BTCC supports to go down to the wire, as Snetterton hosts dramatic BRSCC decider

There was plenty of entertaining racing among the TOCA support categories at Donington Park but all of the overall titles remain up for grabs heading into the Brands Hatch finale, however there was no shortage of dramatic conclusions at Snetterton.

BTCC supports to go down to the wire, as Snetterton hosts dramatic BRSCC decider

The third Ginetta Junior race at Donington Park was the perfect demonstration of why Aston Millar and Liam McNeilly are the only two drivers now left in title contention. The pair had fought at the front of the category’s largest-ever field all weekend but worked together to pull 10 seconds clear of the chasing pack in the finale and then enjoyed a thrilling battle of their own.

“It was good Liam was willing to work with me to pull away,” said R Racing driver Millar. “But I knew he was going to go for it at some point! He did and I got straight back ahead.”

McNeilly had remained right on points leader Millar’s tail throughout and that move came at Redgate on lap nine of 12. The Fox Motorsport driver dived down the inside of Millar, making slight contact and was through – but Millar fought back at McLeans. It was still not over, though, as McNeilly, who was mindful of how costly a DNF would be at this point in the season, got back ahead at McLeans on the next lap before Millar again stormed past at Coppice on the penultimate tour. McNeilly tried to out-drag his rival to the line but to no avail.

Earlier, McNeilly grabbed the lead at the start of a safety car-disrupted opener before Millar ran side-by-side with him down the Craner Curves on the restart – Luke Watts having crashed at the chicane – sealing the move into the Old Hairpin. But it was McNeilly’s turn to pounce after the second caution period – this time instigated when Jack Sherwood collected a spinning Edward Pearson at the Old Hairpin – as he retook the lead at Coppice and held on to win.

Millar had also briefly fallen behind Seb Hopkins but battled back to second, while Jamie Osborne pounced on a dramatic final tour to snare his maiden podium.

The second race was red-flagged after Watts had a heavier shunt at the chicane, setting up a frenetic six-lap shootout. Millar led initially before dropping back to fifth as Robert de Haan and Josh Rowledge had spells in front, but Millar’s comeback was completed with a move on Rowledge at Coppice on the final tour.

That result ensured Millar continued his record of finishing every race in the top six and means he is in the box seat with a 48-point lead heading into the Brands Hatch finale.

Smalley took advantage of Hibbert's woes to extend Ginetta GT4 Supercup lead

Smalley took advantage of Hibbert's woes to extend Ginetta GT4 Supercup lead

Photo by: JEP/Motorsport Images

Prior to the Donington Park round, the gap between the evenly matched Adam Smalley and Tom Hibbert had only once exceeded the 35 points for a win at the end of a Ginetta GT4 Supercup weekend. But the title momentum swung significantly in Smalley’s favour at the penultimate event of the season as he stole what could be a decisive march on his rival, pulling 44 points clear.

Hibbert’s weekend was badly affected by a qualifying session to forget. With just over five minutes to go, the Rob Boston Racing driver had still to set a representative lap time. And, when he eventually did, it was later struck from the timesheets because a yellow flag was out, leaving Hibbert consigned to a 14th-place start for the opening race. To compound his troubles, the largest entry of the season meant he found it difficult to make progress and seventh ended up being his best result of the weekend.

Although Smalley did not win any of the races on the road, he still took advantage of Hibbert’s struggles. But it was Smalley’s Elite Motorsport team-mate, outside title contender Josh Rattican, who led throughout the opener. Smalley seemed set for second until charging debutant James Kellett made a move at McLeans with two laps remaining. However, with Kellett not eligible to score championship points as he has only joined for the final two events, Smalley was still able to pick up the 30 points on offer for second place.

Kellett went one better in race two, taking the victory in a disrupted encounter after jumping Rattican off the line. Rattican, Smalley and Reece Somerfield ran side-by-side on the first lap, but it was Smalley who snuck ahead. Rattican closed right in on Smalley in the latter stages, but a red flag – with Luke Reade off at the chicane – put a halt to their scrap, meaning Smalley got the maximum score.

