MGCC Ceases to Organise Circuit Racing
Sadly, 2023 marks the end of an era for the MGCC after 70 glorious years of track racing. Like several other one-make clubs, the MGCC has been unable to stem the tide of rising circuit and car preparation costs and diminishing entries, all leading to the inescapable reality that circuit racing is no longer viable for the club.
With 2023 being MG’s Centenary Year, preparations for Worldwide Celebrations were already well underway in 2022 when it became apparent that there was a risk of being unable to cover the costs of racing in 2023. However, the decision was made to press ahead with racing in support of the MG marque’s celebrations subject to cost savings being made wherever possible.
The three two-day meetings with Equipe Classic Racing and two one-day meetings were all successful events. In the true spirit of club racing, there were closely fought contests on track and great camaraderie in the paddock which justified the Board’s decision to authorise the race programme for 2023.
Looking forward to 2024, our friends at Equipe Classic Racing have offered the BCV8s and the MG Cup a home. They will both run as Series alongside Equipe’s existing series.
The Lackford Midget & Sprite Challenge and the MG Trophy will continue as Championships and will race with the CSCC next year. The Triple-Ms will continue to run their programme and, as previously, buy track time at appropriate race meetings. The Cockshoot Cup co-ordinator has yet to publish the championship’s plans for 2024.
A huge effort was involved in running our last year of circuit racing. It wouldn’t have been possible without support from Chairman, Dave Tynan, and the MGCC Board, Equipe Classic Racing’s John Pearson and Rob Cull, Joe East of MSVR and the Championships’ competitors and co-ordinators.
A special ‘Thank you’ to the many Marshals and Officials for their invaluable support in 2023 and all those previous years when the MGCC went racing, a time that forged many lifelong friendships, crowned Champions and provided a springboard for drivers to move on to success elsewhere.
Although the circuit racing may be moving on, there will be continued coverage in Safety Fast and the MGCC will remain an MSUK Club. It will continue organising sprints, hillclimbs, autotests, autosolos etc and continue to encourage new generations to develop their skills through motorsport.
Champions Crowned at MGCC’s Snetterton Races
The MG Car Club held its final race meeting of the marque’s 100th-anniversary year at a bright but breezy Snetterton.
It was the season-closer gathering for most of MGCC’s championships, meaning that as well as race honours to fight for there were plenty of titles to settle on the Norfolk venue’s 300 layout. Appropriately the racers provided plenty of competitive and spirited battles across the two days of action in double headers for each of the five MGCC race categories.
The MGCC contests were joined by a healthy line-up from Equipe Classic Racing and the local Snetterton Saloons with its eclectic cast of cars for a 45-minute pitstop race. It all ensured a fine and entertaining weekend of racing.
MG Cup Powered by Cherished Vehicle Insurance
MG Cup celebrated the contest’s 35 years at its Snetterton season-closer with a special Saturday night hog roast and a big grid of 25 competitors.
There was a fresh look at the front of the field as Jake Fraser-Burns made his championship debut in his MG ZR 190 while the similarly equipped Steve McDermid was back for the first time since his race-winning outing at Brands Hatch’s season-opener. The pair, with Fraser-Burns on pole, took their places on the front row of the grid for race one. McDermid took the lead at the start and stayed ahead to lead Fraser-Burns home by 1.5 seconds. Invitation clas entry, Stuart Tranter was third in his Rover 220 Turbo. Simon Lowery in fourth completed the Class C podium and was voted Driver of the Race by the race commentators.
Overall championship contender Ian Boulton was first to the flag in Class B, leading home his title rival and fellow MG ZR 170 runner Dan Ludlow. Class C’s Ashley Woodward, who led the overall points coming into Snetterton, could only finish seventh in class with a down-on-power MG ZS 180.
McDermid and Fraser-Burns again filled the front of the grid for race two with McDermid on pole this time. The duo again had a close scrap for victory. Although Fraser-Burns got ahead briefly, McDermid again emerged on top after 20 minutes of very entertaining racing.
McDermid said: “I didn’t really expect it and that second race I nearly lost it, I’m having a nightmare selecting gears. It happened at least four or five times and every time it happened obviously Jake closed the gap and he was right on me again. I’d pull away and get a little bit of a distance and it would all be for nothing.
“[Fraser-Burns] is good [to battle with], he’s consistent, and we were about the same speed. [The car] wasn’t really set up right [in race one] but it was better in the second race.”
Tranter in race two again was third home ahead of another returnee, Lance Ellington in his 220 also competing for the first time since Brands. He was third in Class C and also got driver of the race.
Jack Chapman in his 170 won the Class B race, beating Boulton by just half a second, while Ludlow was fourth home in class. The result ensured that Boulton is overall MG Cup champion for 2023.
Boulton said: “I had a bad time getting here because the van broke down! And [in race one] we had a brilliant race and got a class win, which was lovely.
“[In race two] I wanted a clean race with no nonsense and it was anything but that. I managed to avoid getting any contact, but everyone around me was getting contact everywhere. And I found myself stuck in the middle of a pack, and I just had to pick my way through it to get into a safe space. When I got there, and I caught up with young Jack, and I thought ‘well he wants to win, I don’t need it’, and I just sat behind him.
“[The season was] fantastic, enjoyable, with some lovely people.”
Russell McCarthy was on fine form in his MG B GT V8 as he took pole position at the BCV8 championship’s penultimate meeting of the season. However, all was not well with McCarthy’s bright yellow machine and there was frantic activity in the paddock to change the gearbox and a half-shaft.
The work was finished in time and McCarthy was able to take his place on the grid for race one but dropped back to third at the start behind his similarly mounted rivals James Wheeler and Neil Fowler. McCarthy clambered his way back to first by half distance and went on to win despite having to fend off the close attentions of Fowler to the end.
Andrew Young in his MG C roadster took the flag in fourth place overall to win Class C, 3.5 seconds ahead of class rival Ken Deamer in his MG B GT V8. Babak Farsian’s MG B Roadster won Class B not far ahead of Simon Cripps’ MG B, after the class leader, Paul Eales, retired with a gearbox problem. David Strike was a comfortable Class AB winner in his MG B GT.
McCarthy wasn’t able to fight for a double win at Snetterton as he retired almost immediately from race two with a misfire. It left Wheeler leading Fowler in a close fight for the win. Fowler briefly got ahead but half a lap later had a lock-up and Wheeler retook first place. They finished in that order.
Young passed Oliver Wardle’s MG B GT V8 to seal a double win in Class C but he only held off his foe by three tenths at the end. Farsian again beat Cripps in Class B while Strike also became a double class winner.
McCarthy said: “The highs and the lows of motorsport! The first race I had a good race but the alternator fell off, and in [race two] I had a misfire. I’m not that disappointed, I’ve had quite a good weekend, because the first race I really enjoyed. You can’t win them all basically.
“The car was quick, the car was handling well, I’ve done a few things to the suspension over the last couple of years and it seems I’ve got it into a place where it’s driveable.”
Wheeler said: “[Race two] was absolutely brilliant, it felt like an hour race though because holding off Neil for that many laps, he really piled the pressure on.
“A lot of times this year I’ve been the one behind him. I didn’t want to let him past because I felt he was the quicker and then when he got me I thought ‘that’s it he got me’, and then he locked up! Excellent race, what BCV8’s all about.
“For race two I went stiffer with the suspension and that seemed to really help out compared to the first race, the tyres lasted a lot longer.”
Wheeler also made another discovery on his car prior to the Snetterton races. “The rear wheel hub was slightly loose which had been knocking the pad out,” he added, “so the last two races I’ve been chasing air in the brakes and it was actually knock off where the bearing’s slightly loose and knocking the pads back. So once I found that out I was sorted!”
Cockshoot Cup Championship
The Cockshoot Cup runners made a rare visit to Snetterton and had a championship fight to settle, chiefly between Class F’s Phil Rigby in an MG F and defending champion David Morrison in his Class B MG Midget.
At the front Mark Wright took pole for race one in his MG F Cup car with Morrison alongside him on the front row. As usual, the Midgets of Morrison and Keith Egar got rocket launches but Wright was able to maintain first place on the outside of Riches.
It set Wright up to win comfortably, despite a safety car interruption after Helen Waddington’s MG ZR 170 spectacularly blew up at the rapid Coram curve and the resulting oil spill led to several cars spinning or half spinning.
On the resumption of racing Egar and Chris Greenbank (MG F) got past Morrison who was focused on taking Class B victory. Wright went on to take the flag 3 seconds ahead of Egar and Greenbank who finished second and third respectively. John Payne finished second in Class B having recovered from a spin on the oil to beat Mark Bellamy across the line for the place. Payne’s efforts earned him the Driver of the Race award.
Rigby had a frustrating race. He had a spin at Coram while trying to recover after losing time as the field spread out at the safety car restart and could only manage this in class. Gareth Jones (MG TF) won in Class F.
Egar jumped Wright at the start of race two and the pair had a fascinating place-swapping battle for the win which went in Egar’s favour. Egar also set a new outright Cockshoot lap record and received the Driver of the Race award.
The championship mathematics were that Morrison would retain his overall title with a class win, and that’s what he again achieved when he took the flag in fourth place overall. Rigby though did what he could with a class win of his own, beating Gregory Elgood who had to drop out late on with a misfire.
Morrison’s two Snetterton class wins meant he had eight wins in a row – a maximum in the championship where eight of the 10 results count – after having to sit out the two races at Oulton Park’s season opener as his gearbox was leaking oil.
Morrison said: “I didn’t expect [the championship win], the first two rounds we had gearbox trouble at Oulton, so I said ‘right it’s 10 rounds, the best eight to count, those eight have got to be class wins’, so that’s what we’ve done.
“I was still on the back foot with Phil, but we’ve done it. Reliability since then [Oulton]; do it yourself if you want it doing right. I trusted somebody else to machine a bush and he done it too tight and the seal got hot and dumped the gear oil at Oulton.
“You’re under pressure [since Oulton knowing you can’t slip up again] but the car’s been phenomenal, reliable, and it’s on rails. It’s never blinked since then. We’ve just gone through everything after every race.”
Rigby said: “I was disappointed in myself [in race one] because I drove abysmally, but I got away unscathed from spinning. So I was a bit down because I was kicking myself. [Race two] was totally different, it went very well.
“Greg [Elgood] was for the first two or three laps really pushing me, he must have had three Weetabix this morning, but sadly he’s DNFed.
“[It was] an excellent season, first class for me, this is a fantastic crew, the Cockshoot crew, they really looked after me. It’s cut throat on the track but in the paddock you couldn’t hope for a better spirit.”
Lackford Engineering Midget & Sprite Challenge
Martin Morris – back in his maroon Class A Midget due to damage to his blue-liveried version – was dominant out front in the Midget & Sprite Challenge at Snetterton and won both races of the double header.
The fight for the championship in this season-closing meeting was chiefly between Class D Midget pair Hugh Simpson and Barnaby Collinson who was just behind on points. Simpson’s Norfolk weekend didn’t start well as his gearbox broke on his qualifying out-lap. Amazingly, he was able to to take part in the races having had a gearbox loaned to him…by his title rival, Collinson.
Simpson managed to jump from the back of the grid to head the Class D runners on lap one of race one, but then – running at race speed for the first time that weekend – he locked up and ran off track. It left Collinson with a clear on-track class lead ahead of Simpson and that’s how they finished, the result shrinking the points gap between them.
Pippa Cow and Richard Bridge, running in P2 and P3 behind Morris, once again had a thrilling place-swapping battle for the Class E win. Cow pipped Bridge by a tenth at the flag for the class triumph and second place overall.
Morris once again dominated race two while Cow and Bridge once again had a close battle for second overall and the Class E win. Cow again prevailed and received the championship’s Driver of the Meeting award.
The championship battle however was resolved almost immediately in that second race as Collinson slowed because a distributor lead detached and he was only able to rejoin the action three laps down. This left Simpson set fair for the title and, having jumped to second in class from the back of the grid on lap one, he passed Andrew Caldwell for the class lead on lap two and won the class comfortably in fourth place overall. The championship was his!
Simpson said: “It’s a bit surreal really, it’s been a really tough season, Barney’s pushed hard all season and obviously helped us out yesterday with the gearbox, so we thank for him for that. Gutted that he had the problem today so we didn’t have the fight to the end. But absolutely thrilled to take it.
“We’ve [this season] had the engine apart twice, we had a head gasket at Combe, we had piston rings all get cooked at Silverstone, had the gearbox issue yesterday, so it’s not been an easy season. But it’s been brilliant fun.”
Collinson said: “A lead came off on the dizzy and it died, that was it. It’s [the car] been mega all year apart from that one first mechanical failure all year on the championship-deciding race.”
Double-winner Morris said: “It’s been [a] fabulous [weekend], really good, and those guys behind me they kept me on my toes. Unfortunately Mike Chalk I thought was going to be with me but something happened to his car. But just the same having two [Class] Es behind battling for the championship was enough to make me keep on the ball. You make a mistake, you’re in trouble.
“I was racing with the HSCC Modsports up at Croft with the blue [car] and unfortunately I lost my front wheel in the second race and we couldn’t get the suspension done quick enough, so I put the engine back in this [maroon] one.
“They both go really well but the blue one handles a lot better. But no complaints: you win two races in a championship like this it’s got to be a good car!”
The Holden MG Trophy
The MG Trophy races at Snetterton featured a high-quality five-way battle at the front. Adam Jackson and Fred Burgess returned to the MG ZR 190 Class A contest to join habitual frontrunners Graham Ross and Doug Cole plus Cadwell Park’s in-form man, Sam Meagher.
At the start of the first race the front five quickly became three as poleman Meagher spun at the first turn and Jackson had to run off the track in avoidance.
Ross had taken the lead at the start and stayed ahead for the duration while Cole held off an attacking Burgess before Burgess dropped away late on with an exhaust breakage but still finished third. Jackson set fastest lap and recovered to fourth place before parking with a driveshaft failure.
James Cole dominated Class B after establishing a clear early lead and he beat newly crowned overall champion, Tylor Ballard, by six seconds. Ballard, after claiming the title at Cadwell last time out, ran the number one and a special gold champion’s windscreen sunstrip (a surprise gift from Graham Ross) on his car at Snetterton.
Tony Wigley, who finished fifth in Class B, was awarded Millers Oils NanoDrive Driver of the Race.
Ross said: “In qualifying I looked at the times, 1.2s behind, and I thought ‘this is going to be a struggle’. But I made a good start. I thought that was my only way if I was going to maybe win it or control it if I could get to the front.
“And I’d made a couple of adjustments with set-up, because I’ve been twiddling all year with set-up, and it certainly wasn’t any worse, let’s put it that way. I just felt really good, felt comfortable, and just felt I could pull a gap. Chuffed there’s life in the old dog yet!”
At the start of race two Ross again led from Doug Cole while Jackson immediately vaulted from 10th on the grid – after traffic problems in qualifying – to run fourth behind Meagher, with Burgess completing the front quintet.
Ross looked good for a double win but spun at Murray’s. This let Meagher – who’d passed Cole early on – into the lead but with Cole on his tail. Cole got by to lead with a lap to go thanks to a fine move at Riches were he lined up on the outside line of the defending Meagher then cut back to out-accelerate him on the inside at the corner’s exit.
It meant Cole won his final race before retiring from full-time racing and, adding to the celebration his son James doubled up on Class B wins holding off Ballard and Scott Bugner. Cole Sr also got Millers Oils NanoDrive Driver of the Race. Jackson, meanwhile, pitted as his driveshaft broke , the other side this time, and the grease in the boot went onto the exhaust filling the car with smoke.
Cole said: “Just bided my time, tyres were coming in slowly, and when I saw Graham go off I started charging.
“[Meagher] was struggling around Coram so I thought ‘I can get a run up here’. The lap before [at Riches] I went to the left a little bit and he covered the right. And I thought ‘I know what I’m going to do next lap’. [The next lap] exactly the same thing, he tried to get too tight and I did the old switch back: 25 years of racing teaches you something!
“So the last official MG Trophy race, and I win the race. And my son won as well, even better!”
Equipe Classic Racing joint-owner, Rob Cull, won both Equipe GTS races in his TVR Grantura Mk III. He won the opening race by 25 seconds from pole despite having to perform a 40-minute differential change prior to the race and getting out to the grid with seconds to spare.
Lewis Saunders in his MG B Roadster was Cull’s closest challenger but dropped back late on after his alternator broke.
Second-placed qualifier, Lee Atkins, was not able to race as a thread was pulled out of the cylinder head of his Grantura ending his meeting early.
In race two Cull again led from pole though this time had a close challenge from Saunders. They swapped the lead a couple of times early on before Cull moved clear to win by 10s.
Andrew Wenman in his Morgan Plus 8 won the opening Equipe 70s/Pre-’63/50s race after taking the lead from poleman and fellow Plus 8 runner, Kevin Kivlochan, at the end of the opening tour. Wenman won by 20 seconds from Martin Reynolds’ Ford Mustang Mach1 which climbed from fourth to second early on but couldn’t match Wenman’s pace.
Mark Holme meanwhile won the Pre-’63 and 50s race on its split grid. In his Austin-Healey 3000 the poleman dropped to third early on but quickly reasserted command to win comfortably.
In race two Wenman and Kivlochan both dropped out early with technical problems: Wenman was down on power as well as sensed a strange smell (that turned out to be from his new brakes) so he decided to pit, while Kivlochan’s oil pressure light came on. It left Reynolds to lead home a Mustang 1-2 by 15s from John Dickson. Jack Rawles pipped fellow Austin-Healey runner Holme by a tenth in the Pre-’63 and 50s race.
Danny Winstanley dominated the Equipe Libre double-header in his Jaguar E-type. He topped qualifying by 4.6 seconds then was eight seconds clear at the end of race one’s opening lap. He eventually won by over a minute and a half.
Winstanley’s dominance was helped further as his two closest rivals from qualifying dropped out of race one early with technical problems: John Dickson had problems with the clutch clearance in his Ford Mustang so couldn’t get gears while Paul Whight had an intermittent ignition fault in his Lotus Elan.
Race two had a similar story at the front as Winstanley again dominated. The main variation this time was there was a red flag after Can Bitirim’s MG B blew up at Murray’s and dropped fluid resulting in a number of cars skating off track. The stoppage left a post-restart five-minute sprint to the flag. Winstanley still won by 9.5s, from Dickson who passed Frederic Laurent’s E-type at Riches for the place late on.
Uncle Luke’s Snetterton Saloons
Colin Tester moved clear from pole in first place in the opening half of the Snetterton Saloons’ 45-minute pitstop race in his BMW E36 M3 with its mid-1990s British Touring Car Championship Schnitzer-inspired livery.
However after he handed the BMW over to his driving partner Ed Leigh their chasing team-mate David Marcussen – also in an M3 – and Luke Allen in a Volkswagen Golf TCR closed in. And in the final minutes Leigh and Marcussen collided as the latter sought to pass the former for the lead. While they recovered from their spins the near-at-hand Allen nipped into first place. However, Allen already had a one-lap penalty for a too-short pitstop and this cost him his on-the-road win.
Marcussen therefore looked set to inherit victory but he got a one-minute penalty for the collision, while Leigh had pitted after the clash. It all meant that James Mumbray, also in an M3, inherited the win, while BCV8 frontrunners Ollie Neaves and Russell McCarthy, who were sharing an M3, got second.
When the flag fell on the last race of the day on 24th September it brought an emotional end to racing as we know it for the MG Car Club championships. There will be more news about their plans for the future in the coming weeks.
Words by Graham Keilloh. Photographs by Dickon Siddall.
Snetterton Season Finale
The Snetterton race meeting, to be held on the 23rd & 24th September, will bring down the curtain on the 2023 racing season for four of the MG Car Club championships.
With overall championships and class positions to be decided, the Club’s traditional season finale at the Norfolk circuit has produced some very close racing in recent years and it is likely that 2023 will be no different.
Although Tylor Ballard has an unbeatable lead in his class and the MG Trophy overall points table, Fergus Campbell and Jack Woodcock , who are currently separated by just 2 points, will be contesting the remaining steps on the Class B podium. In Class A, Graham Ross has a 14 point lead from Sam Meagher with Paul Savage a further 8 points in arrears. With several other hard-chargers on the entry list, these three are going to have to plan a canny race strategy if they are going to keep out of trouble and retain their class positions.
In the MG Cup, Ashley Woodward heads the points table and Class C after eight races. Behind him, Dan Ludlow, Ian Boulton, Chris Boulton and Iain Dowler are separated by 8 points so expect close competition between them. However, the four turbocharged Rover Tomcats may have a power advantage along the Snetterton straights so the championship contenders may have to concentrate on collecting points rather than chasing outright victory.
Hugh Simpson currently leads the Lackford Engineering Midget & Sprite Challenge on 35 points with Barney Collinson still in contention for the overall championship win. Current champion, Pippa Cow, Richard Bridge and Dean Stanton are all nicely positioned to challenge for silverware.
Phil Rigby has had an excellent season in his MG F and leads the Cockshoot Cup, 18 points ahead of David Morrison and Greg Elwood tied in P2 with Mark Wright in P3. Mark and David were in terrific form last time out at Cadwell Park, each with a race win and a P2 to their names. If they show the same form at Snetterton we should be in for very entertaining races.
The BCV8s and Equipe Classic Racing Series will also be competing at the weekend. Expect the race report to be published on the MGCC website on 26th September and in the November issue of Safety Fast.
Summer Race Meeting at the Mini Nurburgring
The MG Car Club held its fourth race meeting of MG’s 100th year at spectacular Cadwell Park and had a fine day of close and competitive racing.
The Lincolnshire venue with its spectacular fast turns and undulations in scenic surroundings is appropriately nicknamed the ‘Mini Nurburgring’. MGCC racers from three championships, joined by their Morgan Challenge guests, lived up to the Cadwell challenge with a day of spirited action topped by intense and dramatic battles for championship points.
Unexpectedly, the outcome of the 2023 MG Trophy Championship was decided at the weekend. With two championship rounds still to run at Snetterton in September Tylor Ballard has amassed sufficient points to secure the title. Tylor, supported by Simon, his father, have battled through many setbacks during the years since Tylor started racing with the championship. His victory this year is richly deserved and will be applauded by his fellow competitors.
MGCC Lackford Engineering MG Midget & Sprite Challenge
The Midget & Sprite Challenge meeting at Cadwell Park was a special one as it was held in association with the Midget & Sprite Club which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The club members had a dedicated area in the paddock, a track parade during the lunch break and a grid walk prior to the Midget & Sprites first race. After experiencing the track for themselves, albeit at a leisurely pace during the parade laps, they were in awe of the skills displayed by the drivers and the speed achieved by the race cars.
There was drama for the Midgets & Sprites even before the racing started as championship leader, Barnaby Collinson, had a qualifying off that kept him out of both races. Similarly, Richard Bridge, the joint leader in Class E, pulled out of qualifying after hearing a strange noise in his Sebring Sprite. He suspected it was the limited-slip differential but even herculean effort to change the diff didn’t resolve the problem, the noise remained and he was forced to sit out both races.
Pacesetter, Stephen Watkins, had his Midget repaired after his Silverstone crash and claimed pole position for the opening race. However, on the warm-up lap for race 1 he noticed an oil pressure problem so he pulled off the grid before the race start. The problem also sidelined him for race 2.
Martin Morris, in his ex-Richard Wildman car which he was racing as his original Midget was diagnosed with a cracked cylinder head after Silverstone, got the lead at the start ahead of James Hughes (Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite) who had inherited pole following Watkins’ withdrawal. Morris then moved clear and looked good to take a comfortable win but, with only two laps remaining, he suddenly slowed and then parked up letting Hughes through to take the win and first in Class E.
Hugh Simpson’s MG Midget was second home and a comfortable Class D winner after Connor Kay, who was his closest pursuer, dropped out late on with a suspension breakage on his Midget. Mark Turner in his Austin Healey Sprite beat Kim Dear’s Midget to win Class H.
“We lucked into the win a little bit with a couple of the Class As unfortunately having some problems, but it was good fun,” Hughes said. “I can see why everyone loves the circuit, it’s superb.”
“It was [a] pretty lonely [race], and I saw [Morris] coming back towards me, and I thought that’s a bit strange. Then he started coming back to me a bit quicker and then he pulled off, so I’m sorry for him.”
“We’ve had quite a few reliability issues [this season] so I think it was due one the other way this time. Fair do’s to the car, it went well.”
When he had been recovered to the paddock Morris was amazed to find that he’d run out of fuel, a total mystery to him as he reckoned he should have had plenty to make the distance and couldn’t find any leaks.
Given what happened in race 1, Morris tried to proceed cautiously early in race 2 which let Hughes get by him for a lap. Morris though soon regained the lead and edged away to take the win ahead of Hughes who again won Class E. Simpson and Turner both took their second class wins of the meeting.
Morris said: “We didn’t have much time between races to turn it around so we just brimmed the tank, ran the pump and then brimmed the tank again and thought ‘well that’s all we can do’.”
“We were at Brands a couple of weeks ago doing the GP circuit with the car. I know the race was red flagged but we still had five litres left after 20 minutes so I have no idea why it ran out today.”
“I knew I had to pace myself [in race two], there was no point going out like an idiot to start with, so what I had to do is make sure that I didn’t push too hard at the beginning. The first race I was pushing from the off.”
“I got to a point where I thought ‘now I’ve got to push otherwise we’ll be under pressure all the way through’ and we got through it. I saw the last-lap board – I never see that as a rule – and I thought just get it to the end!”
Amelia Storey had a good day in her Class D Midget. In addition to her 3rd in class trophy for race 2 she went home with the Midget & Sprite Driver of the Meeting award.
MGCC MG Trophy Championship Sponsored by Charles Warner MG
Sam Meagher, who joined MG Trophy’s frontrunning Class A earlier this season driving an MG ZR 190 previously raced by Ross Makar, surprised himself by taking clear pole position for both MG Trophy races which were sponsored by Charles Warner MG of Lincoln.
Maegher then he led for much of the opening race. Although he got a good start he missed a gear, which allowed second-placed starter Graham Ross to get ahead. But Meagher managed to reclaim the lead halfway around the first lap.
Ross, now happier with his car’s handling than earlier in the year, shadowed Meagher for many laps with Doug Cole in third, the top three running as a close formation. Then, at two-thirds’ distance, Ross got on the inside of Meagher into The Mountain and Meagher slid onto the grass which left Ross in the lead and Meagher resuming in third place behind Cole. The trio finished in that order, with Ross grateful to have ended his run poor luck at this venue. Second-placed Cole received the Millers Oils Driver of the Race award.
Ross said: “Cadwell being Cadwell, I genuinely thought the only place I was going to get a win out of this was off the start. I didn’t make a great start but Sam missed a gear so by the first corner I was in front but then on the back straight I defended and he drove past me, I was just too slow.”
“Then I thought I’m going to have to hope he misses a gear or something falls into my lap, but he was driving really well.”
“But [nearer the end] I noticed that in some of the slow corners he was struggling for grip; coming out of Gooseneck the sharp turn left, he was struggling for traction out of there. My car seemed to be quite good, so I could gain on him all the time there.”
“So I thought, his tyres are going off, if I can just get up the inside of him there, which I did manage to do, and we’re side by side into The Mountain. I don’t think Sam knew I was there because we touched a wee bit, and I got the turn and that was it. I got lucky and made the best of my opportunities. I really really enjoyed it.”
“It’s the third time I’ve been to Cadwell and it’s the first time I’ve actually completed a race here. I never even completed practice last year.”
Jack Woodcock won the Class B race staying just ahead of the championship leader Tylor Ballard, whose qualifying was compromised by an alternator problem.
The same Ross-Meagher-Cole trio fought for the overall win in race 2, though this time Meagher, again starting from pole, got a poor start and Cole led from Ross followed by the recovering Meagher.
With overtaking at Cadwell not easy, they circulated in that order for a time. That was until half distance when Graham Ross spun into the grass at Gooseneck and was rather at a loss to explain his error. “I thought I was doing the same thing every time [at that corner],” Ross said, “the car just broke away instantaneously.” He resumed in fifth place and left Meagher on leader Cole’s tail.
But at Park on the next lap Meagher touched the back of Cole which put the leading MG ZR 190 off and nudging the barriers. Cole was able to resume albeit in P9. That left Meagher free to take his first win while Ross and Cole recovered to second and fifth overall respectively, P2 and P3 in class. Ross got the consolation of the Millers Oils Driver of the Race award.
The Class B fight was a role reversal from race 1 as Ballard started ahead of Woodcock and was able to lead throughout to claim the class win.
“Over the moon, it’s great,” Meagher said of his victory. “It was a bad start but it was nice to compete with the boys at the front. I tapped Doug by accident, I can only apologise for that. But I’m over the moon to get the first win. It’s my first win, ever!”
“[My start] was horrendous, I dropped down to about sixth, so I had to fight my way back though the field.”
“[With Cole] I just went a bit too hot into the corner, just a racing incident I think.”
“Keep [the car] as it is now, it’s going fast, so see how we go at Snetterton.”
MGCC MG Cup Powered by Cherished Vehicle Insurance
MG Cup championship leader Ian Boulton was absent from Cadwell Park which gifted a great opportunity those trailing him in the Class B standings. Iain Dowler and Dan Ludlow did not disappoint and they engaged in very intense battles for victory in both races. Just like last year at Cadwell, the modified Class B cars out-paced the race-version Class C machines.
MG ZR-mounted duo Dowler and Ludlow shot off from the front row to lead the way in the first race with Dowler ahead. Dave Nixon meanwhile made a lightening start from the third row in his Rover Tomcat to run third. This aided Dowler and Ludlow as a queue formed behind Nixon for the duration, his pursuers unable to overcome the Tomcat’s straightline speed.
Dowler and Ludlow meanwhile were glued together out front and at half distance Ludlow made his move. Dowler had a little too much understeer through Barn heading onto the start-finish straight and Ludlow was able to dummy him then bravely passed on the outside of the fast uphill Turn One, Coppice.
They remained tied together for the remaining laps with Ludlow staying ahead to win the race 0.5 seconds and collect the Driver of the Race award. Nixon, third home, got the Class C win not far ahead of second-in-the-overall-table Ashley Woodward’s MG ZS 180, who was seeking to take advantage of leader Boulton’s absence.
