National motorsport in the United Kingdom roared back into life last weekend for the second week of racing since coronavirus struck, with the Brands Hatch Super Prix the headline event.
Historic Formula Ford champions Westie and Sam Mitchell's stunning Guards Trophy victory in their ex-Nikolaus Killenberg Chevron-BMW B8, fresh from a two-year rebuild, topped a very different Legends of Brands Hatch Super Prix.
Nine months on from 2019's finale, a big entry demonstrated Historic Sports Car Club members' thirst for racing after the COVID-19 lockdown.
Saturday's Guards Trophy mini-enduro was more of a sprint race, just 1.5 seconds separating the top four after 40 minutes. Michael Lyons qualified Jon Waggitt's Lenham Spyder on pole, but team-mate Anthony Reid's unfathomable decision to remain behind the safety car when everybody else had pitted probably cost them the race.
Westie Mitchell's stop, from sixth, was perfectly timed, for within three laps of Reid pitting (still under full-course caution) son Sam led. With Lyons howling through the pack, and Andy Newall (ex-Michael Schryver B6) hounding them down, Charlie Allison (B8) and Greg Caton (in Richard Piper's Brahma) kept Mitchell honest. Second with two laps remaining, Newall slashed his 4.3s deficit to one, with Lyons in his wake having passed Caton on the last lap. GT standouts were John Spiers (TVR Griffith) and John Davison (Lotus Elan 26R).
Despite a chronic misfire, Dean Forward still had ample grunt to win Saturday's Thundersports race in Jamie Thwaites' Can-Am McLaren. Tony Sinclair (Lola T292) and Jonathan Mitchell (Chevron B19) pursued relentlessly. When a split fuel line stopped Forward's monster on Sunday, Mitchell rewarded Luke Stevens' LEOS team, which changed his BDG engine's metering unit post-qualifying, by deposing Sinclair for gold. James Claridge (Chevron-FVC B23) and John Spiers (Osella-BMW PA3) finished only six seconds adrift.
Mike Fry (Lola T86/90) took initial Sports 2000 honours, rival Chris Snowdon's Tiga SC81 having caught fire at Druids on lap three. Snowdon worked into the night to repair the damage and - after a safety car - zapped Fry on Sunday's final lap.
Aurora Trophy favourite Michael Lyons' F5000 Lola T400 was damaged by a spinning F3 car in qualifying, so he blatted mum Judy's Eagle from the back to beat poleman James Hagan in his ex-James Hunt F1 Hesketh. Radical ace Rob Wheldon (ex-Ingo Hoffmann March-BMW 762) won a fine battle for third with Welshman Mark Hazell (ex-Brian Henton March-Hart 782). With red flags flying as David Tomlin extinguished an engine fire in his Motul M1 at Graham Hill Bend, Irish invitee Hagan was first past the post on Sunday, thus Wheldon was accorded the honours from Greg Thornton (F5000 Chevron B24). Wing-mount failure halted Classic F3 leader Andy Smith (March 783) on Saturday, letting debutant Benn Tilley (ex-Rupert Keegan 743) in, but Smith prevailed in race two.
With Historic F2's international calendar decimated by coronavirus, the non-championship double-header offered a shakedown that exposed reliability woes. On pole with a staggering 1m24.211s (104.02mph) in his FAtlantic March 79B, Andy Smith humbled Saturday's allcomers, winning from Miles Griffiths (Ralt RT1) and Tomlin as half the field fell. After a Sunday duel, Griffiths went ahead when a misfire hobbled Smith, ambushed on the line by Matt Wrigley (in his second March-BMW 782 of the event) and shadowed by Hazell.
The absence of previous Historic FF2000 champions Andy Park, Nelson Rowe and Benn Simms as yardsticks should not detract from Irishman Peter Drennan's trouncing of a big Pre-'82 field. Driving a Reynard run from Anglesey by compatriot Alan Byrne, whose son Jake won last year's Silverstone finale, he twice beat on-form Brian Morris, while Drew Cameron and Greg Robertson earned a third apiece. Adrian Reynard, the 1979 EFDA Euroseries champion, finished sixth in the opener.
Re-armed with a fresh engine built by Clubmans racer Antony Denham, Fraser Collins (Lola T580) made "a big step forward in pace", dominating the early class. Both Pinto races featured a smattering of later URS FF2000 invitees, champion Ben Stiles (Van Diemen RF82) taking the overall chequer both times.