The duo had the chance to renew their battle in the finale and Rattican forged his way ahead on the inside of Coppice on the last lap to take third behind Carlito Miracco and James Blake-Baldwin. Fast-starting former Compact Cup and Formula Ford 1600 ace Steve Roberts ran second early on before being eased wide into the Redgate gravel by Blake-Baldwin and dropping to sixth.

All of that means Smalley enters the Brands Hatch final round in a strong position over Hibbert, who is now in danger of losing runner-up spot to Rattican, just 17 points behind.

Cammish profited from Hanafin's track-limits infringement in Porsche Carrera Cup GB

Cammish profited from Hanafin's track-limits infringement in Porsche Carrera Cup GB

Photo by: Porsche

Two things happened at Donington Park that weren’t great for Dan Cammish: the British Touring Car Championship Honda in which he should have been starring in 2021 won two races in the hands of Gordon Shedden; and Cammish didn’t win any in the Carrera Cup car he’s campaigning this season. But the good news was that he extended his points lead going into the final round at Brands Hatch.

The opener was a case of 2020 revisited, with Harry King getting a blistering start from pole and leading all the way to win by nearly seven seconds. The early-morning start seemed to catch out Kiern Jewiss, allowing Lorcan Hanafin into second.

Jewiss began to come under attack from Cammish, who in turn had Will Martin in tow. Cammish got down the inside exiting Coppice and into the chicane on the eighth lap of 23, and Martin looked to take advantage too, only for fluid leaking from the right-rear to spell the end of his race and cause pandemonium in the midfield. Cammish then hunted down Hanafin, and he and Jewiss were promoted when Hanafin was penalised 5s for track-limits offences.

Josh Malin led race two from reversed-grid pole, but locked up into Redgate on the second lap. This delayed Hanafin, and Jewiss squeezed through into a lead he would never lose to complete a double for Team Parker, despite pressure from the impressive Malin.

Cammish moved to fourth when contact between Hanafin and King put the reigning champion on the grass at the chicane. At half-distance Cammish grabbed third from Hanafin, who vainly tried to defend from King. Cue another touch between the pair.

After reaching the chequered flag, Cammish holds a nine-point lead heading into the Brands Hatch finale.  

Rees (l) battles JHR team-mate Cresswell en route to British F4 victory

Rees (l) battles JHR team-mate Cresswell en route to British F4 victory

Photo by: JEP/Motorsport Images

“Coming into this weekend, I hated Donington Park!” admitted Matthew Rees. But the JHR Developments driver likes the Leicestershire venue a little bit more now after two wins propelled him back into the British Formula 4 points lead.

On his team’s local circuit, Rees returned to form with a double pole and dominated a dull opening contest, leading home fellow JHR racer McKenzy Cresswell and Eduardo Coseteng – whose third place now means every driver on this year’s grid has taken at least one podium. Crucially for Rees, his key rival Matias Zagazeta was only able to progress to sixth after a tricky qualifying.

Rees added another win in the finale, despite initially losing out to Cresswell – who stormed around the outside at Redgate. But Rees attempted to fight back on the second lap, going side-by-side through the Craner Curves before Zagazeta made it three abreast at McLeans. Inevitably, they did not all stay on track and Zagazeta was the loser as Rees pulled clear to take a comfortable 12-second win. Zagazeta fought back to second to limit the damage to his title bid.

In between Rees’s wins, Georgi Dimitrov claimed his third reversed-grid triumph in an eventful second encounter, while Rees fought from the back to seventh.

Dan Zelos’ charge towards the Mini Challenge crown was halted at Donington Park as his Excelr8 team-mate Max Bird reduced his lead to 31 points.

Zelos was on the backfoot heading into the weekend with an eight-place grid penalty hanging over from Croft and he struggled to make progress in the opener. He then battled engine woes in race two before fighting back to sixth in the finale.

Bird took full advantage, claiming three podiums – including race-two spoils – despite having brake and clutch issues of his own in the opener.

But it was Jack Davidson who was the standout driver of the weekend. The Lux Motorsport man grabbed the race-one lead from Sam Weller at the Old Hairpin but was handed a five-place grid penalty for the second race, having been found to have dropped too far back from the safety car late in the race.