“First time for a couple of years [that I’ve won],” Ludlow said. “I wasn’t sure as always how we’d get on here but the two test sessions in the morning definitely paid dividends. It was very very close but fair racing, really enjoyed it. Iain’s very quick, there’s nothing between us.”
“I took him on the right-hand side going up the hill. I just slightly had the edge on him going down the straight and I was just hoping that I had a car length to make the manoeuvre and I did so it worked out OK. After that I just managed to keep him behind me although there was a few times when he almost got me back.”
“It’s a new car for me this year and I’m still learning the car. I’m gradually getting better as the season goes on.”
The second race was almost an exact role reversal between Ludlow and Dowler out front. This time Ludlow led from pole with Dowler on his boot lid until just before half distance when Ludlow was balked by a Morgan (from the Morgan Challenge which was sharing the track with the MG Cup) and Dowler had the momentum to get alongside then make another brave pass.
Once again they remained in close contention for the remainder of the race and survived a scare when they hit oil at Barn – Dowler estimated that his slide put him at a 90-degrees to the barrier! But survive he did and went on to win the race and receive the Driver of the Race award.
After his win Dowler said: “It was an absolutely fantastic race. We both had great starts and went side by side into the first corner, so it was a little bit hairy to start with.”
“Then it was a case of just keep the pressure on him. Dan drove a great race. He just got balked and I got a run on him down the long back straight into Park, its a 90-degree right and I put it up the inside and just stood on brakes until we nearly stopped but we managed to get round. And then it was a case of making sure I did everything right.”
Nixon for much of the way looked good to double up on his Class C win as he again ran third overall, this time with Simon Lowery’s MG ZS 180 close behind. But Nixon pitted late on when a lot of smoke emitted from his exhaust. So Lowery got the class win with Woodward in P2 again.
The Morgan Challenge – Cadwell Cup
The MG Car Club was joined by competitors from the Morgan Challenge for a non-championship event filling a mid-season gap in their championship schedule.
Both races were won comfortably by poleman John Millbank in his 4/4. He was headed briefly in the first race by Simon Sherry who got a better start from second in his +8 but Millbank was back ahead by the end of lap one and went on to build a healthy 15 second lead from Phillip St Clair Tisdall (Morgan +8) who had moved past Sherry into P2 on lap two. Sherry, who had remained close to St Clair Tisdall, spun out of third place at Barn on lap 10.
Neither Simon nor Kathy Sherry took part in the second race which Millbank totally dominated, beating St Clair Tisdall by nearly a minute.
The final outing of 2023 for the MG Car Club championships will be at Snetterton on September 23rd & 24th. With championships and class positions still to be decided there’s bound to be great competition and exciting racing around the challenging Snetterton 300 circuit. Why don’t you come along and help to round out the 2023 season in style.
Words by Graham Keilloh. Photographs by Dickon Siddall,
Race Championships Set for Cadwell Park
Three of the MGCC race championships are looking forward to their fourth race meeting of the year at Cadwell Park on 30th July.
In the MG Trophy Tylor Ballard will be hoping to maintain his place at the top of the points table and in the Midget & Sprite Challenge Barney Collinson will be intent on outscoring his rivals to extend his slender championship lead.
In the MG Cup Ian Boulton has a 12 point advantage over 2nd placed Ashley Woodward who will be hoping to capitalise on Boulton’s absence from the meeting and climb to the top of the table. However, Chris Boulton may have different ideas and be out to gain an advantage while his cousin, Ian, is away.
The Midget & Sprite Club is 40 years old this year and will be attending the meeting as part of its celebrations. The forty or so members who are expected to attend will have a dedicated display area in the paddock and a track parade is planned for them during the lunch break.
Local MG dealer, Charles Warner of Lincoln who are sponsoring the MG Trophy races, will also have a display in the paddock and will be hoping that the all new MG4 EV will be a popular attraction. If you are in the market for a new MG don’t forget there are discounts available through the MG Motor UK Affinity Scheme.
Talking of discounts, the MG Car Club has arranged 20% off the entry ticket prices for this meeting. To take advantage just book your tickets at https://www.cadwellpark.co.uk/2023/july/mg-car-club and enter the code MGCC23.
We will be welcoming guests from The Morgan Challenge to the meeting. Like the MGCC racers, they have a 20 minute qualifying session and two 20 minute races scheduled during the day. The track action will start with two 20 minute test sessions to allow drivers to check out their cars and familiarise themselves with the circuit before they get down to the serious business of qualifying for the races.
We hope you will come along and enjoy the spectacle of car racing at the Mini Nurburgring, as Cadwell Park has been nicknamed, in this 100th year of MG.
Spridget News – June Edition
With reports on the Midget & Sprite races at Oulton Park and Silverstone, details of a ‘Mystery’ race car and speculation about a Sprite featuring in a Hollywood movie, the June edition of Spridget News is waiting for you to view/download here.
Call for Morgans, Iconics and Thoroughbred Sports Cars to Race at Cadwell
The next race meeting for the MG Car Club is scheduled for 30th July at CADWELL PARK, a circuit that features sharp changes in gradient and a mix of challenging corners which has led to it being nicknamed the Mini-Nürburgring.
The Morgan Challenge will be guesting at the event.
Racers with Morgans or pre-1970 Iconic and Thoroughbred Sports Cars are invited to take part in an an ‘Invitation’ class within the Morgan Challenge which will have a qualifying session and two 20 minute races.
Eligible cars include, amongst others, MGAs, MGBs, Jaguars, Austin Healeys, Triumphs, TVRs, Lotus Elans and Morgans built prior to 1970 which are shod with either modern or historic tyres.
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to race alongside the Morgans on this challenging circuit. To enter or ask for more information the please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Enter “For the attention of Chris Thompson” as the Subject line.
The MG Trophy, Midget & Sprite Challenge and MG Cup are also due to race at the meeting. For those of you intending to race in these championships and have not yet entered, please secure you place now by heading over to the Online Race Entry page. Any enquiries should be emailed to: email@example.com
The closing date for entries is the 26th July but an early bird discount is on offer for those who pay their entry fee before 14th July.
Photographs by Dickon Siddall
MGCC Racers Live Up To The Centenary Occasion
The MG Car Club’s mid-summer Silverstone Historic Grand Prix circuit showpiece is always a meeting to savour, with its variety of infield attractions supplementing the full range of racing classes battling on track. Yet this year’s event was particularly special as it also marked MG’s and Triumph’s 100th anniversaries.
Aptly for a meeting celebrating a stretch of 100 years, MGCC’s six racing classes on show included the pre-war Baynton Jones Triple-M Racing and represented many other eras of MG machinery right though to theMG 3 competing in the MG Trophy. Also the latest offering from MG Motor, the Cyberster electric sports car made its public debut in the UK and attracted much interest and admiration from those who visited garage Zero. The weather also was in keeping with the event’s status, being hot and sunny for almost the entire duration.
Equipe Classic Racing’s eclectic and vast line-ups had no shortage of MGs and added to the occasion. The GT & Sports Car Cup’s 90-minute season-opener completed the packed schedule of races.
MGCC Bayton Jones Historic Motorsport Triple-M Racing Challenge
It was appropriate that in a meeting celebrating the full extent of MG’s past that the pre-war Triple-M machines provided some of the most captivating action.
Mike Painter in his MG Kayne Special led the first race from pole, but spun down to fourth on the second lap. Before we could get a clear sense of whether Painter could climb back to P1 he slowed as his gearbox started to leak oil that got into the clutch.
Roland Wettstein in his Parnell-MG K3 won by 11 seconds and with it got the Kimber Trophy. Charles Goddard in his MG PA-PB and Brands Hatch double winner Charles Jones in his MG L Magna finished in P2 and P3 were respectively Class B and Class C winners. Class A was won by Tim Sharp’s MG PB not far ahead of the MG PA of Richard Stott who was awarded Driver of the Race by the commentators.
Mike Painter’s son, Harry, took over the car for the following day’s race two, and quickly charged into P1 from the back of the grid. However, he then slowed with exactly the same clutch trouble as his father had in the first race which allowed Wettstein to close in on him. They had a close battle for the lead but Painter’s problem worsened on the last lap and Wettstein streaked ahead.
But then sensationally Wettstein spun at the Loop on that final lap which let the ailing Painter back into first. The recovered Wettstein closed rapidly in the final turns and prevailed in the drag race to the line taking victory by half a car’s length.
Painter got the compensation of being Class B winner, and Driver of the Race while Jones and Sharp doubled up the victories in their classes.
“That was very eventful!,” Harry Painter smiled after his race. “Roland spun, I thought ‘oh great, try and feather the clutch and nurse it’, but he just pipped me by less than half a car length over the line. That was a stonker.”
“I had exactly the same problem [as in race one], the gearbox leaking oil onto the clutch. It sort of got a bit better but then the last lap it was really bad. I thought ‘I don’t care if it ruins the clutch, it’s b******d anyway’, so decided to carry on! Roland’s just got the power down the straights, just left me for dead. He’s got about twice the size of engine in his. I was just trying to make every little count in the corners.”
MGCC Lackford Engineering Midget & Sprite Challenge
Stephen Watkins entered this Silverstone meeting with a 100% record in the 2023 Midget & Sprite Challenge but this round proved a tough one for him as he missed the opening race after damaging his MG Midget early in qualifying.
Martin Morris started that race from pole though, as expected, reigning champion Pippa Cow leapt into the lead in her nimble Sprite. However, the Midget of David Weston – racing for the first time in two years – took the lead from Pippa on the inside of Copse at the start of the second lap and stayed in front to win. It was a most significant win for Weston because with his victory he won the Ted Reeve Memorial Trophy: he was Reeve’s mechanic for 17 years and also made the trophy!
Pippa was second home and Class E winner not far ahead of Richard Bridge while Barnaby Collinson beat fellow MG Midget runner Hugh Simpson in Class D, which also earned Collinson Driver of the Race. Mark Turner in his Austin-Healey Sprite won the new Historic class which is growing in popularity.
Watkins, complete with some new fibreglass, was back for race two the following day and charged through from the back of the grid to challenge Weston for the lead. However, on the final lap Watkins pulled out to pass Weston on the pit straight and collected James Wheeler from the BCV8 championship (which was sharing the track with the Midgets and Sprites) who was attempting an overtaking manoeuvre. The clash, for which Watkins held up his hands, accounted for Wheeler, Watkins and Weston as well as Jason Meredith’s Class E Midget. It all let the close-at-hand Morris through to win. Morris also got the Driver of the Race award.
Pippa pipped Bridge to double up in Class E, while Collinson and Turner also took their second wins of the weekend in their classes.
Watkins said: “Both times, stupid mistakes from me. I took the wrong line in practice into the Loop. I spent all day yesterday fixing [the car], lots of fibreglassing. We were working on it until about 23.00hrs. And race two was going great until we had a coming together.”
“I was lining up behind Dave to overtake him. As I pulled out to go past Dave, I caught Wheeler. The BCV8s are just so much quicker in a straight line but I should have seen him. These things happen and the car’s not too bad. I’ve got a spare bonnet and the rest of it isn’t too difficult to fix.”
MGCC BCV8 Championship
The battle at the front in BCV8 races was between Neil Fowler in his MG B GT and James Wheeler, now back in his Class D MG B V8. They ran in tandem out front in the first race with Fowler ahead as they climbed through the Midget & Sprite pack that started ahead of them on a split grid.
Fowler remained ahead until the last lap when Wheeler got by to win. Fowler had been struggling with his gearbox though Wheeler had his own concerns about overheating.
Andrew Young in his MG C GT was third home and a comfortable Class C winner while Stuart Dickinson in his MG A Twin Cam was an equally comfortable Class I winner.
The second race was a similar tale as Fowler and Wheeler again broke clear from their fellow BCV8s and climbed through the Midget & Sprite pack together. However, the battle concluded in unfortunate circumstances on the final lap when Wheeler had Midget & Sprite frontrunner, Stephen Watkins, who was in his own battle, pull out in front of him on the pit straight. The resultant clash put Wheeler out. Fowler, ahead of the fracas, won.
Young was second home and again won Class C just ahead of class rival Oliver Wardle in his MG B GT V8. Dickinson again comfortably won Class I and Young got Driver of the Race.
Wheeler said: “The win in the first one was cracking, winning on the last lap, loved it, great race with Neil. It was all about managing temperatures. And then that second race, again temperatures. I was having to manage them and Neil was managing a gearbox problem.”
“Getting Neil on the last lap [of race one] was mega, because I thought he had the better of me in that race. I’ve got to learn to get that thing off the line, because if I got in front I’d stay in front.“In race two one of the Midgets pulled out on me, that’s got to be 130, 140mph down there. So it felt like a bit of a NASCAR crash as I was spinning down the main straight. But everyone’s alright, we all shook hands. We’re all gentlemen. He didn’t jink out on purpose. He’s obviously not looked in his mirrors but at the same time we’re coming quite fast. He’s held his hands up to it but I can’t get angry with him, it’s not the way MG people are. We live to fight another day.”
MGCC MG Cup
MG Cup’s Silverstone double header had a new look. Matt Simpson was back in the category in his Rover Tomcat after a year away and won both races. And in both he was chased gamely in second by Chris Boulton who, at last, had his new Class C MG ZR 190 running competitively. Boulton previously was a long-time competitor in a 170.
Simpson led all the way in race one, beating Bolton home by just under seven seconds and also received the Driver of the Race award.
Dan Ludlow was just behind Boulton in third and won Class B in his ZR 170 beating reigning class champion, and Chris’s cousin, Ian Boulton.
Race two’s story was similar. Simpson again dominated from pole and Chris Boulton was second but this time the gap was some 16 seconds. Jack Chapman in his MG ZR 170 was a close third and won Class B ahead of Ludlow and Ian Boulton. Craig Bayston meanwhile got Driver of the Race having climbed to finish P6 in his MG ZS.
Simpson said: “The car’s got really good pace and I knew if I got out in front and started picking off some of the Cockshoot cars [which it shared the grid with the MG Cup] that would slow Chris Boulton down so it was a real big push at the beginning.”
“I’ve come here without having done too much to the car in the past two years, aside from race it here last year. No new tyres or anything. I’ve done it on a small budget this year, old tyres, just spanner checked it and hoped for the best.”
Simpson’s dominant double was not without its problems though. “I’ve been dealing with a fuel pressure issue around slow corners so getting out front was important so that I could manage it,” he explained. “And then towards the end of the race, no tyres, oil pressure on the floor, I could smell burning oil. I couldn’t wait for that chequered flag!
“It’s [Silverstone] close to home and is a perfect circuit for the Tomcat. It’s just a shame to have the car sitting in the back of the workshop. So I give it a birthday every year and bring it out.”
Boulton meanwhile explained of the conspicuous improvement of his 190: “The car’s just not been feeling right and a bit underpowered, and it turned out that it had the wrong throttle bodies on it. So we got that sorted and this is the first time it’s been out. We didn’t get much testing on it, but out of the box it’s flying. You can always improve your driving but if the car’s good to start with we’ve got half a chance of getting somewhere.”
Luckiest man of the race must have been Paul Rigg, after the flywheel on a ZS became detached and a rather large chunk of it pierced the MGF’s windscreen, hit Paul on the shoulder and embedded itself in the rear bulkhead. We wish Paul and the car a speedy recovery. Equally lucky was Alan Forster whose Montego Estate was also struck by a piece of the flywheel. The impact, right in front of the driver, thankfully did not pierce the windscreen.
MGCC Cockshoot Cup Championship
MGF Cup car enthusiast Mark Wright in his ex-Vince Martin Morris-Diamond machine – switching from the ex-Warren Hughes version he raced at Oulton Park – was dominant on pace in Silverstone’s Cockshoot Cup double header. Chris Greenbank in his uprated-for-2023 MGF, in which he looked potent at Oulton Park’s season opener, was Wright’s closest challenger and chased hard in second and left the rest behind.
Late in the first race though both Wright and Greenbank retired almost simultaneously – Wright because a crank nut loosened and Greenbank had driveshaft failure. This let Keith Egar in his Midget through to win.
Reigning champion David Morrison was comfortable Class B winner while John Payne, second in Class B in his Austin-Healey Sprite, got Driver of the Race. Karl Green was third home overall after being disqualified from qualifying for passing under yellows.
Paul Wignall in his MG ZR was clear winner in Class A while Phil Rigby in his MGF was also a clear Class F victor.
Wright and Greenbank kept going until the end of race two to take P1 and P2 respectively. Wright – who also got Driver of the Race – beat Greenbank by 25s, and Greenbank was 10s clear of Morrison, again the Class B winner in third overall. Wignall and Rigby also doubled up as class winners.
Wright said: “We’ve had a fraught season really with the various cars we’ve been out in. Some seasons just don’t link together.
“It’s the first time I’ve driven this car in its present state. So really pleased with how it was handling out the box and while we set it up last year we were late getting the engine and getting it al put together this week. We didn’t have much set-up time on it.
“Race one was unfortunate – we had a bolt break and it caused something else and that caused something else. That’s racing cars but we’ve got a great engine builder, Paul from Exon, and he came over and checked everything was alright. We wanted his professionalism on the job. So it was like ‘it’s down to me now’. And it’s great for MGFs, it’s a great little race car.”
MGCC MG Trophy Championship
A significant figure from the past returned to the MG Trophy. In 2021 Fred Burgess was a consistent frontrunner in Class A and finished 3rd overall in the championship. Racing for the first time in 18 months, he was immediately back in the groove and won both Silverstone races.
Having started race one in P2, Burgess got past poleman Adam Jackson at the start of lap two and moved clear to win by five seconds. Jackson then headed a close three-way battle for second with Graham Ross and Doug Cole which was went in Ross’s favour when he passed Jackson at Becketts at half distance and Cole span out at Vale on the final lap. Cole recovered to a distant fourth but got some recompense with the Driver of the Race award.
Tylor Ballard won Class B, beating Fergus Campbell by 2.2s, while Ballard’s closest challenger, James Cole, dropped out with a broken damper.
Race two was much closer at the front as Jackson sorted his race one overheating problems with a radiator change. He passed Burgess to lead early on when Burgess missed a gear but Burgess was soon back ahead for a lead he kept to the flag. Jackson maintained his challenge until the final lap when he slowed as a CV boot blew filling the cab with smoke. He still finished P2.
Ross and Doug Cole both dropped out mid race, with alternator and gear linkage problems respectively.
Ballard pipped James Cole for Class B honours, though Cole made it a family double by getting the Driver of the Race award.
Burgess said: “Adam put me under a lot of pressure. I knew if I could keep it together and not miss my gears and not make silly mistakes I’d have a good chance. He was right behind me for most of the race so I was never comfortable but it was a really enjoyable race. I’m pleased to come back and be competitive straight away.”
“I think I will do Snetterton, we’ll see how we go, and I’ll probably be back next year for a full assault on the championship. I was a little bit rusty but enjoyed it. It makes you not want to stop.”
Equipe 70s | Pre ’63 | 50s
Equipe’s range of 40-minute pitstop races featuring at Silverstone started with its 70s, Pre ’63 and 50s contest. And it was won by Grahame Bryant in his Morgan Plus 8. Bryant, who hadn’t been in the car for a while, was cautious in qualifying and started only fifth but in the race he rose rapidly to lead by the third lap. He stayed in a net first place for the rest of the way, helped by a conveniently timed pitstop just before the safety car was deployed.
Steve Dance in his Ford Capri was always close behind Bryant though and the pair indeed swapped the lead when green flag racing resumed. Bryant re-established command however and the race was stopped a few minutes early after Alex Quattlebaum’s Leco Sport pulled off at Becketts then Richard Hywel-Evans’ Porsche 911 went off on his oil.
Richard Dafyd’s Lotus 11 was third home and the first 50s car, while Mark Holme’s Austin-Healey topped the Pre ’63 runners.
Equipe’s Libre race had a packed 60-car entry and Mike Whitaker won out from pole in his TVR Griffith. He had a close challenge from David Methley’s AC Cobra but Whitaker was handed a lead of upwards of a minute under a mid-race caution when the safety car picked up the cars behind Whitaker’s. That let Whitaker cruise to victory in the short period of green flag racing that remained while Methley was second home just ahead of Christian Douglas’s fellow TVR Griffith and Bruce White’s Lotus Elan 26R.
Tom Smith surprised himself by winning Equipe’s 55-car GTS race in his MG B Roadster. Smith assumed his car’s relative shortage of straightline speed would be punished on the vast and open Silverstone Historic Grand Prix track. His strategy was to stay away from other cars so not to be eaten up on the straights and that included making his compulsory stop early.
He was also aided by ex MG Trophy champion and pole sitter, Sam Kirkpatrick, leaving the contest early. Kirkpatrick had a poor start in his Roadster and then, on the second lap, his car started to feel strange at Becketts so he slowed but come the Loop the problem revealed itself as a front hub shearing, leaving him stranded with three wheels. This heralded a safety car intervention which wiped out Smith’s early race advantage, much to his chagrin. Yet Smith’s strategy worked as he was still ahead at the flag, though throughout he had the TVR Grantura of Lee Atkins – returning after nine months away – not far in arrears.
Equipe Super Libre
Mike Whitaker took his second race win of the meeting in his TVR Griffith in Equipe’s Super Libre race. It looked like he would have to give best to Nick Whale’s Ford Escort Mk II who led from pole and built a lead of 12 seconds over the chasing Whitaker.
However Whale’s mid-race pitstop proved a lengthy one due to an exhaust problem and, although he eventually resumed and continued to lap quickly, he had lost a lap to Whitaker who won with Whale a distant 10th.
Oliver and William Pratt’s Morgan Plus 8 and John Tordoff’s Lotus Elan 26R completed the podium.
GT & Sports Car Club
The two-day meeting concluded with GT & Sports Car Club’s season-opening 90-minute pitstop contest that, in contrast to the brilliant sunshine that characterised the meeting, was run in gathering heavy cloud threatening thunderstorms that never in fact arrived.
Polesitters James and Graeme Dodd were well on top in the Jaguar E-type and dominated contest but lost victory with two pitlane speeding drivethrough penalties, the second offence committed while serving the first sanction.
This let fellow E-type runners John and Gary Pearson through to win, while the Dodds duo were classified third after the race was stopped a few minutes early due to lightning. They’d just passed the E-type shared by Richard Kent and GT ace Joe Osborne for second, but the places were swapped back on the countback.
The next MGCC race meeting is scheduled for Cadwell Park on 30th July 2023.
Race Report by Graham Keilloh. Photographs by Dickon Siddall
Packed Race Programme for MG/Triumph 100
With the next race meeting for MG Car Club members drawing ever closer, drivers all around the country will be making final preparations for their races at MG/Triumph 100 on the historic Silverstone GP circuit on 10th & 11th June.
The Club’s motorsport team in collaboration with our invaluable friends at Equipe Classic Racing and MSV Racing have been working tirelessly to finalise plans for the two-day meeting which will run alongside the off-track activities.
For the MG Trophy, MG Cup, BCV8s and Midget & Sprite Challenge, MG/Triumph 100 will be their third race meeting of the year. They will be joined by the Cockshoot Cup and Triple-M Racing who will both be having their second outing of the season. Between them, they will be bringing an eclectic mix of MG and Austin Rover cars, the oldest were built in 1931 and the newest came off the production line some 80 years later. So, from pre-war, hand-built, rear-wheel drive cars to 20th century mass-produced front-wheel drive vehicles, there should be MGs on track to cater for most interests and the sight of the Triple-M cars on track is not to be missed. These cherished vehicles date from the early 1930s when MG could justifiably claim to be one of the most successful British racing marque in the world of circuit racing and record breaking.
From nimble sports cars such as the Elva Courier and Lotus Elite through to the shear grunt of Cobras and Mustangs, the Equipe Classic Racing series cater for a glorious range of Sports, GT, GTS and Touring cars from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, many of which are MGs. Their race series dovetail nicely with the MGCC championships and over the years the two organisations have developed a close and fruitful relationship.
The GT & Sports Car Cup will also be racing at Silverstone. Their 90 minute pit-stop race always attracts a spectacular grid of cars and this year’s entry list boasts no less than 7 E-Type Jaguars, 6 Austin Healey 3000s, 2 AC Cobras and a Corvette Sting Ray along with others including MGBs, TVRs, Morgans and Mini Coopers.
In addition to the track action there will be plenty to entertain you if you visit the MG/Triumph 100 infield there will be action in the Live Arena each day including the ever popular Russ Swift Stunt Driving, live music, trade stands and auto jumble.
The race timetable is shown below. For more information about the off-track activities and to book tickets please visit: mgtriumph100.co.uk
Spridget News – May Edition Out Now
Packed with Midget & Sprite news, the May edition of Spridget News reports on their Brands Hatch race, introduces a new, young driver and much more.
Fun and Sun for MGCC Racers at Oulton
Plenty of racers were attracted to MG Car Club’s second race meeting of 2023, on the spectacular Oulton Park International circuit. And they were rewarded with healthy grids of competitors, fine weather and enthusiastic high-quality racing on the popular and challenging layout, all of which created plenty of smiles.
The Cheshire action was provided by four MGCC championships, plus the novelty of the Classic Sports Car Club’s Magnificent Sevens joining an MGCC meeting for the first time. They all combined to put on a packed day of entertaining racing where there was little pause for breath.
MGCC Cockshoot Cup Championship
The MG Car Club North West Centre-run Cockshoot Cup championship gathered 24 cars for its home meeting, and 2023 season opener, at Oulton Park. And the fight for the overall win was one between Chris Greenbank – who has newly upgraded from Class F to the frontrunning Class C in his MGF – and Ray Collier’s MG ZR 190 that was already an incumbent in the slick-shod class.
Sadly though the defending Cockshoot champion David Morrison – who had qualified third fastest behind Greenbank and Collier – had to withdraw from the races due to his gearbox leaking oil.
In race one both the front-row pair Greenbank and Collier at the green light as expected lost out to the fast-starting ex-Warren Hughes title-winning MGF Cup car of Mark Wright and the Midget of Keith Egar.
Collier climbed back to first by lap four and Greenbank hauled himself to second by half distance, and then ate up the 3.5-second deficit to get onto the bumper of Collier, who was struggling with glazed brakes. The pair were frequently side by side and in a thrilling finish Greenbank pipped Collier for victory on the line, the pair again side by side. Greenbank also got driver of the race.
John Payne in his Austin-Healey Sprite comfortably won Class B while Phil Rigby in his MGF was similarly dominant in Class F. Rhys Higginbotham beat Leon Wignall to win Class A by 10s.
Wright didn’t take part in race two due to a gearbox problem encountered in the first race, but otherwise the picture at the front was similar as Egar shot past Greenbank and Collier to lead at the launch. Collier on lap two however claimed the lead with a double pass. Greenbank then got by Collier for first on the following tour.
Greenbank though at half distance – admitting he was watching a backmarker rather than his braking point – straight-lined the Knickerbrook chicane, letting Collier back into first. Greenbank resumed the lead two laps later, but then the red flag was flown as Jamie Stevens’ MGF was in the gravel at Druids in a dangerous place. And Collier got the win as the result was taken from the previous lap’s order. He got driver of the race too.
Greenbank said: “I’ve raced in the F class now for five or six years, in that class you never stand a chance of actually getting an outright win and that’s what I wanted. So I had to go up to Class C – bigger engines, slicks – and try and get the win, and that’s what I did.
“It’s fantastic, the slicks are a phenomenal difference. I didn’t think there was going to be much difference between the semi-slicks and the race slicks but they’re just a completely different ball game. Hopefully [the success] will keep on going.
“It’s the first time the car’s been out since the full rebuild. Friday was the first time I sat in the car.”
Collier added: “The MGF’s got lots of corner and exit speed, so the ZRs go in [to corners] quicker and the Fs come out [quicker]. It was nice to have a really good battle. I did really enjoy it.
“I did struggle all day with the brakes, by the last three laps the brakes were glazed so you didn’t know whether they were going to work or not.
“I overtook [Chris] a couple of times and he overtook me back. I actually went from third to first [in race two], because I went down the inside of Keith and Chris, so that was a nice move – I felt quite smug for that!”
Higginbotham – in fifth place overall – and Rigby were comfortable winners in race two in Class A and F respectively, while Payne beat Mark Bellamy by less than a second to win Class B.
MGCC Lackford Engineering MG Midget & Sprite Challenge
Stephen Watkins continued his 100% start to the 2023 Midget & Sprite campaign with two more comfortable wins at Oulton Park, wherein he led home the 23-strong pack and was largely unchallenged in the frontrunning Class A.
In a similar pattern to in the previous month’s Brands Hatch season opener, Watkins’ Class E pursuers got ahead of his Midget at the start while he got temperature into his slicks. In Oulton’s race one reigning champion Pippa Cow plus fellow Austin-Healey Sprite runner Richard Bridge both got ahead of Watkins at the off and the front trio had an exciting battle for the opening three laps. But from there Watkins stretched clear in first and won eventually by five seconds.
Cow, Bridge and Frogeye Sprite runner James Hughes had though a close scrap for Class E honours and second place overall. Cow pulled out when her brake pedal went long, and Bridge just won the class battle after proceedings were ended early as Andrew Caldwell’s Midget was stuck in the gravel and the race was stopped.
There was a four-car battle for Class D victory, which was won by Dean Stanton’s Sprite after he fought past Hugh Simpson’s Midget, and Stanton got driver of the race with it. Ian Hodgkinson’s Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite won Class H.
Cow – her brakes now bled – again jumped Watkins at the off to lead race two, though Watkins was back ahead on the second lap for a lead he kept.
Watkins said: “It was again just once the tyres warmed up it was a matter of getting away from the Class E people, which are very quick.
“The first race I had a little bit more of a battle trying to get past them as the tyres warmed up, but especially in this sort of weather they come in a bit quicker.
“Apart from that it was fine, a perfect weekend really. Apart from that I had a cracked brake pipe that we just happened to notice as we went out for the second race. Luckily we managed to replace the pipe so that got me out for the second one – it nearly didn’t happen!”
Cow, Bridge and Hughes again had a frantic Class E fight behind Watkins in race two, and it pivoted at three-quarters’ distance when Cow and Hughes came into contact when Hughes put in a passing attempt. Hughes went no further and Bridge nipped into the class lead. Cow however got the lead back on the start-finish straight with a lap left to get Class E victory.
