Knockhill welcomes fans back for TOCA as Simmons bags GB3 double at Silverstone

Scottish fans were finally able to witness the British Touring Car Championship and TOCA supports in action last weekend at Knockhill after a lengthy absence. Further south, Ayrton Simmons found his form again in the GB3 Championship and a former winner returned to the top in the British Rally Championship

Knockhill welcomes fans back for TOCA as Simmons bags GB3 double at Silverstone

Aston Millar could hardly have hoped for a better weekend on Ginetta Junior’s annual visit to Knockhill. The 16-year-old from R Racing backed up two wins with a brace of second places from the four races to give himself a six-point championship lead over Liam McNeilly.

Millar narrowly lost out to polesitter McNeilly by just 0.2 seconds in Saturday’s frenetic opening race, restarted following a four-car pile-up at Clark’s that took out Zac Meakin, Freddie Tomlinson, Maurice Henry and Edward Pearson, before trailing team-mate Callum Voisin by a similar margin in race two.

Fox Motorsport driver McNeilly had maintained his championship lead following that race, the rescheduled round from Oulton Park, but his advantage soon became vulnerable after Millar was promoted to the win in the third contest following a penalty for on-the-road victor Robert de Haan.

Things got worse for Meakin who, after his Raceway Motorsport team repaired a bent chassis, was involved in another huge crash at the exit of Clark’s following contact with Josh Miller. Both cars suffered significant frontal damage, with Meakin taken to hospital for precautionary checks.

Dutchman de Haan stole the show at the restart by barging past polesitter McNeilly for second at McIntyre before taking the lead from Millar with an equally assertive move down the inside of the hairpin. But it all came to nought when de Haan was slapped with a 10-second penalty for being marginally out of his grid position at the start.

That elevated Millar to the win and, therefore, pole for the finale, which he dominated from start to finish. The points difference between Millar and McNeilly, who was fourth, was enough to hand Millar a slender lead.

“I’m over the moon with the weekend,” Millar said. “A podium in every race is perfect really. I got a good start in race three and managed to get a decent gap and just stayed in the flow.”

Dan Zelos, Mini Challenge, Knockhill 2021

Dan Zelos, Mini Challenge, Knockhill 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Jack Davidson picked up his first Mini Challenge triumph of the season in a stunning third race as Dan Zelos pulled clear in the title battle with two wins.

Davidson had been in the mix during an interrupted second race, which was red-flagged following a startline accident involving Ryan Faulconbridge, Kyle Reid and Stephen James, but fell two seconds short of Zelos.

Zelos’s victories carried particular significance given that Excelr8 team-mate and title rival Max Bird endured an up-and-down meeting. While Zelos claimed pole for the opener, Bird struggled to seventh after “going the wrong way on set-up”. At the start, Zelos got away superbly and led as fellow front-row starter Jason Lockwood lost second to Joe Tanner. Lockwood soon recovered from his poor getaway and began squabbling with Tanner, which allowed Zelos to pull away, eventually finishing 2.73s clear of Lockwood. Bird was fifth.

Zelos again led from pole in race two as Lockwood fell behind Tanner, and then Davidson, before the race was stopped. Davidson was the closest challenger at the restart, but Zelos kept his head down for another largely comfortable victory.

The best was saved for the final race, in which Davidson made a sensational pass around the outside of Ethan Hammerton at Duffus Dip to grab second before getting a cutback move on Max Coates to seal the victory on the exit of the hairpin.

Lorcan Hanafin, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Knockhill 2021

Lorcan Hanafin, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Knockhill 2021

Photo by: Porsche

Lorcan Hanafin has moved into the Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship lead thanks to a lights-to-flag victory in the opening race in Scotland, while reigning champion Harry King scored a long-awaited first GB win of 2021 in the reversed-grid encounter.

Hanafin shot into the lead off the startline and didn’t look back. King rose to second but had no answer for the JTR youngster’s pace, with three seconds splitting them at the finish, while Lewis Plato completed the podium.

Will Martin had edged out Hanafin for his first Porsche pole in qualifying, but endured a nightmare first race and could only fight back to sixth in race two. His Richardson Racing team-mate Josh Malin had differing fortunes, and he was drawn onto reversed-grid pole.

Malin held the lead through a safety car period, caused by a dramatic exit for Nathan Harrison, before his defence was breached by King with a superb cutback move into Duffus Dip. King pulled six seconds clear, as Malin celebrated a maiden podium finish.

A surprisingly subdued weekend for Dan Cammish culminated in fourth and third places, while Kiern Jewiss – the points leader heading to Scotland – lost ground with a punctured radiator in race two.

Tom Hibbert, Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Knockhill 2021

Tom Hibbert, Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Knockhill 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Tom Hibbert was a concerned man after Ginetta GT4 Supercup qualifying. He had only managed sixth in a stop-start session, while title rival Adam Smalley took pole. That concern grew after Smalley bagged a pair of wins, but the “damage-limitation” strategy paid off in the end as Hibbert had just three points shaved off his pre-weekend advantage.

