Motor Sport News - - Racing Reports - Photos: Steve Jones

Mul­ti­ple MG Tro­phy cham­pion Chris Bray ad­mit­ted he felt rusty as he climbed back into the cock­pit of his ZR 190 for the first time in over a year.

Two ac­tion-packed and en­thralling races soon sorted that out as the MG sea­son started with a bang at Don­ing­ton Park, but the su­perb Doug Cole pre­vented the 2009, 2012 and ’14 ti­tle-win­ner from mark­ing his come­back with a vic­tory.

Cole was con­tent to sit be­hind pole­sit­ter Bray in race one, as the num­ber two car built a com­fort­able lead early on af­ter an ex­plo­sive start. But Cole bided his time, clawed his way back into con­tention and the lead was soon chang­ing hands ev­ery lap as the pair squab­bled and jos­tled.

Be­hind was an equally in­trigu­ing bat­tle for third as se­ries new­comer Lee Sullivan bat­tled with Paul Luti and Fer­gus Camp­bell in the B Class. It was im­pos­si­ble to count the num­ber of over­takes.

How­ever, just as the race was about to reach a thrilling fi­nale, Sam Ray’s left­front wheel came off at the Old Hair­pin and his ZR 170 flew into the gravel trap.

A red flag ended the fun pre­ma­turely and, af­ter some dis­cus­sion, the win was awarded to Cole and third place to a ju­bi­lant Sullivan.

Round two also did not dis­ap­point.

This time, Cole did not want to sit around in sec­ond for long and quickly got past Bray. But the for­mer cham­pion seemed to have the faster car as he hounded his ri­val at ev­ery turn.

Cole’s de­fen­sive dis­play was out­stand­ing though and time and again he thwarted Bray into Redgate, when it looked cer­tain the pole­sit­ter was about to fly past. Sullivan, again, took third.

While Bray could not cel­e­brate his come­back with a win, Ja­son Simm had no is­sues as he pow­ered to a con­vinc­ing vic­tory in the Cock­shoot Cup.

The 2014 cham­pion, who missed last sea­son, started on pole but lost his lead to the TF LE 500 of Phillip Stan­dish.

Simm got past quickly and re­gained the lead, but his ex­pected race ri­val Gary Wet­ton had less suc­cess. It took him three more laps to get his ZR 190 through at the Old Hair­pin but, by that time, Simm had dis­ap­peared.

Fur­ther back, Carl Chad­wick was lucky to es­cape with lim­ited dam­age to his Midget when he spi­ralled out of con­trol and thumped the bar­ri­ers hard on his way out of the chi­cane.

He­len Wadding­ton was less for­tu­nate as her heavy col­li­sion with Ian Wright knocked her out of the race and caused the sec­ond red flag of the day.

In the MG Cup, Thomas Halliwell got his sea­son off to a flyer with two race wins in his ZR, with James Darby and Paul Eales com­plet­ing the podium both times.

A fas­ci­nat­ing four-way scrap, which also in­cluded Richard Wil­son, was the high­light of race one as the four jos­tled for po­si­tion on the open­ing lap.

Halliwell clearly had the faster car though and he dived down the out­side of Darby along the main straight. How­ever, he then rapidly jinked to the inside and com­pleted a stun­ning move to take the lead. He won by over 20 sec­onds.

In race two, he was even more dom­i­nant as he took the lead on lap one from Eales and drove into the dis­tance.

In the re­vamped one-class Metro Cup, Ben Rush­worth led from start to fin­ish for a con­vinc­ing win in his Rover 100 ahead of Mike Wil­liams’ Rover Metro and Andrew Ash­ton’s Rover Metro GTI.

Wil­liams and Ash­ton en­joyed a close bat­tle for sec­ond for the ma­jor­ity of the race un­til Ash­ton’s steer­ing col­umn broke dur­ing the fi­nal laps. He vis­i­bly slowed, al­low­ing Lee Con­nell and Oliver Hood to close in, but their in­tense bat­tle over fourth al­lowed Ash­ton to pre­serve a big enough gap and hang on to third.

De­spite chang­ing his car prior to the meet, Brian Ar­cu­lus won in the Iconic 50s Sports Cars & FISCAR race by a com­mand­ing mar­gin from Gra­ham Coles.

Ar­cu­lus was due to race in an Alfa Romeo Gi­uli­etta SVZ but a late change made no dif­fer­ence, as he got past Coles on lap two and raced clear to win in his Lo­tus Elite.

