Silverstone plays host to bumper national meetings
Silverstone hosted two bumper national meetings last weekend for the 750MC and BARC, while across the country there was further racing at Brand Hatch and Lydden Hill among others
The debut of the Type R Trophy as a fully fledged championship was both well-subscribed and explosive at the 750 Motor Club’s Silverstone meeting.
Adam Shepherd was declared the first race winner after Luke Rosewell received a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits and gaining an advantage. Rosewell, who had passed Lee Deegan for the lead on the final lap when Deegan lost control of his Civic and went into a slide, had crossed the line first but dropped to third with his penalty.
Up until that point, double Civic Cup champion Deegan had led the whole race while Rosewell snapped at his heels consistently, the two even trading paint at times. Shepherd kept pace with the leading pair and came close to passing Rosewell on track, particularly when the leading group had backmarkers to navigate.
Deegan won race two, avoiding mistakes this time. Shepherd was a very close second, with just 0.2s separating him from Deegan and near-identical fastest lap times. Rosewell was third again, ahead of Arron Sharp, who made a bid for the lead at the start and contributed to a three-way scrap for second at Copse.
The BMW Car Club Racing Championship was a two-part comeback story as Niall Bradley’s consistency and control brought him out on top twice. The fastest car on track in race one was Brad Sheehan’s M3, but an alternator failure dumped him out from what looked like a safe lead. The M3 of Michael Cutt was the next to take its turn at the front, but Cutt got a little overenthusiastic and spun, giving the lead and the win to Bradley. Rick Kerry’s diesel 1 Series was second, ahead of Cutt.
Sheehan borrowed a spare alternator from Cutt to get out for race two and made short work of progressing from the back, breaking into the top 10 by lap three. By the end, he was right on the tail of Bradley’s E46 M3, but Bradley hung on for a second win, with Cutt third again.
Barry McMahon (Alfa Romeo 156), Alfa Romeo Championship, Silverstone
Photo by: Steve Jones
More comeback exploits were on the menu in the Alfa Romeo Championship. Barry McMahon was the winner of both encounters, dominating in his 156. Chief rival was Gareth Haywood, back in action in his GTV for the first time since 2012, but his challenge was ended early on by a coolant leak in the first race, leaving George Osborne (Alfa Romeo 75) to push his way to the runner-up spot. He fought off the GT of Tom Hill and Graham Seager’s rapid 147 GTA, with Seager claiming the final podium position.
With the cooling system reassembled, Haywood was able to mount a consistent challenge to McMahon and led the second race for a number of laps, after coming through from the back of the class. It was only a shove from behind by another competitor that caused him to lose touch with McMahon. A combative Seager was third after he had to fight hard with Osborne, but Hill’s car was down on power and Seager was able to pass him much more easily.
Chris Mills (BMW M3) won the Roadsports race from Jamie Sturges’s SEAT Leon. Sturges had been the early leader, but red flags came out after a multi-car pile-up on the first lap and some subsequent retirements left too many cars stranded.
Mills and Sturges drew some order from the chaos on the restart, trading the lead in a fast but fair game of cat and mouse. Ultimately, the superior torque of Mills’s car allowed him to pull ahead, as well as taking his mandatory pitstop earlier. Nick Vaughan was third in an Audi A3, more than 40s behind second-placed Sturges.
The opening rounds of the F1000 championship brought some new contenders to the fore. Lee Morgan won the first race convincingly from Elliott Mitchell, who inherited second when Matthew Booth received 15s of penalties for exceeding track limits, while 2020 champion Dan Clowes was struggling with various car problems and could only manage sixth.
The reversed-grid race did not present many problems for Morgan, and Booth kept it clean to keep his second place this time. Morgan was denied a clean sweep by broken front suspension in race three, which allowed Mitchell to take his maiden series win.
Lee Morgan, F1000 Championship, Silverstone
Photo by: Steve Jones
The Sport Specials podium also looked a little different from last year. Martin Gambling won the first race in his Eclipse SM1 from the sister Eclipse of Paul Collingwood. Collingwood took the lead briefly on lap two but spun on some oil and allowed Gambling back in front. Andy Hiley, dominant last year in his self-built Chronos HR1S, could only manage third as he was struggling with a broken clutch master cylinder.
Gambling had built up a big lead in the second race when his car’s electrics failed, giving the win to Cyana Mk2 driver Anton Landon. Hiley had dropped out early and Collingwood also had to retire with a misfire. Darren Berris (Westfield) was second, ahead of Class C winner Stewart Mutch in his MEV Exocet, which ran as high as second place before being passed by Berris.
