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GB4 gets underway as CSCC and HSCC hold season openers

The GB4 Championship finally got underway at Snetterton last weekend, with three races producing three different winners. The Classic Sports Car Club held its opening meeting of the season at the same venue, while the Historic Sports Car Club began its calendar at Brands Hatch.

Taylor (66) won GB4 race 1 from Alex Walker (41)

A win and a further podium on the inaugural weekend for the GB4 Championship handed Alex Walker the points lead leaving Snetterton.

The Elite Motorsport driver blended speed with consistency, but had to give best to Nikolas Taylor in qualifying as the British-Malaysian bagged a double pole ahead of his racing car debut. “I’m just trying not to put too much pressure on myself,” said Taylor, a former member of Arden’s Young Racing Driver Academy.

Despite his lack of race experience, Taylor dominated proceedings in the opening race as he led from start-to-finish ahead of fellow front-row starter Walker, whose attentions were focused on Formula Ford rival Tom Mills.

Mills had shot through from fifth to third by Turn 1, Riches, before a tighter line and better drive out of the Wilson hairpin moved him ahead of Walker.

The ex-British F4 driver was soon back ahead, though, making his move at Riches on the next tour, but was unable to mount a challenge to Taylor. Mills completed the podium ahead of Hillspeed’s Max Marzorati and Kevin Mills Racing team-mate Jarrod Waberski.

Intent on putting Taylor’s lack of racecraft to the test, Walker passed around the outside of his Fortec Motorsports rival into Riches at the start of race two. Taylor tried to retaliate around the outside through Turn 3 and again looked to the outside of the Agostini hairpin. But the gap left on the inside was too inviting for Mills, who moved into second and he was soon handed some breathing space behind when Taylor spun through Brundle and dropped several places.

Alex Walker leads the GB4 Championship standings after round one

Alex Walker leads the GB4 Championship standings after round one

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Mills’s focus changed to challenging Walker for the lead, his best attempt coming into Agostini on lap two, which was covered off. He shadowed the Elite driver over the following laps, but the dirty air meant he dropped back in the closing stages as Walker won by 1.4 seconds.

“We saw what happened when we gave him [Taylor] a bit of breathing room, so I wanted to get on him early and managed to do that,” said Walker of his Turn 1 overtake. “Definitely there was risk, but I knew I had to go for it.”

Waberski just held on to third from Marzorati, as Taylor recovered to sixth behind Fortec team-mate Elias Adestam. The Swede, who recently turned 16, bagged a podium in the fully reversed-grid race but had to give best to the Hillspeed duo of Megan Gilkes and Marzorati.

Ex-W Series driver Gilkes took the lead from fellow front-row starter Jessica Edgar, while team-mate Marzorati surged through into second from fifth.

Mills continued his blistering starts to move from sixth to third, but lost the place to Adestam at Agostini on lap five of 10. The Fortec driver chased down Marzorati and probed his defence, before losing the tip of his nose cone on the last lap after minor contact. All this allowed Gilkes to take a comfortable victory.

Taylor took eighth after a torrid race that included stalling on the grid and being handed a 10s penalty for being out of position. Walker finished sixth and heads the standings with 77 points from Mills (68).

Snetterton CSCC: Pratt pips Thompson to Morgan spoils

William Pratt's Morgan +4 (right) just pipped Andrew Thompson (Morgan ARVS6) to the win

William Pratt's Morgan +4 (right) just pipped Andrew Thompson (Morgan ARVS6) to the win

Photo by: Richard Styles

An enthralling battle decided by the smallest of margins in the Morgan Challenge was the highlight of the Classic Sports Car Club season opener at Snetterton.

William Pratt placed his Morgan +4 comfortably on pole but ceding the lead to Andrew Thompson at the rolling start set up a race-long battle between the pair. Despite his car inexplicably producing plumes of smoke on several occasions, Pratt shadowed Thompson’s ARV6 throughout the 20-minute encounter having briefly retaken the lead on the opening lap.