Veteran racer Ar­cu­lus made it a su­perb dou­ble later on with Equipe GTS vic­tory. An early pit­stop seemed to hurt him but he took ad­van­tage of Rob Cull’s re­tire­ment and held off David Beres­ford’s MGB Road­ster.

Else­where, James Dunk­ley drove fault­lessly on his way to vic­tory in the MG Midget/sprite Chal­lenge, from Ed­ward Reeve and Richard Wild­man.

Dunk­ley took the lead from the start and won by 16 sec­onds.

1 Doug Cole (ZR 190) 16m47.599s (84.71mph); 2 Chris Bray (ZR 190) +0.312s; 3 Lee Sullivan (ZR 170); 4 Fer­gus Camp­bell (ZR 170); 5 Paul Luti (ZR 170; 6 Jake Fraser-burns (ZR 170). Class win­ners Sullivan; Wil­liam Payne (ZR 160). Fastest lap Cole 1m21.888s (87.00mph). Pole Bray. Starters 27.

1 Cole 20m51.298s (85.29mph); 2 Bray +5.760s; 3 Sullivan; 4 Luti; 5 Robin Walker (ZR 190); 6 Camp­bell. CW Sullivan; Payne. Fl Cole 1m21.525s (87.39mph). P Bray. S 25.

1 Ja­son Simm (ZS 180) 17m27.490s (74.68mph); 2 Gary Wet­ton (ZR 190) +7.635s; 3 Phillip Stan­dish (TF LE 500); 4 David Mor­ri­son (Midget); 5 Ray Col­lier (ZR 170); 6 Howard Hunt (ZS 180). CW Mor­ri­son; Adam Key (F VVC); Jeremy Toes (Midget). FL Simm 1m21.513s (87.40mph). P Simm. S 21.

1 Thomas Halliwell (ZR) 20m26.460s (81.21mph); 2 James Darby (B GT) +20.277s; 3 Paul Eales (B GT); 4 David Thomp­son (ZR 170); 5 Richard Wil­son (B Road­ster); 6 Clive Jones (B Road­ster). CW Darby; Eales. FL Halliwell 1m25.944s (82.89mph). P Dan Lud­low (ZS 180). S 18.

1 Halliwell 20m18.457s (81.74mph); 2 Darby +29.227s; 3 Eales; 4 Wil­son; 5 Thomp­son; 6 Shaun Holmes (C GT). CW Darby; Eales. FL Halliwell 1m25.151s (83.67mph). P Lud­low. S 16.

1 Ben Rush­worth (Rover 100) 20m22.400s (81.48mph); 2 Mike Wil­liams (Rover Metro) +2.946s; 3 Andrew Ash­ton (Rover Metro GTI); 4 Lee Con­nell (Rover Metro); 5 Oliver Hood (Rover 100); 6 Richard Gar­rard (MG Metro Turbo). FL Wil­liams 1m26.263s (82.59mph). P Rush­worth. S 23.

1 Brian Ar­cu­lus (Lo­tus Elite) 21m04.871s (78.74mph); 2 Gra­ham Coles (MGA Coupe) +16.843s; 3 Jonathan Smare (Lo­tus Elite); 4 Bob Lines (MGA); 5 Glenn Tol­lett (MGA Se­bring); 6 John Reeve (MGA). CW Coles; Tol­lett; Nick Ash­man (MG TC). FL Ar­cu­lus 1m28.390s. (80.60mph). P Smare. S 11.

1 Brian Ar­cu­lus (Lo­tus Elite) 39m55.080s (77.28mph); 2 David Beres­ford (MGB Road­ster) +8.779s; 3 Pete Fos­ter (Tri­umph TR4); 4 Craig Tay­lor (MGB Road­ster); 5 Henry Rice (MGB Road­ster); 6 Jonathan Smare (Lo­tus Elite). CW Beres­ford; Tay­lor; Glenn Tol­lett/ Rory Tol­lett (MGA Se­bring). FL Brian White (Tri­umph TR4) 1m27.656s (81.27mph). P White. S 27.

Al­bone could only watch dis­con­so­lately from the ad­ja­cent mar­shals’ post as Cut­more staved off Al Boul­ton (Spire), who sur­vived a mo­ment of his own but kept sec­ond ahead of 2013-14 cham­pion Matthew Hig­gin­son, who aced the front-en­gined split in his well-de­vel­oped and bril­liantly driven AB Arion.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Scott Mit­tell’s day started badly, when a loose ig­ni­tion wire hob­bled his new Mit­tell MC-53’S Suzuki en­gine, leav­ing him 29th.

The Hamp­shire­man scorched to fourth, but with race two’s grid based on sec­ond best prac­tice times he was faced with hav­ing to do it again.

