Thruxton came alive last weekend as an unprecedented 400 plus competitors were in action for the Classic Sports Car Club's first meeting of the year.
Torrential rain on Saturday afternoon tested typically eclectic grids and the marshals' fortitude, as Spire veteran John Cutmore celebrated his unusual Magnificent Sevens victory over the Caterham hordes.
The Suffolk driver - at the wheel of a Suzuki Hayabusa-powered RB7 (above) - made his mandatory pitstop under a perfectly timed safety car. Cutmore and Tim Bishop's Caterham 7 Roadsport arrived together and resumed two minutes later, joining the crocodile headed by runaway leader Stephen Nuttall. The Caterham Roadsport driver had yet to pit and would have to settle for third, more than minute in arrears, as Cutmore headed Bishop.
Later, on a wet track, Nuttall and Colin Watson (C400) traded the shorter race's lead frantically. Under pressure, Watson arrived at the chicane too quickly on the final lap and ran deep. Nuttall darted past, only for a 10-second jump-start penalty to reverse their order, as Christian Pittard staved off brother Jonathan for third. Cutmore had no confidence in his tyres in the conditions, and dropped down the order, overtaken by team-mate David Watson, screaming his 1440cc RB7 from the back to ninth.
Saturday's big winner was Jamie Sturges who took the first of two Open Series bouts and the New Millennium finale in his SEAT Leon TCR (below). The husky BMWs of Brad Sheehan (E46 M3) and Dominic Malone (ex-Andy Priaulx BMW E90 World Touring Car shell with an Amspeed 3.2-litre engine transplant) finished 12 seconds adrift in race one. Sheehan subsequently turned the tables on Sturges, with Mark Jones third in Robert Taylor's SEAT. Top gun in the concurrent Jaguar Saloon Series was James Ramm, who worked hard in the first stanza to repel fellow XJS driver Colin Philpott and Tom Robinson's XJR.
Sturges also saw off poleman Russell Humphrey and Mark Wyatt (BMW E92 M3) in the New Millennium race. Third-placed David Marcussen (E46 M3) breathed a sigh of relief when challenger Arran Moulton-Smith (E46 M3) was lapped by Sturges into the chicane on his final tour.
The VW Beetle RSi of Jake and Andre Severs braved heavy rain in Modern Classics to secure an impressive victory and beat Turbo Tin Top split winner Andy Thompson (SEAT Leon) in an interrupted race.
Andy Southcott hurtled his 2.3-litre Vauxhall-powered spaceframe MG Midget to a Special Saloon & Modsports double. From P11 - the previous winner's 10-place grid drop - the local man was fortunate not to be penalised for seizing the race-two lead from Ricky-Parker Morris (Peugeot 309 Turbo) under double waved yellows at the left kink before Campbell, while a marshal was attending to Clive Anderson's 5.1-litre BMW Turbo.
A tag at Allard ended a heady fight for third embroiling Marcus Bicknell's Joey Logano-liveried Ford Mustang and James Plant (Austin-Healey Chevrolet clone) as both cars hit the barriers. Malcolm Harding and his Zakspeed Castrol tribute Ford Escort took the place, with Mike Chittenden's big BMW M3 breathing down its neck.
Driving the Lotus Elan in which they finished fourth in last year's Spa Six Hours, Anthony and Ollie Hancock romped to Classic K victory by over 30 seconds once the latter had shaken off early leader Paul Tooms' similar car. The early laps with Allen Tice (Marcos 1800GT) were exciting.
On a damp track, Swinging Sixties leader Jamie Keevill spun his Elan into retirement while lapping a Mini approaching Church on the penultimate tour. Pursuer Ray Barrow (Chevrolet Camaro) watched the drama unfold, and his penalty for overtaking under yellows and pursuer David Thompson's for Jon Wolfe's eager start in their TVR Tuscan V8 left the order intact. Dave Roberts (Datsun 240Z) pipped Julian Howell's well-conducted Mini for third.
Future Classics was a V8 benefit once a worsening smokescreen in his mirrors prompted top qualifier Mark Chilton to retire his Nissan Skyline GT-R R32. Stuart Daburn (TVR Tuscan) beat Bill Lancashire (Morgan+8) as Alex Taylor's Mazda RX-7 rocketed from the back to take third from Aston and Tony Blake's Porsche Carrera RS.
