Watts family C1 delight as Race of Remembrance held at Anglesey

Ex-British Touring Car driver Patrick Watts won the C1 Challenge at Brands Hatch alongside daughter Aimee at the weekend, while winter series including Minis and Ginetta Junior were in action. At Anglesey, the annual Race of Remembrance took place with familiar faces at the top.

Watts family C1 delight as Race of Remembrance held at Anglesey

Even with the large amount of success he has enjoyed in his lengthy career, few victories could have given former British Touring Car Championship star Patrick Watts more pride than he enjoyed with daughter Aimee in the C1 Challenge at Brands Hatch last weekend.

Together with Orlando Lindsay, the pair stormed to an emotional first win in the category in their Ladybird-Daddy entry, as an impressive 43 cars took to the grid for the three-hour endurance race on Saturday.

Lindsay built up a big lead over the rest of the field during his opening stint before a safety car period led to a flurry of pitstop activity. After Watts Jr had taken over driving duties from Lindsay, the team remained handily placed in the top six as the race entered its second hour.

Among those also in contention for victory at this stage was the Quattro Formaggio entry of Alistair May and Chris Parkes. The duo would take the lead at the two-hour mark, but surrendered their advantage back to the Watts family once further driver changes and refuelling had been completed. Back in front, Watts Sr was able to reel off the remaining time with little drama as he secured a memorable win.

“We exceeded our expectations with a sixth place at Oulton, but this means everything,” said Patrick. “I’m so proud of Aimee. The novice cross has only just come off the back of the car and her lap times today have been great.”

Aimee added: “I couldn’t be happier to win on our home track. I think mum nearly cried when I phoned her!”

Parkes and May claimed second, but they had to stave off a late challenge from Robin Welsh (JW Bird Motorsport). Welsh attempted to snatch the position while he and Parkes were lapping backmarkers along the Brabham Straight, but Welsh tangled with Ian Gorringe, and Gorringe spun into the pitwall, which led to the race being halted five minutes early.

There was a strong entry for the Mini Winter Challenge triple-header, with numbers more than double those at the equivalent event two years ago.

Endaf Owens, Mini Miglia, Brands Hatch 2021

Endaf Owens, Mini Miglia, Brands Hatch 2021

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

Rupert Deeth cantered to victory in race one after closest challenger Endaf Owens was forced into early retirement with oil pressure issues. Scott Kendall seized his chance to claim the runner-up spot late in the race after Colin Peacock was slowed by backmarkers at Clearways. Owens charged back to claim the honours in races two and three, while Deeth and Joe Thompson took a second apiece.

Behind the Miglia drivers, their Se7en counterparts provided plenty of entertainment, most notably former BTCC team-mates Andrew Jordan and Jeff Smith. Despite Smith’s best efforts, Miglia champion Jordan came out on top of their duel each time to claim three wins, driving the car father Mike used in the main Se7en championship during 2021.

Caution periods disrupted the opening Britcar Trophy ‘Into the Night’ event on Saturday. Benji Hetherington and Ian Humphris claimed the spoils in their Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport after team-mate and poleman Carl Cavers was forced to serve a stop/go penalty. Sean Doyle (partnering Cavers) attempted to make amends after the mandatory pitstops, but skated off the road and into the Paddock Hill Bend gravel trying to usurp Niall Bradley’s BMW M3 E46, and took third.

Cavers and Humphris teamed up for race two and led before the pit window, but another stop/go penalty for a pitlane infringement relegated them to second. Steve Rothery was the grateful beneficiary, picking up a popular win at his home track in his Peugeot 308.

Rod Birley was another local resident to enjoy success over the weekend at the wheel of his Ford Escort WRC with two wins in the Super Saloons/Tin Tops double-header. Birley took a lights-to-flag win in a wet race one, although he was kept honest by the VW Scirocco of Steve Dann.

Race two ended controversially when Nick Sutton (Mitsubishi Lancer E10) passed Birley seconds before a caution period ended. The pass was deemed illegal and Sutton was penalised post-race.

In the Intermarque Silhouette races, former champion Malcolm Blackman’s Vauxhall Tigra withstood race-long pressure from Danny Hunn’s Ford Fiesta to win race one, before Steve Burrows took a dominant victory in race two ahead of fellow Tigra driver Dave York.

Josh Rowledge, Ginetta Junior Winter Series, Brands Hatch 2021

Josh Rowledge, Ginetta Junior Winter Series, Brands Hatch 2021

Photo by: Gary Hawkins

By scoring two dominant wins on Saturday, Josh Rowledge put himself in the best position to secure the Ginetta Junior Winter Series the following day. But Sunday proved to be more of a battle, and holding his nerve and staying out of trouble proved to be crucial.

Between the final round of the regular Ginetta Junior season (where he had finished seventh in the final standings) and the Winter Series, Rowledge had switched allegiance from Elite Motorsport to R Racing. After Saturday’s qualifying, the new partnership appeared to be working well, as he secured pole for both races. Harri Reynolds joined Rowledge on the front row for race one, while Liam McNeilly – runner-up in the 2021 standings – claimed that spot for race two.

Reynolds “gave his all” to try to force Rowledge into a mistake in the opener, but he was forced to settle for second ahead of a rapidly closing Joe Warhurst. In the second contest, McNeilly also had difficulties getting close to Rowledge, whose form looked ominous heading into Sunday. “I’ve had a great car underneath me all day,” Rowledge said after his race two success. “I have to say a big thanks to the team for their hard work.”

Qualifying on Sunday proved tougher for Rowledge. Three red flags disrupted the session and left him eighth on the grid for race three and vulnerable to a potential midfield incident. Exiting Druids on lap one, Sonny Smith spun and Rowledge was caught out, enduring his own spin himself and dropping to the back of field. He recovered to 11th, but third for McNeilly gave the Fox Motorsport ace the chance of title glory heading into the finale.

