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MGLive! 2017 Silverstone Race Report

MGLive! came and went in the blink of eye, but what a weekend it was. With 16 races, over 300 drivers, and a mixture of 10 different championships and series’, it was a spectacular weekend, both on and off circuit. Report by Leanne Fahy.

Equipe GTS

With a sizeable entry for the Equipe GTS Series, once again drivers were separated into two races, Group A and Group B. Group B was the first to race, with pole-sitter Graham Pattle taking honours.

Pattle’s pole position pace was certainly reflected in the 30-minute mini endurance, as he steered his way to a commanding victory.

Behind, Rob Cobden had looked strong for a second place finish, however, a determined Ross Milner elevated himself to second place on the final lap.A mid-race roll from Paul Whiting raised cause for concern, however as he jumped out of his slightly battered MGB Roadster, the race resumed without issue.

David Russell-Wilks provided an outstanding performance, to race his way from 28th place on the grid to a strong fifth place finish.

Pattle recovered from a steady getaway to reclaim top spot in race two. His pole position start didn’t quite give him the launch he desired, however after an impressive recovery drive, he was ahead to steal the win by over 19 seconds.

From second place, Milner tried his best to hold onto Pattle’s coat tails, but after a mid-race-spin, he suddenly slipped to third place.

In his wake, Babak Farsian was in a prime position to take second place, which he held until the very end. Luke Spencer steered his MGB Roadster to a third-place finish, ahead of Milner, Richard McKoen and Oliver Friend, from the back of the grid.

The opening Group A race saw Mark Cole sign his name to the spoils, after a commanding lights to flag performance. Although sat with the upper hand firmly in his grasp, Cole was hounded throughout by Rod Begbie. By way of a fastest lap, Begbie reduced the 2.4-second deficit, to finish just 1.8 seconds adrift.

After seemingly struggling, regular front runner Tom Smith steered his way to third place, ahead of Wilf Penrose, Simon Cripps and Brian Arculus. Mark Cole was another double winner, after a commanding performance in race two. Finishing some nine seconds ahead, Cole’s race was unchallenged from start to finish.

Although Cole’s race was slightly uneventful, the same cannot be said for the rest of the field. Starting with second place, Begbie slotted into position, with Penrose and Smith hot on his heels. However, as the latter pair battled, Begbie was able to enjoy a bit of breathing space.

Separated by less than half a second for much of the race gave Smith the chance to make a bid for third place. After passing Penrose, Smith set his sights on Begbie’s second place, which he claimed in time for the chequered flag.

Penrose held on for a third-place finish, whilst Begbie slipped to fourth. After sailing through the field at a rate of knots from the back of the grid, Rob Cull eventually landed in fifth place. Behind, Brian Arculus won a fiercely entertaining tussle with Andrew Bentley to claim sixth, after the pair toured millimetres apart.

MGCC BCV8 Championship with MGCC Cockshoot Cup

Rob Spencer claimed a victorious start to his MGLive! weekend, with a commanding BCV8 Championship win in race one, and Driver of the Race. After an early safety car period, to rescue the stricken MG Midget of Ian Whitt, Spencer held on for a dominant victory.

Behind, Russell McCarthy’s MGB GT V8 filled Spencer’s mirrors, determined to muscle his way ahead, with Ian Prior in towUnable to distract the leader, both McCarthy and Prior held on for a second and third place finish, respectively.

Championship leader Neil Fowler disappeared on the formation lap, leaving him unable to defend his championship campaign. Race two was slightly more eventful, with Russell McCarthy enjoying a triumphant finish this time around.

It was a familiar sight at the front early on, when Spencer, McCarthy and Prior mirrored their race one performance.

With the top two emulating one another’s speed, lap after lap, it was difficult to find a gap between them. Before too long, McCarthy managed to edge ahead, however Spencer did fight back to lead once again, albeit briefly before a mishap dropped him to fourth place.

In his absence, an outstanding start from the back of the grid saw Jonnie Wheeler race his way to an eventual second place finish, much to his delight. Wheeler was sitting comfortably in fourth place after the opening laps before perfect opportunistic manoeuvres launched him into the runner-up spot.

Prior managed to avoid the chaos around him to cement another third place finish, whilst Spencer crawled into the pits on the final lap, to take the flag and fourth place in the pit lane. Our commentary team awarded the Driver of the Race award to Spencer McCarthy.

Ashley Woodward narrowly claimed a Cockshoot Cup victory in the opening outing, as he and Ray Collier raced their way through a challenging pack.

After seizing pole position, Collier led the way, hounded by Woodward lap after lap. As the pair navigated their way through backmarkers, it was Woodward who exited with the upper hand, to steal control in the dying seconds.