Quicker through the corners but unable to find a way past, the deciding moment came on the last tour. Hanging back through the final turn of Murrays and getting a better drive out allowed Pratt to pull alongside and take the chequered flag by just 0.026 seconds.

“My dad before going out told me the car has the speed, he said don’t do anything heroic, wait until the straights and choose the right moment,” said a delighted Pratt.

Thompson grabbed the lead again at the start of race two, while Pratt also fell behind Tony Lees’s +8 briefly, but repassed him before the Bentley Straight. Pratt was already several seconds behind Thompson but was handed a reprieve as first a safety car then a red flag was deployed to retrieve a stricken car at Riches – the only caution period/stoppage during the entire two-day meeting.

At the restart, it was Thompson who once again made his way into the lead, but any challenge from Pratt was nullified when he spun at Agostini. Thompson therefore cruised to victory from Tom Andrew’s +6, while Pratt surged from 16th to third by the flag in the 15-minute re-run.

It was spin and win for Sam Polley in the Swinging Sixties Group 1 race, as the Mini Marcos driver recovered from an off at Wilson. He was aided by main rival Richard Perry having a “bit of a fuddled pitstop”, which allowed Polley to regain the lead once the mandatory stops had been made. Austin-Healey Sprite driver Perry then spun himself exiting Oggies in pursuit and briefly dropped to third behind Tom Pead (BMW 1600 Ti), before regaining second just before the end of the race as all three podium finishers took class wins.

Sam Polley (Mini Marcos) won in Swinging Sixties Group 1 race despite a spin

Sam Polley (Mini Marcos) won in Swinging Sixties Group 1 race despite a spin

Photo by: Richard Styles

Father-and-son pairing Nigel/Ollie Reuben cruised to a one-minute victory in Sunday’s later Group 2 race in their TVR Griffith.

The Magnificent Seven victories were shared between Christian Pittard and Stephen Nuttall, although the latter could have left Norfolk with the double but for electrical gremlins in race one while leading. Pittard benefitted from Nuttall’s retirement having got the better of Ben Simonds in the 40-minute pitstop race.

Starting from the 12th and final row of the grid in the 20-minute second race, Nuttall surged through to third by the end of the opening lap, helped by the confusion caused when Spire team-mates John Cutmore and David Watson collided at Agostini.

Nuttall moved into second the following lap and finally passed Pittard for the lead through an oil spill down the Bentley Straight, which had been deposited courtesy of a spectacular engine failure for James Tubby that had sent him spinning one lap earlier. Watson completed the podium again in third despite the earlier contact.

Carl Chambers just held on to victory in the Turbo Tin Tops encounter at the wheel of his Peugeot 208 GTI. Chambers cycled through into the lead once the mandatory pitstops had been made, but saw a 14s advantage whittle away in the closing stages.

Nigel Tongue, sharing a VW Scirocco with John Hammersley, closed the gap to within a second by the flag as Keith Issatt’s Mini Clubman completed the podium having led in the early stages following a spin for polesitter Phil Briggs’s SEAT Leon.Andrew Windmill’s Honda Civic Type R Leggera was never headed in the later Tin Tops contest for normally aspirated cars.

Elsewhere, Karl Cattliff was victorious in the Modern Classics having started down in seventh as BMWs swept the podium. Front-row starter Stuart Daburn finished fourth in his TVR Tuscan Challenge, but cruised to the win in Sunday’s Future Classics encounter.

Brands Hatch HSCC: Tooms’s fast getaways fail to stop patient Barter

Charles Barter (Datsun 240Z) leads the 70s Road Sports at Brands Hatch

Charles Barter (Datsun 240Z) leads the 70s Road Sports at Brands Hatch

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

“Three out of four wasn’t bad,” grinned Paul Tooms, having burst his Lotus Europa through between Kevin Kivlochan’s Morgan +8 and Jeremy Clark’s Lotus Elan to repeatedly lead the vibrant ’70s Road Sports field into Paddock Hill Bend, the second leg being a three-parter! Tooms’s glory didn’t last, for Kivlochan growled back from a moment to pip Clark to win the opener as poleman Charles Barter retired his Datsun 240Z with a duff spark plug.

