TCR UK CROWN LLOYD AS CHAMPION AMIDST DONINGTON DOWNPOUR
It was always going to be a tense affair heading into the final TCR UK race meeting of the season at Donington Park in Derby, with Dan Lloyd leading Ollie Taylor by 31 points with two races left to go. The BRSCC Midlands Centre oversaw proceedings at what turned out to be an 18-race schedule that had to cope with torrential rain and adverse driving conditions.
Lloyd set the tone early by charging to pole position for Race 1 in the TCR UK qualifying session on Saturday afternoon, as he and his WestCoast Racing teammates Andreas and Jessica Bäckman locked out the first three positions in their trio of Volkswagen Golf GTi TCRs. Taylor, meanwhile, had to settle for 4th fastest in his Pyro Motorsport Honda Civic Type R FK8 TCR, aware of the uphill task he faced.
Come Sunday afternoon, an incident in one of the MX-5 SuperCup races coupled with the constant rain showers led to a delay in the first TCR UK race getting underway. When it finally did start, albeit at a shortened length of 15 minutes, Taylor made a mistake at Redgate at the start and dropped down the order to 6th by the end of the opening lap. Despite battling back to 4th, sadly it wasn’t enough as out in front, Lloyd kept a calm head and dominated proceedings to take victory and this seal the 2018 TCR UK title. Andreas Bäckman and Finlay Crocker rounded off the podium.
For the reverse grid second race, also 15 minutes due to the delays, returnee Josh Price swept into the lead in his older Honda Civic Type R TCR and again, like Lloyd in Race 1, wasn’t headed since. Pole sitter Carl Swift put up a valiant effort to hold on to 2nd place for most of the race before Maximum Motorsport teammate Stewart Lines found a way past to claim his first TCR UK podium, while new champion Lloyd completed his successful season with 3rd place after enjoying some fierce battles throughout the pack. TCR UK has successfully laid down its foundations for 2019 and we are beyond excited to see how the championship develops for next year!
There were other championships to settle over the weekend in the support package, with the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 SuperCup providing the headline of the supporting cast. Defending champion Luke Herbert and rival Jack Harding entered the weekend dead level on points after dropped scores and indeed race wins, however a wet qualifying on Saturday morning was advantage Herbert as he and teammate Aidan Hills locked out the Race 1 front row; Harding was left to rue a less than satisfactory session starting 14th. However, Harding put in a drive that only a potential champion in waiting could produce as he stormed through to 2nd place and indeed right onto the back bumper of Herbert in the closing laps. Despite missing out on victory to his title rival by less than 0.2 seconds, Harding’s 2nd place was important for his chances. Steve Roberts completed the podium with an excellent 3rd place.
The weather for Race 2 was rather treacherous as the drivers got underway, however racing only lasted for 4 complete laps, before the race was red flagged for an incident involving several cars on the run up to McLeans. Due to the length of time required to attend to a couple of the drivers involved, plus the clear up of the other cars at the scene, the race was declared a result with Aidan Hills taking his second career SuperCup win ahead of Herbert and James Blake-Baldwin, while Harding couldn’t better 8th. The final race required Harding to win and set the fastest lap to keep any chance of becoming champion, and starting on pole on the reverse grid certainly helped. However, ending the first lap in 4th didn’t help, and he spent the rest of the race desperately trying to make up positions. Alas, as Steve Roberts went on to win ahead of Hills and Harding, it wasn’t enough and 6th place for Herbert was enough to make him the first ever two time and back to back MX-5 SuperCup champion. A thrilling and intense year for a championship that provided action from start to finish.
Even though Niall Murray confirmed himself as this year’s Avon Tyres National Formula Ford champion at the previous rounds at Croft, therefore electing to sit on the sidelines for the last three races of the year, the desire to take a race win amongst his rivals was still burning bright. The first race on Saturday saw a pivotal moment midway through, when frontrunners Jack Wolfenden, Matt Round-Garrido, Sebastian Job, Nico Gruber and Joey Foster all came together at the Fogarty Esses at the end of lap 8; the first four drivers mentioned were all out on the spot, while Foster ended up retiring 2 laps later. As such, it changed the complexion of the race as Rory Smith ended up powering through to win his first National Championship race, followed by Luke Cooper and Michael Moyers.