And the Class D contest once again featured a close multi-car fight for the win. Long-time leader Stanton had a late off, and Simpson pipped fellow Midget runner Barnaby Collinson by just 0.038s in a thrilling finish, and Simpson also got driver of the race. Hodgkinson made it a double win in Class H.
Watkins’ Class A rival Martin Morris missed the opening race as he pulled off on the warm-up lap with an oil pressure drop, though he returned for race two and finished fourth overall.
MG Cup Powered by Cherished Vehicle Insurance
Long-time Rover Tomcat racer Stuart Tranter was tempted to race in the MG Cup at Oulton Park in an invitational entry, and the local immediately grabbed pole position for race one.
He looked good to dominate the race too as he charged off in first but after three laps reigning Class B champion Ian Boulton was suddenly on his tail, as Tranter’s tyres had gone off. Boulton got the lead after a place-swapping battle at half distance, where he first got by at Shell Oils hairpin. Tranter nipped back past on the start-finish straight but Boulton attacked again at the first corner, ran alongside down the hill to Cascades and stayed on the inside to seal the move.
Boulton stayed in first to get his first-ever outright race win. He led Tranter home by 3.4 seconds, and Tranter was just ahead of Class C winner Ashley Woodward in third place overall in his ZS 180.
Tranter sought to learn his lesson in race two by showing more pace restraint as he again led from the off. He was aided this time by that Boulton got a poor start and dropped to fifth. Boulton recovered to second by lap five and again hounded Tranter, but Tranter held on and the race ended a couple of minutes early with two cars off at Old Hall.
Dave Nixon, fourth home overall in his Tomcat, beat Woodward to Class C honours by less than a second and got driver of the race with it.
Tranter said: “I didn’t manage [the win] in the first one and rightly so, Ian was brilliant. This time [race two] I managed to just hang on. It really was ‘just’. I drove it a bit steady early on to try and preserve it a bit, then when the pressure was on at the end there was no way you could drive it lightly. I was just hoping the tyres lasted out and they did. So happy days, really enjoyed it.
“The MG Cup’s a great series. The class structure and everything is just really good. It’s relatively low-cost racing, which is what you want, and competitive racing. Generally speaking we haven’t had much damage [across the MG Cup races] today and that makes all the difference.
“It’s my 16th year with that car. It just keeps on going – that’s the way I want it!”
Boulton added: “Stuart in the Tomcat is a couple of classes above me, because it’s really a fast car. I could get alongside him but I couldn’t get past him [in race two].
“Race one was fantastic, I did get past in race one and I got the overall win, that was a very first for me so I really enjoyed that.
“Sometimes you think it’s impossible to get past [a car in a higher class] but it’s not, you’ve just got to really really wait for your moment. But [in race two] he got wise from race one in how I was going to get past him and parked the car in the middle of the track.”
MG Trophy Championship Sponsored by Mangoletsi MG
Adam Jackson did not compete in MG Trophy’s 2023 Brands Hatch curtain-raiser round, as he was thinking he might “have more of a laid-back year”. But as soon as he was watching the Brands race he was tempted to return for the Oulton Park round, joining the 18-strong line-up there.
And Jackson was rewarded in Cheshire with two dominant race victories, in both races leaving his fellow ZR 190 racer Graham Ross far behind, with Brands double winner Ross unhappy with his suspension settings.
In race one Jackson blasted past poleman Ross at the start then streaked clear to be almost 14 seconds ahead by the end, a feat that also got him driver of the race. And no-one else was in contention for first as another habitual Class A frontrunner Doug Cole was an early retiree with a driveshaft problem.
The battle for Class B victory was tight however, and was won by Tylor Ballard who kept the chasing fellow MG ZR 170 of Fergus Campbell at arm’s length.
Jackson again dominated the second race, this time from pole, and again beat Ross comfortably even though a late-race safety car closed things up after Jack Chapman was pitched off when a battery problem resulted in his rear brakes locking.
Cole didn’t manage to start the second race due to a gearbox problem. His son James however salvaged family glory by winning race two’s Class B bout. James in race one indeed had pitted to retire a lap after Doug did, in his case with a cylinder head problem.
The battle for the race two Class B win started early and Ballard ran across the grass on lap one. Campbell took up the class lead but Cole Jr soon overtook him and remained in the place for the remainder. He also got driver of the race.
Jackson said: “Can’t complain at that. I tend to go well around Oulton but I usually have a disaster that ruins it for me, and we’ve just not had any issues today. Just concentrate and get the lap times and that’s it.
“The car was alright, it wasn’t where we wanted it to be but it’s a lot better than where it’s been.
“There’s a lot of work to do on the front suspension. Last year a damper burst through Cascades, and I’m not running that damper, I’m still running the other damper, a matched one for it, so I need to get them sorted. Other than that it’s near enough there.”
Ross added: “I just never had the pace in the car. I suspected it because there was a glimpse of that at Brands. So my fiddling with suspension is not getting me where I want to be. I was never ever going to challenge Adam.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board, have a think, see what we can do, and just try and get some of the pace that I used to have back. I’ve gone the wrong way and I think the car’s telling me that, so I need to listen to what it’s saying and apply some common sense.”
CSCC Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens
Classic Sports Car Club’s Magnificent Sevens joined the MG Car Club as a guest at Oulton Park, with its two 30-minute races the first time that Caterhams have raced with MGCC.
Tim Davis proved to be the pacesetter of the 22-strong line-up of machines based on the Lotus Seven Series 3 design. This, in Magnificent Sevens’ third meeting of the year, was Davis’s first outing of 2023 due to the busy racer building a Corvette for American SpeedFest.
Davis for Oulton’s race one made things difficult for himself by having a poor start. This was due to him starting in second gear as his dash display was blank making him think that first gear had not engaged. He dropped to around 10th but quickly fought back to second place by one-quarter’s distance, and he swiftly closed on leader Colin Watson.
Davis attacked Watson for the rest of the way, and frequently went for gaps to pass, but Watson appeared to have the straightline speed advantage and remained ahead for the race’s remainder.
Davis didn’t repeat his startline mistake in race two and from pole he led from the off and then dominated, winning eventually by 30 seconds. Watson, recovering from getting a 10-place winners’ penalty, climbed to finish second.
Report by Graham Keilloh. Photographs by Dickon Siddall.
Counting Down to the Spring Race Meeting
The second race meeting of 2023 to feature MG Car Club championships is scheduled for 13th May at Oulton Park.. The first outing for the MG Trophy, MG Cup and Midget & Sprites was at Brands Hatch at the beginning of April where they blew away the winter cobwebs with two days of closely contested racing.
They will be joined on Oulton Park’s undulating parkland circuit by the Cockshoot Cup, a championship run by the North West Centre of the MG Car Club, and the Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens, a race series for cars based on the Lotus Seven Series 3 design including Caterham, Lotus, Westfield and similar cars.
After the morning’s qualifying sessions the packed race programme will include two races of 20 minutes each for the MGCC championships, 30 minutes each for the Magnificent Sevens.
Oulton Park is an excellent circuit for spectators. The Knickerbrook Grandstand and surrounding area affords excellent views over the circuit to Cascades and the challenging corners of Hislops and Knickerbrook.
Why not come along and enjoy a great day’s racing. You can buy your tickets from the circuit website.
The MGCC Welcome Centre will once again be serving complimentary hot and cold drinks and biscuits.
The timetable for the day will be published soon.
Stars are out in entertaining Brands season opener
There was plenty of star quality present for the MG Car Club’s 2023 season-opening race weekend on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. This star quality was there with the drivers, and in the wide range of cars represented from the pre-War machines in the Triple-M contest right through to the modern racers in MG Trophy and MG Cup.
And the drivers and cars alike lived up to their star billing with entertaining, high-quality and spirited competition across the two days within the intense Indy circuit bowl, on a bill the club shared with Equipe Classic Racing.
MGCC MG Trophy Championship
Two-time MG Trophy champion Graham Ross bounced back from a tricky 2022 by winning both of 2023’s season-opening races at Brands Hatch in his left-hand-drive ZR 190.
Ross dropped to third on the opening lap of race one but by lap four had claimed first place, where he stayed. He finished though just 1.8 seconds clear of Fergus Campbell in his Class B ZR 170, who hung on gamely and won his class, ahead of Tylor Ballard who closed in on him late on. And Lee Sullivan – who at Brands returned to the Trophy for the first time since 2016 when he came second overall and won Class B – led the race overall early on and was leading the Class B charge behind Ross but dropped out with a broken gearbox.
Jack Chapman, who rose from the back to finish fifth overall, got driver of the race.
Ross’s race-one win was aided too by that Class A rival Doug Cole got stranded in the collecting area as a broken alternator resulted in a flat battery. He returned for race two and early on climbed from fourth to second, then he closed in on leader Ross and attacked him for the place.
Cole got alongside Ross several times at Paddock and Druids, though Ross was the stronger at Graham Hill Bend, and he managed to resist Cole for the rest of the way to win.
Sullivan again led the race early on – this time from pole – and was leading Class B when he again retired with a repeat of his technical woes. That left the battle for the class win between Campbell and Ballard, and Ballard got by for victory with a magnificent pass, hanging on around the outside of Druids then getting the inside line for Graham Hill Bend. Ballard also got driver of the race.
“[The weekend was] more successful than I thought,” Ross said. “I was happy to come here [and] not go away with any damage.
“We’ve tinkered a bit with suspension settings and stuff like that just trying to get an advantage. We’ve got ourselves in a rabbit hole going the wrong direction, I think we’re going the right way now. It still isn’t quite right. Compared to Doug it was really good at Graham Hill, everywhere else it was not as good, so it was a race spent defending. But we’re getting there.
“[Race one] was a bit lonely, good to boost the confidence, but if Doug had been on the track I doubt I would have won it. I didn’t think I would have defended to keep him back for that whole race [in race two], but I managed it.
“Two wins: chuffed to bits. Also it was my first pole at Brands. Couldn’t have gone much better.”
MGCC MG Cup
The MG Cup races at Brands Hatch had a fresh look. Race-one pole was taken by none other than Lance Ellington, the Strictly Come Dancing singer and former 1990s’ Dunlop Rover Turbo Cup racer in a Daily Mirror-sponsored Tomcat 220 Turbo. This Brands event – back in a Tomcat – marked his return to competition after a quarter century away.
Ellington also led race one early on, but it was another notable new entry that soon moved past to lead, in Steve McDermid in his brand-new ZR 190 that he had only just completed and had spent an intense last few months preparing. McDermid moved clear for a comfortable win.
“It’s a new car, just built, and it’s phenomenal,” McDermid said. “It came out [at the meeting] and just left the field for dust.
“I haven’t worked for the last two months after I decided to build a new car. There’s eight week’s work there; seven days a week the last six weeks. And I finished it at 9:30 on Friday night.”
Ellington was second home on the road but got a 10-second penalty for starting just ahead of his grid slot, despite his efforts to reverse into place. This let Ashley Woodward, whom Ellington pipped to the line, claim second place after all in his ZS 180. Woodward also got driver of the race.
Reigning class champion Ian Boulton, fourth home, won Class B in his MG ZR, helped by that Iain Dowler ran across the grass at Druids on lap one trying to get the lead from Ellington.
Race two looked very similar to race one as McDermid again moved up quickly from fourth place to lead. However this time Woodward, who’d led the first four laps, remained close to him. Then the race got turned on its head when the lead pair made contact at Druids, putting McDermid out.
Woodward continued in first but was hobbled by his resultant suspension damage and Ellington eventually passed Woodward’s understeering car to win. Ellington was awarded driver of the race as well.
Boulton inherited the Class B win as third home overall, when Dennis Robinson, who took the place on the road, got a 10-second track-limits penalty.
Ellington was delighted. “I just had the best weekend back,” he said, “and it’s everything I remember, especially the Tomcat, which is just a great car. [Car owner and Castle Combe champion] Gary Prebble’s set it up beautifully, and the racing was such fun out there. Absolutely chuffed.
“The MG Cup, what a great place to come back to. I’m excited to be out again with them at some other circuits this year, work permitting. Especially after this weekend, now I’ve got the bug back with the Tomcat I’m probably going to stick with that [rather than race elsewhere].”
MGCC Lackford Engineering Midget & Sprite Challenge
Stephen Watkins made a welcome return to the Midget & Sprite Challenge in his MG Midget, and won both Brands Hatch races from pole. And for the first of them he got the Steve Everitt Trophy, an award Watkins was delighted to receive as he raced closely against Everitt for two years.
Neither of Watkins’ Brands wins were straightforward though, as he got a strong challenge from a host of Class E cars, particularly as they got heat into their tyres more quickly than Watkins could with his slicks, in often-cool conditions.
In the first race Watkins had to resist three chasing foes, led by an effervescent Richard Bridge – now in a Class E Austin Healey Sebring Sprite – who attacked Watkins throughout. Watkins though got an early reprieve when the race ended ahead of time with a red flag with four minutes left. Bridge reckoned he might have won without the early conclusion.
The red flag came about as Hugh Simpson’s MG Midget was stuck in the Paddock gravel. He was disputing the Class D lead with Dean Stanton’s Austin Healey Sprite and Simpson spun just after a small touch with Stanton entering the Paddock turn. Stanton therefore got the class victory.
Reigning champion Pippa Cow meanwhile started both races from the back, after spinning out of a wet and tricky qualifying. But in both race encounters she rose quickly and impressively to get with the lead group. In race one she was third home, and second in Class E.
Bridge was unable to take part in race two, as a cylinder head cracked when making his way back to the paddock after race one. Watkins in race two looked more comfortable in first in Bridge’s absence, but then he had the spanner in the works of a red flag – due to a couple of cars pulled off and plenty of oil deposited on track – and a subsequent five-minute sprint for the spoils from a re-formed grid.
And at the restart Cow got the lead from Watkins on the outside of Druids first time through. But two laps later, at the same turn, Watkins with his slicks heated up and the oil cleaned off them retook first place and stayed there. Cow was second home and got the Class E win from James Hughes. Stanton again beat Simpson in Class D, and was awarded the Midget & Sprite Challenge’s driver of the meeting.
Watkins said: “There were no real problems [in race one] aside from the fact it was cold, and I think the Class E cars their tyres they work a lot better in the cold. I still managed to stay in the front just about.
“And [race two] being a bit warmer I thought it might be a bit better, it was going quite well, I was keeping a distance to the Class E cars this time. And after [the red flag] again I was being fairly cautious. With the bigger tyres if they get a bit of oil on it they do tend to slip a bit more until it wears off again.”
MGCC Baynton Jones Historic Motorsport Triple-M Racing Challenge
The Triple-M Racing Challenge had a significant double winner as Charles Jones, the head of series sponsor Baynton Jones Historic Motorsport, returned to race his MG L Magna for the first time in four years, and won both of Brands Hatch’s pre-War contests from pole.
In race one Jones was briefly headed by Andrew Long’s MG KN, but Long almost immediately dropped out with supercharger manifold problems.
From there Jones was unchallenged and won by 12 seconds from comfortable Class B winner Mike Davies-Colley in his MG PA Special.
Tim Sharp in his MG PB was fourth home and the clear Class A victor, and he was just ahead of equally clear Class D winner Steven McEvoy in his MG Magna F1, and McEvoy was also awarded driver of the race.
Jones then won race two, moving clear to win this time by 36s, while Long had more mechanical woe as he retired on lap one with fuel pump failure.
Mark Dolton in his MG PB got past Davies-Colley at mid distance to finish second overall and win Class B. Dolton was awarded driver of the race too. Nicholas Powell’s MG LA Special beat McEvoy for Class D victory, while Sharp – this time eighth overall – made it a double win in Class A.
“It’s been a relearning job for me,” Jones said of his meeting, “so this morning was a bit of a catch up and it was a bit slippery and things like that.
“The first race was good, was starting off to be quite close but both the two frontrunners we both had a little problem and I had to nurse it through that really to take the first one. But the car was perfect in the second race and I managed to get back to the lap times I was doing four years ago, so that was very pleasing. It’s nice to be here with everyone enjoying it.
“[The car’s] been in the family since 1972 and dad and I have both driven it all over the place, all over Europe. It’s a sort of travelling advert for us, doing quite a good job today.
“We’re very much looking forward to the Silverstone GP circuit in June with the rest of the car club, and hope we can put on a decent show there with all the Triple-M cars, which is nearly where it all started.”
MGCC BCV8 Championship
Neil Fowler in the BCV8 curtain raiser kept in with what seemed two themes of the Brands Hatch meeting, of being a double winner, and of charging through after starting from the back.
Fowler in his fine-running MG B GT, having seemingly sorted the reliability problems that blighted his 2022, had a lot of pace but he missed qualifying as his fire extinguisher was accidentally set off, and Fowler couldn’t fit a replacement in time.
Reigning champion James Wheeler, this time racing his dad’s Class C MG B as his Class D car wasn’t ready, took pole. He lost the lead to Ian Prior on lap one, but was back ahead a lap later. But Fowler rose quickly and at half distance passed Wheeler to lead.
Fowler won, but just as he crossed the line to take the flag he got a five-second penalty added for passing a car before the line at an early safety car restart. He was just 1.7 seconds ahead of runner-up Prior in the classification.
Wheeler was third home and a comfortable Class C winner, while Russell McCarthy’s MG B won Class B and Jordan Spencer in his MGB Roadster won Class AB.
Fowler, again from the back, rose even more quickly in race two and got the lead from Prior at one-quarter’s distance. And again he stayed in first place, strengthening his margin to 22.8s over Prior by the end.
Wheeler was again third home and the Class C winner, though this time he was only just ahead of Andrew Young’s MG B Roadster after Wheeler conspicuously backed off for a couple of laps at mid distance, to ease his temperatures.
Guy Samuels in his MG B Roadster was a clear Class B winner, with McCarthy this time pitting at the end of the formation lap. Spencer again won Class AB, though only by a second from David Strike’s MG B GT.
“It was enjoyable working my way to the front,” Fowler said. “I borrowed a fire extinguisher out of someone’s broken car, and it’s an electronic one so we had to replumb that in and run the cables to it, then we had to do three laps at lunchtime to allow us to start at the back of the grid.
“I didn’t expect to be at the front as quick as that [in race two], I thought it might be the last two or three laps.
“The car’s running well – at last. I had enough problems last year with gearboxes. Everything’s good.”
Tom Smith won the restarted Equipe GTS opener in his MG B Roadster, taking the lead early then keeping a scrapping pack at arm’s length behind. Smith was aided by that poleman Oliver Pratt in his Morgan Plus 4 had a poor start and dropped to mid-pack. Pratt then clawed his way up to finish in a close second place, just 2.5 seconds shy.
Pratt got better launches in the also-restarted race two, and got the lead from Smith at the restart then kept him out of reach. Smith, unsure of his handling, had made changes to his MG B between races but admitted they may have been counterproductive.
Pratt said: “I knew if I got the start right the rest would be plain sailing; [in race one] I had two awful starts. We’ve made some changes to the engine, when it’s lower down it’s a big groggy.”
In Equipe’s new 1970s contest Andrew Wenman was a late replacement for his unwell father David driving their Morgan, and in the opening race he moved clear in first place from pole. But at two-thirds’ distance Wenman Jr spun at Surtees and lost first place to Stephen Winter’s Porsche 911. Wenman trimmed the deficit to Winter for the rest of the way but Winter remained ahead, and was put out of reach when Wenman lost time by sliding at Graham Hill Bend’s exit late on.
Wenman kept it on the straight and narrow to win race two however, taking the lead at the start and stretching his advantage much as he had done in race one. He was 14.2 seconds clear of Winter at the end.
Equipe Pre 63 / 50s
Nigel Winchester in his elegant and powerful Shelby had to start the opening Equipe Pre 63 / 50s race from 11th as he was circumspect in damp qualifying. But in the dry race one he rose to second place on the first lap, and at one-third’s distance passed Joe Willmott’s Austin Healey 3000 for a lead he didn’t lose.
In race two Winchester – now starting from pole – led all the way. But this time he had a group of close chasing cars, and had to resist an attacking Nick Finburgh who in his Lola rose to second place for the latter part of the race.
Winchester’s superior straightline speed kept him ahead, but as he crossed the line at the end he lost the win via a five-second track-limit penalty. This meant Finburgh prevailed.
Chris Beighton’s Sunbeam Tiger, which will race at Le Mans Classic this summer, led all of the opening Equipe Libre race from pole to win by 5.6 seconds from Rick Willmott’s AC Cobra.
Beighton looked on course to repeat the feat in race two, but suddenly lost the lead at half distance with a Clearways spin. Soon he had climbed back from fourth, and eaten up the 6.4s gap in doing so, to retake the lead from Gerard Buggy’s Lotus Elan.
But Beighton’s Sunbeam not long later started to smoke and he dropped out. It transpired that it was due to a dipstick tube problem leaking oil onto the exhaust. Buggy got the victory.
Report by Graham Keilloh. Photographs by Dickon Siddall.
Midget & Sprite Challenge Launch Newsletter
The Midget & Sprite Challenge has launched a new Newsletter.
Billed as “THE WORLDS ONLY RACING MIDGET & SPRITE NEWSPAPER” the first edition of Spridget News looks forward to the coming season and, amongst other things, introduces the new Class H for Historic cars that comply with the FIA regulations.
Edited by Andrew Caldwell, his intention is to publish Spridget News on a regular basis. Content will include race reports, championship news and relevant historic racing news. Andrew will rely heavily on race competitors and club members for contributions to editorial content and he asks that you send anything newsworthy to him be email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brands Hatch Race Meeting 1st/2nd April
The 2023 racing season gets underway at Brands Hatch on 1st/2nd April. The two-day programme, organised in conjunction with our friends at Equipe Classic Racing, will see the MG Trophy, MG Cup, Midgets & Sprites, Triple Ms and BCV8s each have a qualifying session and two races as shown in the timetable
Come along to spectate and enjoy our season opener. The MGCC Welcome Centre will be serving complimentary hot and cold drinks and biscuits all weekend. Buy your tickets from the circuit
Live timing and results will be available on the TSL website
Download a copy of the Timetable and Entry List
2023 Race Calendar Announced
In a year which will see the MG Marque celebrate 100 years, several anniversaries will also be celebrated within the racing side of the MG Car Club, including the 35th Anniversary of the MG Cup, the 40th Anniversary of the Midget & Sprite Club and the 90th Anniversary of the K3.
We are therefore delighted to confirm the racing calendar for 2023 as follows:
Saturday 1st & Sunday 2nd April
Brands Hatch Indy
Saturday 13th May
Saturday 10th – Sunday 11th June
Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit
Sunday 30th July
Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th September
For individual championship calendars, please check their own websites. The links to their websites can be found here – https://www.mgcc.co.uk/motorsport/racing/
Twists and turns as MGCC titles are taken at Snetterton
MG Car Club racing categories plus the Morgan Challenge gathered for the club’s 2022 season finale meeting at Snetterton, and they all had championships to resolve. And the day could barely have packed in more drama in deciding those championships, as there were plenty of twists and a few titles were not resolved until the very last. In one case it was decided literally in the run to the finishing line.
To add to the excitement, the early Autumn weather in Norfolk was sometimes treacherous, with the occasional short shower livening the action further and giving drivers plenty to think about.
It was a particularly notable meeting too for MG Metro Cup and Midget & Sprite Challenge, which both had special occasions to mark.
MGCC The Holden MG Trophy
MG Trophy’s championship fight at Snetterton was between Class B pair Joe Dalgarno and Josh Bromley, with Dalgarno arriving in Norfolk with a slender lead.
And the duo in the first Snetterton race took part in a tight four-way place-swapping class battle with Patrick Booth and James Cole also involved, though Cole dropped out at half distance after overrevving his engine. And Bromley pipped Dalgarno to the flag by just 0.157 seconds, getting Driver of the Race with it. This result created a winner-takes-all finale race for the title between the pair in race two.
While at the front Class A’s Jason Burgess and Adam Jackson also had a tight fight, with Burgess jumping poleman Jackson at the start and holding off his foe. Their scrap was resolved when Jackson pitted with a puncture shortly after an off entering the Bentley Straight. He returned freshly booted to take a distant second in class.
In the title-deciding race two, now in more tricky conditions, Dalgarno spun early and lost ground to Bromley. But, having established tyre temperature, Dalgarno closed in on Bromley late on and the title-protagonist pair had a furious last-lap scrap for the crown. Dalgarno got by Bromley at the start of the lap, but Bromley was back ahead at the Esses halfway round. The pair proceeded at close quarters and amazingly had a side-by-side drag race to the line for the championship, which Dalgarno won by just 0.058s. The pair had made contact at Murrays, the final turn, but it was declared a racing incident.
Sam Meagher, who missed race one, ran competitively in the second race to finish fifth in Class B and got Driver of the Race.
While up front Burgess made it a double win by again holding off poleman Jackson after jumping him off the line. At one point the pair were side by side for several corners from the Esses, but Burgess had the inside line for Murrays and kept the lead.
Dalgarno said: “It’s been a tough year, it’s been a great year. I got my first win at the beginning of the season and to finish it with a win as well was really mega, I really enjoyed this year.
“I didn’t really have any grip [in race two] and kept pushing, kept pushing, and I got the tyre temperature up. And as soon as I got temperature I was able to brake that bit later and carry that little bit extra speed through the corners and it just brought me onto the back of him [Bromley].
“I went for the move [at Murrays on the last lap], which I had done the same on the previous lap, and he left me room the previous lap, last lap he didn’t leave me the room. I tried to back out of it to avoid the contact but I just didn’t quite make it in time.
“I turned him around a little bit, so I backed right out, let him get straight again and [it was a] drag race to the line.”
Bromley said: “[At] Murrays as I’ve turned in I’ve had contact on my rear bumper slash rear wheel area. It’s sent me into a slide and cost me the exit of that corner, the run up to the line, and he’s [Dalgarno] drove past me.
“Early on [in race two] it started raining, normally you get a couple of laps where it’s not too bad but it seemed as soon as a little bit of rain came down it was very very lively. But I managed to find some pace in the rain.”
On the year more generally, Bromley added: “It’s been a great season, enjoyed every minute of it, so can’t wait for some more.”
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Richard Buckley returned to the MG Cup grid at Snetterton, after missing the Oulton Park round with work commitments. In Norfolk he was seeking to confirm the championship crown ahead of the challenging Class B runner Ian Boulton.
Buckley in his Rover Tomcat claimed pole, but it rained before race one and he was less happy, particularly with the car’s brakes early in the race and he had a lap-one off at Oggies.
The Class B MG ZR 170s came to the fore instead and among them Jack Chapman – in his newly improved machine – quickly took to the front and streaked clear. He won by 45 seconds and astoundingly it was his first-ever win. Appropriately he got Driver of the Race. Fergus Campbell and then Boulton were next home.
Buckley despite his struggle took class victory just from Dave Nixon, who recovered from a lowly grid slot as his Tomcat was only running on three cylinders.
Joel Roy Highley in his MG ZR 160 won Class A clearly from the returning Marcus Short whose gamble on wet tyres did not pay off.
Race two was in large part a repeat as Chapman again scampered clear in first place to win crushingly, this time by half a minute. His performance was rewarded with Driver of the Day.
Buckley again had a tough time, and again ran off the track early on. He recovered though to second in class and this was sufficient for him to seal the title.
Campbell again was overall runner-up while Daniel Boman was third home and clear Class C winner, as well as Driver of the Race, while Short won in Class A. Boulton had been second home overall on the road but got a 10s penalty for causing a collision.
“I tried my hardest not to do it today really didn’t I?,” Buckley laughed. “I locked up in the first race, the first lap, locked up on the first lap of the second race, made myself hard work. But I managed to bring it back, so happy with that.
“I put some different brake pads on and they’re very snatchy, too hard, very snatchy when they’re cold. They’re fine when they get hot. Especially the first lap there’s not enough heat in them, as soon as you touch the brakes it just snatches them.
“Two finishes, that’s all I was interested in today. I wasn’t particularly bothered about wins, just two finishes and the championship.”
Double winner Chapman meanwhile said: “It’s been a really good day, had a lot of ups and not many downs, because I seemed to keep the car on the pace, the car was set up well for every condition that the track threw at me.
“Before coming to this weekend I overhauled it [the car] with British Legends, and just everything seemed to be good. Throughout the whole of the season I was having an issue with it but I didn’t realise I had the issue. It had a dodgy earth on the ECU and when I sorted that the car seemed to be on fire ever since.
“End of last year I’ve shown a lot of pace and potential and that I could possibly fight for the championship. But this year it all went out the window, but out of nowhere I’ve found the pace in the car again and I’m back where I should be.”
MGCC Lackford Engineering MG Midget & Sprite Challenge with MGAs & BCV8s
Midget & Sprite Challenge had a special contest at Snetterton as in its first race Class A runners competed for the Ted Reeve Memorial Trophy, remembering the man who competed in Midgets for 48 years, and whose last race with the club was at Snetterton in 2017.
In that first race, poleman Richard Bridge retired almost immediately with what he suspected was a water pump failure. And in the damp conditions the returning newly crowned Cockshoot Cup champion David Morrison had his wet-tyre gamble on his Midget pay off handsomely. From fourth on the grid he had a 6.7-second lead at the end of lap one, and before long he was half a minute clear. He cruised to victory.
James Hughes in his Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite was next home and a clear Class E winner. Pippa Cow had a haphazard time in the conditions – she estimated she went off four times – but her second place in Class E was enough for her to retain her championship crown.
Barney Collinson pipped fellow Midget runner Hugh Simpson in the Class D contest, and Collinson got Driver of the Day, though Simpson was later disqualified for a technical infringement.
The Midgets and Spites shared the track with MGAs and BCV8s and Jonnie Wheeler, taking over his son James’s MGB GT V8, was first BCV8 runner home despite an early spin. He won out in a close fight with fellow MGB GT V8 racer Oliver Wardle.
A slick surface for race two gave the runners a similar tyre conundrum and this time Morrison’s selection of wets didn’t pay off, as he fell to fifth on a surface too dry for them. By contrast another returnee Martin Morris found that his choice of slicks this time paid off. He had run on slicks in race one and slithered down the order, but in race two he took to the front at half distance and won.
It was a poignant day for Morris as he was racing Reeve’s old car, having taken over it at the 11th hour from multiple-champion Paul Sibley who couldn’t take part due to work.