Elsewhere, Cameron Jackson took five wins from five races - and was denied the chance to make it six when a number of incidents meant there was insufficient time to run the second Historic FF1600 contest. Following minimal practice, he bagged two straightforward Formula Junior wins in his Brabham BT2 over top qualifier Mark Shaw (ex-Denny Hulme BT6) and Nick Fennell (Lotus 27). The front-engined scraps between Chris Drake (ex-Brian Hart Terrier Mk4) and Andrew Hibberd (Lola Mk2) both narrowly went Drake's way.
New to the HSCC portfolio, Classic FF1600 featured Van Diemen RF80-mounted Jackson twice repelling the Royales of champion Rick Morris (a clone of his period RP29) and Jordan Harrison (RP21). Henry Chart (RF81), who beat Jackson to pole by 0.025s, started the oil-affected opener late, then retired, but fought through to third in the sequel, before being ousted by Harrison. Ewen Sergison (Merlyn Mk10/14) and former champ Simon Armer (March 703) won concurrent 1000cc Historic F3 splits.
Historic FF1600 champion of 2018-19 in Lola and Winkelmann chassis, Jackson drove Ross Drybrough's 'spare' March 709 to the US model's maiden UK win. Having regained the lead from equally uncompromising polesitter Linton Stutely (Royale RP3) in a move guaranteed to have drawn gasps from the Paddock Hill Bend grandstand, Cameron's margin of victory was 0.039s on countback following a stoppage for cars parked at Druids and Graham Hill Bend. Banished to the back for a yellow flag infringement, Pierre Livingston scorched to fifth behind Matt Wrigley in a similar Merlyn and Danny Stanzl (Elden).
Roy Alderslade miraculously escaped serious injury when Alex Taylor's Ford Mustang's engine blew and pincered his Mini Cooper S into the pitwall at the end of the Historic Touring Car race's opening lap. Bentley's 2003 Le Mans victor Guy Smith (Lotus Cortina) led the restart, with Dave Coyne (Mustang) splitting the Cortinas of poleman Ollie Taylor and Paddy Shovlin in his mirrors. Smith was clear when he smote the Druids tyre wall, leaving 1990 Formula Ford Festival winner Coyne to blast past Taylor on the final lap.
Skilful Lotus Elan drivers outran more powerful opposition to win Sunday's Road Sports bouts. Defending '70s champion Jez Clark worked hard to round former marshal-turned-Historic F1 racer Dave Karaskas's TVR 3000M, which started on pole. After an early stoppage, John Davison bounded away from reigning Historic title winner Kevin Kivlochan's AC Cobra, which fell to fifth at the restart. Mark Godfrey (Ginetta G4) staved off Jonathans Rose (Elan) and Stringer (Lotus 7) for third.
Snetterton MSVR: Igoe impresses with quartet of GT Cup victories
There was no disputing who the star of Snetterton was on the second weekend of motorsport action at the circuit this year as Michael Igoe dominated the GT Cup contests, winning all four races - with a little help from factory Lamborghini driver Dennis Lind.
Igor secured pole for race one before he streaked clear of the field to take the opening win. But his victory bid was aided by the main competition, the second Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of John Seale, retiring early after contact and being unable to get out for the rest of the weekend. Porsche driver Will Goff used this absence advantageously, passing the Ferrari 488 Challenge of John Dhillon late on to take second in the opener, the latter completing the podium with class victory.
Race two was a copy of the first as, without direct competition, Igoe was left to secure win number two of the weekend - the podium being reversed as Dhillon and co-driver Aaron Scott nicked second from Goff late on.
The third and final outings of the weekend were cleaned up in the same manner as the day before, Igor cruising to victory in both races, aided by Lind in the finale. Dhillon grabbed second in the third race as Goff had to settle for the final step of the podium. The Porsche 991 GT3 of Lucky Khera challenged for class victory in the finale, but missed out on second overall in the closing stages when the Ferrari 488 in the hands of Pro driver Scott got ahead.
The F3 Cup grid only had eight runners as debutant Alex Fores took his maiden pole and win at the first attempt. The Chris Dittmann racer snatched pole by seven thousandths from CF Racing's Stefano Leaney, who stalled on the grid at the start but staged a cunning fightback after dropping to last. Leaney closed on Fores at rapid pace, but slipped on marbles at the Brundle and Nelson complex late on, spinning into retirement and leaving Fores to cruise to victory.
Fores and Leaney resumed their battle in race two; Leaney swept around the outside at Riches into the lead and eventual victory in a race overshadowed by a scary incident between Patrick Jeans and Wiltshire. The pair had contact into Murrays, sending Jeans barrel-rolling into the air and coming to rest upside down, but he thankfully emerged unscathed.