Smalley trailed Hibbert by 36 points heading to Scotland, but managed to reduce that deficit to 17 thanks to a pair of perfectly executed race wins, while Hibbert salvaged third each time.

Hibbert started the finale third, but a good launch, and a decisive pass on Josh Rattican at the hairpin secured his fourth win of the year and meant he ended the weekend with a 33-point margin over Smalley, who toiled to fifth. “Finishing race one on the podium was the key as I was able to set up the rest of the weekend so I’m very happy,” Hibbert said.

It was a missed opportunity for Smalley, who dominated the opening encounter to beat Elite Motorsport team-mate Rattican by just over a second, before again leading every lap to claim race-two spoils. By the third race, Smalley appeared to struggle for pace, with Hibbert profiting the most.

Matthew Rees, British F4, Knockhill 2021

Matthew Rees, British F4, Knockhill 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

A pair of podiums allowed Matthew Rees to take the British Formula 4 points lead following a miserable weekend for title rival James Hedley.

Matias Zagazeta of Argenti Motorsport was the driver to beat in two of the three races, while Rees’s JHR Developments team-mate McKenzy Cresswell picked up his second reversed-grid win of the season in race two. But the biggest talking point of the trip to Scotland was that Hedley managed just one point all weekend after a litany of misfortune.

Problems first arose in pre-event testing when a fuel-pump issue meant Hedley’s only proper running ahead of the races came with limited laps on Friday. Failure to bag a representative qualifying lap on Saturday resigned the Fortec Motorsport driver to the back of the grid and 10th in race one, while a fuel-cell leak ruled him out of the second race, in which he was due to start from reversed-grid pole. His team got him out for the final encounter, but 11th was all he could manage.

Rees produced mature drives to third behind Hedley’s team-mate Joel Granfors in each of the conventional-grid races, leaving him five points clear ahead of the second trip of the season to Thruxton.

Silverstone MSVR: Simmons doubles up in GB3 Championship

Ayrton Simmons, GB3, Silverstone 2021

Ayrton Simmons, GB3, Silverstone 2021

Photo by: Mick Walker

Ayrton Simmons returned to the top step of the GB3 Championship podium with a double victory at Silverstone last weekend. The Chris Dittmann Racing driver was the pre-season title favourite, but has endured a difficult season and triumphed for the first time since winning the reversed-grid race at the same venue in June.

In-form Ollie Bearman beat Simmons to race-one pole in a rain-affected qualifying, but conceded the lead to his rival at the start, before dramatically retiring on the second lap when his left-rear wheel departed through Copse Corner. Debutant Jonathan Browne, who qualified an impressive fourth for returning team Hillspeed, was promoted to second before the safety car was deployed to retrieve Bearman’s stricken Fortec-run machine. Simmons pulled over a second clear at the restart and controlled the gap over the remaining laps, with Fortec’s Roberto Faria passing Browne to take second.

Browne held off Christian Mansell to score a remarkable podium finish in his first slicks-and-wings race. Zak O’Sullivan was unable to extend his championship advantage after suffering a puncture in a collision with Sebastian Alvarez, who received a five-place grid penalty.

Simmons recorded another lights-to-flag win from pole in race two, resisting race-long pressure from Bearman, who finished less than a second behind after setting the fastest lap on the final tour.

Faria finished on the podium again to move into second in the championship behind O’Sullivan, with the Carlin driver coming home fourth. Branden Lee Oxley put in a strong defence of fifth throughout the race, on only his second weekend with CDR in GB3, but was pipped on the last lap by Hitech’s Bart Horsten into Maggotts.

Roman Bilinski led away from pole in the full reversed-grid race, but quickly came under pressure from Faria. The lead changed hands at Chapel after Faria drew alongside into Becketts, but both were forced into retirement later in the lap after an incident with third-placed Oxley. O’Sullivan, who had worked his way up from sixth to fourth in the early stages, inherited the lead before taking victory by over eight seconds.

GB3, Silverstone 2021

GB3, Silverstone 2021

Photo by: Mick Walker

Oxley initially held off Horsten to record a maiden car racing podium in second, but was later excluded after being deemed at fault for the incident with Faria and Bilinski. Hitech duo Horsten and Alvarez were promoted to second and third in the amended results.

O’Sullivan’s championship advantage now sits at 108 points over Mansell, while Simmons’s strong weekend puts him fourth.

Simmons put the difficult mid-season form down to a lack of testing mileage, but feels the team has now turned a corner. “We’ve done one day of testing away from the races – we had to realise we weren’t that quick,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of changes. We had a problem with the differential, as well as generally being about half a second off the pace. There’s been a lot of hard work behind the scenes and it’s paying off now – we’ve found some speed again”.

Richard and Sam Neary bounced back from a startline crash in last month’s British GT round at Spa to take a combined three wins in the GT Cup in the rebuilt Team Abba Mercedes-AMG GT3.