Morris finished 9.1s clear of Wheeler – and Wheeler got the BCV8/MGA Driver of the Race across the two races – with Cow next home and the Class E winner. Simpson won Class D race and got Driver of the Race.
Morrison said: “Just took a gamble on the tyres with the wets [in race one] and it paid off. Went and had a look at the track instead of looking on the telemetry and it worked. So we were quids in. Half the track was so bad, which I don’t think anyone expected.
“And I tried the same tyres in the second one, because it was spitting a bit, but it [the rain] didn’t come. So that’s why I was a bit slow. It shredded [the tyres].”
Morris said: “It started raining at the beginning of the second race, but I thought I’m going out on slicks and that’s the end of it, and it was the right call.
“I lent the car from Paul Sibley, and [in race one] I didn’t want to put his wet tyres on when it was partially wet, partially dry, so I just thought out of respect go with the slicks and just deal with it.
“But being in Ted Reeve’s old car, the first time I sat in it was this morning, so the first time I drove it was down to the assembly area to go out and qualify. I wish I could have done it [won] in the first race.
“I’ll be back out full season, I broke my gearbox at Brands Hatch and then we had a bent axle, so by the time I got it all sorted it was Thursday last week, and it was too late. And then Paul rang me and said ‘can you take my car because I can’t go?’ So I felt very proud to drive Ted’s old car in his memorial race.”
Cow said of her championship: “We’ve become quite accustomed to #1 on the car, we had it on this year and it means an awful lot, and then to have it again is even more special. The car has had a few issues this year, I’ve had three DNFs which is unusual.
“It’s all the people [that keep me coming back], we’re a really close-knit community team, apart from when we’re on the track when we all want to overtake each other.”
Hickford Construction Ltd MGCC MG Metro Cup
MG Metro Cup marked its 30th anniversary at Snetterton with a special lunchtime parade of cars alongside a number of other ways to mark the occasion. Not least of these was that it had a bumper 22-car grid, including some noteworthy additions. And it was via this bumper entry that the Metros’ year-long championship fight would be decided.
Reigning champion Mark Eales entered the meeting with a points lead over Mike Williams, but Eales’ round started in a tricky fashion. First he damaged a wheel in qualifying and started race one only fifth. Then, even more sensationally, having finished fourth in race one – and second of the points scorers – he was disqualified as his Metro was underweight. And to compound matters he would now start race two at the back. It all appeared to swing the title towards Williams.
Williams had won the opening race, on the final lap passing the dominant returning twice champion Jack Ashton, who had slowed late on as he had a gentlemen’s agreement not to take the chequered flag first as an invitational non-points-scoring entry. Williams and Ashton finished just ahead of another prominent returnee invitational entry Dan Balster, and Balster got Driver of the Race.
However in the second and final race the title took another twist as Williams retired from the lead in a cloud of smoke. Gearbox oil was leaking onto his exhaust, and while Williams could have continued he chose to pull off as he was concerned the dropped oil would be a danger to others.
That left Eales needing to gain places to retain his crown, and he climbed to third of the point-scorers, which by common calculations would be enough for him to get the title after all. He got Driver of the Race for his race-two effort as well.
Balster was first to the flag after Ashton again tailed off late on. Balster was just half a second ahead of the popular winner among the point scorers Richard Garrard.
Eales said: “There was a slight mistake. I weighed the car before qualifying, weighed it again after race one and it was underweight. I don’t know how, when I had more fuel in the car and everything.
“And then with Mike not finishing [race two] I just had to drive the wheels off the car and try and get up as far as I can and hopefully [I’ve] just done enough to secure the championship.
“I must have been fifth or sixth at the time [Williams had his problem] and I see some smoke and I thought it’s coming from Mike’s car, and I see him pull over. I was already going literally as fast as I could and I just tried pushing that little bit more. I had a couple of moments just trying and trying.”
Williams said: “Ups and downs, it’s all part of racing. [Eales’] disqualification kind of put a right dampener on for us; I didn’t want to win it [the Championship] like that at all. We were both quite upset about it.
“With the second race with the gearbox oil going onto the exhaust, I could have carried on but I felt what if someone else went off on my gearbox oil, and damaged their car or God forbid worse, then what kind of championship would that be for me to take? Looking at the first race and what happened to Mark it’s the right thing [outcome].”
The guesting Morgan Challenge also had a championship to resolve in its two Snetterton races.
Poleman Ian Sumner won the opener, despite a poor start and being unhappy with his gearbox. He dropped to fourth at the off but quickly recovered to second then ate up the gap to leader and title contender Andrew Thompson. Sumner then passed Thompson at one third’s distance and pulled clear to win with Thompson runner up.
However Thompson’s title shot was then thrown into doubt as early in the second race oil was leaking onto his rear brakes. Faced with the safety concern plus knowing the car shedding its oil was unlikely to make the end, he retired. And his title rival, Class 4 competitor Stephen Lockett, won in class and took fastest lap therein, which pending calculations could be enough for him to pip Thompson to the crown.
Sumner took his second race win of the day, despite electing to start from the pits this time as he was unsure of the car’s ability to pull away from the startline with its gearbox gremlins. He climbed to the lead by half distance.
Oulton excitement as MGCC racing returns
The MG Car Club racers got quickly down to business after their summer break in a crammed day of action around Oulton Park’s picturesque sweeps. Five of the club’s categories were present that all got two races each in Cheshire, and they were joined by the guesting Morgan Challenge that also got a double header.
The day also included a presentation to Chief Marshal, Paul Stilling (pictured above together with Oulton Park Marshals and MG Car Club Officials). After many years of service to the Club’s racing, Paul has decided that the time has come to take things a little more easily and Oulton Park was his last event in the role. He will still be seen out on the bank with his fellow marshals, predominantly at Donington Park. We wish him the very best for his future.
On the track, there was plenty of drama packed into the day, and it always paid to watch races to the end as no fewer than three of them had the lead change hands on the last lap, and in another the victory destination switched just before the final lap began. And these were far from the only sources of excitement.
Hickford Construction Ltd MGCC MG Metro Cup
Chief MG Metro Cup championship protagonists newly married Mike Williams and reigning champion Mark Eales (both pictured above, cars 28 and 1) led the opening race from the off. But Eales soon took command when poleman Williams’ car mysteriously stuttered then cut out completely. Williams went to park up only to then find the car fired up successfully.
By that time he was well off the back of the pack but he tore back into the action and finished 12th, setting fastest lap too after his problem.
Eales therefore looked set for the win, but at the chequered flag he had a 10-second penalty applied for a false start. This dropped him to third and Dan Willars (also pictured above, car 58) got the win by less than a second from Richard Garrard, and the latter got Driver of the Race.
Eales and Williams took up battle again in the second race, with Williams chasing Eales closely for much of the way. Eales, helped by better straightline speed, stayed ahead and also got Driver of the Race.
Eales said: “Definitely a mixed day. Race one: good start, it must have been touch and go on the jump start because I thought I had it spot on.
“Mike had to pull off and come back on and it gave me a bit of a gap, and then I just drove my own race. I was pushing because I saw the 10s penalty, but I had a couple of little moments towards the end and eased off a little bit which gave Dan [a chance to close].
“Race two, great fun. Absolutely rubbish start this time, ended up basically at the back. Then just fought our way back and managed to get past Mike and then Simmo [Matthew Simpson]. And then I had Mike hassling me the whole time, he’s so fast around the corners but his car’s a little bit down on power at the moment.
“So I made myself as wide as possible, if anything I was taking the corner a little bit slower and blocking the corner because I knew I had the pace to pull away out the corner each time. Very hard work but good fun.”
Williams said of his day: “It’s been a mixed bag to say the least. First race I started on pole and was a forgone conclusion in many respects, I got a 2s lead, I thought I’ll manage the pace, and Mark got a 10s penalty so it’s done and dusted, or so you’d think.
“Then the car started spluttering, he got past, and then it cut out completely. So I pulled over to the side of the circuit, I was literally going to get out the car, flicked around with a few switches, hit the button and it started up. I already was 30s behind what was last place. It was just a case of try and have a bit of fun, which I did.
“Race two, it was a full-on race, but the car just doesn’t have the power in a straight line. I was pushing Mark every corner, I’m alongside him in certain parts. Mark’s got about 7bhp more than me, which in a car with 120bhp is quite a lot. I couldn’t find the opportunity to get past and stay past.”
MGCC The Leacy Classic MG Trophy
Jason Burgess (pictured above, car 16) returned to winning ways in Oulton Park’s opening MG Trophy race, though he didn’t have it all his own way. First he had to rise from a second-row start, but he soon passed poleman Adam Jackson (also pictured above) to lead, and Jackson not long after dropped down to 13th place after a big slide induced by a damper failure.
However it still wasn’t a cruise for Burgess as the returning Ross Makar, having his first race after sitting out for much of this year with a shattered collarbone, was chasing him in second after a poor start from the front row. Makar indeed got into Burgess’s tail when the leader slowed for an oil slick, but Burgess was able to remain ahead to win
Twice champion Graham Ross was another returnee, in his case for the first time since Brands Hatch’s season opener, and he ran competitively until retiring with a clutch problem. Jackson recovered to sixth and got Driver of the Race.
Colin Robertson in his MG3 was third home, ahead of the Class B battle that was won by Joseph Dalgarno by 10 seconds from title rival Josh Bromley. Also in the title fight, Matthew Harvey comfortably won in Class C.
In the second race Burgess again from a second-row start quickly got on to early leader Jackson’s tail, and he passed for the lead on the third lap in a frenzied battle wherein the pair were side-by-side for much of the tour.
Burgess edged clear and looked all set for a second Cheshire victory of the day, but he stopped near the end of the final lap with a vibration, caused it transpired by wheel studs shearing. Jackson inherited the win.
Makar and Ross completed the podium, while Bromley got revenge on Dalgarno by pipping him for Class B honours by just 0.2s, after the pair were tied together for the race’s duration. Class C winner James Blake beat Harvey by 16s and got Driver of the Race.
Burgess said: “Fabulous, really good racing with Adam Jackson in both races, and with Ross Makar. He [Makar] caught me up [in race one] because there was oil on the circuit, so I had a big lead and I probably backed off too much. And then ended up having a good race with Ross at the end, but I’d got plenty in reserve.
“Second race was similar, it was probably a closer race actually than the first one. Adam was definitely out the blocks well and at one stage I thought I’m probably not going be able to catch him. So I literally did throw it into a couple of corners, threw it into the chicane and I got him going up the hill out of the chicane into Lodge and I got side-by-side with him coming on the start-finish straight and that lasted all the way down to Shell [Oils hairpin], it was fantastic.
“Then I managed to get my head down and he couldn’t catch me, and I had a mechanical breakdown on the last half of the last lap. That was disappointing but I had a lot of fun and some good racing, and that’s what you come for.”
Jackson added: “It’s not been easy today. I thought I’ll just go hell for leather straight off the bat [in race two], which I did, but then Jason was just reeling me in and reeling me in. We had a good little battle and when we came up on a backmarker he ended up in a bit of a gap. I [then] was trying to concentrate on doing clean laps but I was pushing more and ended up getting a bit more raggedy. Unfortunately for Jason he gifted it to me, it was a good race, I kept him honest anyway.”
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With MG Cup championship leader Richard Buckley absent with his Ferrari work commitments, Class B cars stepped to the fore at Oulton Park. Fergus Campbell in his brightly painted MG ZR 170 (pictured above) won the opening race after leading all the way from pole. He formed a close frontrunning trio throughout with title protagonists and fellow ZR 170 runners Ian Boulton and Iain Dowler, and they completed the podium with Boulton ahead. Campbell got Driver of the Day too.
Dave Nixon in his Rover 220 Tomcat Turbo was next home and first of the Class C runners, beating Daniel Boman in his MG ZS 180.
Campbell then made it a double win in race two, and this time he was more dominant as he beat Boulton by 13.5 seconds. Boman was third home and therefore won the Class C contest, and he got Driver of the Race. Neither Dowler nor Nixon made the finish due to technical problems, Dowler having throttle woe and Nixon suffering overheating.
And Campbell’s day was even more impressive as he also raced his ZR 170 in both of Oulton’s MG Trophy races, and the final two races he competed in were back to back. In the first Trophy race Campbell even rose from the back to run second in class before getting a black-and-orange flag for flailing rear bodywork after contact. Appropriately Campbell got the meeting’s Driver of the Day award.
Campbell said: “It was a very unusual day. I’d entered the MG Cup races which was always my plan, but up to this meeting I’ve had engine problems all year and I missed Donington. And we sort of felt and hoped that we’d got it sorted and I looked at my qualifying time in the Cup on the same tyres as Joe Dalgarno in the Trophy and there was only a couple of tenths in it, so I thought while I’m here I may as well do the Trophy.
“As soon as that [MG Cup race two] finished, back here, quick refuelling and back into the collecting area for the Trophy. I’m pretty tired having done four races in one day but it’s nice to be back with a reliably running car.
“[In] the first [MG Cup] race I had my work cut out because the tyres didn’t switch on, and in the second Cup race I used the different tyre, the Yokohama tyre which the MG Trophy are using next year. But I had to do two races back-to-back on the same set of tyres, we didn’t have time to change tyres.”
MGCC Lackford Engineering MG Midget & Sprite Challenge
Richard Bridge (pictured above) was in dominant form in the MG Midget & Sprite Challenge in his Austin Healey Sprite, and from pole won the opening race by more than 20 seconds.
Returning frontrunner Stephen Collier likely would have offered Bridge a closer challenge, but he had recover from starting at the back after not being able to set a qualifying time due to a rotor arm failing. Collier rose to second place by the race’s third lap but by then Bridge was more than 10s up the road. They finished in the same positions, in Collier’s case despite his brakes failing at mid distance and him developing exhaust problems. The woes kept Collier out of race two.
Reigning champion Pippa Cow in race one was third home in her Sprite and beat James Hughes’ Sprite to Class E victory. Connor Kay in his Midget was the Class D victor.
Bridge looked all set to repeat his dominant win in race two as he built a large lead from pole, but he sensationally retired on the final lap with a broken halfshaft. Cow therefore inherited the win, finishing 5s ahead of Hughes. Kay finished third overall and got another Class D win.
Hugh Simpson in his Midget meanwhile charged from the back to finish fifth, and third in Class D, and this got him Driver of the Race.
Bridge said: “It was nice to win the first race, and it was a shame that Steve Collier had to start from the back because I was really looking forward to racing him. And then the car was just superb and the track was in good condition for the second race and just a bit of a shame not to finish because of the halfshaft breaking. I broke the lap record though so I can’t be too unhappy.
“[I was] racing the clock really, and the track was very oily this morning [in race one] so I really pushed on once I realised the track was in good condition [in race two]. I broke the lap record a couple of times, let everything cool down, went for it again and broke the car. One of those things, get it fixed for Snetterton.
“The balance is great, and the engine – although it’s my old engine and it’s slightly down on power – it’s very very strong, so it’s a very nice car to drive at the moment.”
MGCC Cockshoot Cup
The opening Cockshoot Cup race became a two-lap sprint for honours after a lengthy safety car period when John Spencer’s MG ZR 170 got stranded broadside at Deer Leep after an incident with William Fraser’s MG F.
There was still time for action though. Keith Egar’s freshly tyred Midget (pictured above) starting fifth had leapt to the front with a fine launch. He lost the lead to poleman Paul Wignall’s MG ZS 180 just before the safety car was deployed, but after green lap racing resumed Egar starting the final lap swept past Wignall across the start-finish line to lead. Wignall then immediately crashed out exiting the next turn at Old Hall, leaving Egar free to win.
Championship leader David Morrison was second home and took another Class B victory while Chris Greenbank was a comfortable Class F winner in his MG F. Rhys Higginbotham in his Class A MG ZR 160 finished in an impressive fifth place overall and was awarded Driver of the Race.
Egar followed up his victory with another in race two, getting another rocket start and this time leading every lap and keeping the chasing Karl Green’s MG ZS 180 at arm’s length. Green had dropped out of contention in the first race as he had to pit early to get loose wheelnuts tightened, and then any comeback thoughts were thwarted by being caught behind the safety car and unable to join the back of the pack.
David Coulthard in his MG F in race two took his second third-place finish of the day, and got Driver of the Race with it. Morrison – despite a misfire – Greenbank and Higginbotham were again comfortable class winners.
Egar, Morrison, Greenbank and Higginbotham also were awarded Vicky Peters Trophies for the best aggregate performances across the two races.
Egar said: “It’s been a great day. Qualification was a little bit complicated with the safety car, I was on the third row of the grid.
“The second race I was in the lead from start to finish really, so it was more straightforward [than race one]. But the car just really suits this circuit, and the fact that I bought some new tyres massively helps. I was running old tyres from last year and you don’t realise race after race they get harder and harder. I stopped being so tight and actually spent some money.
“And it was nice to see one of the Cockshoot Cup champions from last year; Brian Butler was here today. He’s not been well but to see him was another motivation, I know what a dedicated racer he is.
“Starts are my strength: the car’s light and fairly powerful. The car was initially built as a sprint and hillclimb car so you need to get off the line quick and that’s what I spent 10 years doing in sprinting and hillclimb.”
Championship leader Andrew Thompson (pictured above) in his ARV6 took a dominant win in the opening Morgan Challenge race, with a victory margin of over half a minute. His task was made easier by that polesitter Tom Andrew in his Plus 6 first had a poor start and then, having recovered to second, pulled out as his car was lapsing onto its automatic gearshift setting, which created various problems such as going slower and cooking the brakes.
Title contender Brett Syndercombe meanwhile retired from race one, and missed race two, after bending his steering arm trying to pass Tony Hirst.
Thompson though had to give best in race two as Roger Whiteside in his Plus 8 – who had been stuck in traffic for much of race one on his way to second place – shadowed leader Thompson then passed him for first at mid distance and pulled clear. Whiteside’s advantage was such that he still won by five seconds even after a 10s penalty was applied for a false start.
Day of MGCC racing drama at Donington
The MG Car Club reconvened for its Donington Park Summer Races meeting and an uncanny number of thrilling battles for race victory were squeezed into an intense day of action. There were no fewer than 14 races and nine categories represented, including MGCC’s full range of racing competition going from modern cars to pre-War, all of them getting two races apiece. And spice, as if it was needed, was added with ever-changing track conditions amid sunshine and showers.
MGCC XPart MG Trophy
The 11th-hour withdrawal of reigning champion Sam Kirkpatrick did not result in a shortage of action in fighting for first place in two MG Trophy races. Doug Cole in his MG ZR 190 (pictured above, 99) won the damp opening race from pole, 2.6 seconds ahead of the chasing Adam Jackson.
Cole’s task was also made more straightforward by that his fellow front-row starter Jason Burgess (above, 16), who’d won the previous four races, pitted after the first of two warm-up laps to switch his front tyres from slicks to wets in changing conditions. Burgess started from the pitlane and recovered to finish fifth.
And there was a race-one double celebration for the Cole family as Doug’s son James won the Class B contest, and did so comfortably in fourth place overall. This also got James the Driver of the Race award.
Cole and Burgess then had an intense fight for first place in the damp-but-drying race two, swapping places more than once. Sadly the battle ended early when Burgess pitted with an electrical problem with three laps left, but it was not the end of the action as Cole in bagging his second win of the meeting only just resisted a fully slick-shod Jackson who, with the drying track coming to him, had closed in on Cole and attacked for first place on the final lap. This effort also got Jackson Driver of the Race.
Cole said: “It [race two] was a hard-fought race, Jason put up a sturdy old battle more than once.
“We should have had slicks on the back, but it was better because Adam didn’t catch us until the last lap, I had one big mistake at the bottom of the Old Hairpin, a proper slide and that’s where he caught me up. Another lap and he would have had me, without a shadow of a doubt. But you’ve got to be in front to win.
“First race we had wets all round and it was lethal. I love Donington, and I’ve always gone well here. Qualifying I was on it properly, a really really good qualifying time. I had a quicker one in the bag but I got boxed on the last corner. I think I would have been three-quarters of a second quicker.”
The second Class B race was also a thriller, with a four-way battle for first. Josh Bromley won it, just ahead of Tylor Ballard, James Cole and Patrick Booth, who had switched from the Class A contest after an engine failure on his ZR 190 on Friday.
Baynton Jones Historic Motorsport Triple M Challenge
Both the front-row starters in the opening pre-War Triple M Challenge race were shuffled to the back almost immediately on a greasy surface. Polesitter Oliver Sharp in his MG N Type Magnette was caught out by the lack of grip being offered by Donington’s asphalt, and spun at the first turn. He continued towards the rear of the field put quickly pulled out, still concerned by the shortage of grip.
Several cars spun at the first turn in an apparent concertina effect from Sharp’s misadventure, though all recovered aside from Chris Edmondson’s MG D Type. While second-placed starter Roland Wettstein also dropped down the order after contact in the rear of his Parnell-MG K3 and he too pulled out before long as he was unsure about his car’s level of damage.
This all left Tony Seber’s Wolseley Hornet Special well placed to win, which he did ahead of the closing Richard Frankel in his revered MG K3, and Frankel got Driver of the Race.
Mark Dolton was fourth overall and a comfortable Class C winner in his MG PB Special while Fred Boothby in his MG J2was an equally comfortable Class B winner. Annie Boursot just beat Onno Könemann (pictured above) to the Class A win.
Rod Seber took over the Wolseley Hornet Special for race two and, having not raced in race one from which the grid was based, Rod had to rise from the back. He did this in unison with Sharp and by lap three they were the lead pair. A spin and a run through the gravel by Sharp – who still wasn’t happy with the grip on offer – decided the race in Seber’s favour.
Dolton, this time third overall, again won Class C and this time got Driver of the Race too. Boursot again narrowly beat Könemann in Class A. Andrew Morland won Class B in his MG PA after Boothby didn’t make the finish.
“Just a matter of keeping it on the track,” Rod Seber said. “[Conditions were] a lot on the edge, not a lot of grip out there.
“[I] sort of lost it once at the chicane, but just held it. [Sharp] gave me a good race but he spun off a couple of times and missed a gear, that’s how I got past him.
“[The car] weren’t going too well this morning. The bias had gone to the back brakes, it had virtually zero brakes, and running too rich so we weakened it up so seems to be going a lot better.”
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Richard Buckley continued his 100% win record in MG Cup’s frontrunning Class C by winning the first Donington Park race, but he had to resist a strong race-long challenge from fellow Rover Tomcat Turbo runner Dave Nixon who had made significant improvements to his machine since the preceding Silverstone round.
Nixon rose from starting eighth after a wet qualifying to run second behind Buckley on lap one, and remained on his boot lid for the rest of the way, and might have got ahead had the race not ended a lap early with Peter Coleman’s Metro off at Redgate.
Nixon said: “I’ve raced against Richard since 2005, 2006 maybe, so I know how he drives and we’ve had some good battles. It was great fun.
“I’ve done a lot of things to the car and it’s transformed it back to how it should be. At Silverstone the car handled horrendously. The suspension mounting on the top, of the driver’s side, the clamp that clamps it wasn’t holding it in place properly when it was put under pressure, so I’ve modified it. I’ve got a full tyre’s width on there [now] instead of just [a small amount] when it was pulling.”
Buckley added: “It was relatively easy really, Dave started a bit further back, I just measured him a little bit. Just keep him at bay all the time. I think he could have been on me a bit more with another lap.”
Ian Boulton held off his fellow MG ZR 170 of Iain Dowler to win Class B and take third place overall. Maddy Maguire meanwhile finished fourth in the class having qualified a stunning second overall, and she got Driver of the Race.
Steve Tyler took the Class A win after leader John Gil was nudged off at mid distance just after a safety car period.
In race two Buckley’s victory run in 2022 ended at seven as this time Nixon got the better of him. Buckley led from pole on a now-tricky surface while Nixon dropped to sixth in the opening laps. Nixon though then rose and got on Buckley’s tail by half distance, before passing him for first at Redgate. The pair remained interlocked for the rest of the way, and Nixon prevailed by 0.3s. Nixon also got Driver of the Race.
Nixon said: “Because it was raining so hard, I only softened mine [suspension] off a little bit and luckily it stopped raining. I was a little bit careful the first three or four laps and once Kayleigh [Twigger] went past me that really goaded me on to have a go.
“I caught up the others and I had a couple of places where I thought ‘I can get past here’. And Richard came out the chicane a bit slower and I just got right behind him and thought ‘I’m going past now’.”
Maguire this time won Class B, passing Boulton at one-third’s distance and winning by 4s, a showing that helped hergetDriver of the Day to go with her race-one award. Dowler meanwhile dropped to the back on lap 1 with front-right damage on his 170. Gil won Class A.
Hickford Construction Limited MGCC MG Metro Cup
MG Metro Cup shared a mixed grid with MG Cup for its Donington double header and reigning champion Mark Eales (above) won the first race, managing to keep Mike Williams (above, 28) at arm’s length throughout, despite a safety car period. Eales often benefited from having a few MG Cup cars between him and his foe. He was also rewarded with Driver of the Race while Dan Willars completed the podium in third.
“First lap or so, 40 cars, it was pretty hectic,” the victorious Eales said. “Got past Dan and managed to get away with some of the ZRs [MG Cup cars] and things. Safety car wasn’t in my favour but the restart went pretty well and a couple of ZRs behind me weren’t quite on the pace on the restart so it kept the other Metros a bit further back.
“Someone was doing me a lapboard today because I never know how far [it is] until the next Metro. Saying that, racing with the ZRs is great fun, battling with people you don’t normally race against.”
Dick Trevett qualified an impressive third overall on the mixed grid, four places ahead of the second-fastest Metro runner Willars, but Trevett spun at the Craner Curves on the first time through and dropped to the back, before recovering to finish 10th of the Metros.
Race two was a similar tale at the front as Eales again prevailed a few seconds ahead of Williams, having led him throughout and again benefiting from there often being MG Cup cars between them on track. Eales on lap one also managed to vault his Metro from eighth on the overall mixed grid and hounded the overall leader Richard Buckley from MG Cup.
Matt Simpson completed the podium and got Driver of the Race with it. Trevett meanwhile sat out the second race as he discovered after race one he had a hole where a piston should be.
“Really good fun,” said Eales after his latest win. “Got a really good start, round the outside at the top of Craner Curves, then on the inside then on the outside and right behind Richard. They [MG Cup cars] take a bit longer to get up to speed so [I was] really pushing him in the corners. Just really enjoyed it.
“I could see Mike lurking in the background, the gap stayed pretty constant. Sometimes I tend to ease off a little bit when there’s no need, but I had to really push all race to keep in front, didn’t want Mike looking like he’s catching me, that would be like dangling the carrot.”
MGCC BCV8 Championship with MGCC MGAs
The BCV8 championship joined in with the meeting’s theme of lively battles for first place, and indeed its victory scraps – certainly in race two – possibly were the most entertaining of all.
Both were long-awaited James Wheeler versus Neil Fowler fights, after Wheeler missed Oulton Park then Fowler had a catalogue of gearbox problems at Silverstone. In race one Fowler (above, 86) got the lead from poleman Wheeler (above, 99) on lap one, then Wheeler passed Fowler back at mid-distance to win. Wheeler got Driver of the Race too.
Andrew Young won the Class C battle, having been chased for much of the way by Wheeler’s dad Jonnie. Paul Eales was a clear winner in Class B while David Strike beat James Walpole in Class AB.
In the wet-but-drying race two there was another intense Wheeler-Fowler battle, and Fowler looked set to turn the tables as he passed Wheeler for first at mid distance. But then in the race’s last gasp Wheeler sensationally pipped Fowler on the run to the finish line.
Wheeler enthused: “All I’ll say is that Neil drove the absolute ‘insert swear word’ because that was awesome!
“We’re on two different wet tyres, they’re equivalent but Neil’s were coming on at a different time to mine going off, and at the end mine started to switch back on and Neil’s switched off, and I got him on the line. Just amazing.
“Me and Neil have had some fantastic racing today. In the first race I always felt I was on top of him, even though he was in front. In that one [race two]: nah [I couldn’t run with him]. That was just luck his tyres went off at the end because he had it. We’ve both been racing D class for so long, but we never ended up on the same bit of track together.”
Fowler responded in kind: “Probably everything James just said really! We don’t very often end up on the same Tarmac when our cars are quite equal. We’ve had two good races this weekend, but I’m just so gutted I lost it on the line. Mine [tyres] were brilliant for three-quarters of the race and then they went off. That’s life.”
The second race was a double celebration for the Wheeler family as Jonnie won the Class C contest, outrunning Jim Bryan, and with this Jonnie got Driver of the Race. Eales took another clear win in Class B while this time Walpole beat Strike to AB honours.
MGCC Cockshoot Cup
A pre-race rain shower created a jumbled first Cockshoot Cup race with a mix of tyre choices among competitors. Paul Wignall though brought some order in his MG ZS by dominating to win.
Mark Wright in his MG F Cup finished second 16s adrift while poleman Karl Green struggled with dry weather tyres on the front of his MG ZS 180 but managed to recover late on for third.
Tony Roberts in his MG ZS 170 prevailed in Class B for his first-ever Cockshoot class win, and this was supplemented by him getting Driver of the Race too. Rhys Higginbotham in his MG ZR was a clear Class A winner while Christopher Greenbank in his MG F was an equally clear Class F winner.
In the dry race two an unhappy Wignall retired early with frontal damage on his ZS after contact with the back of a rival car. This left Green and Wright to battle for the win, and Green prevailed by less than 2s after passing Wright in the early going.
Green said: “First race it was pick and choose which tyres you want, because it was wet then dry, wet then dry, and I think I just went with the wrong tyre choice. I went with wets on the back and dries on the front, but I just couldn’t get any heat into the front tyres because it kept spitting with rain.
“Thankfully I went out on slicks all round this time and the rain held off just long enough for me to get the win. Great second race, really enjoyed it, Donington’s one of my favourites anyway. Me and Mark had a great second race and I managed to pull away from him and then it was just a case of keeping the gap.”
David Morrison returned to winning ways in Class B in race two, finishing third overall in his MG Midget and well clear of his class rivals, while Higginbotham made it a double victory in Class A. Greenbank’s winning run in Class F ended as his exhaust was falling off and he was called in, which left Tom Mensley to take class honours.