James Dorlin won both races in the inaugural event for the Porsche Sprint Challenge GB, but was fortunate to land his first victory when a false-start penalty was handed to Tom Jackson, who had led from start to finish. Dorlin then led from lights-to-flag in race two as Jackson and Archie Hamilton finished second and third.
James Caley won race one in the Porsche Club Championship, wresting the lead in a three-wide battle into Riches at the start. He then controlled the race, as Simon Clark and Mark McAleer were unable to close in. Caley couldn't keep his lead in race two, slipping to fourth late on. McAleer was victorious by less than a second ahead of Clark, with Peter Morris third.
The Sports 2000 opener was won by Michael Gibbins in his MCR S2000, after pulling clear from pole, but Tom Stoten kept him honest throughout.
Joshua Law completed the top three as a dramatic rear-wing failure hit Paul Trayhurn's chances of a podium late on. Gibbins added to his victory tally in race two and, after early position swapping with Stoten, the MCR racer was able to pull clear as Law also passed Stoten.
Craig Denman was the beneficiary of Adriano Medeiros's retirement midway through the Elise Trophy contest. The pair had battled for the lead early on, with Medeiros taking the advantage and pulling away. Denman was unable to respond, but a stroke of fortune landed him the victory as he swept past his stricken rival at Coram.
The Formula Ford Champion of Snetterton race was won by polesitter Ross Martin. He lost the lead at the start to fellow former British Formula 4 racer Alex Walker, then the pair traded places early on until Martin was able to pass and pull clear for the win.
Phil Jenkins made it a hat-trick of victories in the 7 Series. Faultless all weekend, Jenkins withstood constant pressure from Anthony Barnes in the first outing before dominating the next two races.
Croft BARC: Harrison overcomes turbo issues to win
Danny Harrison bounced back from mechanical issues aboard his Praga R1T to take victory in the second of the Britcar Endurance Championship's two season-opening races at Croft.
After work to repair a cracked turbo forced him to start the first race two laps down, the VR Motorsport driver recovered in style with a dominant effort in the second encounter - lapping everyone bar team-mates Jack Fabby and Garry Townsend in the second-placed R1T and the Ross Wylie/Paul Bailey Ferrari in third.
Harrison's victory - more than a minute ahead - came despite having to run on reduced power to preserve the turbo, which was repaired rather than replaced due to a lack of spares.
Harrison said: "After not making the grid for race one, this was just a brilliant way to cap a weekend of mixed emotions. The race was pretty panic-free but it was hard work to keep the turbo going, I couldn't run on the highest power setting to make sure it wasn't too stressed."
Second for Fabby and Townsend was also a turnaround from 17th in the opener. The pair were forced out of the lead by a broken driveshaft on lap two - which the team replaced in two minutes - handing victory to the RAW Motorsport pairing of Steve Burgess and Ben Dimmack, who were debuting their Radical RXC Coupe.
It wasn't the perfect debut for the car, though, as a mistake in the closing minutes of race two denied the duo another podium. Defending from Wylie in the SB Race Engineering Ferrari 488 Challenge, Dimmack outbraked himself into Clervaux and got beached in the gravel - gifting Wylie and reigning champion Bailey a second podium of the weekend.
An urge to get back out on track after the lockdown was the catalyst for Caterham 420R racer Henry Heaton to take pole and all three Caterham Graduates victories.
Utilising a Sigma 150-class car hired from CTS Motorsport, the only threat to Heaton's clean-sweep was gearbox concerns in the final 25-minute race.
"The first two races were fine, but in the last one I could hear that the gearbox was starting to sound not quite right so I had to manage it to the end," he explained.
"This is a new championship for me, I normally race a 420R but I've not been out this year so I decided to have a crack at this and it's turned out not too bad a weekend at all."
Sy Harraway battled a misfire throughout the weekend as he took a heat win and victory in both finals to give himself the perfect start to his Legends Championship campaign.
Fending off heat three winner Miles Rudman in the first final, Harraway said it was thanks to 'trust and respect' with heats one and two winner Jack Parker that he could secure victory in the second final. Duelling door-to-door throughout the final lap, Harraway's better launch out of the hairpin allowed him to snatch victory by just 0.078s over Parker.
Despite a heat win and a podium in the first final, reigning champion Rudman failed to make the start for the final race of the weekend as a melted ignition switch gave him an early setback to his title defence.
Two victories in the Croft sunshine allowed Lewis Saunders to continue his 100% start to the Junior Saloons season despite having to deal with red flags in both races for first-lap clashes that put rivals in the Clervaux gravel trap.