Oulton Park MSVR: De Sadeleer begins Radical season with win
Having narrowly missed out on last season's Radical Challenge title, Jerome de Sadeleer started the new campaign with a win in the opening contest at Oulton Park.
He led from the start of race one, with Marcus Clutton in second, as Jac Constable, Jason Rishover and Mark Richards disputed third. Richards suffered fuel pump failure, and after Rishover dived ahead of Constable into Knickerbrook, he then spun back to seventh at Old Hall, promoting Shane Stoney to fourth.
A safety car interlude then almost coincided with the pitstop window, but both de Sadeleer and Clutton missed out and pitted a lap later. Constable was the last one to stay out, leaving Stoney in front, from de Sadeleer and Clutton. But the new leader spun off at Britten's with six of the 29 laps to go, leaving de Sadeleer to head home Clutton for the win, while Stoney recovered to retain third.
Clutton led the sprint race out of Old Hall, as Richards, Constable and Rishover slotted in behind, while de Sadeleer was down in fifth. The lead duo soon consolidated their advantage, and they held station, with Clutton 0.807 seconds clear at the flag.
Both Rishover and de Sadeleer had managed to oust Constable on lap five of 13 and began to duel for third, until de Sadeleer became stuck in fifth gear. Rishover was left clear in third, as de Sadeleer was unable to prevent Constable reclaiming fourth.
Clutton had the race-three lead from Richards, Constable and de Sadeleer until the pitstop window. Constable made his stop late again and emerged from the pitlane just in front of Richards.
They were nose-to-tail for the rest of the race in a terrific battle, Richards briefly diving ahead into Cascades on the 23rd lap of 26. Clutton made it back into third, after deposing the shared Tom Ashton/Audunn Gudmundsson car, and closed enough to be a threat to the lead duo over the final laps. Richards was given a track-limits penalty, dropping him to fourth behind de Sadeleer as Constable won, while a similar penalty robbed Rishover of fifth.
Clive Wood's Mallock (above) won both Clubmans Sports Prototype races. Peter Richings led into Old Hall from the start of the opener, before Jarred Lester's Lester 3T shot ahead.
But, from an early fourth, Wood had already taken Steve Dickens for third, before successfully challenging Richings into Knickerbrook. Lester also succumbed to Wood's charge at Shell on the second lap and eventually slipped back to fourth behind Richings and Dickens, with a slipping throttle linkage.
Wood was lucky to have an initial jump start cancelled out when race two had to be restarted, leaving him to storm past Richings down the Avenue on the opening lap for win number two. Dickens soon followed to consolidate second, while Lester got by at Shell to secure third and leave Richings to successfully hold off Alan Cook for fourth. Morris Hart and Barry Webb both took class-winning doubles.
Debutant Andy Godfrey was another double winner in the Focus Cup. Both he and PJ Gardner were on their own early in race one, while Simon Watts initially led a queue for third. Simon Warr worked his way to the front of the seven-car battle and went clear, leaving Chris Wallis, Simon Tomlinson and Watts line astern for fourth. A partially reversed grid couldn't stop Godfrey from taking win number two.
He led from Shell on lap three of seven, leaving Wallis and Warr duelling for second, only for Gardner to close in and snatch the place with two laps to go. Wallis finally escaped for third, from Watts, Gary Mitchell and Spencer Fortag.
Matthew Minett (above) headed the Monoposto battle of the Jedis and, when Dan Clowes finally got by, the race was red-flagged and places reversed, with Minett the victor and Chris Davison's Dallara completing the podium. Clowes got his revenge in race two, after Minett had led until the last lap, with Tony Bishop's Dallara holding off Davison for third.
Both Porsche Club races were close but fairly processional. Mark McAleer led the first from lights to flag, but had Simon Clark as a constant shadow, once he had ousted Peter Morris on lap three. In the second, Clark led from the start, with McAleer well clear of Morris in a solitary third.
Chris Dyer was fourth first time out, but spent the entirety of race two inches from James Caley's rear bumper, before heading the final charge up Clay Hill by just 0.176s.
Brands Hatch MSVR: Khera powers to a brace in Ferrari Challenge UK
Enthusiasm among drivers and series personnel was not in short supply when the Ferrari Challenge UK series made its long-awaited return to Brands Hatch.
This was despite the COVID-19 pandemic contributing to a drop in entry numbers compared to the total that appeared at the inaugural meeting last year.