New winners eventually appeared in Sports 1000. Reigning champion Ryan Yarrow (Spire) was awarded the win in the first encounter after six cars, including provisional winner Michael Roots in a Mittell MC-53, were disqualified for ride-height infringements. Roots fought from the back of the grid to win race two.
The Ma7da series had its first races as a full championship and Danny Andrew won the opener by 0.05s, coming out on top of a five-car sprint at the line. His second victory was much more secure and the finish-line scramble was for second, with David Mason, Ben Powney and David Winter within a tenth of one another.
Mark Burton won the 116 Trophy contest by just over 10s from Simon Walker-Hansell, with Alex and Guy Povey in third. Samuel Carrington-Yates and Mark Sullivan led for most of the 90-minute race but admitted to a few mistakes and a mistimed pitstop. They were fifth in what was only Sullivan’s second race.
Silverstone BARC: Lambo duo Seale double Britcar success
John Seale and Jamie Stanley (Lamborghini Huracan GT3), Britcar, Silverstone
Photo by: Steve Jones
John Seale and Jamie Stanley powered to two victories during the opening round of the Britcar Endurance Championship, as the Silverstone International circuit played host to some bumper grids across the weekend.
The duo took pole for the first race in a Lamborghini Huracan GT3, the only car to set a sub-one-minute lap in qualifying. Seale was outdragged to the first corner by Richard Wells and Abbie Eaton, but regained the lead when the Praga duo tangled just seconds later.
A hefty crash between Class 4 runners Luke Davenport (Ligier JS2-R) and George Heler (TCR) necessitated a 10-minute caution period. But Stanley cruised to victory after taking over driving duties from Seale, while last season’s championship runner-up Jack Fabby took second place alongside Charlie Martin, the pairing taking maiden honours in the new Praga class.
A seven-car opening lap pile-up led to the first 20 minutes of race two being run behind the safety car. This could have proved costly for the race-one victors, who needed to serve a 15-second success penalty at their mandatory stop. But Seale was able to build a big enough advantage once racing resumed, with Stanley completing another comfortable win after jumping into the car.
After their disappointment in the first encounter, Eaton and Gordie Mutch – the fastest pairing in the Praga category throughout the meeting – came from near the rear of the field to take the class victory and second overall. Reigning champion Danny Harrison swapped the Praga he shared with Jem Hepworth last year for a Nissan GT3 car, finishing fifth and third overall in the two races alongside Richard Wheeler.
Simon Baker and Kevin Clarke took a pair of wins as the Britcar Trophy’s sophomore season got under way. Driving his BMW 1 Series, Baker was embroiled in a thrilling three-way lead scrap with Jasver Sapra’s BMW M3 and Mark Lee’s Ginetta G56A in the first half of race one. But Clarke found himself with a big lead once he had taken over the car from Baker, and he duly converted it into victory by half a minute.
Lee, on solo driving duties, took second, while a clutch issue hampered experienced GT racer Lucky Khera after taking over from Sapra. Baker and Clarke dominated race two ahead of Sapra and Khera.
Peter Smith (Lotus Cortina), Pre-'66 Touring Cars, Silverstone
Photo by: Steve Jones
Peter Smith impressed in Pre-66 Touring Cars by winning both races in his Lotus Cortina, despite having never raced at Silverstone before. Smith, the father of Le Mans winner Guy and who has a background in rallying, started on pole for the first race but lost the lead initially to Alan Greenhalgh. After leading for five laps, Greenhalgh spun his Ford Falcon at Abbey, with Smith benefiting to take victory. Greenhalgh dropped to fifth, but recovered to third by the finish.
Smith took a lights-to-flag win in the second encounter, while Ollie Attard (Ford Cortina) came out on top in a frenetic scrap for second with Greenhalgh. The race was red-flagged with three minutes remaining when Kevin Bottomley rolled his Mini Cooper S at Club.
Endaf Owens took pole for the opening race in the Mini Miglia Challenge, but lost the lead off the line to historic racer Nick Padmore. Owens retook the advantage a few laps later at Stowe and held off a pack of seven cars, led by 2013 British Touring Car champion Andrew Jordan, to take victory.
Rupert Deeth led until two minutes remaining in the reversed-grid race two. Then, after being passed by Padmore and Jordan on the Hangar Straight, he slowed with an issue. Jordan just missed out again, as Padmore held on for the win.
A poor start from pole dropped reigning champion Jeff Smith down the order in the first of the Mini Se7en encounters. Joe Thompson took the lead after pulling off a spectacular double overtake at Village on the opening lap. He stayed there until the finish, surviving late pressure from the recovering Smith, who finished just half a second behind.