David Coulthard (pictured above) had a great run in his MGF to finish fifth overall and he got Driver of the Race with it.
MGCC Lackford Engineering MG Midget & Sprite Challenge
In the opening Midget & Sprite race Richard Bridge, back in Class A having shown fine pace therein in the Brands Hatch season opener, rose from the back having been disqualified from qualifying for a flag infringement, and got the lead from Stephen Watkins after just three laps.
Watkins though fought back and soon re-passed for the lead and built an advantage of 3s. But on the last lap he spun on oil at Redgate, which allowed Bridge through to win while Watkins recovered for second. Bridge also got Driver of the Race.
“It was very slippery,” Bridge said, “I had slicks on and it started to rain in assembly area and it was very very hard work in the first few laps. To come from the back to a win was very special.
“[Watkins] had a minor oil leak and it meant that I couldn’t follow him closely. I thought I’ll just wait for him break down, and then I realised it wasn’t slowing him down at all so then I had to start trying to catch him up.”
Watkins added: “I was very tentative at the start, it did seem a bit greasy out there, and we’re on the slicks. And it slowly dried out and about halfway through it was dry enough to feel like I could push it harder.
“Richard had caught me up, got past me, by then I thought the track was dry enough to push it harder, so I managed to get back past him and pulled away. I thought this should be OK for the win, and it wasn’t quite what I thought it would be!”
James Hughes finished third in his Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite and with it got a clear Class E victory. Barney Collinson comfortably won in Class D in his Midget, after having a close battle with Class I’s fellow Midget runner Connor Kay.
The fully wet second race didn’t suit slick-shod Class A runners and poleman Watkins indeed started from the pitlane to stay out of others’ way, though he still managed to win his class ahead of Michael Chalk and Bridge.
Victory instead went to a delighted Kay, in only his fifth-ever race and his first meeting with Midget & Sprite Challenge. From third place he jumped into a lead that he kept when early leader Kim Dear left the track at Schwantz Curve, the Austin Healey Sprite briefly getting up on its side, and Ian Wright’s Midgetwent off on the same lap.
“Quite unexpected!,” Kay said. “We’re just trying to shake down the car really. I’ve driven this one [the car] twice.
“It’s my first time in the wet so I didn’t really know what to expect, it [the car] was really easy to catch.
“We just wanted to get some historic racing this year, and they [Midgets] looked like they had good grids, relatively low power, so it’s a good car to learn in.”
Reigning champion Pippa Cow meanwhile had a catalogue of problems and didn’t finish either race. She had a clutch problem on her Austin Healey Sprite on Friday so the clutch was changed for Saturday’s qualifying, but therein she had a misfire and it transpired her car’s distributor cap had come off. In the first race she rose sensationally from 14th to lead on lap one, but then a misfire returned. Virtually everything on the car was changed for race two, but she was hobbled by a misfire therein as well.
The Morgan Challenge once again was a guest at an MGCC event with two races, and both were dominated by Andrew Thompson in his ARV6 (above).
In race one he immediately got the lead from 4/4 poleman Brett Syndercombe and cruised clear, beating second-placed Syndercombe home by over 40s. Alex Lees completed in the podium in his +8, finishing 7s shy of Syndercombe.
Race two was a similar tale as Thompson strode clear from pole and won by 47s, though this time there was a close battle for second between Syndercombe and his fellow 4/4 of James Sumner, which Sumner just won by 0.2s having passed Syndercombe on the final lap.
MG Live! back with a bang on Silverstone’s sweeps
It was a big weekend for MG Car Club racing as the club’s showpiece MG Live! event returned in full for the first time since 2018, after a combination of track resurfacing and Covid had kept the blue-riband meeting in its full form away in the interim.
And MG Live! brought with it a rare opportunity to race on Silverstone’s full length and flowing Grand Prix circuit.
The weather was appropriately kind with dry and sunny, if sometimes breezy, conditions throughout the two days. And MGCC’s competitors and those from the support programme lived up to the occasion with large grids and entertaining battles on Silverstone’s sweeps across a packed schedule.
MGCC BCV8 Championship
Reigning BCV8 champion Ollie Neaves (pictured above) took part in the contest for the first time in 2022 at Silverstone, and he in large part picked up where he left off by taking two more wins from pole. His victory margins were though a lot closer than we had got used to in the last couple of years, in part due to suspension rule changes between seasons.
Behind Neaves in race one, third-placed Russell McCarthy closed in on James Wheeler during the race to have a close fight for second, though Wheeler held the place. The pair also got closer to Neaves in the late laps as the leader nursed his clutch.
Neil Fowler, who won twice in BCV8’s previous round at Oulton Park and qualified next-up to Neaves here, dropped out early in race one with a gearbox problem, having already been frustrated by a radiator problem the day before.
Andrew Young in his MG C Roadster won in Class C by almost 10 seconds from Jim Bryan, while Mark Scott in his MGB Roadster was an even more clear winner in Class B. James Walpole in his Roadster won out in a close battle for Class AB victory with David Strike’s GT, and Walpole also got Driver of the Race for his effort.
Neaves’ fears about his clutch came to pass at the start of race two as he dropped to fifth at the start. Fowler grabbed the lead, though he again had to retire early with another gearbox problem. This let Neaves, who had by then climbed to second, into the lead and he again edged clear of the battling McCarthy and Wheeler behind.
Wheeler got ahead of McCarthy at half distance and gamely chased Neaves, but Neaves was still clear by around 3s at the finish. Young just beat Bryan home in Class C, while Scott edged Paul Eales in an all-Roadster fight for Class B victory.
Behind them Howard Grundon similarly edged fellow GT V8 runner Stephen McKie for third in Class B after a race-long battle, and Grundon got a popular Driver of the Race award with it. Strike this time beat Walpole for the Class AB win.
Neaves said: “As usual the car is absolutely amazing, just really pleased with it.
“It was a bit more action packed that race [race two], got a bad start and then I thought I’ll keep out of their way for the first corner or so, it was really good fun coming back through. And James wasn’t letting off so I had to keep going.
“[The clutch] was grabbing [at the start], I got quite a lot of wheelspin, and then everyone shot past me.
“The car’s not actually quite as quick as it was [before the rule changes], it’s about a second a lap slower. But it’s still enough to give me a bit of an advantage. It’s definitely getting closer, [but] there was an element of managing the gap.”
Wheeler added: “We kept Ollie honest which is the main thing. I had an issue from qualifying which we’ve had to manage all weekend, the diff, and if we hadn’t had to manage that maybe I could have kept him more than just honest. [But] I had a cracking race with Russell.
“Ollie’s car is still stunning though, the level of the detail he goes into is just something else. We’re going to have to up our games a bit and try and catch up with that. It’s a lot closer: we’ve gained a second and a bit; he’s lost a second.”
Morgans & Sports Cars
The meeting’s Morgans & Sports Cars race was for competitors from Morgan Sports Car Club as well as some classic MGs that have not had somewhere to race for a time.
The Morgan +8 shared by Bill and Howard Lancashire got a dominant win from pole, while behind Roger Whiteside’s +8 and James Bellinger’s ARV6 during the first stint had a close place-swapping battle for second. Whiteside moved clear in the second half of the race after Simon Orebi Gann took over from Bellinger, though Orebi Gann nevertheless retained third place to the finish.
MGCC Cockshoot Cup
Karl Green in his MG ZS 180 took a clear win in the opening Cockshoot Cup race, finishing 4s clear of the eagerly pursuing Paul Wignall also in a ZS 180.
This was despite Green developing a differential problem in the race that he felt he had to nurse to the end. It was despite too the race being interrupted by an early red flag as two cars from MG Cup, which Cockshoot Cup was sharing the track with, went off at Copse.
David Greenbank made it a race-one 1-2-3 for ZS 180s while MG Midget contender, Keith Egar, spun more than once as after a puncture on one of his slicks in qualifying he didn’t have another slick to replace it with. So he had to use the road tyre as a fall back, leaving him short of grip.
David Morrison, who has returned to Cockshoot Cup this year after being more commonly seen in Midget and Sprite Challenge recently, was fourth home in his MG Midget and first in Class B. John Payne in his Austin Healey Sprite was class runner-up and got Driver for the Race after climbing at scarcely credible speed from starting at the back due to a yellow flag infringement in qualifying. Christopher Greenbank (pictured above) in his MG F was the clear Class F winner.
Green’s crew changed the car’s differential overnight and on Sunday Green had no technical trouble in claiming his second win of the weekend. This time though Wignall led him from the off, but Green was unchallenged for the win after Wignall dropped out at half distance when his coolant hose let go. The now-fully slick shod Egar finished second, climbing from starting seventh after his puncture-compromised qualifying.
Morrison doubled up with another Class B win and fourth place overall, while this time Mark Bellamy in his MG ZR 170 was second in that class and got the Driver of the Race award. Greenback took another clear Class F victory.
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MG Cup shared the track with Cockshoot Cup, and 2019 MG Cup champion Richard Buckley (pictured above) continued his 100% record in Class C this year, taking both Silverstone wins outright and making it six class wins from six for him this season.
In both races though he had a close and entertaining battle for first overall with fellow Rover 220 Tomcat Turbo runner Matt Simpson (also pictured), who was back in MG Cup for this event having switched to MG Metro Cup this season.
Simpson got pole for the first race and led. Then Buckley got by on the second tour but Simpson resumed the lead when the order was put back a lap after two cars off at Copse resulted in an early red flag. Simpson again led from the restart and the pair again had a frenzied battle, but Buckley made his move for first permanent after a couple of laps and won by 3.4s, and got Driver of the Race with it.
Fergus Campbell in his ZR 170 won the Class B contest. Campbell had the classes’ chief two championship protagonists Ian Boulton and Iain Dowler close behind, and both of them left the track in their battle on the last lap. Dowler still managed to finish second and Boulton third. Marcus Short continued to dominate Class A with another clear win in his Rover 216 GTi.
Buckley had pole for race two, but Simpson again got ahead of him at the start. The duo again diced closely and Buckley got ahead on acceleration exiting Luffield at the end of the second lap, and eventually beat Simpson home by just under two seconds.
Campbell in Class B this time retired early with an engine failure, having replaced the block between races after developing a problem in race one. Boulton this time won the class, edging clear of Dowler, and Boulton moreover got third place overall from Dave Nixon on the last lap. This all got him Driver of the Race too. Short won again in Class A.
Buckley said: “Pretty good, a little bit difficult with the mixed grid, made it a little bit tricky, but two really good races.
“Racing Matt [was] great fun, nice and close, he’ll get me somewhere, I’ll get him. Came out with two wins, and Driver of the Race as well. I love getting Driver of the Race, because that means you’ve entertained.
“They’re [the Tomcat] pretty fast cars and Matt is really good to race against. We can go so close, mirror to mirror, almost touching each other, never exchange paint.”
Simpson similarly enjoyed his weekend: “It started with qualifying, Rich nicked pole off me on his last lap but I was in front of him so I had one last lap and managed to put in a good time and get it on pole.
“I managed to lead the [first] race, I just run out of tyres, I couldn’t find front-end grip all weekend. Buckley just had a little bit more front-end grip than me. I think I kept him honest.
“Second race, better place to start, I’m already on the inside line going in [to Copse] and backed him up a little bit. Then just try and go, go, go, get past as many Cockshoot cars as I could, and hope that they hold him up. But again ran out of tyres, especially through Brooklands-Luffield complex, and he outdragged me down the straight.
“The Metro Cup don’t run here, although they’ve got some guys that have run it just for fun, so I had always planned to do MG Live! in the Tomcat. It’s suited to the circuit, so it’s got to be used! And when Richard said he was going to do it as well I was like brilliant, got to go out and have a battle with him.”
MGCC Perrys Aylesbury MG Trophy
The returning Jason Burgess (pictured above) continued his MG Trophy race-winning form started in the previous round at Cadwell Park by taking both wins at Silverstone in his MG ZR 190.
Burgess, the runner-up in 2018’s MG Trophy, led Silverstone’s race one from pole and crept clear from Adam Jackson next up. Doug Cole passed Jackson for second at around the halfway mark but by this time Burgess was over 5s up the road and the gap between them at the end remained similar.
There was a tight place-swapping fight for Class B honours, which Tylor Ballard – bouncing back from major car damage at Cadwell – just won out in by a mere 0.3s from Joseph Dalgarno, while MG Trophy points leader heading into this round Josh Bromley was also close at hand in third. Ballard got both Driver of the Race and Driver of the Day for his run.
Burgess in race two once again led from pole, though Jackson challenged him closely in the opening turns. Cole meanwhile climbed from fourth to second by one-third’s distance, though again could not bridge the gap to the leading Burgess, who was 7.5s ahead at the end and Cole only just held off Jackson for the runner-up spot by under half a second.
Burgess’s dominant win got him Driver of the Race and also Driver of the Day, meaning MG Trophy drivers took both of the meeting’s Driver of the Day awards.
Class B’s race-one winner Ballard spun in race two at Maggotts, and resumed but could only finish fourth in class. Dalgarno took a comfortable class win ahead of Bromley.
Burgess said: “Obviously to have two wins is really good, it’s not what I expect when I come, I know I have to work for it.
“In both races I had a good clear getaway, a bit of pressure on the first couple of laps while I got the car up to temperature from the competition, particularly Adam and Doug, but then after that managed to get away.
“I don’t ever think of the championship, I come to enjoy the weekend. I like to enjoy the moment wherever I am and doing whatever in my life and try not to put too much pressure on myself. We’ll keep doing that, it seems to be working!
“At Cadwell it was my first time out for over three years, I’d forgotten how hard you had to drive the car and how physical it is to get the lap time that you need. And I actually never found the lap time I wanted at Cadwell, I have found it this weekend. If there had been more competition at Cadwell some of the people I’ve beaten today may well have beaten me at Cadwell.”
Hickford Construction Ltd MG Metro Cup
Five Metros joined MG Trophy on track for an MG Metro Cup non-championship encounter, and they entertained the crowds with a pair of frenzied three-way battles for victory between Jon Moore, Tim Shooter and the returning 2015 Metro Cup champion Philip Gough in his Rover Metro 114 GTi (all pictured above).
Poleman Moore led Gough in the first race, but Moore was forced to drop out of the lead when his throttle cable snapped. This left Gough set fair to win, finishing 10s ahead of Shooter.
The Moore-Gough-Shooter trio’s fight for first in race two was especially captivating, as the three Metros stayed in close company throughout. Moore led for much of the way, but in the final laps he and Gough started a sensational place-swapping battle. Moore on the final lap got clear in the lead to win, while Shooter beat Gough for second.
Moore said: “It [race two] was brilliant. I started fifth and thought get a good start, get up to them, and then in about three or four corners I was in the lead, wow!
“So I did quite a few quick laps straight away, tyres started getting a bit iffy and then Phil caught us up and he made a move through Brooklands and Luffield and got up front. So I stayed on him for a couple of laps and he started making a few errors and got past him around Brooklands. It was a mega race, really good.
“[In race one I] pulled up with a broken throttle cable, Phil was on the back of me and it would have been a good race. I’m glad we got to have the race in the second race that the first race promised, and Tim was with us this time. So it was a really good race: full on, hard work.”
Gough added: “This is the first race I’ve done in four years. I haven’t got first gear in the car, so the first race it jumped out of gear at the start, and that one [the second race] I started in second.
“From the word go it was just a three-way scrap in that second race. I think I was in the lead three or four times, and Jon he was in the lead three or four times. We swapped places all the way round.”
As for why he came back for this one, Gough said: “I slightly missed it, we’re relatively local to Silverstone and I’ve worked here on and off over the last 20 years so it’s sort of my local circuit. The car was up and running, we’d done a track day in it in February, but we only got the car ready to come here probably about eight weeks ago. So it was literally a spur of the moment ‘why don’t we go and do MG Live! in the Metro?’ And it’s been well worth it.”
Equipe Classic Racing supported MG Live! with a range of races – all lasting 40 minutes with a mandatory pitstop – and its line-up was led by a special MGB60 race to mark 60 years since the launch of the MGB roadster.
Some 59 cars took part and reigning MG Trophy champion – and frequent MGB racer – Sam Kirkpatrick (pictured above) prevailed from pole. The youngster won out in a race-long fight with Tom Smith (also above), and Smith indeed got ahead briefly thanks to a faster pitstop, but Kirkpatrick a few laps later reclaimed the place and headed Smith home to win by 2.5s.
The MGB shared by Tim Greenhill and Mark Cole led for a time and was still in a close third place at the end, but Cole under an early safety car had made the car’s mandatory pitstop too early, before the window had opened, so they got a three-lap penalty.
Kirkpatrick said: “It’s my first-ever pitstop race and I didn’t want to speed in the pitlane or anything so I was taking it quite careful. And I did have a bit of a mess getting it going again after the pits.
“And it’s the longest race I’ve ever done other than the relay and it was really fun. I’ll have to get used to driving on slidey tyres though because at the end it was really slidey!
“I’ve never been in a race as big as this, so it’s a really good win to have.”
Sam Kirkpatrick looked good to win a second Equipe race of the weekend from pole in his MGB, in the GTS encounter. Once again he led from Tom Smith’s MGB, but a safety car at half distance turned the race on its head.
Its timing meant that the lead runners had to stay out an extra lap in the ‘queue’ before making their mandatory pitstop. The upshot was that Kirkpatrick was left in 22nd place after pitting with Mark Holme’s MGB now leading from Martin and Oliver Pratt’s Morgan +4, who had been eighth and sixth respectively before the caution and were the first to peel into the pits.
After green flag running resumed the Pratt Morgan quickly passed Holme for the lead, and then led the MGB to the flag by 8.3s. Kirkpatrick managed to recover to third place, getting by Rob Cull’s TVR Grantura Mk3 on the final tour.
Equipe Libre / 70s
Victory in Equipe’s Libre / 70s race was fought over by Grahame Bryant’s Morgan +8 and Mark Halstead’s Ginetta G4R. Bryant led from pole and looked to be able to hold the pursuing Halstead at arm’s length, until half distance when Bryant’s Morgan slowed with a suspected electrical issue and pulled out.
This left Halstead set fair to win by 10s from Richard Hywel-Evans’ Porsche 911 while Christian Douglas in his TVR Griffith 400 completed the podium.
Equipe Libre / Pre 63 & 50s
Dafyd Richards’ Lotus 11 looked the pacesetter in the Equipe Libre / Pre 63 & 50s race, which had some 54 cars starting. Richards dropped from pole to fourth at the start but was back in first place at one-third’s distance after passing in traffic the Jaguar E-type shared by Gary and John Pearson plus the Shelby 260 of Nigel Winchester.
This was however another race turned on its head by a safety car, which was deployed briefly just after Richards got the lead. During its deployment a number of cars – again led by Mark Holme, this time in his Austin Healey 3000 MK11 and running eighth before the caution – were able to save significant time by pitting under the yellow.
As the order shook out after all had made their stops Holme had vaulted into first place, around 10s clear of the Austin Healey 3000 of Jack Chatham which also pitted under the safety car. The duo finished first and second in that order, with Richards a distant third.
GT & Sports Car Cup
The event concluded with a two-hour race from GT & Sports Car Cup and Gary and John Pearson’s Jaguar E-type was dominant in it, taking the lead from second on the grid and quickly building a sizable lead, remaining in a net first position throughout.
In the end their winning margin was over a minute ahead of the runner-up AC Cobra 289 shared by Richard Cook and Richard Tuthill, and that had a similar-sized advantage over the fellow Cobra of Richard Hywel-Evans and Oliver Bryant finishing third.
The polesitting E-type shared by Gordie Mutch and John Clark was also in the mix but dropped out with 40 minutes to go when the Jaguar started to emit smoke.
MG Car Club enjoys sunshine on return to Cadwell Park
The MG Car Club’s first visit to Cadwell Park since 2017 provided a day of close racing action under sunny skies in the beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds. With its narrow ribbon of tarmac snaking up and down hills, through woodland and into open areas, the 2.2-mile ‘mini Nurburgring’ proved as demanding as ever for the racers, who all rose to the challenge. The members’ parade at lunchtime also provided an opportunity for those not competing to experience the fabulous circuit.
MGCC Lackford Engineering MG Midget & Sprite Challenge
After an excellent Midget & Sprite Challenge entry at Brands Hatch, numbers were a little down at Cadwell Park, particularly in Class A, where just three cars were entered. That may have contributed to Paul Sibley’s dominance, although such was the former champion’s pace he would have been tough to beat regardless.
One of Sibley’s challengers was an early casualty as Brands winner Richard Bridge lost his engine in qualifying after it ingested a broken spark plug. With Mike Chalk caught in the upper midfield, that left Sibley’s Midget – on pole by a massive 5s – a clear run to victory, which he duly claimed by nearly 10s without putting too much strain on the car.
Reigning champion Pippa Cow (Austin-Healey Sprite) was an equally comfortable second, and Class E winner, having briefly led at the start. A good scrap between Chalk and Peter Kennerley’s Class E Midget for third overall sadly ended with Chalk in the wall between Mansfield and the Mountain. Kennerley himself was excluded from the results for not having a working transponder. So series sponsor Robin Lackford and James Hughes (both in Mk1 Sprites) completed the top four, Lackford holding on by less than a quarter of second.
Behind them, the Class D battle for road-modified cars raged. Ian Burgin (Mk1 Sprite) eventually prevailed, and was named Driver of the Race for his efforts, but Barney Collinson, Edward Easton (who both retired with engine woes) and Oshin Shahiean all played their part.
With a number of drivers suffering mechanical dramas, a depleted field assembled for race two. Sibley made a slow start from pole position, handing Cow an initial advantage, but Sibley powered back past on the Park Straight into a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Cow was again very comfortable in second, earning herself the Driver of the Race award for her dominance of Class E.
There was also a standout performance from Richard Bridge, who had stepped into his father John’s Class E Sebring Sprite (pictured above) for the second race, and carved through from the back of the grid to third, despite a lengthy safety-car period – for Shahiean’s demise at Barn – limiting the number of racing laps.
Class D was claimed by the Midget of former Cockshoot Cup man Ian Wright, who has switched to the championship this year.
MGCC Cockshoot Cup
The North West Centre’s own championship did not travel to Brands Hatch in March, so opened its season at Cadwell Park with a fantastic entry of 29 competitors, its most for a good many years. Two races provided some of the action of the day, with Mark Wright (pictured above) and Paul Wignall both recording their maiden wins in the championship.
Alternator trouble on Wright’s MGF Cup car prevented him from recording a time in the Cockshoot Cup’s qualifying session, meaning he would have to complete the minimum mileage out of session and start both races from the back of the grid. Wignall meanwhile was having his first competitive outing in the ex-Morgan Short MG ZS 180 after only a handful of laps testing at the same circuit. But last year’s Class A champion belied that lack of familiarity to claim pole position by nearly a second from David Morrison’s MG Midget. The rest of the grid was a little jumbled, particularly for the second race based on second-fastest times, after a safety-car disrupted session.
When Peter Bramble’s MGB piled into the tyre wall at the circuit’s iconic Mountain section, it brought a premature halt to race one and required a complete restart, negating Morrison’s lead and the rapid progress of Wright to 12th place in a single lap.
Wignall made a better getaway at the second time of asking, but Wright’s charge through the field was simply breathtaking. He had risen to fourth within three laps, before passing Keith Egar’s K-Series powered Midget and Morrison on consecutive laps on the middle portion of the circuit. Wright then closed in on Wignall, who himself was particularly spectacular through the Mountain section. After sizing up his prey, Wright got a better exit from Barn, the final corner, and powered past on the start/finish straight. He eased clear over the remaining two laps to record a truly amazing victory, even more so considering he was experiencing gearbox problems.
“I’d got to get the run out of Barn because I knew I was flat through the left-hander [Coppice] and I knew he wasn’t,” explained Wright, who was named the commentators’ Driver of the Race for a performance that would also earn him the Driver of the Day award. “I really enjoyed it. I don’t mind starting from the back – the guys are all clean, a good set of lads to race with.”
“I’m happy with that,” grinned Wignall. “I don’t think anybody’s going to beat Mark, are they?”
Behind Wignall, Morrison won Class B in third overall while Chris Greenbank placed his MGF seventh to claim Class F honours.
Wignall started the second race from sixth on the grid, and avoided an incident at Charlie’s, the long right-handed second corner, which dropped the Midgets of Morrison and Ian Whitt down the order and scattered several other cars.
Egar came away with the lead ahead of Phil Standish, the multiple race winner making a return at his local circuit in an MG ZR 190, with Wignall third. As Wignall worked his way into the lead, Wright was again carving through the field, and had risen to third when his race ended abruptly with a very smoky engine failure.
So Wignall was relatively untroubled on his way to a first win by more than 5s from Egar. Having lost out in the early skirmishes, Karl Green mounted a sterling recovery in his MG ZS 180, just pipping Standish to third on the line. Morrison also recovered well to sixth overall, again winning Class B.
Greenback completed a Class F double in fifth overall, for which he was named Driver of the Race. Behind Morrison, rear-wheel-drive debutant Tom Mensley brought the ex-Brian Butler title-winning MGF home in a very creditable seventh, second in class.
Class A in both races was won by debutant Rhys Higginbotham, piloting the ex-Leon Wignall MG ZR 160 as Wignall Jr (twice second) has transferred across to the similar car vacated by his dad.
MGCC The C.I.T. MG Trophy
On his return to the MG Trophy after three years away, Jason Burgess (pictured above) claimed a comprehensive double victory, leading both races almost from lights to flag.
Sadly the Class A entry for MG ZR 190s was hit by mechanical troubles for Doug Cole and Adam Jackson (combined with work commitments), a Friday testing accident for Graham Ross and university commitments for Sam Kirkpatrick. With Robin Walker and Paul Savage bedding in their new cars after heavy accidents last year, that left Burgess and Booth to contest outright honours, chased by the leading ZR 170 runners in Class B.
While James Dennison (170) initially got the jump at the start of race one, Burgess and Booth quickly moved ahead. Booth whittled down Burgess’s lead in the closing stages, but flat-spotted his tyres in a lunge at Park on the penultimate lap, allowing Burgess to win by a less representative 8.6s.
“I needed to make sure I got off the line faster than that 170 because it’s a difficult place to overtake,” said Burgess. “And he nearly had me – I think my front tyres were smoking trying to keep up with him! But once we got past we were away. Then I think I probably relaxed just a fraction, and then he [Booth] reeled me in.”
Set-up tweaks for race two meant Burgess was in firmer control over Booth once the race restarted after an early safety car. That was caused by an incident among the Class B leaders on the Mountain section.
Josh Bromley had managed to repeat his Brands Hatch class win in the opener, for which he was named Driver of the Race. He passed Dennison at the Mountain late on after Dennison had a couple of frights when his brake pedal went to the floor. Bromley tried a similar move on the opening lap of race two, but his car ended up getting turned across the front of Dennison’s. With the track virtually blocked at the top of the Mountain, the pursuing pack was left with nowhere to go. As Tylor Ballard attempted to squeeze past, his car was clipped and sent into the inner barrier, sustaining heavy damage. Ballard himself walked away from the wreckage and was amazingly the only retirement from the incident which took three laps to clear.
Astin Wigley was chief beneficiary, moving into third overall. Dennison managed to pick off Wigley in the restarted race to claim class honours and reignite his championship challenge after a difficult weekend at Brands. But Wigley held on to second in class, the best result yet for the teenager, which earned him the Driver of the Race award. Third was Joe Dalgarno, repeating his race one result, having survived a skirmish with Jack Chapman on the final bend.
Hickford Construction Limited MGCC MG Metro Cup
Just as they did at Brands Hatch, Mark Eales and Mike Williams shared the spoils in the Metro Cup.
Reigning champion Eales (Car Number 1, above) jumped polesitter Williams (Car Number 28, above) at the start of race one, and inadvertently edged him onto the grass as Williams fought back approaching Coppice. With Williams forced to lift off, Tim Shooter and Dick Trevett nipped past.
By the time Williams had worked his way back into second, Eales had built a 6s lead and appeared to be in control. That was until a late safety car was required to clear Trevett’s stricken car, which had bent a valve.
Eales had Williams breathing down his neck for the one-lap dash to the flag but, despite a couple of mistakes, clung on to win by 0.2s and was named the commentators’ Driver of the Race. Shooter completed the podium ahead of Jon Moore, Matt Simpson and Les Tyler.
Eales again got the jump in race two, but Williams this time held onto second through Coppice and Charlie’s, fending off Moore’s challenge. That was crucial as it gave Eales no opportunity to break away. In fact, he didn’t lead for long at all, as Williams got a better exit from Charlie’s to claim the inside line along Park Straight and into Park. From there, Williams controlled the race to win by nearly 5s.
“A good day, good fun,” was Williams’s verdict. “I got a good start, there wasn’t anything really wrong with it [but] he’s obviously just a little bit better off the line. I just kept my foot down [through the] first corner [to keep Moore behind]. I wasn’t slowing down for that one! I had to slow down in the first race – that was why I got passed in the second corner.
“I got the distance [ahead] and then it was just a case of maintaining that, and making sure Mark was a good second behind me. If it dropped beneath a second I put in a ‘qualifying’ lap and off we start again.”
Shooter audaciously passed Moore into Hall Bends mid-race to clinch his second podium of the day, while Tyler this time beat Simpson to fifth. Driver of the Race was debutant Ben Young who impressed many on his way to ninth. It had been a challenging debut for Young after mechanical woes forced him to miss qualifying and he was only just able to make the lunchtime members’ parade to complete his requisite three laps. From the back of the grid, he rose to 10th in race one, then improved another position in the sequel, reducing his lap times markedly over the course of the day.
MGCC MG Cup powered by Cherished Vehicle Insurance
While Fergus Campbell claimed a dominant win in the opening MG Cup race, there was plenty of intrigue in the tactical contest going on behind. That would become the lead battle in the second race, in which Richard Buckley prevailed.
Campbell (pictured above), the current MG Trophy Class B champion, plans a relaxed season, and was making his first appearance in the MG Cup. Outright power is not as important at Cadwell Park as some other circuits, which Campbell demonstrated by putting his MG ZR 170 on pole position alongside the similar car of Ian Boulton (Car Number 74, above). The Class B pairing held that order throughout, with Campbell claiming victory by nearly 5s.