Boul­ton made a fly­ing start this time, but Al­bone’s patched up car was ahead when a three­car mid-pack in­ci­dent be­tween Lodge and Deer Leap brought out red flags. Al­bone was caught nap­ping at the restart and as Boul­ton shot ahead he was eighth (with Mit­tell 14th) half way round lap one.

It all went wrong for Mit­tell when he dived past Paul Rogers’ Con­tour at Old Hall on lap two, only for Andrew Nel­son (MNR GM2) to drop two wheels on the grass ahead of them then nail Mit­tell amid­ships as he re­joined, fir­ing Scott’s car back­wards into the bar­rier, with­out per­sonal in­jury. With time run­ning out the race was voided.

Mark Hig­gin­son scored a splen­did maiden vic­tory in the Civic Cup in his FN2 model hav­ing nar­rowly fended off Jon Peer­less who got the bet­ter of au­to­grasser Mark Grice, more used to a twin mo­tor­cy­cleengined Mini pick-up than his Ja­panese ma­chine.

Top qual­i­fier Carl Swift started from the pit­lane af­ter a fran­tic ra­di­a­tor change but re­cov­ered to fourth. The 1600cc cars left later, from a sub-grid, Dave Buky tri­umph­ing over early lead­ers Chris Coomer and Ben Sharpe, who were split by Antony Turner at the che­quer.

Andrew Gau­gler scored his maiden vic­tory in the re­versed­grid se­quel, keep­ing his smart Yel­low Speed car ahead of Swift, whose at­tempt to pass at Druids mid-race was ro­bustly thwarted. James Grif­fith beat Peer­less to third once they had shrugged off a jostling quar­tet.

Clas­sic Stock Hatch grad­u­ate Mervyn Beck­ett held the early 1600cc ad­van­tage, but Coomer shot through to de­feat Buky by 0.2s, with Sharpe and Turner third and fourth.

Hon­ours were split be­tween Clive Hud­son (Eclipse) and first time win­ner Rob John­ston (Cyana) af­ter two crack­ing Sport Spe­cials con­tests. Top qual­i­fier John­ston did most of the chas­ing, but beaten by 0.09s in the slip­pery opener mem­o­rably snatched ret­ri­bu­tion in the sub­se­quent dash photo-fin­ish.

Cheshire au­to­grass cham­pion Phil Cooper was de­lighted to fi­nally add his name to Bike­sports’s win­ning alumni, the Rad­i­cal PR6 driver’s speed and con­sis­tency see­ing off the chal­lenge of for­mer Jade racer Alan Hogg, break­ing a sev­enyear sab­bat­i­cal in the ex-tim Gray Spire GT3.

Cooper and Darcy Smith (Rad­i­cal SR4) led a seven-car train in the dry sec­ond stanza, in which Philip Knibb – forced to miss race one by drive­shaft fail­ure in qual­i­fy­ing – pow­ered his 1500cc Rad­i­cal SR3 onto the tail of Cooper’s 1340cc ma­chine. Joe Sta­bles drove fa­ther Richard’s PR6 su­perbly to a close third, with fastest lap.

The 5Club Mazda MX-5S pop­u­lated the day’s largest grid. BRSCC cham­pi­onship con­vert Sam Smith put last year’s dom­i­nant driver Ben Short un­der enor­mous pres­sure in race one, with Will Black­wellCham­bers on his back bumper.

The day’s fi­nale was rid­dled with drama. A first-cor­ner she­moz­zle forced a stop­page, af­ter which Smith’s “brake fail­ure” at the Is­land hair­pin can­noned Short into WB-C, wreck­ing the lat­ter’s right rear cor­ner. Adam Bes­sell and Roger Ch­es­neau duly out­smarted Kris Greatrex – who with brother Ja­son had sand­wiched them af­ter the melee – for mem­o­rable maiden podi­ums.

A dry­ing track lev­elled the Road­sports en­duro, pole­sit­ter Alec Lives­ley chas­ing Steve Hew­son’s speedy Peu­geot 106 un­til the manda­tory stops, be­fore pow­er­ing his Jensen-healey to vic­tory. “I was side­ways on the straights be­fore the cir­cuit came to me,” said Lives­ley. The tus­sle for third saw Al­lan Gib­son (Lo­tus Ex­ige) even­tu­ally find suf­fi­cient grip to dis­place Darren Langeveld’s nippy Re­nault Clio.

Bray (left) and Cole fought hard Rush­worth topped the Metro Cup race

Ar­cu­lus’ Lo­tus took a dou­ble win

First RGB round was ea­gerly awaited and pro­vided great race

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