Kivlochan careered into the Druids gravel trap on lap one of the sequel, bringing out red flags, but was ushered back to P1 for the restart, which proved expensive. “The gearbox felt a bit sticky,” said KeKi but, when his Rover V8 threw a rod on the Cooper Straight, he spun, followed by several others on the oil slick. Barter, who twice went from the back, regained the initiative in the four-lap decider from Clark, Tooms and David Tomkinson, whose TVR Vixen had rocketed momentarily ahead in one stanza.

Kivlochan’s fortunes turned on Sunday in his Historic Road Sports AC Cobra. After a hairy traverse of Surtees, he beat Frazer Gibney (Elan) by 0.681 seconds. Peter Garland (Morgan) and Jonathan Stringer (Lotus 7) tussled behind them.

Benn Simms stunned Historic Formula Ford 2000 rivals with his 48.628s (89.42mph) pole charge. With the qualifying heat canned, his Reynard was ahead when Saturday’s points race was stopped twice, initially after Jason Redding (Delta) could not avoid Ian Foley’s spinning Reynard at the foot of Paddock. With no time to run the five-minute dash before the 1830hrs curfew, it was rescheduled for Sunday morning. “My clutch wouldn’t have taken another start,” said Simms.

On the second anniversary of his father and mentor Paul’s passing, Benn nailed it and round two, with Andy Park and defending champion Graham Fennymore (also in clutch bothers) bagging a second and third apiece. Drew Cameron and Ian Pearson led Royale squabbles for fourth, with Lee Bankhurst whose front upright had failed in qualifying.

Benn Simms (Reynard SF77) took the double in Historic FF2000 at Brands Hatch

Benn Simms (Reynard SF77) took the double in Historic FF2000 at Brands Hatch

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

The promising Historic Formula Atlantic category outnumbered Classic F3 in a combined grid, from which 44.774s (97.12mph) polesitter Rory Smith twice prevailed in his beautifully prepared 1984 Ralt RT4. Marc Mercer gave Smith a shock, bolting his March 73B out of the blocks to lead both races, but parked on Sunday promoting 18-year-old Samuel Harrison (1971 Lola T240) to second. Irishman Conor Murphy had the legs of the F3 set but retired, advantaging Anthony Hancock (ex-Mike Blanchet Lola T670).

Chris Drake’s Terrier was straining at the leash at the ‘front-engined’ Formula Junior start and tore off to win. Nic Carlton-Smith pursued stoutly in his Kieft ‘pusher’, beginning his title defence with class C2 victory. Alex Morton (Condor) was third, clear of Simon Goodliff in Ken Nicholls’s first Nike. After Trevor Griffiths parked his Emeryson at Graham Hill Bend following half-shaft failure, Crispian Besley (Cooper T56) repelled the tenacious John Hutchison Jr (Envoy) for fifth.

Mark Charteris claimed Classic Clubmans pole on Saturday, testing his now Ford-axled Mallock, but could not stay for Sunday’s races. John Harrison was thus shuffled into P1 and overcame Spencer McCarthy
for a double. Clive Wood matched Harrison in the FF1600-engined division, remarkably remaining unlapped in race two. Old rival Barry Webb retired from the first when his distributor disintegrated, but wafted his Delapena U2 through to second later.

Historic Touring Car champion Mike Gardiner won the first of two outings after a misfire and a track-limits penalty hobbled pacemaker Jack Moody’s A-frame Ford Lotus Cortina, dropping him to fourth behind Mini maestro Bill Sollis’s Cooper S. Moody retired after a lap of the sequel, leaving Sollis and Gardiner scrapping with Bob Bullen, whose Cortina’s gearbox broke.

Gardiner went back ahead only to skate off at Druids on oil from Paul Wallis’s stricken Alfa. Sollis held off the recovering Gardiner for a superb victory, with Bill’s team-mates Nick Paddy and David Ogden third and fourth.