Despite this setback, he grabbed second in the closing stages with another move on Weller – this time at Redgate. And Davidson completed a stunning weekend by snatching the win after a lengthy caution period in the finale with a move at Redgate on, you guessed it, Weller. Further back, series debutant Bobby Thompson was a strong fifth – having charged from last to ninth in race two, following earlier driveshaft woes.

Newman took title by the narrowest of margins

Newman took title by the narrowest of margins

Photo by: Richard Styles

Snetterton BRSCC: Academy aces graduate in style with thrilling finale

The Caterham Academy’s first-year racers stole the show at Snetterton, where the two groups’ titles were both decided by a single point following hard-fought, clean races.

After escaping to win Saturday’s Green group battle, Freddie Chiddicks headed into Sunday’s damp finale with a two-point advantage over Geoff Newman. The duo exchanged the lead throughout before Newman rounded Chiddicks at Brundle on the final lap and nailed the last three corners to crucially snatch fastest lap too, denying Chiddicks the title by the narrowest of margins.

“To me it was just another race,” said Newman. “I came here to learn to drive, so just getting on the podium is something. All credit to Freddie – if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have put in so much effort.”

Saturday’s White group thriller was decided only when Charlie Lower ran wide at Murray’s on the final tour and was out-dragged by Harry George by 0.16 seconds. In Sunday’s rematch, Lower held on to prevail by an almost identical margin and pip George to the title by a single mark. Chiddicks claimed a much more comfortable success over George and Newman when the groups combined for the non-championship Autumn Trophy race.

In a controversial conclusion, Chris Middlehurst clawed back a 38-point deficit with two races remaining in the Formula Ford 1600 National Championship to take the crown for a second time – 10 years after his first title.

A dramatic National FF1600 decider ended with Middlehurst as champion

A dramatic National FF1600 decider ended with Middlehurst as champion

Photo by: Richard Styles

Pre-weekend points leader Alex Walker had strengthened his advantage by passing Middlehurst at Riches to win the opener in his Kevin Mills Racing Spectrum. Team Dolan man Middlehurst’s Van Diemen was shuffled back to fifth, just ahead of the third title contender, Max Esterson (Low Dempsey Racing Ray).

Walker and Team Dolan Van Diemen guest driver Niall Murray ran wide at Turn 3 on the opening tour of Sunday morning’s wet sequel, letting KMR’s Tom Mills escape to a commanding maiden win from Middlehurst. As Murray and Walker disputed third, they clashed at Brundle and Nelson, Walker’s damage forcing him out.

From 12th on the grid, Walker rose to eighth on the first lap of race three before contact when trying to round Morgan Quinn’s Team Dolan entry at Riches left both cars in the barriers and ended Walker’s title hopes. While Murray took a comfortable win from third on the partially reversed grid, Middlehurst’s drive to third behind Mills was enough to seal the crown.

Cosworth YB power helped race sponsor Piers Grange’s ex-Matt Moore Escort RSR to Modified Fords success on Saturday, holding off Jack Gadd’s late challenge in a Millington-motivated example. Gadd’s trip over the Murray’s kerbs allowed Ashley Shelswell’s Mustang-engined Sierra XR4i to snatch second. Delayed by Shelswell’s spin in the wet race two, Grange could only recover to second behind James Harris’s giant-killing Pinto-powered Mk2 Escort. With Grange missing, Rod Birley’s Escort WRC looked set to claim race three until dropping into limp mode, allowing Gadd to hold off Shelswell for victory.

Harris was a Modified Fords giantkiller

Harris was a Modified Fords giantkiller

Photo by: Richard Styles

Birley sat out the opener to focus on the Super Saloon races. He won the first, but was denied a brace by a loose wheelnut. Nick Sutton’s final-lap exhaust failure on his Mitsubishi Lancer E10 therefore gifted Gavin Dunn’s BMW E36 victory.

Blair McConachie eventually eked out a tiny margin over the rest of the six-car pack squabbling for the lead of the Caterham 270R opener. Stephen Lyall and Harry Eyre followed him home, and joined him in dispute of Sunday honours. Lyall and McConachie had both been rounded by Eyre at Brundle on the final lap when contact between them at Nelson spun the Scot, who slipped to fifth as Eyre won from Lyall.

