Cowley on top at Silverstone as Dempsey dominates at Brands

A strong turnout for the 750MC's Silverstone event produced plenty of talking points while, at Brands Hatch, there was a familiar name at the front in Formula Ford

Cowley on top at Silverstone as Dempsey dominates at Brands

An intense double victory for Bill Cowley in 750 Formula and a last-gasp win for William Stacey in Roadsports were among the highlights of the 750 Motor Club’s meeting on the Silverstone International circuit. The weekend’s 19 races attracted 290 entries as the outcome of several title races started to take shape.

Cowley had it all his own way in the opening 750 Formula race after qualifying his Cowley MkIV in a surprise pole position. “The handling was terrible and I had pad knock,” said the 2017 champion.

But a change to tyres already used on fellow competitor Bill Rutter’s Batten 3 transformed things and, after shrugging off early pressure from main title protagonists Mark Glover (Racekits Falcon) and Peter Bove (Darvi 88 P), Cowley was leading the opener handsomely when it was brought to a halt behind the safety car. A charging Richard Rothery (PRS 1b) took second ahead of Glover and Bove.

The second encounter was a cracker as Cowley just held on to win from Alex Bagnall (SDAR 17) who, having fought through to second, brought the gap down to just several lengths in the closing laps. “After the surprise of pole, two wins is also a surprise as this car has struggled on this configuration before,” admitted Cowley.

Bagnall’s drive made up for the disappointment of Saturday’s race, when he had spun fighting his way back through the field after a poor opening lap. His hounding of Cowley enabled Glover, Rothery and, after clearing Oliver Collett (Racekits Falcon), Bove to also get in on the act. Eventually Bove took third while Glover fell behind Rothery to fifth, only to then fight back through Club on the final lap and regain fourth by just 0.03 seconds at the flag.

Saturday’s 45-minute Roadsports race came down to an exhilarating final few laps as Stacey (Lotus Elise) remorselessly hunted down long-time leader Graham Crowhurst (BMW E46 M3), who was struggling on badly worn tyres.

Beginning the final tour, Stacey pounced at Village only for Crowhurst to surge back ahead along the Hangar Straight. Stacey then tried around the outside at Stowe before making one final attempt into Club. Both drivers braked desperately late, with Crowhurst, on the inside, just scraping through the corner and Stacey, to his outside, running off the track. With the Lotus still alongside Crowhurst, this gave Stacey command of the following right-hander and, as he bobbled back over the kerbs onto the track, he was through for the win just yards before the flag.

Final-lap Roadsports battle between Stacey (l) and Crowhurst entertained

Final-lap Roadsports battle between Stacey (l) and Crowhurst entertained

Photo by: Steve Jones

“I knew the Lotus could brake later than the BMW so was hoping he would run a bit wide and I’d get the cutback, but he just kept coming and so really I was forced out there,” professed Stacey.

Crowhurst was not amused: “He’d been off the track at Stowe and went all four wheels off again, but it’s not worth paying £200 to protest for the sake of a 20cm trophy.”

Stacey could have had another win had his Lotus not failed during the two-hour Club Enduro marathon. He’d just started chipping away at leader Carl Swift (SEAT Leon TCR) when the Elise coasted to a halt in the pitlane with a broken driveshaft.

Ultimately, Swift and Robert Baker ran out comfortable winners as Leon TCRs filled the top three positions. Stacey and team-mate Rob Boston finished a distant 28th, some 30 laps adrift. After the driveshaft was changed in the pits, Boston set the fastest lap.

Crowhurst, meanwhile, went on to win both BMW Car Club Racing bouts on Sunday. His first victory was by a 9s margin ahead of Paul Cook (also E46 M3) and Rick Kerry (1 Series). But, in the day’s later thrash, Crowhurst had to work much harder as Cook kept him honest all the way. Mike Eustace (E46 M3) took advantage of mechanical woes for Kerry to claim third.

Other double winners included John Village (Historic 750 Formula) and Aaron Cooke (Toyota MR2s). Village was never troubled in his Village V2 although, in the second race, he had to check his mirrors as Timothy Sage (Mallock U2 Mk4) set the fastest lap to close to within two seconds.

Cooke (Roadster) was in supreme form in both MR2 encounters. Once a puncture had ended Alastair Topley’s (Mk2) challenge, he was well clear of title rival Shaun Traynor (Roadster), who took runner-up spot.

Cooke again impressed in Toyota MR2s at Silverstone

Cooke again impressed in Toyota MR2s at Silverstone

Photo by: Steve Jones

Cooke won the second race by 11s from Traynor and Topley thanks to a Hamilton-esque ‘sixth sense’ piece of driving. Nick Williamson and Topley tripped each other up rounding the first part of Club, and Cooke held back and seized the opportunity to grab the lead as they ran wide through the following corner. “These are big results for the championship, but Shaun is going to make it very difficult,” said Cooke.

Another title contender happy with his weekend’s work was Jonathan Lisseter. He followed up third behind first-time winner Eddie Mawer and Simon Cort in a frenetic and sometimes robust opening Ma7da race – for which front-row qualifier Samir Abid was unable to start amid electrical woes – with victory in the second. Mawer and David Winter completed the podium.

Running Hankook tyres for the first time due to a lack of regular Avon rubber, Simon Walker-Hansell (Radical SR3) still proved untouchable in the Bikesports opener, ahead of Ash Hicklin’s and Jack Leese’s SR3s, although Leese only just made it across the line with a dying engine and the following drivers almost ran into the back of him.