In May 2019, a grid of no fewer than 20 entrants were attracted to the inaugural round of the series held at the Kent track, while last weekend, the delayed curtain raiser for the one-make category for drivers of the Ferrari 488 Challenge yielded only nine starters.
Despite the decline in grid size, opinions of those involved suggest there is still cause for optimism that the series can continue to thrive in 2020 across three further meetings.
"We know how difficult the COVID-19 situation has made life for everyone," said Francesco Balli, regional manager for Ferrari North Europe, "but I am extremely proud and grateful to the drivers for all the hard work they have put in so we could return to Brands Hatch.
"With the meetings we still have to come, I am sure we will see more drivers on the grid before the end of the year."
Former Tourist Trophy class winner Alex Moss, one of the few drivers currently able to return for a second season in the series, expressed his hope that more drivers would be back in due course, despite the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
"The last four months have been challenging for everyone," he said, "but the camaraderie in this series is so strong that I hope we can see more drivers on the grid soon. It's still a great series to be involved with."
Competitor numbers may have been small, but there was no shortage of drama in the double-header event. In the first contest, Paul Hogarth got the jump on polesitter Lucky Khera to lead the field into Paddock Hill Bend on the opening tour. Persistent drizzle made track conditions difficult, but this did not stop Khera and the rapidly closing Graham de Zille from pressuring Hogarth hard.
The trio ran close for 24 laps until increasing rain caused Hogarth to spin off at Paddock, with Khera handed the victory as the race ended under caution.
In the second encounter - held on the Grand Prix circuit on Sunday - Britcar ace Khera powered to a lights-to-flag success, although a mid-race rain shower threatened to drop him back into the reach of Hogarth as the race progressed. Hogarth survived a clash with backmarker Paul Stevens at Paddock to claim second ahead of de Zille.
Tim Mogridge (above) produced a faultless performance in treacherous conditions to claim the spoils in the opening Ferrari Formula Classic race in his F355 Challenge. James Cartwright stormed through from the fifth row to claim second in his 328 GTB, while 2015 GT Cup champion Wayne Marrs recovered from a sluggish start and a spin at Graham Hill Bend to salvage third in his F355.
Marrs bounced back to win the first of two drier races held on the GP layout on Sunday, relieving Mogridge of his early advantage with a fine move at Paddock on lap seven of 12. Mogridge got his revenge in the finale though, beating Marrs by over seven seconds, while Tristan Simpson finished a distant third in his F355.
Cadwell Park CMMC: Woolfitt brothers prove to be the class of the field
Jon and Paul Woolfitt took a win apiece during an incident-filled day for the Northern Saloons and Sports Cars as the Classic and Modern Motorsport Club's season got under way at Cadwell Park.
Andy Robinson qualified on pole for both races in the Ford Falcon V8 Supercar with which he won the Classic Touring Car Racing Club's Thunder Saloons title last year, but he was beaten off the line by the Woolfitt brothers each time.
Jon Woolfitt led all the way in the first encounter to claim victory in his Spire GTR ahead of his brother's Lotus Exige, but only after the race was restarted following a huge five-car pile-up at the original start.
Heading into Coppice bend on the first lap, the Honda Civic of Chris Sparks was turned into the outside barrier by Kirk Armitage's BMW M3 before being collected from behind, with the Renault Clios of Stevie McNab and Eduardo De Sousa, as well as David Cox in a Peugeot 205 GTI, unable to avoid the melee.
Despite some heavily damaged cars, all drivers emerged unscathed as Armitage was disqualified from the result of the race after being deemed at fault.
In race two, Jon Woolfitt led again from brother Paul but, on the fourth lap, the race leader retired after his car slowed with a problem. That promoted Paul Woolfitt into the lead, until a trip across the grass dropped him to third in the closing stages behind Mike Cutt (M3) and Andrew Morrison (SEAT Leon TCR).
But Woolfitt's blushes were spared when seconds later red flags curtailed the race after a crash involving Robinson and, with results put back by one lap, he was reinstated in first place. Robinson had collided with a backmarker at Chris Curve, citing the huge difference in speeds between the two cars as a contributing factor.
Front-end damage to his Falcon prevented Robinson from taking the start of the second race of Modified Fords in which he was also competing, having finished runner-up in race one behind Dave Cockell in a Ford Escort Cosworth after a close battle. Cockell doubled-up with a far more comfortable victory in the second event.
Round two of the Historic Sports Car Club's Historic Formula 3 series took place at Cadwell, with defending champion Simon Armer (above) taking a dominant win in race one aboard his March 703.