A lengthy safety-car period disrupted race four, but Rowledge avoided any further drama to claim the title with fifth, enabling him to triumph by a single point from the consistent McNeilly, who inherited the race-four victory. “It’s a massive achievement,” said Rowledge. “Saturday was really positive. I was in traffic in qualifying today [Sunday], which hurt our chances, but to win the Winter Series is mega.”

Aside from the championship protagonists, other drivers also impressed during the course of the weekend. His race-three spin aside, Smith made no mistakes en route to claiming Rookie title honours with a clean sweep of class wins. Elsewhere, Reynolds, Warhurst, Max Dodds and the returning Tom Edgar put on a show.
Reynolds and Edgar indulged in a fine tussle over third in race two until a clash at Druids on lap 12 of 16 enabled Dodds to sneak through.

The unfortunate Edgar endured rotten luck on Sunday. He dominated race three, but a mechanical problem slowed him to a standstill on the final tour and handed victory to Aqil Alibhai. A similar performance in race four also went unrewarded when, after taking the win, he and second-placed Warhurst were handed post-race penalties for overtaking the safety car before it entered the pits.

Anglesey BRSCC: Boston and Mansfield repeat Race of Remembrance success

Rob Boston/Peter Mansfield, (Lotus Elise), Anglesey Race of Remembrance 2021

Rob Boston/Peter Mansfield, (Lotus Elise), Anglesey Race of Remembrance 2021

Photo by: Rachel Bourne

Often it pays to go beyond the headlines. In this latest Race of Remembrance, back at Anglesey after a COVID-induced year away, Rob Boston and Peter Mansfield won their second Race of Remembrance on the bounce in their Lotus Elise. The Rob Boston Racing machine led home the special event’s best-ever 53-strong entry in unseasonably dry and mild conditions.

Boston and Mansfield this time did it after topping both qualifying sessions, taking pole with a best time close to three seconds clear. Boston then led from the off and, within a couple of hours of the 12-hour race, had a lap on the field.

But this one, just like Boston and Mansfield’s 2019 victory, wasn’t easy. Last time, a late brake scare threw their seemingly crushing win into doubt. This time, the brake-related scare was sooner, late in Saturday’s opening six-hour segment.

“We had a minor mechanical failure which actually led to a long brake pedal, which happened on one occasion and never again,” Boston said, “but on the occasion it happened I ended up in the wall. So a very heavy frontal impact but, because it was absolutely square on, it recoiled out of the barriers and we made it back.”

Add a couple of penalties in that first part for the Elise, and it gave opportunity to attack to a gaggle of Caterhams, the best of which were competing for the Heroes Trophy rather than in the Caterhams’ common preserve of the concurrent relay. Come the overnight halfway-point halt, the Elise’s advantage was just 5.7 seconds. “The Caterhams always keep us honest,” Boston added. “There’s always a blooming Caterham somewhere!”

But, with the Elise repaired overnight, and it having better fuel range than the Caterham, Boston and Mansfield regained control and won by a lap. It was a fast race, with 384 laps completed – 33 more than last time – and, summing up the battle, the final top 11 consisted of three Elises and eight Caterham 270Rs. And, given the Caterham 7’s origins, there was very much a Lotus theme.

Rob Boston/Peter Mansfield (Lotus Elise), Anglesey Race of Remembrance 2021

Rob Boston/Peter Mansfield (Lotus Elise), Anglesey Race of Remembrance 2021

Photo by: Rachel Bourne

“It’s all very fitting and quite poignant because of the young 19th Regiment [that Mansfield served in] being here today and it was a really nice one to win, it feels very special,” Boston reflected. “I’m always proud just to be here let alone compete and win. The event gets better every year. The driving standards were the best they’ve ever been.”

The Solo64 trio of Lee Bristow, Will Rossetti and Giuseppe Felet led the Caterham 270Rs home in second place, and Bristow, for whom it was his second runner-up finish in a row in this event, reckoned its run was flawless.

“We said before the race the key is to have no penalties and just do a clean race, and we did exactly that,” said Bristow. “All the pitstops were bang on four minutes [the minimum time], clean stops, all the team was excellent. Unfortunately, we just lacked that little bit in the end.

“No damage, car ran perfectly. Just our lack of fuel capacity hurt us in the end, so we had to do one more stop with an hour to go. Next year we’ll come back with a bigger fuel tank and try a bit harder.”

Another 270R, shared by Rocket Racing’s Steve McCulley, Don Henshall and Andy Perry, completed the podium in third and had actually led for a little of Sunday morning. It made an additional pitstop with two and a half hours left because McCulley thought a wheel was falling off, although the team felt that didn’t cost places as things transpired. The Honda Civic Type R of Ricky Coomber, Zachary Lucas and Harry Ormerod had also been in the mix until a gearbox problem towards the end of the race’s first half on Saturday.

The event this time had a support race added, for the British Racing & Sports Car Club’s Clubsport Trophy. The 45-minute pitstop counter was won by Luke Handley’s Volkswagen Golf. Poleman Gary Mitchell, giving his Global GT Light a run-out, led the opening stint but lost two laps in his stop as he had to refuel his car, which usually takes part in shorter races. This let Handley, who lurked not far behind, through for victory.

Reports by Mark Libbeter and Graham Keilloh. Pictures by Gary Hawkins and Rachel Bourne. Want more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly fix of motorsport with Autosport magazine.

Luke Handley (VW Golf), Anglesey Race of Remembrance 2021

Luke Handley (VW Golf), Anglesey Race of Remembrance 2021

Photo by: Rachel Bourne

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