Despite sharing the fourth row in the reversed-grid race, victory was once again contested between Thompson and Smith after carving their way up the order. The pair traded the lead several times in the final seven minutes, with Thompson prevailing again by an even smaller margin of 0.188s.
Brands Hatch MGCC: Williams makes it two from two
Mike Williams (Rover Metro GTI), MG Cup, Brands Hatch
Photo by: Gary Hawkins
A pair of hard-fought MG Cup contests were highlights of the MG Car Club’s season opener at Brands Hatch, with Mike Williams coming from behind to prevail on each occasion.
Despite his Rover Metro being pegged back with a more standard VVC engine this year, Williams beat Morgan Short’s new MG ZS to pole, but it was Matt Simpson’s powerful Rover Tomcat that led them away, with Williams dropping to third.
Williams passed Short at Graham Hill Bend for second, but was demoted on countback when Ian Boulton’s heavy accident caused a red flag. Short led the restart, before Williams slid inside Simpson at Druids, then dived past Short for the lead at Surtees mid-race.
Williams was heading for a more comfortable success in race two, but rotated when faced with spinning traffic at Graham Hill Bend just after half distance. Short – relegated to third in race one for track-limits infringements – moved ahead, but was quickly chased down by the determined Williams. Tim Shooter took a double win in the concurrent MG Metro Cup after the leading trio of Mark Eales, Dan Willars and Tim Davies tangled in the first race.
Four Modsports-spec Midgets put on a thrilling first Midget & Sprite Challenge race. Mike Chalk, Richard Wildman, Martin Morris and David Weston could barely be separated before Chalk lost the lead – and precious time – when he missed the green after a yellow-flag zone. Morris’s attempted inside pass on the leading Wildman at Paddock Hill Bend proved decisive, but not as intended.
Contact broke Morris’s steering arm and bent Wildman’s rear axle, and Weston nipped past both. Wildman continued and pressed Weston home after a safety car interruption, as Chalk recovered to third. With Wildman and Morris sidelined, and Weston handing over to son Edd for race two, the way was clear for Chalk to take his first race win for 27 years. Class E runners Tom Walker and Pippa Cow kept him honest with terrific pace, Cow only losing second to a late spin.
Equipe GTS, Brands Hatch
Photo by: Gary Hawkins
TVR Granturas dominated the Equipe GTS clashes, in which the large entry was split in half. Mark Ashworth, Rob Cull and Robi Bernberg were separated by little in the first until Cull’s differential let go. Ashworth took victory, before Mark Owen overcame both Ashworth and Cull the next day to win.
In between, Lee Atkins took the honours in a race restarted after Chris Ryan ran over his Triumph TR4’s own departed wheel and rolled at Clark Curve. But for reliability woes, a Grantura clean sweep was on the cards, but Tom Smith (MGB) benefited from Atkins’s head gasket failure to win Sunday’s first edition in typically lairy style from Andrew Wenman’s even-more-sideways Morgan.
Peter Haynes’s ex-Philip Walker Lotus Eleven was in a class of its own as he lapped the entire Equipe Pre-’63/50s field on Sunday. A day earlier, polesitter Haynes had lost track of time when fettling the car and missed the race. In his absence, Roberto Giordanelli’s Jaguar E-type was untroubled. Runner-up James Haxton’s Austin-Healey 3000 was almost able to match Giordanelli’s pace, but only after working his way through from row three of the grid.
After Formula Ford Festival winner Rory Smith’s Turner Mk2 had dropped a cylinder, Robin Ellis eased his Lotus Elite to third. Nigel Winchester’s new Shelby 260 fended off Joe Willmott (Elva Courier) in the closing stages for fourth, before improving to second ahead of Haxton and Wenman in race two.
Sam Kirkpatrick twice topped the MG Trophy field from pole position. Fellow front-row man Fred Burgess first had to clear fast-starting Patrick Booth before challenging the leader in race one, but Kirkpatrick was able to repel his concerted efforts, before taking a more comfortable win in race two.
Doug Cole was a distant third in the opener, but shot ahead in race two, only to slide down the order with a couple of trips through the gravel. Adam Jackson completed race two’s podium, charging to third from 14th on the grid to banish the disappointment of being the collateral damage when Booth’s engine seized earlier.
Reigning champion Ollie Neaves stormed to double BCV8 success, easing clear of Russell McCarthy on both occasions, while Neil Fowler’s new car made a promising debut with two podiums.
Lydden Hill CMMC: Johnson and Hutchins share the spoils
Warren Johnson (Peugeot 205 GTI), Tin Tops, Lydden Hill
Photo by: Gary Hawkins
Warren Johnson may have won the first Tin Tops race from pole in the Classic and Modern Motorsport Club’s Southern branch season opener, but such a simplistic assessment disregards how hard he had to fight for the trophy.