“Cadwell Park’s a fantastic place to come to,” enthused the victor. “You’ve got to keep your wits about you round here.”
Behind them, Dave Nixon was struggling to maximise a new set of tyres on his Rover 220 Tomcat. Having to go defensive through Gooseneck to keep the similar car of Buckley behind compromised their overall pace and allowed a multi-car train to form behind. Eventually, the pressure told, and Nixon’s trip over the Mansfield kerb let Buckley and Dennis Robinson (ZR 170) through, with Buckley winning Class C.
Seventh overall and winning Class A was Driver of the Race Marcus Short (Rover 216 GTi), who had qualified a fantastic third overall, and stayed among the main pack, clawing back in the corners what he lost on the straights. He would repeat his class success later in the day, albeit slipping to ninth overall.
From row two, Buckley jumped Campbell and Boulton at the start of race two and was joined shortly afterwards by Nixon in second. A similar train then formed behind the leader, with Buckley holding firm by making sure Nixon always had to think about attacks from behind as well as his own challenges for the lead.
“It was a bit of reversed roles there, wasn’t it?” said 2019 champion Buckley. “I got an absolutely amazing start. I didn’t do what I normally do which is spin the wheels up. Took it nice and steady, they hooked up, and that was it – I was gone!
“I saw Dave had had a fairly decent start as well. Fergus is a really good driver. He’s class. So I pretty much knew that if I could keep Dave at bay, then Fergus would keep nibbling at him. I was playing him a little bit because I knew Fergus was there, so if I could just back him up a little bit, especially coming up through up over the Mountain and into the woods, let Fergus have a little bit of nibble at him, he’s got to look behind him.”
It worked well, and earned Buckley the commentators’ Driver of the Race award, as he won from Nixon, Class B victor Campbell and Boulton, with father-and-son duo Dennis and Carl Robinson completing the closely-contested top six.
MSCC The Morgan Challenge
A 21-car field of Morgans made a guest appearance at the event for a single 30-minute race, the longest of the day. But Russell Paterson and Roger Whiteside ensured it remained absorbing throughout as they contested victory in their V8-powered +8s.
Polesitter Paterson lost out to Whiteside when the latter got a better run exiting Barn at the end of lap two. But Paterson reclaimed a decisive lead at around two-thirds’ distance when Whiteside got sideways through the Mountain section.
The gap ebbed and flowed through traffic, but Paterson held to win by less than a second, with Andrew Thompson’s Snetterton-winning ARV6 in third, the Class 2 winner, some 30s further back. Thompson was followed by Tom Andrew’s +6 and former F3 Cup man Shane Kelly’s four-cylinder machine, which won Class 3. Craig Hamilton Smith in the Baby Doll just edged reigning champion Brett Syndercombe for sixth.
MG Car Club delighted to donate to Marshal Club
With thanks to the contributions made by MG Car Club Competitors throughout 2021, it was fantastic to be able to make a donation to the British Motorsports Marshals Club whilst at our latest race meeting.
MG Car Club visited Cadwell Park on 8th May and Chief Marshal Paul Stilling presented BMMC National Treasurer Stephen Woolfe with the donation in the sum of £1,000. A number of Marshals were able to join in the presentation as well as representatives from MG Car Club and all agreed that this would be a helpful contribution.
Stephen Woolfe told us that the money will be used to help provide some of the invaluable training that BMMC delivers to Marshals every single year. MG Car Club Competitors recognise that they simply cannot go racing without the ‘army’ of volunteers that keep them safe during every race.
The Clubs look forward to continuing to work together and support each other for many years to come.
Hot racing action for MG Car Club’s Brands Hatch season opener
MG Car Club reconvened for the start its latest racing season with five MGCC diverse categories getting their campaigns for 2022 underway on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. They were supplemented by a race from new guest Ecurie Classic Racing, and it all made for an intense single day of competitive action.
The intensity was matched by the drivers, with each category providing captivating racing both for overall victory and throughout the field. And it was all held in sunny, dry and mild weather that threatened to more resemble mid-summer than mid-March.
Baynton Jones Historic Motorsport Triple M Challenge
Andrew Long (pictured abocve) dominated the opening Triple M Challenge race for Pre-War MGs from pole with his MG N Type. Duncan Potter in his MG Montlhery Midget and Fred Boothby’s MG J2 meanwhile had a close place-swapping battle for second place, with Potter prevailing for the runner-up spot which also got him the Driver of the Race award.
Teifion Salisbury’s MG K3 in fourth and Chris Edmondson’s MG D Type in fifth also ran in close company throughout and were separated by just half a second at the end.
The second Triple M race was a similar story, as Long again moved well clear to win with apparent ease, and this also got him Driver of the Race, while Potter and Boothby again took turns in second place, with Potter again prevailing.
Mark Dolton in his MG PB Special, who finished seventh in Race 1, finished fourth in the second event ahead of the fifth-placed Andrew Morland’s MG PA, which was sixth in Race 1. Salisbury and Edmondson, again running in close company, were next home.
MGCC The FG Barnes MG Trophy
Reigning MG Trophy champion Sam Kirkpatrick was back for 2022’s Brands Hatch season opener and took yet another win in Brands’ Race 1. But to do so he had to beat a strong challenge from fellow MG ZR 190 runner Adam Jackson (both pictured above).
Kirkpatrick got too much wheelspin at the start and fell behind Jackson, but quickly regained first when Jackson slid wide at Druids. Jackson kept attacking though and passed Kirkpatrick for the lead at Paddock.
Kirkpatrick at one-quarter’s distance got back ahead with a thrilling Druids move on the outside, where he was able to box Jackson in behind a backmarker. The front pair continued in close company until the fight ended early when Jackson lost time with a trip through the Paddock Hill Bend gravel. He nevertheless retained second place ahead of double champion Graham Ross, and they ran in that order to the end.
“I didn’t think it would be that close [with Jackson] from the quali times,” Kirkpatrick said, “but I know he’s fast and in the race it’s always different.
“I tried it [the Druids move] around his outside the lap before and went a bit far. So tried it again and luckily there was a backmarker there to pin him against, and I got past. I saw the backmarker before and I knew I could maybe pin him [Jackson] in a bit, but we caught him at the right time and it worked out well for me.”
Jackson added: “The car’s a bit lairy to be honest, it was obviously fast but I think it needs dialling back in.
“I’d closed back up on him [Kirkpatrick] and I was pushing more, and I just pushed it a little bit too far through Paddock Hill and lost the back end. I had to steer into it [the slide] at which point it snapped a bit and went into the gravel.”
Josh Bromley passed James Dennison in the early stages to win Class B, an effort that got Bromley Driver of the Race too. Dennison meanwhile lost second in class on the final lap when he got his braking wrong at Druids and went into the gravel. Matthew Harvey won Class C ahead of Chaz Ryles.
Race 2 proved much more straightforward for Kirkpatrick as he won at a canter after all of his Class A rivals – Jackson, Ross and Patrick Booth – started from the pitlane after an incident in the first attempted start (the other Class A runner, Doug Cole, didn’t take part after encountering a misfire in Race 1).
In that Race 2 first start, Booth and Jackson, side by side and disputing second place at Paddock, made slight contact and slid and spun in front of a crowded pack and the luckless Dennison’s machine was collected by Jackson. Dennison couldn’t take the restart, though was physically unharmed despite an ambulance being called to the site of his stranded MG ZR 170.
Come the reconvened race Jackson, despite having to hold his steering wheel at an angle from the damage, was able to climb through the pack to finish second, pipping Class B winner Joseph Dalgarno in a thrilling run to the line. Tylor Ballard was second in Class B while James Cole, third in Class B and sixth overall, got Driver of the Race. Ryles this time beat Harvey in Class C.
Ecurie Classic Racing
The guest Ecurie race, a 40-minute pitstop event for its classic cars, was won impressively by Grant Williams in his distinctive Jaguar Mk2 that was raced by Jack Sears and tested by Stirling Moss (above).
Williams led the opening stint clearly after polesitter Richard Lambert’s Rochdale spun early on but Lambert then climbed through the field excitingly as often the fastest car on track and closed to within 3.7s of Williams.
The safety car was deployed during the pitstop window, as Robert Salisbury’s Jaguar had left the track at Clearways, and Williams under the caution pitted a lap later than many rivals and dropped to seventh. He quickly rose to re-establish the lead though after green flag racing resumed, and held off the Jaguar of John Young, who had taken over from Nigel Webb, by 2.3s to win.
Nick Smith, newly back from a humanitarian trip to Poland, took over the Rochdale but pulled out before the end when the car dropped a cylinder, having also just picked up a couple of track-limit penalties.
MGCC MG Cup powered by Cherished Vehicle Insurance
The MG Cup races at Brands Hatch also had two frantic battles for first, in this case between 2019 champion Richard Buckley (pictured above), these days back in his Rover Tomcat Turbo, and the invitational MG ZS 180 entry of Karl Green, who is more commonly seen in the Cockshoot Cup and was at Brands Hatch for the very first time.
Buckley held off an attacking Green to win a restarted Race 1, which also was ended early when Chris Boulton’s MG ZR 190 went off at Paddock. Ian Boulton was third overall and first in Class B, ahead of Iain Dowler’s fellow MG ZR 170.
Steve Tyler beat fellow MG ZR 160 runner Aaron Ross by 1.3 seconds to win Class A, and this also got Tyler Driver of the Race.
Buckley and Green took up battle for first again in Race 2, and Green passed Buckley a handful of laps in with an charging move at Druids. But this delayed both and Green and Buckley resumed in third and fifth respectively.
The pair quickly recovered to first and second and Buckley chased Green hard for the rest of the way, though Green won by 0.4s.
“Good day,” Buckley said, “first race, I made an absolute hash start, it was awful, but I managed to then keep the lead. Karl in the ZS, that thing is so quick. I just managed to keep him behind me, we had a really good race.
“And then second race, same thing really. Didn’t make a particularly brilliant start. Ian [Boulton] got in front and Karl was in front. I managed to get back past Ian then I made a demon move down into Paddock to take Karl, and I thought it was going to be pretty much the same thing [as Race 1].
“He did a bit of a late lunge down on me into Druids [and] Ian and Iain went past. So we were then chasing them and then I was trying to chase Karl to see if I could get him again but he was just that little bit in front. It was good fun again. Two really good races so can’t be happier.”
Boulton again was third home overall and the Class B winner, while fellow MG ZR 170 competitor Jack Chapman finished fourth overall and second in Class B and was awarded Driver of the Race.
Ross won Class A, while next up in class this time was Marcus Short in his Rover 216 GTi, who rose through the field impressively after a poor start. Short, taking part in only his second ever car race, is the latest racing son of Le Mans overall victory contender Martin Short – who built the 216 – and is the younger brother of last year’s MG Cup frontrunner Morgan, who also cut his MG Cup teeth in the 216.
There was much to anticipate in this first MG Metro Cup gathering of the season, with 2017 Metro champion and reigning MG Cup champion Mike Williams returning along with the ever-rapid Dick Trevett, to join incumbent pacesetters such as reigning Metro champion Mark Eales and Robbie Kenning (both pictured above). And the anticipation was justified with fantastic multi-car battles at the front at Brands Hatch.
Eales looked set to lead the frontrunners home in Race 1, but the race then ended in unusual circumstances. The safety car was brought out as Kenning had slid into the Clearways gravel, and under the caution leader Eales peeled into the pits; it transpired that he had wrongly been advised to do so.
Williams was first to the chequered flag as during the one-lap green flag sprint to the finish Trevett, who’d inherited the lead from Eales’ misfortune, went off at Paddock with a shock absorber problem. But the result was subsequently changed to make Eales the winner, and with this Trevett got second ahead of Williams. Jon Moore was fourth home, which also got him the Driver of the Race award. “The first race went really well, the final result wasn’t quite what we all expected but I got the result I needed,” Eales said, “I didn’t want it to end like that but we’ll say no more about that. Really happy [with my pace], onward and upward.”
Williams got the recompense though of winning Race 2 and with it got Driver of the Race. Trevett was second home, while Eales didn’t make the flag after he sustained rear damage when he dipped a rear wheel on the grass and spun “trying a little bit hard” then got hit by a pursuing car. Richard Garrard who was due to complete the podium pulled out with a lap to go when his CV joint seized. Tim Shooter therefore got third.
Williams said: “I know it sounds silly but I didn’t want come and lead from the start and do a trackday type scenario where there’s no-one really behind you and there’s obviously no-one front of you, so throw me right in the middle of the pack like that and battling. To get the win as well at the end it was well fought and well earned. I had a great big smile on my face all day with the racing.”
MGCC Lackford Engineering MG Midget & Sprite Challenge
The Midget and Sprite Challenge’s Brands Hatch curtain raiser maintained the meeting’s theme of having exciting multi-car battles for first place.
Victory in the opening race was a matter for Richard Bridge and returning multiple champion Paul Sibley, who started his comeback in the category at last year’s Mallory Park season closer. And Bridge’s Sprite prevailed in Brands’ Race 1, as having attacked Sibley’s Midget in the race’s early part he got by at Druids around two-thirds’ distance.
Reigning champion Pippa Cow in her Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite won Class E, passing Tom Walker’s Sprite at half distance then holding him off for the rest of the way.
In Class D, Barney Collinson (pictured above) in his Midget prevailed in a three-way scrap with Ian Burgin’s and Edward Easton’s Sprites to win. This freshman victory got Collinson Driver of the Race.
Stephen Watkins – another returning to the Midgets and Sprites, in his case after two years away – finished third in Race 1, 20s shy of first, and set-up changes got him onto the pace for Race 2 and he therein beat Sibley for victory after another long and absorbing place-swapping fight. There was a slightly early finish when Oshin Shahiean in his Midget went off at Druids. Watkins also got the Driver of the Race award with his win.
Bridge meanwhile had ran with the front battle early on but then dropped back to finish a distant third after his throttle cable jammed.
“In the first race it understeered,” Watkins said. “And the second one I changed the rollbar at the back and made it a bit stiffer at the back and balanced it up a lot nicer. That put me in a better position, and gave me a chance to have a good battle with Paul.
“I could see he was getting the same problem, he was understeering towards the end of the race. I was finding it difficult to get past him, but I was managing to get a better drive out of Clearways but he was keeping the inside line into Paddock. So I thought I’ll have a go at going round the outside which is a bit iffy, but Paul was good and gave me the space. We had some great fun, he dived back a few times, we had a great race.”
Bridge said: “The first race was brilliant, loved it. I’m trying to do the full season this year, and hopefully win it. It’s about time I won the championship.”
Bridge got his results despite having to install his spare engine at the 11th hour. “That’s [the throttle problem] what happens when you have to put the spare engine in in a hurry. [We were] building up a new engine and we tested it on the dyno and it had a problem, so we decided to go with the spare engine which is a bit tired.
“But it didn’t seem to matter in the first race, and if the throttle cable had been fine in the second race I would have been at least there or thereabouts for the win.
“It’s great [to battle Sibley], because when I started in 2009 he was the man to beat but I wasn’t in the same class as him, and I was really disappointed when I knew that I was going to come back to Class A and he’d decided to retire. He’s so experienced, he’s such a good driver”
Walker turned the tables on Cow to win Class E in Race 2, while Collinson doubled up in Class D with another win. He again beat Easton, while Shahiean had earlier spun out of what was another three-way class win battle. Collinson also got Driver of the Day.
Four of the MG Car Club’s Championships crown their champions.
The MG Car Club’s 2021 racing season concluded with its Late Summer Meeting at Snetterton. A weekend of typically good-natured competition under fine skies led to four of the club’s championships crowning their champions.
MGCC BCV8 Championship
Unlike the other MG Car Club championships in action, the BCV8s still had another meeting left in their 2021 calendar, but that didn’t prevent Ollie Neaves wrapping up the title as he maintained his 100% record this year.
Neaves qualified on pole position but was passed by Neil Fowler’s similar B GT V8 exiting the Wilson hairpin at the start of the first race before regaining the lead in swashbuckling style around the outside of Coram nearly two laps later. Gearbox problems, which left him with only second and fifth gears, meant that Fowler was unable to respond, and Neaves cleared off to his 11th win of the season, with Russell McCarthy completing the podium behind Fowler.
Ben Tovey topped Class C – and was named Driver of the Race – after passing Jim Bryan early on at Agostini, while losing fourth gear meant Andy Young could only manage third in his MGC. Babak Farsian (Roadster) produced another fine display to win Class AB and beat the Class B frontrunners – headed by Howard Grundon (B GT V8) – after a good scrap.
Fowler’s gearbox gremlins meant Neaves could take an easier run to victory in race two, putting the championship beyond all doubt, with McCarthy beating Fowler to second. Behind them, James Wheeler – sharing his dad Jonnie’s Class C B GT V8 with his own Class D version sidelined –thundered through from the back of the grid to fourth overall and the Class C win after Bryan ran wide at Riches. Tovey also nipped past Bryan into second but then lost the place by just 0.2s at the flag. Farsian completed a Class AB double, while Steve McKie managed to turn the tables on Grundon and win Class B, being named Driver of the Race for his efforts.
“It’s been a really good year,” said champion Neaves. “The car’s been amazing all year. There probably is a bit of luck involved in making sure that they stay together but it’s testament to the job my dad’s done to make it all come together without any failures so far.
“It’s a real shame Neil’s had gearbox issues because the last couple of races, there’s been potential for a race-long battle. We’ve got slightly different gear ratios so there were parts he was quicker than me, parts I was quicker. But I was quite a bit quicker through Coram which was where I made the move – it was a bit of a brave one!
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An almost perfect score of two wins, two fastest laps and a pole position clinched a first MG Cup overall championship crown for Mike Williams (pictured above), who overhauled a pre-weekend deficit to Class B leader Iain Dowler.
The Rover Metro-mounted Williams was beaten to race one’s pole position by Morgan Short (MG ZS 180) but wheelspin for Short at the start allowed Williams to make the best getaway and from there he never looked back. Short had also fallen behind the Rover 220 Tomcat Turbo of Matt Simpson and spent the rest of the race trying to manufacture a way past Simpson and the similar Tomcat of Richard Buckley who passed Short as they squabbled at the start of the second lap. Buckley then immediately demoted Simpson for second at Agostini, before Short’s around-the-outside attempts through Oggies and Williams were thwarted by the Tomcats’ superior power down the Bentley Straight. When Short tried the outside line at Coram he ran wide and spun, dropping down the order before eventually recovering to fourth. Williams led home Buckley by nearly 18 seconds, despite a late off as he tried to make sure of the point for fastest lap, with Simpson third.
The scrap for Class B honours was particularly entertaining. Dowler’s MG ZR 170 made a poor start from class pole and, as he tried to quickly recover, contact at Agostini cost him his rear bumper and a lot of time as he fishtailed wildly out of the corner. It was left to good friends Ian Boulton and Dan Jones (both in ZR 170s) to contest the class victory. Boulton eventually prevailed by just 0.4s and was named the commentators’ Driver of the Race. Dowler recovered to third but fell back behind Carl Robinson – 2020’s overall champion stepping up to Class B and making a first appearance of the season – when a 5s track limits penalty was applied.
The overall points advantage had now swung in favour of Williams, and the championship destiny was in his hands. With Short having set only one representative lap time in qualifying after a number of track-limits breaches, Williams was able to convert pole position into a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Buckley demoted Simpson from second at the Brundle and Nelson esses but mechanical failure then pitched him off at Coram and into retirement. Williams took the victory from Simpson – who was named Driver of the Race – and Peter Burchill (MG ZS 180) after Short’s drive through the field was hampered by an excursion at the Wilson hairpin.
Jones took Class B honours after another close scrap, while Boulton’s late pass of Robinson for second at Agostini was reversed when the race was red-flagged and the result taken from a lap earlier. Dowler could only manage fourth in class after a gear-selector issue left him struggling to find gears.
Aaron Ross (MG ZR160) edged the Class A honours in both races, pipping Stephen Highley in the opener and Steve Tyler later on, as an entertaining – and clean – scrap between the three sadly ended with Highley crashing onto his roof (without injury), bringing a premature end to the race.
“It was tough,” said a delighted Williams. “I did only what I could do – just go out there and get fastest lap and the race win to get the maximum points, and hope that he [Dowler] dropped some points.
“It was nice having Matt behind me because he defended my lead quite nicely! Probably the last two or three laps I started to cool it down a bit.”
MGCC Holden MG Trophy
With the MG Trophy title already in his pocket after the July rounds at Donington Park, Sam Kirkpatrick chose to sit out the races at Snetterton, which left the way clear for Fred Burgess to take two comfortable wins – his first of the season – on a track at which he thrives. But it was the battles between youth and experience in Class B that stole the show.
Burgess’s fellow front-row man Doug Cole was forced to begin race one’s first start from the pitlane after his car wouldn’t start in the assembly area. But the race was red-flagged on the first lap when Robin Walker ran wide at Williams and rejoined the circuit in the path of Joe Dalgarno, with the collision resulting in both cars rolling. Both drivers were fine but the damage to their cars meant their race weekends were over.
Cole took up his grid slot for the re-run but was unable to match Burgess’s pace. He had to settle for second as Patrick Booth completed the podium, with the trio repeating that result in race two.
“Both races were fairly comfortable,” admitted Burgess. “I’ve always said, I don’t care if I come fifth or sixth if I have a good race. I enjoyed the weekend because I love this circuit – it’s one of my favourite circuits so it’s always fun – but it would have been nice to have someone a bit closer.”
Instead of focusing on the leader, most onlookers’ eyes were fixed on the enthralling Class B battles. The class championship was on the line, with only two points separating Fergus Campbell, Tylor Ballard and James Dennison heading into the weekend. Ballard struck first blood by taking both class pole positions, as Campbell first suffered an ABS issue and was then left to rue race one’s red flag as his trademark lightning start counted for nothing. Ballard made the best getaway at the second time of asking and kept himself clear of the engaging scrap between Campbell and Dennison. Campbell made the decisive move for second mid-race at Oggies, and while he was able to pull away and reduce the gap to Ballard, he ran out of laps to make a challenge.
Campbell made another quick start in race two but, as the others tried to follow him between the Class A cars contact led to an accident which brought out the safety car. Ballard fared worst of the Class B contenders, touring into the pits with a holed radiator and his championship hopes in tatters. That left Campbell needing to finish second to be sure of the class title. Under pressure from Dennison and Jack Chapman (pictured above), he was able to fend off the pair and clinch the class crown in style while also named Driver of the Race.
It was a desperately disappointing way for Ballard to lose out, having finished every other race of the season. But at 21 years of age, he has proven that he can compete with far more experienced drivers like Campbell and that his time will come.
“For a relatively modest club racing championship, the Trophy is so incredibly competitive,” said Campbell, who repeated his class triumph of 2014 and credited car builder Rob Quinn of Quinntech for the machinery at his disposal.
“I’m 52,” he added. “These kids are young and brave! James Dennison is mighty fast and he’s got a bit of experience in these cars. The lad Jack has come into it this year and he’s really arrived. If my concentration slipped for a minute he would have been there.”
Chapman certainly impressed as he passed Dennison for second at Brundle mid-race. Having already been named Driver of the Race for his fourth in class earlier in the day, he was also named as Saturday’s overall Driver of Day for his efforts.
James Moreton continued his run of winning Class C at each race he has contested, wrapping up the class title in the process.
MGCC Cockshoot Cup
The Cockshoot Cup also went down to the wire at Snetterton, with Brian Butler managing to successfully retain the overall title.
After Mark Wright’s MGF Cup car, which had qualified third, had to be withdrawn with a hydraulic leak, it was left to the K-Series-engined MG Midget of Keith Egar and Ray Collier’s MG ZR 190 to contest the outright victories, although David Morrison’s Class B Midget kept them honest. Egar led the opener from start to finish, while Collier – on his first visit to the circuit – had to overhaul Morrison after being passed into Riches. Morrison still managed a remarkable third overall, and was named Driver of Race. Karl Green (MG ZS 180) persevered with engine issues that would force him to miss the second encounter as he set the second fastest lap on his way to fourth.
Clutch failure denied Egar a shot at a double in race two, while Collier was given some breathing space – despite a poor start – after an excursion through the Riches gravel for Morrison. That made the latter’s recovery to second all the more impressive despite the day’s relatively high rate of attrition.
“I’m really pleased with that,” said Collier, who admitted struggling with the long right-hander at Coram, before dashing off to Spain for work. “I didn’t expect to get a win this weekend. I’d seen [Morrison] go off. Keith had retired, so it was for me to throw it away then. And then out of nowhere this Midget’s looming again and I had to start pulling some laps back! So I think that was an epic drive by him.”
Butler (pictured above) was having to manage problems aboard his MGF. But a MAP sensor issue made his throttle pedal more like an on/off switch, and contributed to a couple of grassy moments, couldn’t prevent him twice heading home Chris Greenbank in Class F and beating Collier to the overall championship crown. Joe Jones’s drive to third in Class F and sixth overall in race two earned him both the Driver of the Race and Sunday’s overall Driver of the Day awards.
Mike Peters, whose record in Class B matched Butler’s going into the weekend, sadly had to withdraw with engine problems after qualifying, ending his overall championship hopes.
“It’s not often I cry but there was a tear in my eye,” admitted an emotional Butler. “We’ve had a horrendous year with family issues, not Covid-related. And then we had nothing but issues all weekend. I’d either got full throttle or nothing. The corners where you just want to feather the throttle there was nothing so I had to give it full beans! I had to just deal with it but it was hard work.”
Hickford Construction Limited MGCC MG Metro Cup
Mark Eales survived a pre-meeting mechanical scare to scorch to a pair of victories and claim the MG Metro Cup crown. Finding water in the car’s engine oil prompted Eales to switch to an older back-up motor for the weekend, but he still managed to claim pole position by more than three seconds on the three-mile Snetterton 300 layout.
Apart from a late safety car, which led to a one-lap dash to the flag, Eales was untroubled on his way to victory in race one which was enough to secure the title with a race to spare. Behind him, Tim Shooter claimed second, but only by 0.2s from the challenge of impressive first-year driver Ben Williams. Williams had passed Phil Goodwin for third at Riches just after half-distance.
“Reliability and things like that
[were a worry]
,” said a relieved Eales. “You don’t want to push it too hard if you don’t have to. Luckily, I got a good start but I had to push because I could see Tim was constantly there behind me – he certainly wasn’t letting off.”
With the pressure off for race two, Eales took a commanding 12-second victory. The margin of victory may have been a bit smaller had Shooter and Williams not clashed as the latter made his move for second late in the race. That allowed Goodwin and Willars to inherit podium finishes in the final race of the year.
MG Trophy champion Sam Kirkpatrick chose to focus on driving his family’s MGB at Snetterton – and did so in style, taking it to two victories in Equipe GTS. Kirkpatrick came from behind to pass the TVR Granturas of Rob Cull and Mark Ashworth, with successful moves around the outside at Riches, to win the opener. A poor start from pole position required a repeat performance on Sunday , this time clinching the win by forcing Cull into an error at Oggies. Kirkpatrick’s fellow MGB man Tom Smith – fourth in race one – split the Granturas in the second race by passing Ashworth on Coram’s outside line.
On his spectacular overtaking manoeuvres, Kirkpatrick said: “I had to get creative because those TVRs are fast!”
The Austin-Healey 3000s of James Haxton and Joe Willmott split the Equipe Pre-’63 races after Mark Holme’s polesitting Mk2 version suffered mechanical gremlins on both days. Haxton could only qualify fifth having had to change his engine since the previous races at Donington, but a quick clean of the carbs ahead of race one provided the extra power he had been missing. That allowed him to battle through into the lead and, as his car struggled with high temperatures and fading tyres in the closing stages, hold off the fast closing Willmott and Nick Finburgh’s Lola Mk1, which lost second on the run to the flag.
The spectacular Willmott, on his first visit to Snetterton, turned the tables the following day. After exchanging the lead a couple of times, Willmott pulled clear to win from Haxton, with Andrew Moore’s Jaguar E-type completing the podium in Finburgh’s absence. Paul Mortimer (Austin-Healey 100) twice took the honours in the Equipe 50s section.
On his local circuit, Richard Hywel Evans blasted his AC Cobra to a pair of easy wins, claiming Sunday’s race by more than a minute. Behind him, the podium was completed on each occasion by the battling Jaguar E-type and the Lotus Elan 26R Shapecraft of Rick Willmott and Robin Ellis. The pair duelled throughout, making use of the different strengths of their cars. Ellis found a way past Willmott on the final lap of race two, but in the end the superior power of the E-type was enough for Willmott to outdrag the smaller Lotus to the line.
The Morgan Challenge completed the programme at Snetterton, with a field of 17 cars. Roger Whiteside (+8) made full use of his V8 power to take a pair of dominant wins from Simon Orebi Gann (ARV6) in both races. Third on each occasion was Brett Syndercombe (4/4), whose Class 3 winning efforts completed an unbeaten season and sealed him the overall Morgan Challenge title.
MGCC racers turn up the heat at Donington
The MG Car Club’s Summer Race Weekend was appropriately met with some scorching summer weather for the two days of racing at Donington Park. And, equally appropriately, MGCC’s full range of racers turned up the heat too with a weekend’s worth of scorching on-track action.
MGCC Lackford Engineering MG Midget & Sprite Challenge
The Midget & Sprite Challenge racing at Donington had a new look at the front, albeit a rather familiar one. Frontrunner David Morrison made his first appearance of the season while 2018 champion Steve Collier (pictured above, number 46) was a surprise 11th-hour returnee, buying his Midget back from Mike Chalk on the Friday before the meeting and racing as an invitational entry.
And for Morrison and Collier it was like they had never been away as they relived memories of 2018 with intense yet respectful battling over first place. Morrison held Collier off throughout race one and took victory. Race two to begin with looked like a replay. Collier had a few goes at overtaking Morrison, including passing at Coppice only for Morrison to cut back inside of him. Then at mid-distance Collier made his move for first place stick at the same corner and built a three-second lead by the end. He got Driver of the Race as well.
Collier said: “It was tough. I had quite a few goes and [we] nearly touched two or three times. David is the person I’d trust most in a nose-to-tail dice, because he is fair. Once I got by I was away, because I knew I was quicker in certain parts and I knew if I could be in front at Redgate I could pull enough gap.
“Pretty well every lap I had the potential to have a go [at Coppice], I needed to be fully alongside otherwise I’m liable to get my front chopped off. It’s a good club; it’s fair racing.