It then all went wrong for Walker-Hansell in race two when he was eliminated at the first corner in a clash also involving Andrew Fido (SR3), Hicklin and Doug Carter (PR6). Joe Stables (PR6) was already clear – he saw them spinning in his mirrors – and he then simply decimated the opposition led by Hicklin and Leon Morrell (SR3) by 10s, despite a safety-car period.

It was the same in race three, this time by an almost unbelievable 41s. With Avons fitted to the front and Pirellis at the rear, Stables set about breaking the lap record, but just missed out. Hicklin made it a trio of second places and Walker-Hansell stormed through for third after starting at the rear.

Craig Pollard continued his charge to the Formula Vee title with two more wins in his superior WEV as nearest rival Daniel Hands (AHS Dominator Mk2), who managed to lead one lap, settled for a pair of second-place finishes.

Andy Hiley (Chronos HR1S) won both Sport Specials encounters, the first from Clive Hudson (Eclipse SM1), the second from the Eclipse of Martin Gambling.

Brands Hatch BRSCC: Dempsey dominates as Rashid takes first win

Kevin Mills racer Dempsey maintained his strong form

Kevin Mills racer Dempsey maintained his strong form

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

Another almost flawless weekend at Brands Hatch took Jordan Dempsey three steps closer to the National Formula Ford crown. Pole, two wins, a second and three fastest laps left Dempsey more satisfied than identical results at Snetterton last month.

“Race three at Snetterton I should have had the win but made a mistake,” he said. “So this one’s better because the way race three was [today], there was no way I was going to win that.”

Despite a 0.5-second deficit in qualifying, Colin Queen (Ray GR18) stayed in touch with Dempsey’s Kevin Mills Racing Spectrum for the opening laps of Saturday’s two races. But mistakes at Graham Hill Bend twice undid the American’s challenge and Dempsey scampered clear.

Sunday’s reversed-grid race brought a first win for polesitter Shawn Rashid. After defending valiantly for a maiden podium a day earlier, the Ammonite Ray driver shook off a hit from behind and pulled clear as the rest squabbled.

Queen pirouetted from second after pulling across Brandon McCaughan before his pass was complete, with Rory Smith benefiting. But Dempsey picked his way through from sixth, cutting back inside Smith for second before red flags flew when a clash with Andre Lafond left Morgan Quinn cartwheeling through the Paddock Hill gravel, both drivers unhurt.

While Queen remains just about in title contention, a weekend of engine gremlins after a Friday testing failure all but ended Lucas Romanek’s hopes.

Blackman's Vauxhall took the spoils in Intermarque opener

Blackman's Vauxhall took the spoils in Intermarque opener

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

On a day of Vauxhall festivities, on-track success for the Luton manufacturer came via two Intermarque Tigra victories. Malcolm Blackman cut inside front-row men Daniel Smith and Steve Burrows at Druids to take a decisive lead in race one, withstanding pressure from Smith’s Duratec-powered Mercedes SLK clone thereafter. On his first appearance of the season, Ian Hales completed the podium.

Blackman and Smith both sustained race-ending damage as the pack concertinaed into Druids at the start of the reversed-grid sequel. Having retired with stub-axle failure earlier, Burrows carved through from the back and launched inside long-time leader Mark Sear’s Ginetta G40R at Graham Hill Bend to claim victory. Mike Thurley and Paul Knight followed through as Sear was shuffled back.

Matt Chamberlain scored a maiden victory in his self-developed CTR 01 among a thin field of Zeo Prototypes. Chamberlain jumped race-two polesitter Graham Charman’s Duratec-motivated Juno when Charman accidentally flicked his car into fourth gear as the lights went out. But Charman, who took a comfortable win over Chamberlain’s father Richard in the opener, retaliated around the outside of Druids on lap three of 23. Charman opened an 11s advantage, but began experimenting with lines and “threw it away” into the Druids gravel.

Engine failure on the Chris Bassett/Tom Burgess Peugeot 306 handed Matt Rowling’s Honda Civic Type R a Tin Tops success. Jeremy Evans’s similar car was second. In a rare pitstop race for the series, Rod Birley brought Ken Angell’s BMW E36 328i home third after successfully chasing down the Volvo C30 of Adrian Matthews.

With Bassett and David Clark’s turbocharged Renault 5 (transmission) sidelined, David Shead might have expected an easier ride in Sunday’s Track Attack races. But his powerful BMW Compact was twice kept honest by the nippy Renault Clios of Matthew Hollier and Nick Gwinnett, who could match his pace but not find a way through. Hollier was twice second, but a misfire prevented Gwinnett repeating his earlier podium. Jordan Holmes (Citroen Saxo VTS) impressed with his drive to fifth from the back in race two after being fired off in the opener.

Late fuel starvation issues cost Shead, sharing with Malcolm Edeson, a podium – and category honours behind two invitational entries – in Clubsport Trophy. The David May/Mark Skeats Ginetta G55 took a comfortable win while, after a cautious start, Warren Tattersall brought his Cupra TCR home second on its first appearance. James Alford’s VW Golf pipped the Shead/Edeson BMW at the death.

Second time out in their Ginetta G50, father-and-son duo Andre and Jake Severs won the 100-minute Supersport Endurance race by more than a lap from the Alford Golf, started by Mark Lloyd-Jones. May/Skeats may have challenged, despite May’s early spin with a full tank on cold tyres, but for a delay caused by locked-on brakes.

Reports by Carl McKellar and Mark Paulson. Photography by Steve Jones and Gary Hawkins. Want more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly fix of motorsport with Autosport magazine

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Shead keeps the chasing Clios at bay in Track Attack

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