His comfortable victory in the first was thanks to a battle for second between Alex Solley and Charlie Hand, but the second proved more difficult. Having to start from fourth - twice, thanks to the red flag - the Ciceley Motorsport driver fought his way to the front and then held off a late charge from Hand to make it four wins from four.
Neven Kirkpatrick took a Super Mighty Minis double "by a headlight" as he twice fought off the attentions of Ian Slark. Benefitting from a battle between Slark and Steven Rideout to pull clear in the opening encounter, Kirkpatrick said it was "really hard work" to keep his rival behind in the second as he won by just 0.094s after a mirror-to-mirror drag to the line.
Donington Park MGCC: Kirkpatrick soars with upgraded machine
Sam Kirkpatrick claimed four wins from four races at the MG Car Club's season-opening Donington Park meeting, competing in his newly-upgraded MG ZR 190 for the first time.
Youngster Kirkpatrick previously competed in a ZR 170 in MG Trophy's Class B, but for 2020 has converted the car to compete in the frontrunning class.
On the 'new' machine's debut - and with minimal experience of it - he took two decisive MG Trophy wins. It then got even better for Kirkpatrick the following day as he piloted the same car to two dominant Cockshoot Cup victories.
"[The car's] got better as the weekend's gone on because we've learned," Kirkpatrick said. "We've never [before] managed the double win! Four, you can't do much better!"
Fred Burgess was Kirkpatrick's closest challenger across the races, finishing second in both MG Trophy encounters and keeping Kirkpatrick honest, despite a quick spin on oil late in race two. Burgess was another in new machinery as he also stepped up in class to race his dad Jason's ZR 190 after an engine failure in his usual 170 in Friday testing. This meant a frantic Friday round trip to get the car ready, and the young Burgess had only half an hour's experience of the 190 prior to qualifying.
Ollie Neaves was another in new kit in the BCV8 championship, after he overhauled his MGB to return to frontrunning Class D - having previously switched to Class C on cost grounds. And Neaves, just like Kirkpatrick, immediately took two wins despite only half a day's shakedown in the car as well as nursing "a massive brake vibration" in the races.
"When I won the championship in that [Class C] I just felt the need for more speed, it just had to be done!" Neaves said. "It took me about two years to slowly accrue all the parts, got there in the end and it paid off."
Reigning Metro Cup champion Jack Ashton was yet another in upgraded equipment at Donington, with a bigger engine, and he immediately joined fellow Metro GTi runner Mike Williams in a fight for MG Cup victory. Williams won the first race, while the pursuing Ashton retired with gearbox failure, but roles reversed in race two as leader Williams quit with a suspected wheel bearing seizure. This left Ashton well clear, but there was late drama as he lost power, possibly related to overrevving having selected the wrong gear with his unfamiliar new gearbox entering the Old Hairpin on lap one, but he just held on to win.
The Metro Cup shared its grid with the MG Cup and Tim Shooter narrowly beat the returning Mark Eales to win the first race after Richard Garrard retired with a fire due to an oil pipe split. Both Shooter and Eales hit problems in race two - Shooter with his engine and Eales with his stopping power - and Dan Willars bagged victory.
David Morrison looked on his way to Midget and Sprite race one victory, but his Midget developed a misfire under a late safety car. This let Richard Wildman close in then pass for first just before the flag. Morrison's misfire was still there for race two and Wildman won again.
Noted historic single-seater racer Jonathon Hughes was another taking a car to a debut triumph at Donington, easing his Jaguar E-Type to victory in Equipe's opening sprint race. Mark Holme in his Austin-Healey 3000 MKII won the other sprint race while the Equipe three-hour relay was won by the '50 Shades' Lotus Elan pair of Cliff Gray and Stephen Bond.
Roger Whiteside in his +8 was first home in both Morgan Challenge races, but was disqualified from the opener along with three others for yellow flag infringements, which meant Andrew Thompson - who Whiteside battled with throughout - took victory in his ARV6. In race two Whiteside rose from the back to take a narrow win.
Mini Miglias, Libres and Se7ens shared the track in the Challenge races which featured plenty of typical pack racing. Miglia champion Aaron Smith won twice, while Dan Lewis and Robert Davis took the Libre wins and reigning champion Jeff Smith and Spencer Wanstall split the Se7ens victories.
Elsewhere, Tony Seber in his Wolseley Hornet Special won both Triple M races.
Pictures by Gary Hawkins, Andy Mason, Richard Styles, Mick Walker and Ollie Read