Howard Hunt steered his way to third place, ahead of Jonathan Harker, Mike Peters and Peter Burchill. Although he missed out on the race win, Collier was awarded Driver of the Race.

Collier doubled his success, with an untroubled race win in the second appearance. Woodward had followed him in second place for much of the outing, however not as closely as during race one. As Woodward’s MG ZS suddenly slowed, he was forced to vacate his second place, with Howard Hunt in prime position to collect it.

A good race from Peter Burchill saw him claim third place, whilst Woodward eventually crossed the line in sixth.

Millers Oils MG Trophy Championship

Colin Robertson triumphed in the opening MG Trophy Championship race, from a record 42-car grid.

In a bid to make Pete Macwaters’, MG Trophy Championship Co-ordinator, final season in charge a memorable one, the club and drivers worked tirelessly to ensure a record entry for this weekend. Together with many of the regular competitors, it was great to see a number of familiar faces returning, as well as some new drivers, one of which travelled all the way from South Africa.

As the race began, it was Graham Ross who jumped into the lead, as pole sitter Jason Burgess fell by the wayside. Behind Ross, it was Colin Robertson and Ross Makar, as the Scottish trio set the pace.

Ross’ lead was suddenly disrupted, evaporating into Robertson’s hands. Oil on the circuit caught Ross off guard, handing position to Robertson. Once in control, Robertson held on for race victory, even completing an extra lap when officials missed him with the chequered flag.

Despite narrowly missing out, Ross finished second, ahead of the recovering Burgess in third, Gary Wetton in fourth place and Ross Makar in fifth place.

Class B was a hive of activity as ever, with Paul Luti once again at the helm. As he raced towards the chequered flag, he was hounded profusely by chief rivals Andrew Rogerson and Jack Roberts. Before long, Andy Mollison made it a four-way scrap, with Luti forced to work hard in the searing heat.

Despite fierce pressure in the form of a three-car train, Luti finished ahead of Rogerson, Roberts and Oli Hood. Luti was also awarded the Driver of the Race and Driver of the Day awards.

Matthew Turnbull added to his class victory tally with Class C honours in race one, ahead of Andy Spencer and Paul Croker. Spencer narrowly missed out on a class win, finishing just 0.3 seconds adrift of Turnbull.

Ross’ determination paid off the second time around, as he crossed the line to take the win, in what was an eventful outing.

As the 41 car field thundered towards Copse for the first time, a problem for Will Payne saw him left behind, unable to get away. Luckily missed by those behind him, officials quickly pushed him back into the pit lane, before the pack completed lap one.

Back at the front, Ross held onto his lead for the 20-minute duration, challenged by Robertson, Cole, Makar and Wetton, whilst Rogerson led a 14 car train in Class B.

As Robertson toured he suddenly began to slow, before dropping down the order. Despite managing to carry on for a short while, he was eventually forced into the pit lane and out of the race. Upon closer inspection, it was found Robertson’s MG ZR had dropped to two cylinders, a fault that appeared in the first race. Although it rectified itself in race one, it was a terminal issue second time around.

With a clear space between him and Ross, Cole slotted into second place, whilst Makar aligned himself third and Wetton in fourth place.

As the race entered the final 10 minutes, an unexpected safety car appeared, simmering the pace for a number of laps. With stricken cars rescued from the sidelines, the race resumed, for just two final laps.

With Class A decided, all eyes were on Class B, as Rogerson continued to lead from Luti and Roberts. With just two laps to settle the battle, it was a frantic dash to the flag. Despite Luti’s best efforts, Rogerson claimed the win this time around, with Luti second, Andy Mollison third and Hood fourth. Driver of the Race was awarded to Rogerson.

Andy Spencer was crowned victorious in Class C, narrowly ahead of Turnbull, whilst Paul Croker collected third place, and Tylor Ballard finished an impressive fourth.

MGCC Iconic 50s Series

Steve Watton claimed Iconic 50’s honours just millimetres away from Jonathan Abecassis, in a furious last lap thriller.

Abecassis had led the way early on, but lost out to Watton as the end neared. Determined to reclaim his position, Abecassis fought profusely to the bitter end. Although he missed out on the race win, Abecassis did enough to be awarded Driver of the Race from our commentary duo.

Neil Cawthorn steered to a third place finish, ahead of Scott Quattlebaum, Robi Bernberg and Pal Kennelly.

MGCC Lackford Engineering MG Midget & Sprites Challenge

Stephen Collier won the sole MG Midget and Sprite Challenge outing, after a sombre end to the day. After gaining the lead early on, Collier remained in front, despite the race ending behind the safety car.