Smith would then go on to double up later on that afternoon as he was able to keep both of the Kevin Mills Racing Spectrum chassis of Michael Eastwell and Michael Moyers, but the third race on Sunday morning on a wet track would end up producing the most amazing result of the three races. Luke Cooper drove his way into the lead, but the race would see a red flag after 4 laps due to the conditions. Behind him came two phenomenal efforts from Team USA Scholarship driver Jake Craig and fellow countryman Carter Williams, the former picking up a podium in only his third ever Formula Ford race while the latter scores his best result of the season.
The Nankang Tyres BMW Compact Cup completed its season in the dry of Saturday’s timetable, another championship which had also seen the title effectively wrapped up a weekend early. Steven Dailly, now a double champion, was simply out to have fun and cement his title victory and did so in fine fashion by taking the win in the first race ahead of Ian Jones and Ben Huntley. While Dailly then set his ambitions on ending the season with another clean sweep in the second race, both Ian Jones and Ben Huntley had other ideas as both respectively kept the new champion at bay for the duration of the race to pick up 1st and 2nd places respectively, while Dailly completed the year in 3rd. Every single race weekend the Compact Cup has appeared on the timetable, the racing has been stellar and provided plenty of fantastic tin-top action as it heads into 2019 very much still in rude health.
Another tin-top contest that was resolved over the weekend was that of the Cox Motor Parts Civic Cup, as it rounded off its first season under the BRSCC banner. On dropped scores, four drivers were still in the fight for the title as Rob Baker, Mark Grice, Daniel Reason and Jason Ballantyne were all ready to square off. None of them were able to qualify higher than 3rd as Mark Gibbons and David Vincent locked out the front row, but it was Bruce Winfield who brilliantly drove his way through from 10th on the grid to pick up the victory, ahead of title contenders Grice and Ballantyne; Baker, meanwhile, couldn’t better 9th place, but for the reverse grid for Race 2 that would place him on the front row. With some of the wettest conditions the championship had faced in recent times, Ben Sharpe superbly stole the lead from the start and led through a safety car period to collect a memorable win, ahead of Baker in 2nd place which would ultimately confirm him as the 2018 Civic Cup champion; Chris Coomer also impressed with a 3rd place in the final race of the year.
The final rounds of the Speed Group OSS Championship also had both class and overall honours to settle in their final three races of the season. Race 1 on a dry Saturday was left to Class C’s Jon-Paul Ivey to claim a win by just over 5 seconds ahead of Class A winner Patrick Sherrington and Nicolaj Lindberg. As for Josh Smith, in contention for the title, he had to attend a wedding as best man on the Saturday before competing the next day. When he did arrive, he was greeted with the aforementioned poor weather. Richard Wise ended up taking his Chiron LMP to overall victory in Class B, followed once again by Sherrington and Lindberg, while Smith couldn’t better 9th place but still placed 3rd in class. The final race was shortened to 10 minutes due to the earlier delays, and Wise doubled up ahead of outgoing champion Mike Jenvey and Sherrington, however Smith’s 7th place overall and 2nd in Class C allowed him to secure his third outright OSS title.
HRDC also had to put up with the constant rain showers all day in their trio of races. Tom Bell led a Mini 1-2-3 in the Allstars race, taking his Austin Mini Cooper S to victory ahead of Nick Paddy and Tim Harber. The first ever Classic Alfa Challenge race saw the honours go to the GTV of Chris Snowdon from Ted Pearson’s Alfasud Ti Trofeo and Ambrogio Perfetti’s GTA Junior. Finally, Darren McWhirter won the Touring Greats pitstop race aboard his Jaguar Mk1, followed home by former BTCC ace Patrick Watts in the very unique Studebaker Silver Hawk and Marc Gordon’s beautiful Jaguar XK150.