off Jordan’s advances to win by only 0.1 seconds at the line! 3rd place overall was taken by the beautiful Ford Falcon Sprint driven by Frank Slevin and Paul Mullen.
In the HRDC Allstars race, John Spiers ensured no-one was troubling him for any part of the 30-minute encounter, as he thundered around the National circuit in his rapid little TVR Griffith. Such was his pace that he ended up taking the win by over 45 seconds come the chequered flag! This denied Pete Chambers the chance to double up on wins on the day but he still made a valiant 2nd in his Lotus Cortina, while Chris Clarkson brought his Austin Healey 3000 on to the rostrum by taking 3rd.
All in all, a thrilling weekend was had by everyone involved and as ever our thanks goes out to all of our competitors, teams, officials and marshals for helping make the first ever TCR UK race meeting what it was – a huge success! Now the championship moves on to Knockhill on May 12/13 to find out if anyone can stop Dan Lloyd on his quest to become TCR UK champion.
The full rundown of results from Silverstone can be found via TSL Timing HERE. Also, you can catch all of the action from the live streams of Sunday’s racing via our Facebook page and our YouTube channel, as well as Motorsport.tv and MotorTrend On Demand.