With his Peugeot 205 GTI mugged for the lead at the start by Daniel Fisher, Johnson had to keep the pressure up in order to hang on to the Honda Civic Type R’s coattails. Despite it being Fisher’s first time at Lydden Hill, he seemed to have mastered the defensive lines to hold Johnson at bay.
Johnson’s dive at Paddock Bend wasn’t to stick on lap 10 of 12, but it was a committed lunge up the inside of Fisher at the hairpin with minutes to go that was the decider. The race was red-flagged shortly after when Fisher, now in pursuit, got out of shape on the grass on the start/finish straight and clattered the barriers.
Johnson couldn’t quite make it two from two, instead having to settle for second in the later race.
The Peugeot started on pole, but Dave Hutchins’s Civic Type R got a better launch and whipped past into Pilgrims. Despite the best efforts of Johnson to stalk the leader, Hutchins held firm, while Fisher was unable to take to the second race as a result of car damage following his shunt earlier in the day.
Colin Smith had to make his Vauxhall Tigra as wide as possible in the Intermarque Silhouettes, somehow keeping Lewis Smith (Tigra) and Ray Harris in his Ginetta G40R at bay. It all came down to a last-lap scuffle as they went three-wide on the run to the line, with Colin Smith just coming ahead of Lewis Smith and Harris.
Colin Smith (Vauxhall Tigra), Intermarque Silhouettes, Lydden Hill
Photo by: Gary Hawkins
Even with a heavy week moving his business premises, Harris had enough energy to make amends in race two, in which he battled with Danny Smith, son of race-one winner Colin, for the lead. On lap three of 21, Harris nudged his Ginetta through at Devil’s Elbow, slyly followed by Lewis Smith and then Mike Thurley at North Bend.
But, crucially, as Lewis Smith, Colin Smith and Thurley squabbled for the lesser podium spots, Harris was able to build a comfortable lead, crossing the line 4.42s ahead of Hot Rod ace Colin Smith. Lewis Smith was forced to park up three laps from home when smoke billowed from the back of his Tigra, and Thurley took third.
Club racing veteran Rod Birley may have had to start the first Super Saloons race from the back as a result of track- limits infringements in qualifying, but that didn’t stop him from winning at a canter. The Ford Escort WRC driver was fourth by the end of the second lap, and just two tours later made the race-winning move by surging past Andrew Mackenzie’s BMW E46 M3 on the run to Paddock Bend.
Birley had an easier race-two win to go with his pair of Modified Ford victories, but behind there was action as Tom Bridger’s Toyota Starlet and Graham Heard (BMW M3) duked it out for third behind Mackenzie.
Heard seemed to settle the tense battle with a determined move at Devil’s Elbow at half distance, but a track-limits penalty promoted Bridger back to the position.
Reports by Rachel Harris-Gardiner, Steve Whitfield, Mark Paulson and Jason Noble. Photos by Steve Jones, and Gary Hawkins. Want all the latest news from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly fix of motorsport with Autosport magazine
Rod Birley (Ford Escort WRC), Lydden Hill
Photo by: Gary Hawkins
Tributes paid to popular Toyota MR2 driver Nicholls
Ken Tyrrell to race Tyrrell 011 in Historic F1
About this article
Silverstone plays host to bumper national meetings
The GT Cup has attracted a stunning array of drivers and machinery for its opening event at Donington Park this weekend. The fact we're in the middle of a pandemic makes that entry all the more remarkable, but there's plenty of reasons why the series is proving popular
With COVID-19 restrictions gradually being lifted and national motorsport finally returning this weekend, focus and anticipation has switched to the year ahead. Here are Autosport's picks for what should be some of the best events and rivalries of 2021
To the credit of organisers, some new national UK series and championships were still able to successfully launch last year, even with the world in the grip of a pandemic. Here's how Autosport has ranked them
The COVID-19 pandemic may still mean there is uncertainty across the globe, but that hasn't stopped new series and championships from being introduced into UK motorsport this season. Autosport takes a look at the newest additions
It was a season like no other but, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were some positives on the club motorsport scene last year as entry numbers largely remained stable, while some series boasted impressive growth
Few drivers in 2020 could lay claim to a season as exceptional as Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion Harry King. Beating the British Touring Car Championship's best to win Autosport's National Driver of the Year was the ideal recognition of his feat
From legendary drinking habits to dramatic driving styles, there has been no shortage of cult-hero figures over the past 70 years in national motorsport. Here's an extended version of the original list that appeared in Autosport's 70th anniversary bookazine