Lewis Thompson’s run of eight successive 310R victories was ended by a Pete Walters double. Thompson, ducking out of Walters’s slipstream as they approached the chequered flag, was denied by just 0.016s in the first. Roles reversed in race two, where Walters drafted past to win by 0.057s.

On his first Snetterton 300 outing, Ray Harris took a pair of Intermarque Silhouette wins. First-time polesitter Daniel Smith’s challenge was blunted by an oil leak, as he dropped to third behind Malcolm Blackman, and then gearbox woes. His brother Lewis led the second race, until fuel-flow problems thwarted him late on.

Cooke defeated fellow Mk3 racer Traynor to land MR2 crown

Cooke defeated fellow Mk3 racer Traynor to land MR2 crown

Photo by: Steve Jones

Oulton Park 750MC: Switch to Mk3 is a winning recipe for Cooke

Aaron Cooke prevailed after another close battle with Shaun Traynor at Oulton Park to seal the Toyota MR2 Championship for a second successive year, and became the first driver to win the crown in Mk3 Roadster machinery.

Four-time champion Traynor held off his chief rival during the early stages of race one until a better exit from Cascades enabled Cooke to finally get by at Island Bend and score his eighth win of the season by two seconds, while Class B champion Cam Walton took third. “The Mk3 is awesome to drive,” said Cooke, after clinching the title with a race to spare. “We got to grips with it pretty quick and we got stronger as the year went on. Me and Shaun had some good races.”

Cooke sat out the second race, allowing Traynor to lead at the start from Paul Cook in light rain. But Traynor’s victory chances appeared over after an off at Cascades, which dropped him out of the top 10. “When I first went off, I thought I might lose a few places,” said Traynor. “But I couldn’t get the power back down on the grass and I counted about 14 [cars] come past.”

While Cook and Walton squabbled at the front, Traynor made a storming recovery to catch the lead pair by the start of the final tour. After passing Walton for second at Hislops, Traynor dived inside Cook at the last corner to snatch a dramatic victory.

Daniel Hands took his fourth Formula Vee win of the season in his Mk2 AHS Dominator, but it wasn’t enough to prevent James Harridge from securing his second title in a row. Craig Pollard qualified on pole and led away at the start in his GAC machine, but dropped to fourth before the opening lap was complete and lost a further place with a mistake at Hislops on the next tour. Hands dominated the remainder of the encounter to win by over 11 seconds from Harridge, but called the result “bitter-sweet” after finishing runner-up in the championship for a fourth straight year. Two red flags and fading light prevented the second race from being completed.

Seven years of work went into Evans's winning Giulietta

Seven years of work went into Evans's winning Giulietta

Photo by: Steve Jones

Scott Austin passed Thomas Hill after a safety car period to take his first Alfa Romeo Championship victory of the season at the wheel of his 155 model. Austin led for two thirds of race two before a slow exit from Knickerbrook allowed Hill to power his way past. But, in slippery conditions, Roger Evans produced a scintillating drive from 12th on the grid to catch and pass the pair in the closing stages, taking the first win for his striking Alfa Giulietta, a car he has worked on for over seven years.

Rich Miles led from Michael Roots in the opening Sports 1000 race, while a bad start from pole left recently crowned champion Ryan Yarrow in third. But the race took a dramatic turn when Miles, Yarrow and Victor Neumann spun on oil deposited by Phil Hutchins’s car at Druids. Roots (Mittell MC-53) emerged from the chaos to take his fourth win of the year, while Yarrow recovered to finish second after a battle with Miles, who spun again at Knickerbrook and lost out for third to Daniel Larner by 0.1s.

Yarrow finished the season with another victory in his Spire in the second encounter, which was halted with seven minutes remaining after Miles ran wide and spun to a stop on the exit of Druids.

Reports by Stephen Lickorish, Marcus Simmons, Mark Paulson and Steve Whitfield. Pics by Jakob Ebrey Photography, Richard Styles and Steve Jones. Want more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly fix of motorsport with Autosport magazine 

Champion Yarrow ended Sports 1000 season with a victory

Champion Yarrow ended Sports 1000 season with a victory

Photo by: Steve Jones

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