Behind Mark Watts’ Ford Mustang, Nigel Cox (Cortina) and young Harry Barton (BMW 1800Ti) traded sixth place. Ultimately, the merest of brushes into Paddock destabilised Cox’s car, which broadsided into gravel and toppled languidly onto its driver’s side. A final quandary for hard-working marshals that inevitably stopped the race. Cox emerged unscathed.

Oulton Park BARC: Southcott’s Midget storms to opening win

Andrew Southcott (Lenham MG Midget) won the CNC Heads Sports/Saloons race at Oulton Park

Andrew Southcott (Lenham MG Midget) won the CNC Heads Sports/Saloons race at Oulton Park

Photo by: Steve Jones

Andrew Southcott’s Lenham MG Midget won the opening round of the CNC Heads Sports/Saloons, after his initial battle with Paul Dobson’s Mazda rotary Locost ended when the latter lost fuel pressure.

Having led into Knickerbrook from lap three of 12, it was comfortable for Southcott, with championship sponsor Ric Wood also clear in second in his Nissan Skyline. Oliver Thomas had been third until his Subaru Impreza lost fourth gear and was caught by Tim Foxlow’s Ford Escort. They swapped places several times before Thomas finally clinched it, as Foxlow was also hampered by a sticking throttle.

With Jonny MacGregor’s Taranis spinning at Old Hall on the opening lap of the British Endurance Championship race, Wayne Marrs’ Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Kevin Clarke’s BMW Z4 made a very early break.
Clarke got ahead on the 10th lap and built on his lead before pitting to hand over to Ryan Lindsay. But, within a couple of laps, Lindsay was back in the pitlane with a broken driveshaft, leaving Tom Jackson in the Marrs car over a lap ahead.

It proved to be an easy win for the Rob Boston Racing Mercedes, with MacGregor recovering to take second, and Chris Goddard/Charlie Hollings’s Ferrari 458 third, both a lap down. Carl Cavers/Lewis Plato’s Porsche Cayman GT4 finished third on the road, but picked up a one-lap penalty, dropping to fifth behind Callum Jenkins/Ollie Turner’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.

Wayne Marrs/Tom Jackson 
(Mercedes-AMG GT3) were victorious in the British Endurance contest

Wayne Marrs/Tom Jackson (Mercedes-AMG GT3) were victorious in the British Endurance contest

Photo by: Steve Jones

Matthew Isherwood took his maiden victory in the first Legends race of the day, where it came down to a one-lap sprint after a safety-car period. Isherwood had led Marcus Pett and Nathan Anthony before the caution, but both lost out on the final lap. Jack Parker snatched a close second from reigning champion Miles Rudman.

Both Isherwood and Rudman were early casualties in the second race, led initially by Sean Smith, until John Mickel and Parker battled their way to the front. The lead fight went down to the wire with Mickel just holding off Parker’s challenge, while the intensity of their battle had allowed Andy Bird and Daniel Clark to follow them line astern to the flag.

The final soon developed into a three-way tussle between Chris Needham, Will Gibson and Rudman. Although it remained close, Rudman just had the upper hand as they started the last tour. But Needham had a brief moment and dropped to sixth, leaving Rudman to hold off Gibson, with Parker, Pett and Smith all gaining a place too following Needham’s woes.

The Praga Cup started in dramatic style with a three-car clash into the first corner. With George Line and Dan Gore both stopping on the green-flag lap and Alex Kapadia in the pits, the race started under caution for the remaining runners. But, as the green flag was waved, the field seemed to split, Scott Mittell on the right into Old Hall and Stefano Leaney on the left, leaving a sizeable gap in the middle.

As Rob Wheldon filled that space and turned in, contact with Mittell pushed him into Leaney, who then spun into the tyre wall. After further contact, Wheldon was off and Mittell continued well down, with Tommy Foster and Gordie Mutch vying for the lead. Foster/Miles Lacey took a fairly comfortable win, with Mutch/Jimmy Broadbent and Mittell/Charles Hall completing the podium.

Reports by Stefan Mackley, Marcus Pye and Peter Scherer. Photography by Richard Styles, Gary Hawkins 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

Matthew Isherwood won the first of three Legends races

Matthew Isherwood won the first of three Legends races

Photo by: Steve Jones

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