A bad start dropped him to third at the beginning of race two, but he took second from Ian Bankhurst (Alexis Mk8) in the closing stages after a long scrap, and a mistake from race-long leader Paul Waine (De Sanctis F3 69) at Gooseneck corner on the final tour gave Armer a sniff of a second victory.
But the two cars made slight contact into Mansfield bend, with Bankhurst gratefully accepting the opportunity to grab the win, Waine and Armer recovering to take second and third respectively.
Ewen Sergison, who felt he had the pace to add to his race win at the opening round at Brands Hatch earlier in the month, was unable to take part in the two races having suffered an oil pressure issue with his Merlyn in qualifying.
Nick Strong dominated the Classic Era Challenge race at the wheel of a Jaguar XJS, while Lee Harpham was in a class of his own in Superkarts, winning all three encounters.
Mondello Park IMRC: Returnee Barrable right on the pace
Returning to full-time racing after a break of 23 years, Michael Barrable took Ford Fiesta Zetec pole, with less than two tenths covering the top nine cars as the Irish circuit racing season finally began at Mondello Park.
However, reigning champion William Kellett was alongside Barrable on the front row and he got the jump and led away. Youth appeared to be able to contain experience as each of Barrable's attempts to retake the place were rebuffed. But Kellett hadn't budgeted on a great run out of the final corner by the former Formula Ford 1600 star, who got alongside as they crossed the line and snatched the win, by just seven thousandths of a second!
In race two, poleman Ulick Burke, having built the car inside a week, held off allcomers for a popular and well-earned victory, a last-lap challenge from Alastair Kellett not quite coming off.
Cian Carey grabbed BOSS pole ahead of Paul O'Connell, but it was O'Connell who made the better start, while Eamon Matheson rocketed up to grab second. Barry Rabbitt outbraked Carey into Turn 1 before sitting round the outside of Matheson to take second at Turn 2.
Matheson immediately returned the favour though, blasting past on the run to Turn 3 before closing up to the rear wing of O'Connell's World Series machine as they completed the opening lap. Carey got by Rabbitt and set off in pursuit of O'Connell, as Matheson fell back. Just as Carey caught the leader, however, the red flags flew, calling a halt to proceedings.
In race two, with O'Connell stuck on the line, Rabbitt worked his way into the lead. Dallara F317 driver Carey soon usurped the Formula Renault and blasted away to win, smashing the class lap record on the way.
Kevin Doran grabbed the Fiesta ST lead from the outside of the front row, but poleman Alex Denning managed to get by on the final lap for the win. Graham McDonnell ran with the pair throughout, the trio having eased away from the rest.
In race two, despite a reversed top six, Denning was quickly into the lead and drove away for the double, with a delighted McDonnell in second from Barry-John McHenry and Doran.
Formula Vee champion Anthony Cross won the opener from pole, Gavin Buckley keeping him honest throughout as Dan Polley charged to third from a lowly 11th place in qualifying. Mark Reade was fourth in the works Leastone, with fastest lap.
Race two was a far more exciting affair, including two red flags for various incidents. Philip Sheane and Cross battled mightily for the lead but collided on the penultimate lap, handing Buckley the win, with Cross limping home in second.
David Reynolds took Stryker pole but Vincent O'Rourke rocketed away from the outside of the front row to grab the lead. Reynolds soon reasserted himself at the front to take the win, with Dominic Ryan a strong second, from Adrian Deasy and O'Rourke.
Race two was a carbon copy, with O'Rourke leading away again before Reynolds came through for the double. Deasy snatched second from O'Rourke late on, but a spectacular lunge at Turn 3 allowed O'Rourke back past for his best result to date.
Pat Masterson's Toyota MR2 had the legs of the Future Classics field in race one, but Richard Shattock's Honda Civic deposed him to second in race two. Geoff Richardson and Jamie Moylan took a pair of Legends wins apiece, with the other two taken by James Holman and Peter Barrable.
Kirkistown 500MRCI: FF1600 racers star as Kirkistown season begins
The 500 Motor Racing Club of Ireland opted for a compact event for its belated Kirkistown season-opener. With just two races each for the four 'home' classes, it promised to be a quiet day. However, the small crowd of masked and elbow-bumping club members were treated to some superb racing that promises much for the rest of the season, COVID-19 permitting.