“It’s good to be back: nice people; friendly crowd. Following David nose-to-tail, it brought everything back. It’s a great formula. The A-class cars have got so much grip.”
Morrison added: “All my work I’ve done [on the car] I’m happy with – engine, gearbox – I’m just getting a lot of understeer. They’re soft tyres and I think they’ve had enough, the hotter they get I’m sawing at the wheel, that’s where I’m just losing out.”
Race one front-row starter Ed Weston may have been able to run with Morrison and Collier too but two poor starts, particularly in race one where he was 14th at the end of the first lap. These hamstrung his challenge and he took two distant third places.
Pippa Cow (pictured above, number 7) in her Austin Healey twice finished fourth overall and with these took clear Class E victories, and thus strengthened her position in the overall championship even further.
Mark Witherspoon in his Austin Healey Sprite won Class D in race one, resisting Kim Dear by 1.4s, and with this Witherspoon got Driver of the Race. Dean Stanton’s fellow Sprite bagged the race-two class victory, beating Witherspoon by 11s.
MGCC MG Trophy
The MG Trophy this season has had a pattern of two young guns, Sam Kirkpatrick and Fred Burgess, battling over first place, but with Kirkpatrick prevailing every time. The 20-year-old indeed won six from six before Donington. And in Leicestershire’s race one he made it seven.
Burgess true to form attacked Kirkpatrick throughout Donington’s race one, and he reckoned he could have made a move for the lead had the race not ended early with a red flag – after a spectacular clash between Paul Savage and Josh Bacon exiting the chicane.
Race two was a similar tale at the front, but this time it had a last-lap twist. A late safety car bunched the contenders up, and Burgess had throughout looked stronger than Kirkpatrick out of Old Hairpin. On the final tour he got alongside there, but they touched and Burgess spun, dropping to ninth, while Kirkpatrick was able to continue to be first home to claim seemingly win number eight – the championship’s maximum-possible season total.
But he was docked five seconds for an unsafe track re-join, meaning he was classified third with Doug Cole declared winner. Kirkpatrick’s results nevertheless were enough for him to be officially assured of this year’s MG Trophy championship.
Kirkpatrick said: “It’s been a really close fight all the year with Fred – just managed to get out on top. It was a close fight all the way through [at Donington].”
Burgess added: “I think I’ve been the quickest car [this weekend], just haven’t managed to convert it to a win. Bit disappointing but we’ll come back next round and have a go. I like Snetterton, I was always quick there in the 170; I won there last year in the 190.
“There’s a lot of ifs and maybes [this season]. I’ve had the pace most weekends to have at least shared the wins with Sam. There’s been a few times the flag’s come a lap late or a lap too early. We’ll keep trying; we’ll get there.”
Fergus Campbell in race one topped the Class B runners, finishing fifth overall and getting Driver of the Race having kept just out of reach of the chasing Bacon. James Moreton won the Class C battle by 9s ahead of John Donnelly.
Race two in Class B had an equally dramatic finish as in Class A, with Tylor Ballard claiming first place from long-time leader Campbell on the final lap in a tight five-car lead scrap. This crescendo also got Ballard both the Driver of the Race and Sunday’s Driver of the Day.
Moreton made it a double win in Class C, again finishing well clear of runner-up Donnelly.
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In 2021 the MG Cup’s fight for first also has been in large part a tale of two drivers: Mike Williams in his Metro and Morgan Short in his MG ZS 180. Short was unable to take part at Donington as his rebuilt engine overheated in Friday testing, but this did not leave Williams on easy street. He had a new foe. Or rather, just like in Midget & Sprite Challenge, a not-so new one.
Champion Richard Buckley, back this year in his frontrunning Rover Tomcat, took a clear race-one pole position then won both of Donington’s races, at each stage relegating Williams to second.
In the first race Williams jumped Buckley at the start, but Buckley took the lead back after three laps at the exit of Coppice. Williams stayed on his tail before dropping away slightly late on. Buckley’s victorious race-one showing also got him Driver of the Race.
Matt Simpson’s fellow Tomcat made it a trio at the front in race two, as he led early on after a fine start. Buckley got by for the lead on lap four, while Williams followed on lap eight but by this time Buckley was 3s up the road. He stretched his advantage to 6s by the end.
Buckley said: “This is my best circuit, and it does suit the car. [In race one] I managed to get past Mike and we had a good tussle. [In race two] I didn’t make the best start, and I managed to get past Mike, and I managed to get Matt into Coppice. And watching them fight is good – just giving me a little bit of breathing space. Once I had the breathing space I could pretty much run at my own pace.”
Williams meanwhile explained: “I’m never going to win at Donington because of the pace of the Tomcats unfortunately. I changed my strategy for the second race and I put the smaller tyres on the front, we dropped the gearing by about 11%, and we still weren’t fast enough.
“It was still a good race, Matt and I had a fantastic battle for second place. I’m always disappointed if I haven’t won. If I was happy with second place I’m not a racing driver. It’s been a cracking race and it’s been a good weekend.”
Points leader Iain Dowler in his MG ZR 170 comfortably won the Class B battle in race one ahead Kevin Burke’s similar machine, while Iain Boulton won Class A by 2.5s ahead of John Gil’s fellow 160. And in both classes there was a very similar tale in race two, with Dowler triumphing well clear of Burke – getting Dowler Driver of the Race this time – and Boulton again beating Gil.
Hickford Construction Limited MGCC MG Metro Cup
The MG Metro Cup shared the Donington track with the MG Cup via a split grid and Mark Eales claimed two Metro wins, making it four victories in a row for him after a nightmarish Brands Hatch season opener.
In Donington’s opener Eales cleared poleman Dan Willars and beat him home by over 10s, a feat that also got Eales the Driver of the Race. Eales then in race two led all the way from pole, beating runner-up Phil Goodwin by 2.2s with John Gil’s MG Cup car slotted between them. Willars had again chased Eales, but this time had to retire from second at mid distance when his engine blew. Goodwin was third home and was awarded Driver of the Race.
Eales said: “Really pleased, it’s been a good weekend. I had a bit of bad luck at the beginning of the season at Brands so hopefully that’s all gone and we’re cracking on now. Considering the heat you’d think we’d have a few little issues [but we didn’t]. Car seems to be going well, so I think it’ll be check over, make sure we’re happy with everything and leaving it as it is for Snetterton.
“I’ve been at this a little while now, a few years, and I’m happy with the car, I’m just trying little tweaks now, you build up and build up. I’m more confident. Just trying little bits and pieces that I never used to before. I used to think if it was going OK I’d leave it OK in case I made it worse.”
The points leader heading into Donington Tim Shooter had a frustrating weekend. In race one he chased Eales closely but dropped out after he touched the back of an MG Cup car, damaging his radiator and meaning he stopped a few laps later. Then Shooter’s race two was dashed barely after it started, with his car stranded in the gravel on the approach to McLeans on the first lap. He later resumed but several laps down.
MGCC Triple M Challenge
The beautiful pre-War Triple M Challenge machines took to the Donington track twice on Sunday, and Tom Hardman in his MG Bellevue Special won the first race by over half a minute from pole, and was awarded Driver of the Race with it. His chief pursuer Harry Painter had a spectacular Redgate exit when his left-front stub axle broke on his MG PA, meaning the wheel detached.
Fred Boothby was a comfortable winner of Class 2 In his J2, Barry Foster trounced the Class 1 opposition in his Montlhery Midget while Simon Jackson (pictured above, number 129) in the Class 3 fight beat fellow PB runner Mark Dolton by 15s.
Hardman had to depart the meeting before race two and with Painter also unable to race with his race-one problem, Painter’s father Mike, who’d taken the runner-up spot in race one, moved in for race-two victory in his MG Kanye Special, beating Charles Goddard’s MG PA Special by just under 16s. Vernon Mackenzie was third in his K3, and got Driver of the Race.
Mike Painter said: “Because Harry dropped out and Tom Hardman as well there was no reason I shouldn’t win it. I was concerned of spinning it or throwing it away embarrassingly. And then Charles was sticking with me, I was trying pretty hard and he was still there and I thought ‘blimey he’s trying hard here!’ So I quickened up a bit and then I think he got a bit of traffic, so I got a bit of a reprieve. The cars are great fun, very exciting, we’ve raced them for years.”
Boothby in race two doubled up in the Class 2 contest, while Andrew Morland in his PA won the Class 3 contest by 2.7s from Louis Frankel’s PB Cream Cracker, after leader Jackson ran out of petrol late on. Class 1 winner this time was Duncan Potter after Foster retired early.
MGCC BCV8 Championship
Reigning champion Ollie Neaves at Donington continued his BCV8 championship domination, bagging two more wins even though he wasn’t happy with his MGB’s handling and even after making changes between the two races. In race one he lost his advantage from pole off the start to Neil Fowler, but was soon by on the fourth lap at Coppice to lead again. Fowler kept him honest though and Neaves’ advantage at the end was less then 3s.
Jim Bryan won in Class C after class poleman Andrew Young had a right-rear half shaft break on the way to the assembly area pre-race. Mark Scott won the Class B battle in his Roadster by 13s from GT V8 runner Stephen McKie, which also got Scott Driver of the Race.
James Walpole was denied Class AB victory by receiving two track-limit penalties, meaning Paul Rayment won out. Babak Farsian had led much of the way in class but dropped down late on with overheating.
In race two Neaves was more dominant, beating home Russell McCarthy and Fowler’s battle for second by over half a minute.
Neaves said: “I got a much better start that time, I managed to hold Neil off, who’s always really quick in the first few laps. I think it panned out for me today, that I managed to get some good laps in early, make the gap and then I could stroke it home.
“The car’s just an amazing piece of kit, it’s just so impressive to drive. It did feel very slippery out there but I’m guessing it was the same for everyone.
“I’ve got lots of further plans [for the car] but I’ll be holding fire until some of the others catch up!”
Young in race two was this time able to take the Class C win, in fifth overall and 1.5s clear of Ben Tovey, who was compensated with the Driver of the Race. Bryan once again was in the mix for class victory but had to retire as his engine oil cap was not fitted meaning oil started to spill onto his windscreen as well as that he risked an engine blow up. Scott made it a double Class B win and Farsian prevailed in Class AB.
MGCC Cockshoot Cup
The Cockshoot Cup was another category to have a double winner at Donington, albeit in its case it was a perhaps unlikely one as Karl Green took his first two overall victories.
In race one Green in his ZS 180 led all the way from pole, while second-placed Mark Wright pitted after three laps as the gear linkage snapped on his new MG F Cup. Green finished 7.6s clear of runner-up Ray Collier’s MG ZR 190, meaning the latter lost his 100% record in 2021. The feat also got Green the Driver of the Race and the Driver of the Day gong for Saturday.
Mike Peters (pictured above, number 6) was Class B victor in his Midget, beating Ian Whitt home by 2.9s, while Brian Butler pipped fellow MGF runner Christopher Greenbank (pictured above, number 19) by just 0.6s to win Class F. Paul Wignall (pictured above, number 5) in his ZR 160 was a dominant Class A winner.
The second race was a very different tale from the get-go as a newly repaired Wright launched superbly and established a clear lead, of 4.6s after three laps, as Green and Collier battled for second. While Peters and Butler – both of whom had 100% class records heading into the counter – were out almost immediately. In Peters’ case the engine of his Midget died while for Butler, who didn’t make the race start, his MG F woe was more convoluted. After finishing race one an electrical problem was discovered, which took hours to find, and while this was going on some grit in the timing belt bent the engine’s valves.
Green, having established his place ahead of Collier, was able to chase Wright down and passed for the lead with three laps left. Wright finished as runner-up while Collier had to make do with third, 21s adrift.
Green said: “My first two wins, and my first two poles as well. It’s only taken five years but I got there in the end! The difference is the guys have made slight alterations to the suspension and it’s made the car feel more compliant. And because it feels more grounded it’s giving me a bit more confidence to push on.
“Mark gave me a good fight, I didn’t think I was going to catch him at all at one point, but then luckily the backmarkers helped me out and it gave me the spur to push on a bit harder and eventually I got past him. It was a cracking race.”
Wright meanwhile noted: “The car’s new and we came Friday just to get it running because it’s a new engine. I was told to use a rev limit, which I did, and we qualified third which I thought ‘that’s quite good considering we’re just running around!’
“I’ve never drove the car before this weekend. Even today we hadn’t quite set it up properly so I could only use four gears, I couldn’t use fifth. I really enjoyed it. We didn’t expect to come today to do any good, we came to finish and put some miles on the car.”
Wignall in race two was again a clear Class A winner, in seventh overall, despite a 5s track-limits penalty, and got Driver of the Race with it. Greenback won Class F and Mark Bellamy in his ZR 170 beat Andrew Thompson’s Midget home by 4.7s to win Class B.
Equipe Three Hour Classic Relay
Bernardo Hartogs in a Lotus XV and Richard Wilson in a Maserati 250S as their The Fifties pairing won Equipe’s three-hour relay, benefiting from consistent pace plus fewer car changes than their rivals.
Wilson said: “It’s just keeping the 1m25s, 1m26s pace consistently over three hours is a tough thing, especially in the heat, you start to wilt towards the end of the session. The Maserati consumed less fuel than I expected. They’re both relatively light cars, so you just keep going, and the brakes are a big thing.”
There was a familiar face among the line-up that finished second, with MG Trophy star Sam Kirkpatrick in his MGB making up one-third of the Rogerscale Racing effort. It looked at points that they might be able to chase down the eventual winners, but they hit problems.
Kirkpatrick said: “It was long and hard, but it was good. But we had to deal with a few car issues. We had two unplanned pitstops, due to this car [Simon Smith’s Elan] not being able to last very long, having problems with the water getting too hot, and then the Cooper had a misfire and was not as good as it could be either, so maybe we’ll have to come back next year and do better! Could’ve maybe competed for [the win without the problems].”
The Kent’s Folly quartet started on pole and led early but fell down the order with several car swaps and the other cars in the line-up not being able to match the pace of Larry Warr’s pole-setting Morris Mini Cooper S.
Equipe Classic Racing Libre
The first of Equipe Classic Racing’s two 40-minute pitstop sprint races was a classic power-vs-handling battle at the front, and power prevailed as Jamie Boot’s TVR Griffith got the better of early leader Jon Harmer in his Lotus Elan 26R. Harmer then dropped out late on with a plug lead problem. Cliff Gray sharing with Will Nuthall restored Elan 26R honour by winning the second Equipe sprint race, passing Boot’s TVR in the closing minutes.
Aero Racing Morgan Challenge
The Morgans also joined the action on Sunday with two races. Bill Lancashire in his +8 won the red-flagged and restarted opener from pole, staving off the similarly equipped Oliver Pratt by 3.1s. For race two Lancashire’s son Howard took over his dad’s car and, having started from the back due to having to qualify out of session, as only one of them could set a time in the 15-minute qualifying, Howard powered through to finish second half a minute shy of comfortable victor Pratt.
Glorious sunshine greeted the MG Car Club’s flagship summer race weekend
Glorious sunshine greeted the MG Car Club’s flagship summer race weekend on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit, sadly without the accompanying MG Live this year. But the racers put on a magnificent show with close-fought, fair racing enjoyed by competitors and spectators alike. Five of the club’s championships were joined by three Equipe Classic Racing grids and a bulging entry from welcome guests the Mini 7 Racing Club.
MGCC Cockshoot Cup
Three weeks after claiming two wins at the Cockshoot Cup’s Oulton Park season-opener, Ray Collier (pictured above) added two more victories to his account.
The first came after a superb race-long duel between his MG ZR 190 and the MG ZS 180 of Karl Green. The pair traded the lead throughout, sometimes more than once per lap, before a slight mistake from Green on the final lap allowed Collier to make the decisive move and win by a third of a second, with Keith Egar’s MG Midget another 20 seconds in arrears in third. Mike Peters (MG Midget) bounced back from a quick spin to catch and pass Mark Bellamy (MG ZR 170) for Class B honours, while Paul Wignall (MG ZR 160) was a comprehensive winner of Class A, as he would be again later in the day. In Class F, champion Brian Butler led all the way but Chris Greenbank, a late entry after repairing the engine damage incurred at Oulton Park, was rapidly closing in the latter stages. Greenbank fell less than half a second shy at the flag but earned the commentators’ Driver of the Race award for his efforts.
Collier, who was having to manage a cracked brake disc in the first race, took a more comfortable win in the second, aided by Egar’s typically fast start getting his Midget (which twice finished third) ahead of Green and allowing Collier to build an early margin. From there, he was able to use traffic from the concurrent Midget & Sprite contest to maintain a buffer.
“I did really have to work hard for the first one,” admitted Collier. “It was really well driven by Karl. We were incredibly close and two or three or times we followed each other off!
“The second one, I could see that Karl was too far behind, so it was a case of making sure that every gear shift is perfect. I did miss it once and I just let the ‘box settle because the last thing you want to do is hit second, not fourth. So I did lose a couple of seconds there.”
Peters again secured Class B honours from Bellamy, with Butler also repeating his Class F success. Greenbank was again closing him down before a spin at Luffield meant he had to settle for second in class. Third in Class F, repeating his earlier result, was debutant Joe Jones in his MG TF LE500, which earned him the Driver of the Race award.
MGCC Lackford Engineering Midget & Sprite Challenge
After racing less than two weeks previously at Castle Combe, it was a slightly depleted grid of Midgets and Sprites that arrived to contest the Ted Reeve Memorial Trophy, remembering the long-standing driver who competed in Midgets for an incredible 48 years.
Polesitter Richard Wildman led away the trophy race from the fast-starting Class E Sprite of Pippa Cow, as front-row man Edd Weston dropped to fourth behind Stephen Pegram. But Weston, continuing to campaign his father Dave’s Midget, returned to second within a couple of laps and proceeded to hound Wildman’s similar machine. The youngster drew alongside on a few occasions but was biding his time. On the final lap, he got a run out of Luffield and pipped Wildman by just 0.05 seconds in a photo finish, claiming his maiden victory in the process. It was particularly poignant given the family connection to Ted Reeve.
“I was concerned that I’d get by him and then he’d go straight by me on the straight again and I’d lose time,” explained Weston, who was presented with the beautiful trophy by Ted’s wife. “So I hung back, stuck behind him, waited until the last lap and then pounced! That was my plan.
“My dad’s been mechanic-ing for Ted Reeve since I was born. I’ve grown up watching him race and watching my dad race, and had his car at my house whilst my dad’s worked on it, so it means a lot to win this.”
Weston’s success earned him the Commentators’ Driver of the Race nomination as well as Sunday’s overall Driver of the Day. He repeated the victory in the non-championship race two, this time beating Wildman by a slightly more comfortable 0.5s.
Cow twice topped Class E on her way to third overall, enjoying herself on the Grand Prix circuit some way clear of Ian Burgin and, in the first race, James Fettiplace. Mark Witherspoon pipped Carl Chadwick in a close scrap for Class D honours in the opener and was named Driver of the Race in the sequel after catching and passing Chadwick, whose race ended in the gravel while avoiding a spinner.
MGCC The Unity MG Trophy
Sam Kirkpatrick remains unbeaten in the 2021 MG Trophy but, once again, Fred Burgess made him work hard for his continued success.
Making his first appearance of the year in a ZR 190 newly built by 4G Racing, albeit in a non-scoring guest capacity, Ross Makar looked set to give the leading duo a run for their money. Indeed, from third on the grid, he ran around the outside of polesitter Kirkpatrick’s similar car through Copse before yielding into the Maggots/Becketts complex. But the three-way fight would prove short-lived as Burgess’s gearbox gave up the ghost and Makar’s engine – an ageing unit transplanted from his previous machine – blew, ending his weekend. So Kirkpatrick could look after his tyres in the hot weather as he eased to a fifth win of the year from Adam Jackson in a season-best second, with Doug Cole completing the podium.
Josh Bacon (ZR 170) was named Driver of the Race and Saturday’s Driver of the Day after claiming his first Class B win. He jumped class polesitter James Dennison and led throughout as a closely fought contest played out behind. Dennison fought off Tylor Ballard (pictured above) for second in class, with James Cole also edging out Ballard on the run to the flag.
Burgess converted pole position into the lead of race two but had his opening-lap margin wiped out by a safety car required after Bacon and James Cole’s first-corner accident. Burgess made a good restart but Kirkpatrick got a run through Aintree to take the lead, only for Burgess to fight back with an around-the-outside run through Stowe, completed into Vale on the next lap. The effort was enough to earn Burgess the Driver of the Race, but a mistake under pressure at Brooklands allowed Kirkpatrick into a decisive lead to make it six from six this season. Jackson was relatively lonely in third, his fourth podium finish of the season.
“I had to really fight for that one,” Kirkpatrick smiled. “Much more rewarding.” It was another case of what might have been for Burgess, who nevertheless relished the contest: “It was a great race, we enjoyed it a lot. Sam moves around a lot coming into the braking zone, so you’re trying keep an eye on which side he’s going to go and then I just missed my braking point.”
Dennison secured Class B honours from Ballard and Fergus Campbell, while James Moreton (ZR 160) passed Paul Croker to take his second Class C win of the weekend.
MGCC MG Cup powered by Cherished Vehicle Insurance
Mike Williams chalked up two more MG Cup wins but they came in contrasting fashion, while main rival Morgan Short’s championship challenge was dented by failing to finish either race.
Williams (red Metro pictured above) pipped Short to pole position at the end of qualifying as the engine in Short’s MG ZS 180 began to overheat – a legacy of the damage he picked up at Oulton Park that would come back to bite him. Williams was then able to get a jump at the first corner as Short had his hands full with the Rover Tomcats of Richard Buckley and Matt Simpson (both pictured above). That gave Williams the margin he needed to overcome his VVC-engined Rover Metro’s comparative lack of power as he eased to victory. Things would go from bad to worse for Short as he pitted after two laps with a cooked engine and the suspicion that the car’s new radiator didn’t have the required cooling capacity.
Behind Williams, Buckley and Simpson engaged in a titanic duel, Simpson finally finding a way through on the last lap, earning the Driver of the Race award.
With Short absent from race two, the Tomcats made Williams work for his second win of the day. Both had spells in front before Williams eventually succeeded in his repeated attempts to pass Buckley at Stowe. Past champion Buckley held on to second from Simpson.
With points leader Iain Dowler absent owing to work commitments, Dan Jones dominated Class B in the first race but it came at a cost with a mechanical failure on the slow-down lap. That left the way clear for Wayne Stirling-Parker, making his final race start 27 years after debuting at Silverstone, to take the class honours in race two at the wheel of Rod Weston-Bartholomew’s MG ZR 170 after his own Rover BRM hit trouble at a recent Speed Championship event.
“I raced here in 1994 – first ever race with the MG Metro Cup,” said Stirling-Parker. “So 27 years later, I thought I’d start and finish at the same venue. It’s been a wonderful time, to be honest with you. It’s nice to spend most of my racing career in the MG Car Club.”
Steve Tyler’s MG ZR 160 twice took the laurels in Class A from Ian Boulton, who was returning to racing in a borrowed trackday car following his heavy accident at Brands Hatch.
MGCC BCV8 Championship
Ollie Neaves clocked up his ninth and 10th wins in 11 BCV8 races over the past two years with another dominant display.
Neaves was untroubled in the opener, heading home the similar GT V8s of Neil Fowler and Ian Prior as the only Class D finishers after James Wheeler (broken gearstick) and Simon Cripps (differential) both fell by the wayside. Class C winner Andy Young (C GT) just pipped the invitational GT V8 of Peter Samuels – making his first appearance for several years – to fourth overall after a good battle and was named Driver of the Race, with Jim Bryan second in Class C after Steve Wells spun and Jonnie Wheeler’s engine blew up. Babak Farsian’s four-cylinder Roadster was a clear winner of Class AB, just two seconds behind Class B pacesetter Steve McKie.
Fowler jumped Neaves at the start of race two, and while Neaves was soon back in front, a mistake at Vale meant he had to come from behind again. It was hot work sitting behind the race-tuned V8, but Neaves still won with relative ease from Fowler and James Wheeler, with Young again taking Class C honours.
“The first race was a bit lonely,” said Neaves. “But the second race, I had a great couple of laps dicing with Neil and then he seemed to just drop off a bit for some reason.”
Returnee Mark Scott claimed Class B, while Driver of the Race and Class AB honours went to Paul Linfield (pictured above) who triumphed in a hard-fought battle with Russ McAngus, Simon Cripps (who had switched to his FIA-spec Roadster), Paul Rayment and James Walpole after Farsian suffered a broken halfshaft.
An extraordinary last two laps shook up the order in Sunday’s Equipe GTS race. Saturday winner Lee Atkins (TVR Grantura 1800S) had rebuffed British GT racer Andrew Gordon-Colebrook’s repeated attacks, including re-passing him around the outside at Luffield when Gordon-Colebrook had found a way through, only to spin away the lead. Gordon-Colebrook’s Triumph TR4, which had pitted from third with a lose HT lead in Saturday’s race, then expired and, with his vision obscured by the TR4’s oil on his MGB’s windscreen, Tom Smith also had an excursion. That left Allan Ross Jones (TR4), who beat Smith to second a day earlier, to take the win from the recovered Atkins and Smith.
Relieved to be told that he hadn’t caused Gordon-Colebrook’s demise, Atkins had clearly enjoyed the contest. “One of the best races I’ve ever had,” he beamed.
After Richard Woolmer’s extravagantly driven Ford Falcon succumbed to suspected fuel pump failure in the first Equipe Libre race, Robin Ellis overcame a clutch problem, which left his Lotus Elan 26R Shapecraft stuck in third gear, to claim his first win aboard the car from Rick Willmott (Jaguar XKE) and Cliff Gray’s Lotus Elan.
Chris Beighton’s Sunbeam Le Mans Tiger arrived on Sunday to dominate the second race which was affected by a safety-car period and then red-flagged after an incident claimed several cars on the resumption. Woolmer charged from the back to be classified second, with Gray third.
Equipe Pre-’63 honours twice fell to Nigel Winchester’s monstrous Shelby 260, the first after withstanding race-long pressure from Mark Holme (Austin-Healey 3000 MkII) and the Jaguar E-type of Roberto Giordanelli. Sunday’s win came a little easier after Holme expired in the closing stages, leaving Jonathan Smare’s Healey in second and double 50s winner Jonathan Abecassis (Austin-Healey 100/4) third overall.
A large entry of Classic Minis provided terrific close racing. In the opening Mini Se7en contest, a pack comprising reigning champion Jeff Smith, Joe Thompson, Jonathan Lewis, Spencer Wanstall and Nick Croydon-Fowler exchanged places throughout. Smith was eliminated from contention after pitting when he mistook a lap of grip caused by an oily track surface for a puncture. That left Thompson to take the win from Wanstall after Lewis’s unsuccessful challenge at Abbey on the final lap. Sadly, Thompson and Wanstall were eliminated early on from the sequel – run concurrently with the second Miglia race – when Wanstall lost drive and was then collected by the closely following Thompson. Lewis, Connor O’Brien and Smith contested the win and finished in that order, giving Lewis his first Mini Se7en victory since winning the championship in 1981.
Endaf Owens won Saturday’s Miglia race by holding off British Touring Car champion Andrew Jordan’s last-lap challenge around the outside at Brooklands after the pair had worked together to break free of Rupert Deeth and Aaron Smith in third and fourth. After finishing sixth in the opener from the back of the grid following an engine failure in qualifying, Kane Astin benefited from the top-eight grid reversal to lead race two. Smith, Owens and Jordan soon joined the lead battle, while Deeth retired with an oil-pressure problem. It was reigning champion Smith who managed to take the win from Astin, Jordan and Owens, with all involved grinning from ear to ear afterwards.
Return to Oulton Park very different to 2020 – with spectators and some sunshine!
Mixed weather conditions in qualifying created an extra variable for the racers to deal with at the MG Car Club’s second race meeting of 2021, at Oulton Park. Five of the club’s championships were in action, each contesting two races, and they were joined by three series from Equipe Classic Racing. It was all played out in front of an appreciative crowd enjoying the newly-relaxed COVID restrictions that enabled spectators to watch the racing for the first time this year.
MGCC The Mangoletsi MG Trophy
It is now four wins from four races for Sam Kirkpatrick as he maintained his 100% start to the season in the MG Trophy. Kirkpatrick and Fred Burgess (both in ZR190s) picked up where they left off at Brands Hatch in April, the pair duelling for supremacy throughout.
Kirkpatrick’s race one win from pole position was the more straightforward of the two, although he lost a hard-earned two-second advantage to a mid-race safety car. Burgess then shadowed him to the chequered flag in the two remaining green-flag laps, ruing his compromise of a wet set-up with slick tyres on what had become a dry track after wet qualifying.
Fergus Campbell impressed on his way to third overall and Class B victory in his ZR 170, earning the commentators’ Driver of the Race award in the process. He edged Tylor Ballard by half a second on the road, but Ballard’s 10s penalty for a false start dropped him to fourth in class. Paul Croker (ZR 160) was set to win Class C, only for a final-lap excursion exiting Cascades to cost him dear and promote John Donnelly to the win.
Campbell’s lightning start allowed him to lead race two, and Burgess also jumped Kirkpatrick. The two ZR 190s quickly cleared Campbell and could barely be separated for the remaining nine laps of the challenging circuit. Kirkpatrick drew alongside on several occasions, but Burgess’s defence held firm until Kirkpatrick squeezed inside at Cascades mid-race. But the Cumbrian couldn’t shake off the Lincolnshire man as the pair traded lap records, Kirkpatrick’s winning margin of 0.6s being almost unrepresentatively large!
“I had to fight for that one,” admitted Kirkpatrick. “I went for a few overtakes, but they weren’t quite perfect ones. But then I got a bit closer through Cascades than I normally would, so I let off the brakes and hoped!”
“I knew what Sam was going to do,” said Burgess, “but I didn’t think he’d be able to hold the speed down the straight [from the tighter exit] but he got a mega run out of there.
“It was the most tired I’ve been in a race car – I knew about it at the end of the race!” he added, as both drivers had clearly enjoyed an exhilarating contest.
