TAROUINI TAMES SUPER TOURERS IN LESLIE TROPHY
The return of touring car champions Gabriele Tarquini and John Cleland brought out a healthy crowd as the HSCC Super Touring Car Championship made its Knockhill debut.
Tarquini’s Accord suffered a brake problem in qualifying which left him down in fourth on the grid while Cleland’s Vectra did not make it out on Saturday after a problem with a throttle body. Reigning champion Stewart Whyte and Colin Noble Jr headed the front row on Saturday.
In true touring car fashion, there was drama right from the start as the two leaders ran side by side through Turn One but collided at the bottom of the hill, causing both to retire. Somewhat surprised, Tarquini was through into the lead and he eased away at a second a lap from Mark Jones’s Renault Laguna and took a comfortable victory.
“It was great to drive a car with David Leslie’s name on the side in front of all the people,” Tarquini explained. “Sure, I was a bit lucky with what happened at the first corner because he [Whyte] probably had the strongest car here.”
While the two qualifying pacesetters started at the back for race two, there was more disappointment for Cleland who slowed soon after the start with an engine problem. Whyte and Noble Jr wasted little time moving through the field and by lap five both had Tarquini in their sights.
Noble Jr muscled past Whyte at Scotsman corner on lap eight and brought the gap down to under three seconds but began to struggle with his tyres over the last few laps. Tarquini took his second win despite suffering from rising water temperatures, which slowed his pace.
Whyte was promoted back to second after the race as Noble Jr was later excluded from the results for driving standards infringements. Darren Fielding clinched the championship in his ST2 category BMW.
Neil Maclennan sealed the Scottish Formula Ford Championship with another two victories. Nearest championship rival Jamie Thorburn pushed Maclennan hard and got into the lead before a brief safety car period for David Thorburn’s crashed car at Clark Corner. When the race resumed, Maclennan made a bold move past his rival at Duffus and edged away.
There was heartbreak for Thorburn in the second race after he too crashed out at Clark corner, which secured the title for Maclennan with three rounds to spare. Sebastian Melrose profited from Thorburn’s demise but he was made to work hard by returning former champion Alan Kirkaldy.
The final race of the day was the annual David Leslie Trophy and it was dominated by Maclennan. Jamie Thorburn quickly made it through the pack to second, which clinched him the Newcomer’s title for this year. The best battle was for third with five cars running nose to tail, headed by Melrose with Matthew Cowley making a late move past Kirkaldy to clinch fourth.
Having won Saturday’s race, Gary Clark sealed the BMW Championship with a second place in race two behind Calum King, who took his first victory in the series. Although Clark held the lead for the majority of the race, a mid-race safety car closed up the field and King made his move at Scotsman on lap 11 to lead a four-car train home.
Four wins out of six for John Paterson sealed him this year’s Scottish Legends Championship. As always, David Hunter was Paterson’s closest challenger and took two more wins. Guest driver Chris Grieve was awarded driver of the meeting for his spirited drives to five podium spots. Grieve bravely fought off Paterson to keep second in the final race after Paterson had spun on lap five with a gearbox problem.
A dramatic weekend of Mini Cooper Cup action did little to cement the championship standings with Ian Munro’s lead being cut to just 15 points heading into October’s finale where five drivers could win the title. Morgan Murray won the first two races to move up the standings and had to defend staunchly from Munro in both encounters. John Duncan started race three from pole position after the top seven were reversed and held off Malcolm Mcnab for the win. The story of this race was the retirement of standings leader Munro after a collision at the hairpin on lap one.
The strongest entry of the year for Fiestas provided some of the best action of the day with Chris Milford sealing victory on the last lap of race two after a race long battle with Wayne Macaulay. ST Cup leader Kevin Whyte won race one but dropped to eighth after an early coming together with his championship rival Macaulay.
Finlay Crocker and Steven Dailly won a race apiece in the Saloons and Sportscars, Harry Simpson dominated the Classics races and Katie Milner and Matteo Zanetti shared the Junior Saloon spoils.
Tarquini won in ex-leslie Accord