Formula Ford 1600 has been a Kirkistown mainstay for the past half century, and the Kent-engined cars didn't disappoint, despite the relatively small 11-car grid. Alan Davidson started the first race on pole in his ex-Conor Murphy Mondiale, with defending champion David McCullough (Van Diemen RF01) alongside.
As ever, the first couple of laps were nip and tuck, with McCullough, Davidson and second-row starter David Parks (Ray, above) in the thick of things, pursued by Scott Finlay - in Davidson's old Mondiale - and Trevor Delaney (RF02). Some mighty late braking eventually got Parks to the front and, once there, some canny defensive moves kept him ahead.
Davidson's race ended on lap six after a moment over the kerbs at the Chicane deprived him of a radiator, while a few laps later Finlay departed the scene with a misfire. Up front, though, McCullough's efforts to get ahead of Parks continued unabated but to no avail, Parks' winning advantage after 16 laps was 0.347 seconds. Delaney was a clear third ahead of FF1600 newcomer Drew Stewart. The Pre-90 category went to Philip Harris (Mondiale).
A couple of hours later, the same suspects lined up for race two, and this time it was McCullough who got the drop on the rest, treating Parks to a race-long view of his gearbox on the way to a win - by just 0.071s. Davidson, complete with new radiator, took the final podium position and Pre-90 honours, some 3s adrift, with Delaney in fourth.
With Gerard O'Connell's Millington-powered Mk1 SHP Escort (below) on pole, there was no doubt about the winner of the first Saloon/GT encounter. Paul Parr in an ASK Supercar was second, while Stephen Traub's Honda Integra was top saloon in third. Race two was red-flagged after a first-lap tangle in the midfield, but O'Connell won again after a damp restart, with Ciaran Devir's Honda Civic second and top saloon, and Parr third.
A small Roadsports grid also ran twice. In the first contest, John Benson's front-row-starting Crossle led until a fuel pump failed, leaving victory to polesitter Trevor Allen's Westfield ahead of the Crossle of Steve Morris. Benson was back on song in race two and was victorious from Allen and Morris.
In the first combined affair for Ford Fiestas and Mazda MX-5s, Paul Sheridan dominated a depleted Mazda field while Mark Stewart was on top among the Fiestas, ahead of Neville Anderson, Ricky Hull and Megan Campbell. That result was then repeated in race two.
Paul Stewart might well have been a factor among the Fiestas, but for contact with an errant MX-5 on the opening lap of race one, which left his Fiesta looking rather second hand. A bid to dash home for a replacement car in time for the second race was then thwarted by officialdom.
Mallory Park 750MC: Bove beats Hodkin to the double
Four-time 750 Formula champion Peter Bove opened his 2020 campaign with two close-fought victories at Mallory Park.
Bove had to overcome Dave Hodkin, the 2013 title winner, who was fast at the start of both races and led in race one before Bove grabbed the initiative at the hairpin on lap seven of 18. Hodkin - in the self-built HRD Mk2 that he debuted at Oulton Park last October - closed the gap that Bove had built up, but the Darvi driver set the fastest lap and capitalised on traffic to seal the win.
Hodkin swept around the outside of Bove at Gerard's on the second lap of race two and held the advantage over his rival until lap 12 before finishing runner-up again. Reigning double champion Mark Glover had two largely solitary races to third.
Historic 750 Formula boasted a capacity grid and provided two superb races with several cars in contention. Lyndon Thruston's DNC led the early stages of both contests although he eventually had to settle for fourth and third places. Martin Depper's Centaur Mk14 was the on-the-road winner of the opener but was disqualified for inadvertently overtaking backmarkers under yellows at Lake Esses.
Trefor Slatter, in his Centaur Mk11, took the spoils instead but in his bid to take the lead from Depper in race two he went grass-cutting at the Esses before spinning twice at Shaw's corner. Chris Wilson's rapid Cooper Mk9 claimed two second positions.
Gary Prebble dominated the opening rounds of the Hot Hatch championship in his Honda Civic against relatively slim opposition in the top division. The other, more well-supported, classes, also had double winners in Phil Wright and 2019 champion David Drinkwater.
In spite of slow starts, Sigmax racer Harry Senior bounced back from disappointment at Croft - he was unable to start the races there due to a gearbox issue - to take a clean sweep of three wins.
Pictures by Steve Jones, Ollie Read, Gary Hawkins, Mick Walker, Michael Chester, Roy Dempster, Jon Elsey.