As the 26 car field lapped towards the chequered flag, the safety car made a brief appearance. With limited time left, the chequered flag was waved, as the train followed the safety car, to end what had been an exciting outing.

Unable to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre, Stephen Watkins claimed second place, ahead of early second placed man Ed Reeve, Paul Campfield and Andy Southcott.

Radical Challenge Championship

Bradley Smith raced to an unchallenged victory in the opening 20-minute Radical Challenge sprint, much to the dismay of his rivals. A pole position start gave him the advantage he desired, to lead the way into Copse corner for the first time.

After extending his grasp lap after lap, the chequered flag fell to crown him victorious, some six seconds ahead of nearest challenger, Jack Lang. Oliver Barker, Danny Keirle, Steve Burgess and Richard Baxter completed the top six.

Smith emulated his performance in the second 20-minute sprint, with another dominant race win, by over five seconds. Lang had looked set to steal second place once again, but chased by Keirle this time around meant it wouldn’t be as easy.

The pair lapped just inches away from one another before Keirle managed to move ahead. Lang held onto third place until a late mishap saw him land in the gravel trap and out of the race. In his absence, Barker collected third place, whilst Burgess, Dominik Jackson and Jack Manchester rounded out the top six.

Smith tripled his weekend’s successes in the 40-minute pit stop race, to claim victory in as many races. The first half saw Smith hounded this time around, as Keirle followed his every move. As the fuel levels reduced, the lap times increased, allowing Smith to edge to a 2.3-second advantage.

Following the mandatory pit stops, Smith managed to regain his lead, to finish over 18 seconds ahead of Barker. It was a somewhat solitary end to the race for the top few, with Jackson third and Lang fourth. Stuart Maloney finished just over two seconds adrift of Lang, with Kristian Jeffrey sixth.

Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars

Henry Mann dominated the hour long Pre-66 Touring Car outing, to finish over eight seconds ahead of nearest challenger Chris Beighton.

A front row start gave Mann the perfect advantage, as he directed the way into Copse for the first time. As he led, pole sitter Steve Soper slotted into second place aboard his Lotus Cortina. With the top two very much in control, Beighton made third place his own.

As the mandatory pit stops came into play, the order reshuffled itself slightly, however, Mann managed to hold his ground at the head of the field.

As Soper made his pit stop, a frantic effort by the team discovered an issue. A broken differential meant his race was run after just 12 laps. As his Cortina was pushed back into the garage, it left a gap for Beighton’s Ford Mustang to slot into.

With Ford Mustangs confirmed in the top two positions, it was John Spiers in his Lotus Cortina who claimed third place. Despite a 24 second penalty for a pit stop infringement, Martin Strommen finished fourth, ahead of Graeme Langford and Alex Thistlethwayte.

The Petro-Canada Lubrications Porsche Club Championship with Pirelli

It was a double McAleer victory in the opening Porsche Club Championship outing, with father Mark and son Jake each winning their respective classes.

Sole invitation class entrant, and British GT regular, Nick Jones, started at the head of the pack on his own. Given the speed difference of his Porsche Cayman GT4 to that of the rest of the field, his pole position launch saw him given a 20-second head start.

With Jones enjoying his own race, behind it was McAleer who was forced to defend. Kevin Harrison made himself known throughout, to eventually finish just 0.5 seconds behind McAleer.

Mark Sumpter had held third place for much of the 25-minute race, however, when Craig Wilkins spied a Porsche 996 sized gap alongside him, it quickly elevated him above Sumpter for third place.

As Jones travelled to an unchallenged victory on the road, it was McAleer who crossed the line to take the win and championship points, despite an apparent mid-race slump.

Class 2 was either going to go in favour of Jake McAleer or Steve Cheetham. However, as the pair battled, it was Jake who grasped the upper hand, as Cheetham collected second place.

Although Jones steered to invitational class honours on the road once again, it was Mark McAleer who claimed victory in terms of the championship.

McAleer was able to enjoy breathing space this time around, to finish over two seconds ahead of nearest challenger, Sumpter. Sumpter’s race, however, was far from easy.

As Sumpter circled, he was forced to defend his second place from Harrison, Wilkins, Dyer and Gary Duckman for the duration. Drama hit on the final lap when a collision between Harrison and Sumpter saw the latter slip to sixth place. Dyer was promoted to second place, ahead of a recovering Sumpter, Wilkins and Harrison.

It was a McAleer clean sweep again, as Jake scored another Class 2 triumph, ahead of Cheetham once again.

With fantastic racing and perfect weather, the weekend couldn’t have been any better. A huge thank you to everyone at the MG Car Club, for putting on yet another spectacular event, and of course to all drivers and teams for providing the high-speed entertainment trackside. We look forward to seeing most of you at Cadwell Park on 22nd July.