Adam Jackson completed the podium in his ZR 190, a great result after his first race had ended with an engine fire caused by a split oil filter housing. Doug Cole, fourth, also failed to finish the opener after a gearbox mount broke, snapping the driveshaft. Patrick Booth was fifth after his earlier class podium, both achieved after the wrong choice of rubber in qualifying left him 15th on the grid, having also been running in his new engine.
Tylor Ballard chased down Campbell, passing him into Cascades after getting a run out of Old Hall, to win Class B and claim Driver of the Race honours, while Croker made up for his earlier disappointment with Class C honours.
MGCC BCV8 Championship
Reigning champion Ollie Neaves bounced back from a wrong tyre call in qualifying to win both BCV8 races in his MGB GT V8, albeit in contrasting style. Simon Cripps took the first contest on the road with an impressive display that earned him the Driver of the Race award, only to lose out when penalised for jumping a restart.
Cripps sprung from third on the grid to lead but, like second-placed Neil Fowler and Class C leader Jonnie Wheeler, misjudged the safety car restart and incurred a 10s penalty. His pace was such that he fell less than a quarter of a second shy of building the margin he needed to overhaul Neaves on corrected times.
Neaves had qualified only fifth after running dry rubber on a greasy track, then made the mistake of switching to wets for the drier race. He prevailed in a battle for third with the similarly afflicted James Wheeler, then benefited from Fowler’s final lap off, before inheriting the victory.
Behind Wheeler and Ian Prior in third and fourth, Andy Young won Class C in his C GT. A three-way fight also involving Jonnie Wheeler and Jim Bryan ended when unfortunate contact between the latter pair exiting Old Hall turned Bryan into the barriers, ending his day.
Neaves fully reasserted his authority with a commanding victory in race two. With conditions now almost perfect, he jumped from sixth to lead within two corners, then opened an advantage of 9s in three laps before keeping a watchful eye on the pursuing Cripps and James Wheeler as he nursed a slight brake vibration.
“That felt a lot more like it,” beamed Neaves. “The car just felt so hooked up it was unbelievable. Those first few laps, the car was absolutely glued to the tarmac. I did three really hard laps, looked in my mirrors and wondered where everyone had gone!”
Cripps passed Wheeler for second with an exuberant move around the outside at old Hall and was finally able to shake him off when after both had moments at Druids on fluid spilt by the car of Wheeler’s father Jonnie after a hose had come loose.
Young again won Class C from row eight of the grid after his own wrong tyre call in qualifying and was rewarded for his efforts with the Driver of the Race. Babak Farsian twice took Class AB honours with his four-cylinder Roadster able to get among the V8s, while Steve McKie (B GT V8) headed Class B in both races.
MGCC Cockshoot Cup
The largest Cockshoot Cup entry for several years assembled for the North-West based championship’s first outing of the season. The story of its races again owed much to the wet conditions in morning qualifying.
Renowned wet-weather expert Ray Collier, who develops tyres for a living, qualified his MG ZR 190 on pole position by over four seconds, while regular frontrunner Keith Egar could only manage 13th in his MG Midget after choosing the wrong rubber. Collier took a comfortable victory in the first race, despite a cracked gearbox casing and a faulty fuel gauge meaning the car had been under-filled and was misfiring in the closing stages, while Egar carved his way through to second, and was named Driver of the Race.
It could have been even better for Egar, as he backed off to cool his engine before a final push, only for the chequered flag to be shown slightly early with the meeting running a little behind its tight timetable. Peter Bramble produced a similar charge from mid-grid to third in his MGB, ahead of Class F victor Brian Butler who had impressed in second overall for much of the way. Mike Peters took Class B honours in his MG Midget, while Paul Wignall (MG ZR 160) topped Class A.
The early pace of Butler and Egar was even more impressive in race two, as Butler led the early stages before being demoted by Egar, who had made an absolutely blistering start to run second, and Collier into Druids on the second lap. Egar would be denied again, however, as Collier – with his fuel tank topped to the brim – got a run through Island and passed the Midget into Shell Oils on the penultimate lap. Being named the meeting’s Driver of the Day would be some consolation for Egar. Karl Green took his MG ZS 180 to third ahead of Driver of the Race Butler, with Peters and Wignall again claiming class honours.
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Two hard-fought MG Cup contests ended with honours even between the VVC-engined Rover Metro of Mike Williams, and sophomore driver Morgan Short’s MG ZS 180. Benefiting from his wet running in Friday testing, Short put the ZS on pole position for each race by the huge margins of 7.4 and 8.8 seconds. But, after last year’s horrendous conditions, race one would offer his first dry laps of the circuit.
Williams made his experience count to outdrag Short up Clay Hill on the first lap of the opener and, while Short stuck with him, he couldn’t find a way through and had to settle for second. The Rover 220 Tomcats of the returning Richard Buckley and Matt Simpson were third and fourth, Simpson earning Driver of the Race for his charge from the back after being disqualified from qualifying for a yellow flag infringement. Iain Dowler (MG ZR 170) took Class B honours, while Jago Keen (MG ZR 160) claimed Class A.
Determined to learn from race one, Short was able to defend against Williams’s similar attack in race two, and Williams lost time as he ran on the grass. But the Metro reeled the leader back in and was ready to take advantage when Short struck a slowing backmarker exiting Knickerbrook on the final lap. However, Short held firm to take his maiden win despite the scare.
“It was enough to do quite a bit of damage to the front of the car and I lost my whole gap to Mike,” said Short, who was named Driver of the Race. “I thought, ‘There’s no point giving up now, I’ve just got to keep pushing and hope nothing’s wrong with the car.’ And luckily, it looks like most of the damage is cosmetic. I had a great race with Mike, we were battling the whole time. He’s a great competitor and he’s a good sport.”
Simpson made faster progress early in the race so was able to beat Buckley to third, while Dowler took a comfortable Class B win and Keen too repeated his earlier Class A success.
Hickford Construction Limited MGCC MG Metro Cup
Mark Eales put his Brands Hatch nightmare behind him to score a double success in the MG Metro Cup, which shared track time with the MG Cup. New pistons and heads were required after a holed radiator had cooked the engine, and qualifying at Oulton Park was the first chance to run the repaired engine in anger. He secured pole position after top qualifier Dan Willars was disqualified for a yellow flag infringement, with third fastest Tim Davies suffering the same fate.
From there, Eales was able to secure a consummate victory from Tim Shooter and Tony Howe, who headed a very tight battle among the rest of the top eight. Howe’s climb from 10th to a podium finish earned him the Driver of the Race award, while Willars was happy to come through to sixth behind Phil Goodwin and Jon Moore, and Davies managed ninth.
“The plan was to try and get away as quickly as possible,” said Eales. “I could sort of see where Tim [Shooter] was so it was a bit like, just keep an eye on him and if Tim’s catching me we’ll have to start pushing a bit harder.”
With the Metro Cup’s new rules meaning the grid for race two is based on race one finishing positions, it meant that the likes of Howe and Willars would be starting much closer to Eales for the sequel. But Eales once more immediately broke clear to control the race as battles raged for the other podium places. It was Howe and Willars that secured them from Goodwin and Les Tyler, as Shooter dropped to sixth and Davies was forced to retire.
The TVR Griffith of Jamie Boot won the Equipe Libre race by nearly 30s, having worked its way through from fifth on the grid. Sharing customer Jon Hughes’s MGB, Tom Smith had led the early stages before a spin at Druids let Boot break clear and scamper away. Father-and-son pairing Simon and Dan Smith were second in their Lotus Elan thanks to searing pace from Smith Jr in the second half, setting a fastest lap almost two seconds quicker than Boot’s best. Rob Cull’s TVR Grantura MkIII completed the podium after it demoted James Haxton’s Austin-Healey 3000 MkI – which had run second for much of the race – in the closing stages.
Back in his own MGB, Tom Smith dominated the Equipe GTS encounter, only to be hit with a three-lap penalty for speeding in the pitlane. That handed Mark Holme victory in his similar car, ahead of the busy Babak Farsian (MGB), who had lost time clearing Dominic Mooney’s MGB early on. Richard Knight’s Elva Courier completed the podium after the fancied TVR Granturas of Rob Cull and Mark Ashworth both hit trouble in the early laps.
Mark Holme scored his second victory of the day in Equipe Pre-’63, this time at the wheel of his Austin-Healey 3000 MkII. Holme was untroubled throughout, building a big advantage from the start and taking his mandatory pitstop late in the window so that he was never headed. James Haxton’s MkII version of the same car was nearly a minute adrift at the flag. Haxton cleared Tom Andrew’s Jaguar E-type early on as Andrew appeared to struggle in the first half of the race, dropping back before recovering to third ahead of Andrew Williams (Austin-Healey 100M) and Rick Willmott (Healey 3000).
MG Car Club racers have spring in their step in Brands Hatch opener
The MG Car Club held its 2021 racing season opener on a sunny spring weekend in Kent for condensed dicing on Brands Hatch’s Indy circuit. Six of MGCC’s race categories were present and, underlining the club’s variety, cars from pre-war right up to the modern day were catered for. And, adding to the assortment, they were joined at Brands by no fewer than eight packed and eclectic Equipe Classic Racing contests, as well as by the Morgan Challenge.
And the competitors throughout the categories didn’t need much time to get down to business and provide racing thrills.
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We are long used to Mike Williams winning MG Cup races, but don’t be fooled into thinking the two more that he won at Brands Hatch were straightforward. Firstly, he doubted until the 11th hour that he’d be able to take part at all due to technical problems with his Metro (pictured above). And then, having resolved those, he had a new on-track challenge in the shape of Morgan Short, son of famous racer and team boss Martin.
Morgan raced in a Class A Rover 216 GTI last year, and he has now upgraded to a frontrunning MG ZS 180 (also pictured above) that he raced for the first time at Brands. And like Williams his participation was in doubt in advance, as he was initially only on the event’s reserve list.
Matt Simpson led from the start in his Tomcat, while poleman Williams dropped to third behind Short. The Metro man passed after a few laps’ battle, but soon had to do it all again as the race was red flagged when Ian Boulton went off at Surtees, and Williams dropped back behind Short on countback. Both Short and Williams vaulted past Simpson at the restart, and a few laps later Williams got the lead from Short exiting Graham Hill Bend. Short dropped to third behind Simpson by just 0.039 seconds with a last-gasp track-limits penalty.
Iain Dowler, in fourth place overall, comfortably won the Class B contest in his ZR 170, while Jon Gil got the Class A win, and Driver of the Race with it, after passing Jago Keen.
It looked like race two would be more straightforward for Williams as he led from Short, but at mid-distance he spun at Graham Hill Bend, letting Short by into first. Williams though was able to quickly hunt Short down and pass him for the lead, again on the exit of Graham Hill Bend, aided by the fact that Short’s MG ZS was surging due to being short on fuel.
“It’s been a funny week,” said Williams. “We had so many issues with the car, didn’t really get to start it until last Saturday. Matt [Simpson] came round to help me and we got the engine in: because of the new regs I’ve had to downgrade to a standard engine now. It was problem after problem after problem on the rolling road, then I did some laps here on Friday but I was having to change up at 6000rpm; that’s just unheard of. I was introduced to Dan Surridge, we stripped the whole of the VVC mech out and he fixed all of the stuff. Went out today and it was so much better.
“It was just an awful week waiting to happen and all of a sudden it’s just become fantastic. Great qualifying; great race. Not just the result but the feeling of going round doing what we were doing. It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s still buzzing me.”
Short was fairly satisfied too. “It’s brilliant. For a big heavy car [the MG ZS] handles really well. The car was extremely understeer-y in the first race – with that big V6 hanging over the front wheels. I was quicker than [Williams] in lots of places but I was losing all of it in Graham Hill Bend and that’s where he got me.
“Second race we made some changes to try and reduce some understeer which really helped. We put in five litres less of fuel than we did the first race, and it started to surge once I got past Mike, literally two laps later. Coming through Paddock it was like the throttle’s just not on. But realistically P2 is where I deserved to be.”
Dad Martin added: “In the first race he was very gentlemanly, and [after the race one restart] he grew some horns. He’s learning so much in a very friendly but very competitive environment.”
Darren Harris won Class B, and took the Driver of the Race award, after passing Dowler mid-race. Gil again won Class A.
Hickford Construction Limited MGCC MG Metro Cup
The MG Metro Cup shared the track with MG Cup and provided plenty of its own drama. In the opening race’s opening stint Mark Eales (pictured in car 444 above), Dan Willars and Tim Davies led the way, but then in the restart all three came together in the run to Paddock. The trio continued albeit well down.
That left Phil Goodwin in first but he soon pulled off when he lost drive, which he suspected was due to a gearbox seizure. Tim Shooter then led and kept the place to the end, and the birthday boy got an additional present of Driver of the Race.
Eales recovered to second and was chasing Shooter, but spun at Paddock on the final lap when a car ahead put fluid down. He was not able to rejoin due to a cracked radiator from the restart incident and this kept him out of the second race too. David Javes (pictured in car 96 above) and Richard Garrard completed the race one podium, while Les Tyler also spun on the treacherous Paddock surface and recovered to finish fifth.
Shooter made it a double in race two. Davies led from the off and Javes jumped Shooter for second when the latter lost momentum after attempting to pass Davies. Javes and Shooter soon cleared Davies then Shooter took the lead he wasn’t to lose from Javes at Paddock. Tyler completed the top three and fourth-placed Davies got Driver of the Race.
“It was absolute carnage [in race one], I just benefited from it really,” Shooter said. “I could see [Eales] coming, and then I looked in the mirror and he’d gone. Well pleased just to get through without any damage! Just right place right time!
“[In race two] Tim Davies and David [Javes] both got past me in the early laps, managed to get past Tim and then managed to get past David. I had a decent battle with him for a couple of laps, and then managed to gap him and then tried to keep my concentration. Really pleased with race two: it felt a bit more like it was on merit than just inherited.”
MGCC The Boretech Engineering MG Trophy
Sam Kirkpatrick at Brands continued his strong form from last season by taking two wins from pole position in his ZR 190. And it was two young guns who fought for first in both races from the front row. In race one Kirkpatrick just held off his fellow young gun Fred Burgess (car 16 seen above), who also continued his good 2020 form. Burgess made many attempts to pass, including at Druids on the last lap, but Kirkpatrick clung on,
The MG Trophy’s qualifying was disrupted by many incidents as drivers reported the surface offered little grip at that point, and this resulted in a somewhat jumbled pair of grids. Doug Cole was one impeded by this but he recovered to finish third in race one.
James Dennison beat Fergus Campbell to the Class B win, pipping him in a thrilling run to the line, and Dennison got Driver of the Race with it. James Moreton in his ZR 160 won the Class C race.
Race two was a similar story at the front though this time Kirkpatrick beat Burgess with a little more comfort, managing to get Burgess out of his slipstream.
“Good day, two good wins,” smiled a satisfied Kirkpatrick. “The first one was a bit more hard fought, the second one was a bit more relaxed. In the first one I had a bit more understeer and didn’t have much confidence. [Race two] it felt good, I had a bit more confidence and I could break the tow. We made no huge changes [for race two], I think the track might have been better, felt grippier.
“It was a good start to the season, hopefully more of the same next time! I think next time everyone will be more on it and it’ll be quite close.”
Burgess added: “It was a very messy qualifying, I felt like I had the pace to get maybe on pole. [In the first race] I put Sam under a lot of pressure, I had a really good car, good balance, good pace. I was hoping I could have the same in the second race but the balance wasn’t quite right. Didn’t quite have the grip, halfway through the race I settled for second. Maybe we’ve got to learn how to manage the balance of the car as the tyres fade away; I’m sure we will learn.”
Adam Jackson – newly graduated to Class A – completed the podium, climbing from a 14th-placed start amid the disrupted qualifying. He finished eighth in the first race as he’d left the track avoiding the suddenly slowing fourth-placed Patrick Booth ahead whose car had seized.
Two-time MG Trophy champion Graham Ross returned to the contest in a left-hand-drive ZR 190, and his day was a struggle after a qualifying off. He only finished 12th in race one thanks to a tyre problem, while in race two he was fourth.
“It’s a bit disappointing if I’m honest,” said Ross. “Ever since the off in qualifying it’s just been an uphill struggle, just trying to get the car right. In the first race it turned out to be a duff tyre, the rear left was always stepping out every right-hand corner. I changed the tyre and it was a lot better, but that second race was just frustrating, the pace wasn’t in the car. Back to the drawing board!
“The front end of the car is not right, after the off in qualifying it hasn’t got the right camber on, I think it’s bent a crossmember or something. If it was right would I have been on the pace? I’m not sure, you get these weekends.
“In both races [left-hand drive] was fine. It took a bit of time yesterday in testing to get used to it.”
Dennison made it a double Class B win in race two, winning by 9s, and he was awarded Saturday’s Driver of the Day. Moreton made it a clean sweep of MG Trophy doubles in this meeting by winning Class C’s race two. He shadowed Guy Tolley for much of the distance and passed him to win late on at Druids. Moreton got also Driver of the Race.
MGCC BCV8 Championship
Reigning champion Ollie Neaves was another at Brands to start 2021 in a similar vein to 2020, in his case continuing his all-conquering form. He won both races, in both being decisively clear of his closest chaser Russell McCarthy. Neil Fowler, learning the set-up ropes of his new MGB V8, completed the symmetry with third place in both races.
“Race one was fairly straightforward but really hard at the beginning with Russ hunting me down,” Neaves said. “And again in race two the first five laps Russell was really on me and suddenly the car came a bit better and gave me that gap. And I got a bit better luck with the backmarkers than Russell did.
“Absolutely [I keep pushing when leading] because I know what Russell’s like, he doesn’t give up. If I back off then he’ll be right back.
“I did an awful lot of work trying to work out how I wanted the suspension to be when I built [the car] and it’s all worked out really well. I feel really good in the car, it feels really controllable and really nice to drive on the edge. Whereas a lot of cars I’ve driven, similar class, can be quite snappy.”
Reigning class champion Jim Bryan was race one’s Class C victor after long-time class leader James Wheeler retired late on when his coil lead detached. James’s dad Jonnie got to drive the Class D Roadster at this meeting as a reward for all the work he’s done on the car. Reigning AB class champion Russ McAngus comfortably won his class contest.
Simon Cripps had a particularly eventful meeting. He started qualifying in a Class D MGB GT V8, but its clutch failed early in the session then he had a collision when pulling off the track. He therefore dashed away to fetch a Class B MGB, and he won in class in race one despite a quick pitstop to check his pressure gauge after having fluid on his windscreen that he worried could have come from his own engine. After returning to the track he swiftly recovered his lead. This all got him Driver of the Race.
Wheeler made up for his race one disappointment by winning Class C battle in race two, holding off Andrew Young, though Young got the compensation of Driver of the Race. And McAngus doubled up in Class AB, winning by 1.4s from Simon Tinkler.
MGCC Lackford Engineering MG Midget & Sprite Challenge
The MG Midget & Sprite Challenge, also competing for the Steve Everitt Memorial Race, didn’t let us down in the drama stakes. The opening counter had a thrilling four-way all-Midget fight for first between David Weston, Martin Morris, Richard Wildman and Michael Chalk.
Chalk led early but then was jumped by his three pursuers leaving a Paddock Hill Bend yellow flag zone, and not long later had a quick gravel detour at Clearways. This left Morris and Wildman disputing the lead, but the pair at half distance touched at Paddock and Weston got momentum on both to take a lead, while Morris immediately parked on the outside of Druids. Weston won with Wildman and Chalk still close at hand, and the victor got Driver of the Race too.
Pippa Cow won the Class E contest in her Austin-Healey Frogeye Sprite while her chief pursuer Tom Walker pitted after sustaining front-end damage to his Healey Sprite MkI from contact with a backmarker. Dean Stanton in his Healey Sprite comfortably won Class D.
Race two featured a straightforward win for Chalk as the only one from race one’s frontrunning quartet to take part, with Wildman and Morris sitting out and Weston’s son Edward taking over his car. Chalk won by 10s over the Class E battle that Walker edged from a closing Cow, Walker relieved by a late spin from his opponent. Cow though got Driver of the Race for her effort. Stanton was again a clear Class D winner.
Baynton Jones Historic Motorsport MGCC Triple-M Racing Challenge for the Mary Harris Trophy
Brands was the scene of a welcome return of the pre-war Triple-M Challenge contest, and it too provided its share of thrills. The first race had a diverting victory fight between Oliver Sharp’s Class C MG N Type Magnette and Tony Seber’s Class D Wolseley Hornet Special.
Seber seized the lead from Sharp early on but Sharp was able to stick with his opponent. Then Seber sensationally spun at Surtees on the last lap, letting the closely chasing Sharp by to win. Sharp also got Driver of the Race.
Harry Painter’s MG PA (pictured above) was a clear third overall and an equally clear Class B winner. Barry Foster in his Montlhery Midget just beat Fred Boothby’s J2 by 0.5s to win Class A1, while Simon Jackson in his MG PB was a clear Class A2 victor.
Sharp won again in race two, and it was less dramatic this time as he led throughout from Painter and David Seber who had taken over Tony’s car.
“The first race was very frenetic,” Sharp said. “I was probably slightly faster than the Wolseley Hornet. I kept closing on him but the backmarkers were difficult. It was hard work, I was driving as hard as I could but trying to constantly negotiate traffic, it’s a short lap.
“It’s scary when someone spins in front of you in an old car, so you go onto hyper alert and do what you can to avoid it. [When Tony Seber spun] I was thinking ‘don’t hit me!’ I went off onto the grass because he was coming back across the circuit. I felt I deserved the win because I was quicker. I really enjoyed the battle, it’s really nice just having a dice.
“Second race was much easier really, I just made sure that I kept my position and pulled out a few seconds. It was a great day, it’s a wonderful circuit, great fun and it’s an amazing bunch of friends and camaraderie here.”
Foster again beat Boothby in the Class A1 bout, this time by 4.2s, and Jackson also doubled up in Class A2. Andrew Long got Driver of the Race after finishing sixth overall and third in Class C in his KN, while Sharp was delighted to receive Sunday’s Driver of the Day for his double triumph.
Equipe Pre ’63/50s
The opening race for Equipe pre 1963 and 1950s machines had one significant example missing, in the shape of Peter Haynes’ Lotus Eleven Le Mans (pictured above) that had claimed pole 1.5s clear of the rest. It transpired that his absence was a simple matter of having lost track of time and missing the start! In Haynes’ absence, Roberto Giordanelli moved clear to win in his Jaguar E-type, while Andrew Williams’ Austin-Healey 100M was the first 50s car to the flag in eighth place.
To relieve his own blushes Haynes, contrary his initial plans, returned the next day to make up for it in race two, and this he did by winning by over a lap. Nigel Winchester in his distinctive and powerful Shelby 260 finished second and was the first pre-’63 car home.
Equipe GTS 1
Mark Ashworth in his TVR Grantura won the opening Equipe GTS 1 race, holding Robi Bernberg’s Grantura at arm’s length. Poleman Rob Cull, also in a Grantura, dropped out from second place before half distance as his differential failed.
Another Grantura runner, Mark Owen, won the second GTS 1 race on Sunday. Owen from pole initially dropped to third behind Cull and Ashworth, and the trio crossed the finish line for the start of the second lap three abreast! Ashworth emerged from this as leader from Owen, but Owen got the lead from Ashworth on lap six at Surtees and remained ahead of Ashworth and Cull for the rest of the way.
Equipe GTS 2
The opening GTS 2 was interrupted by a red flag after Chris Ryan, who was running second in a Triumph TR4, had a spectacular barrel roll entering the pitstraight when a wheel detached (picture above shows it loosening). Lee Atkins in a Grantura won by 3.8s from Tom Smith’s MGB.
Atkins was denied a potential double the next day when he retired from the lead when his head gasket failed, repeating a problem he’d had in Friday testing even though it’s a new engine. Jon Payne, who’d qualified second in his Triumph TR4, dropped out on lap one when his rear brakes locked approaching Graham Hill Bend and he decided not to risk continuing. Smith took a straightforward win.
Chris Beighton in his Sunbeam Le Mans Tiger dominated the first of the eclectic Equipe Libre races, only briefly dropping behind James Haxton’s Austin-Healey 3000 MK1 at the start then winning by 20s. Haxton had a long fight for second with Rick Willmott’s Jaguar XKE, in which Willmott prevailed after passing Haxton late on. Haxton took a clear win in the second Libre race 6.4s ahead of Cull in second.
Oliver Pratt dominated both Morgan Challenge races from pole in his Plus 8, Having set a best qualifying time 1.7s quicker than then rest he won the opening race by 24.8s and race two by 28.5s. During the meeting he also beat the Morgan Brands Indy lap record that had stood since 2003. In both races as well as in qualifying Roger Whiteside, also in a Plus 8, was Pratt’s closest challenger.
MG Car Club update -Silverstone National 20th March
Many will have already seen the Motorsport UK announcement that no permits will be issued for motorsport until 28th March, thus effectively cancelling our Silverstone National meeting on the 20th March.
Sadly the planned relaxation of the countrywide lockdown on the 28th March comes just a few days late for our planned event and regretfully we therefore cannot run it. So near, yet so far!
It is a great disappointment to all of the competitors who have already entered [and those who were awaiting the statement from Government!]
We certainly had an excellent entry and we now look forward to seeing you all [and your fellow competitors!] at our Brands Hatch event scheduled for 24th/25th April.
The entry forms for the Silverstone event will be scrapped and we plan on issuing a new entry form in respect of Brands, which will be issued in the next few days.
We look forward to receiving it at your earliest convenience. Grids are smaller at Brands, so we suggest that you place your entries early……………
On behalf of the Race Planning Group
MG Car Club Silverstone National race meeting, 20th March 2021
With the proposed season opener now five weeks away, MG Car Club continue to await news from the UK Government on when restrictions may be eased and from Motorsport UK on whether they will permit events in March to go ahead. At the moment, the Club has a valid Permit from Motorsport UK. It looks likely that the first step will be to return to tiered restrictions, with no idea on which areas may be in which tiers.
From the Club point of view, we remain committed to running the event if we are allowed to do so. A final decision will be made on Wednesday 24th February.
On behalf of the Race Planning Group
MG Car Club reviews status of 2021 season opener
Following the recent indications this week, from the Government, of a likely statement on the lockdown, due now in week commencing 15th February, MG Car Club now feels that it is prudent to defer any decision on the planned Silverstone National race meeting on 20th March until the statement is made public. We will of course keep everybody in the loop and just as soon as a decision can be taken we will advise.
In the meantime, the Club is delighted to confirm that a strong number of entries have been received from our own Competitors and we understand that the same is true for our guests, Equipe Classic Racing. It is therefore hoped that we will be able to provide an event for our eager racing family, if it is safe and legal to do so and the country continues to move towards a safer future.
On behalf of MG Car Club Race Planning Group.
Silverstone in March
While the Club is aware that other Clubs have cancelled their race meetings scheduled for 20th/21st March, (due possibly to contractual requirements), at present MGCC are still extremely hopeful that conditions will exist where we can safely run a meeting on that weekend and we are planning to take a decision around February 1st as detailed before.
We already have an excellent response to the entry form that we have despatched and can only hope and pray that matters improve in the country to allow the meeting to proceed.
In the meantime we will be pleased to receive your entry form, no money will be taken and there is a full money back guarantee.
At present we can say no more but undertake to communicate around February 1st when matters may be clearer and when Motorsport UK may be in a better place to provide guidance as to permits and authorisation.
Ron Gammons on behalf of the MGCC Race Planning Group
MG Car Club Motor Racing 2021
We have all been looking forward with eager anticipation to a full year of our excellent Club motorsport, but all of you will be aware of the present situation regarding the present lockdown announced just yesterday, which bans any unessential travel and which will preclude any motorsport for the time being.
The present lockdown is forecast to be, at the least, until mid-February. Nobody is clear as of yet as to what will happen then.
But we have to put in place some outline plans that would enable us to run event’s should salvation occur!
The Club’s 2021 race programme is scheduled to start on 20th March at Silverstone on the National Circuit.
If it is at all possible we intend to run that event, but obviously at some point a go/no go decision will have to be taken.
At present we see the latest that decision date can be as being 1st February, seven weeks before the event.
Therefore in order to even out the workload we intend in the next few days to issue the entry forms for the event and would seek their completion and return.
We will of course keep you advised as to the decisions just as soon as they are taken. Please do not contact the office, we will circulate information just as soon as we can!
In the meantime please look out for the entry forms and return them completed to the office.
Spring is approaching and an excellent season at some great circuits is approaching fast!
Best wishes to all for 2021
Ron Gammons on behalf of the Race Planning Group
MG CAR CLUB ANNOUNCE FULL CALENDAR FOR 2021
After the challenges that 2020 presented to Motorsport at all levels, MG Car Club are delighted to be able to announce plans for a full race season in 2021. With the inclusion of six MG Car Club Championships and commitment from a number of guests already in place, another exciting season of racing can be predicted, with visits to some of the best tracks that the UK has to offer.
As part of this, MG Car Club are delighted to confirm that they will host the premier historic series organised by Equipe Classic Racing at all six of the Clubs meetings in 2021 and that both groups are looking forward to an amazing season with some truly stunning cars in attendance.
MG Car Club always enjoy good grids and ultra-close racing and plan to race on the following dates at these venues:
20th March Silverstone National
24th/25th April Brands Hatch Indy
22nd May Oulton Park International
12th/13th June Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit
17th/18th July Donington Park National
4th/5th September Snetterton 300
The Club looks forward to welcoming competitors to these race meetings, as well as spectators as and when allowed to do so, in order to continue to enjoy the great atmosphere that is such a significant part of club motorsport.
Rain doesn’t dampen spirits at Oulton Park
Storm Alex failed to dampen the spirits as the MG Car Club’s racing season concluded in a one-day meeting at Oulton Park. Six MGCC categories were in action, with three crowning their 2020 champions, joined by a guest appearance for the Porsche Club Championship.(more…)
No let up in MGCC action over two days at Snetterton
The MG Car Club gathered at a bright Snetterton 300 circuit for the second of the club’s three race meetings in 2020. with the Norfolk meeting being held over two days.(more…)
All change for MG Car Club’s long-awaited Donington 2020 season-opener
MG Car Club’s 2020 racing season at last got underway with a packed meeting at a sunny and warm Donington Park. A host of MGCC categories were present, as was Equipe Classic Racing as well as Morgans and Minis as special guests.(more…)