With repairs completed just hours before the weekend, Neary dominated Saturday’s sprint race ahead of John Dhillon’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Paul Bailey produced a strong recovery following a spin at the first corner while battling with Neary to finish fourth in a Brabham BT62.

Neary Sr again led the way in the pitstop race before handing the Merc over to son Sam, after an early safety-car period caused by Simon Orange’s Ginetta G55 ending up on its roof at Becketts. The mandatory pitstops were made under a second caution period, leaving Neary Jr with a slender advantage over Ross Wylie, who took over driving duties from Bailey. Following a feisty lead battle, Wylie eventually made it past on the Hangar Straight to give Brabham its first outright series victory.

Richard/Sam Neary (Mercedes-AMG) GT Cup, Silverstone 2021

Richard/Sam Neary (Mercedes-AMG) GT Cup, Silverstone 2021

Photo by: Mick Walker

Two big first-lap incidents halted Sunday’s sprint race. Iain Campbell’s McLaren 570S GT4 became airborne exiting Copse in a multi-car tangle, while a further five cars crashed into the wall in a bizarre incident at the end of the Hangar Straight. Dhillon also suffered a tyre failure, but the red flag enabled him to retake third on the grid for the restart following a 30-minute delay to proceedings. Neary Jr took a dominant win ahead of Steve Burgess’s Radical RXC and Dhillon in a shortened 20-minute encounter, while Bailey was forced into another recovery drive to sixth from the pitlane after a car issue.

A clutch problem resulted in Bailey again starting from the pitlane in the pitstop race before the car stopped with a loss of oil pressure at the halfway stage. Neary Sr built a half-minute advantage at the front over Dhillon, enough for Neary Jr to emerge from the mandatory pitstop in front after serving a 20s success penalty. Phil Keen, who received a late call-up to replace the unwell Phil Quaife, came home second after taking over from Dhillon.

Phil Jenkins extended his 420R points lead after triumphing in two predictably close 7 Series races. After qualifying on pole, Jenkins lost the lead to the fast-starting Jamie Bashall before an early safety car period. Jenkins moved in front shortly after the restart before coming under pressure from Anthony Barnes, who missed out on the win by just 0.085s, with Bashall finishing just behind.

It took just two laps for Jenkins to move to the front in the partially reversed-grid encounter, before Barnes took over the lead at half-distance. But it was Jenkins who prevailed again from Barnes, this time by a slightly smaller margin of 0.04s, while Richard Ainscough finished within 0.4s of the pair in third.

Dan Gore took two wins ahead of Jason Timms in the Monoposto Championship in his Jedi Mk6, the pair separated by just 0.009s in the second contest.

Chris Dyer pipped Mark McAleer to victory in the first of the Porsche Club Championship races, before reigning champion Simon Clark recorded his sixth win of the campaign in race two from Dyer.

Grampian Rally BRC: Wilson takes first win in 16 years

Matthew Wilson/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta Rally2) Grampian Rally 2021

Matthew Wilson/Elliott Edmondson (Ford Fiesta Rally2) Grampian Rally 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Matthew Wilson and Elliott Edmondson recovered from an early half-spin on the opening stage of the Grampian Forest Rally to triumph on round three of the British Rally Championship.

Fresh from testing M-Sport Ford’s new Puma Rally1 car in Finland, Wilson became the third different victor in a title race that is proving hard to call. “We are really, really pleased,” said Wilson, whose last BRC win came on the Trackrod Rally 16 years ago. “In the last two stages, we tried to keep a good rhythm and not make any mistakes.”

The Ford Fiesta Rally2 man finished with 20 seconds in hand over Osian Pryce, whose second-place result on the newest event to join the series was enough to vault him up to second in the standings.

In the build-up to the closing loop, the Welshman was consigned to rounding out the podium places after losing ground to Wilson, and reigning champion Matt Edwards, due to some “massive moments”.

However, that all changed at the end of the penultimate Drumtochty stage when an earlier misfire came to a head on Edwards’s Volkswagen Polo, leading to his retirement before the final Durris test.

After a recalcitrant pop-off valve left his Fiesta Rally2 lacking torque early doors, Rhys Yates regrouped and secured the last spot on the rostrum by one second from four-time BRC champion Keith Cronin.

Ruairi Bell appeared set for back-to-back Junior BRC wins but his storming run was ended on the penultimate test when his Fiesta Rally4 car was struck with a suspected electrical glitch, handing victory to Eamonn Kelly and Conor Mohan.

Reports by Stephen Brunsdon, Simon Paice, Steve Whitfield and Jason Craig. Photography by Jakob Ebrey Photography/Motorsport Images and Mick Walker. Want more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly fix of motorsport with Autosport magazine.

Rhys Yates/James Morgan (Ford Fiesta Rally2) Grampian Rally 2021

Rhys Yates/James Morgan (Ford Fiesta Rally2) Grampian Rally 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

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