AND THE WINNERS ARE... RAIN AND THRILLING RACES GIVE TENSE 750MC FINALE
DONINGTON PARK: 750MC BY RORY MITCHELL
Donington was the scene of the 750 Motor Club season finale and like any great TV show, it was packed with plot twists.
Will Blackwell-chambers secured the MX-5 championship, having won both races on Sunday. In the first outing, drama hit the title contenders when Jack Sycamore stopped with a suspension problem while running second, which sent him towards the back of the 42-car grid in 36th for race two.
From there Sycamore was able to recover to fourth place, slicing his way through the traffic before being gifted a lot of positions on the final lap when Sam Smith spun Jake Bailey around at Melbourne. As the cars scarpered out of the way, Sycamore was able to negotiate his way into the top five.
Ben Short meanwhile, who came into the weekend leading the championship, finished fourth in the opener having made contact with Michael Comber defending second position through Coppice. In the next outing he was third, but it wasn’t enough to prevent BlackwellChambers from claiming the title after his stellar weekend.
John Cutmore took the RGB rearengined title, after Billy Albone threw it away on the final lap of the one and only race for the series. This was a result of all of Saturday afternoon’s races being cancelled due to adverse weather.
Therefore the RGB contest was extended by another two laps on Sunday, which was enough for Cutmore to put the pressure on Albone throughout the eight-lap saga. An attempt around the outside of Redgate didn’t come off, so it came down to the penultimate corner on the final lap when Albone ran wide, lit up the rear tyres and spun around. That allowed Cutmore to cut through, along with Alastair Boulton, which dropped Albone to third at the finish line.
Scott Mittell’s chances of taking the title were already thwarted by the bad weather on Saturday, and to add insult to injury a front wheel bearing failed which caused him to retire on the opening lap, ending his title hopes.
In the single Hot Hatch/stock Hatch outing, Alistair Camp took the victory in the Hot Hatch race from Tom Bell, after taking the lead on the opening lap.
Further back in the Stock Hatch race was where the action took place, as Ryan Polley only needed to finish ahead of Paul Jarvis to win the championship. Polley managed to qualify ahead, but it was Phil Law who got the better start off the line and managed to maintain the lead, despite hitting the tail end of the Hot Hatch race. Even though Jarvis was third, he wasn’t able to negotiate the traffic as efficiently, which allowed Polley to finish ahead and take the championship spoils.
The Toyota MR2 races had their typical large grid numbers, but the focus was mainly on Kristian White and Jim Davies. After a three-way battle for the lead between those two and Lewis Ward, it was White who won from sixth on the grid from Ward and Davies. That meant in order to take the championship, Davies needed to finish ahead of White in race two.
White was leading comfortably after a good start from the front row of the grid, when he went off at the Old Hairpin on the final lap, which allowed Stuart Nicholls to come through to take the lead. Crucially, it let Davies ahead in eighth as White dropped out of the top 10 by the flag. In the end they were separated by just one point.
Phil Knibb was the next man to settle a championship in Bikesports. Even though Jon Paul-ivey took the first race win, Knibb finished third which put him in good standing to take the title during the next outing.
For a while it looked like Ivey might be able to do the double, but a spin at Mcleans midway through put him out of contention and handed Will Brown the win. That also allowed Knibb to get up to second, and after a brief battle with Adrian Reynard (who eventually stopped due to a brake problem), he finished in the position he needed in order to win the championship crown outright.
The Civic Cup victories were shared between Martin James and Mark Grice, the latter taking his maiden win. But the main focus was the Class A championship battle between David Buky, Ben Sharpe and Chris Coomer. Sharpe won the class in the first race to set up a winner-takes-all finale.
With the reverse grid, Buky started on the front row and managed to stay ahead of his rivals and beat Sharpe to the title by 0.8s. It was a sweet win for Buky as he had finished level on points with Andrew Hough last year, but lost out on tie break.
Steve Smith won the Historic F3 race, with Simon Armer second which was enough for him to take the 2016 title. Clive Hudson took the Sport Special victory, with Matthew Booth sealing the title. Adam Shepherd secured the M3 Cup win and Formula Vee champion Paul Smith won the sole Classic Interseries race held on Saturday before the downpour set in.
1 Will Blackwell-chambers; 2 Michael Comber +8.13s; 3 Jake Bailey; 4 Sam Smith; 5 Ben Short; 6 Sebastian Fisher. Fastest lap Comber 1m56.14s (77.18mph). Pole Short. Starters 41.
1 BlackwellChambers; 2 Comber +3.19s; 3 Short; 4 Jack Sycamore; 5 Fisher; 6 Smith. FL Short 1m55.83s (77.39mph). P Blackwell-chambers. S 42.
1 John Cutmore (Spire GT3 S); 2 Alastair Boulton (Spire GT3) +7.00s; 3 Billy Albone (Spire GT3); 4 Paul Roger (Contour RGB09); 5 Oliver Hewitt (Mittell MC-53); 6 Daniel Larner (Mittell MC-52B). Class winner Matt Higginson (AB Arion S2). FL Hewitt 1m36.75s (92.65mph). P Mittell. S 22.
1 Alistair Camp (Ford Fiesta ST); 2 Tom Bell (Honda Civic) +4.32s; 3 David Allen (Ford Fiesta ST); 4 Matthew Howarth (Vauxhall Astra GSI); 5 Leon Shepherd (Ford Fiesta ST); 6 Daniel Williams (Ford Fiesta ST). CW Phil Law (Citroen Saxo VTR). FL Camp 1m49.92s (81.55mph). S 20.
1 Kristian White; 2 Lewis Ward +0.86s; 3 Jim Davies; 4 Timothy Heron; 5 Shane Mansbridge; 6 Shaun Traynor. FL White 1m53.91s (78.69mph). P Ward. S 32.
1 Stuart Nicholls; 2 Ward +0.35s; 3 Traynor; 4 Heron; 5 Ben Rowe; 6 William Gallacher. FL Davies 1m53.81s (78.76mph). P Davies. S 34. Knibb +11.74s; 3 Preen; 4 Julian Griffiths (Radical PR6); 5 Doug Carter (Radical PR6); 6 Mark Grason (Radical SR3). CW Knibb; Gardiner. FL Joe Stables (Radical PR6) 1m31.21s (98.28mph). P Ivey. S 14.
1 Martin James; 2 Mark Grice +1.03s; 3 Carl Swift; 4 Danny Winstanley; 5 Tom Bell; 6 James Griffith. FL James 1m50.93s (80.81mph). P Ben Sharpe. S 33.
1 Grice; 2 Mark Higginson +1.21s; 3 David Buky; 4 Ben Sharpe; 5 Bell; 6 Griffith. FL Higginson 1m51.07s (80.71mph). P Bell. S 28.
1 Steve Smith (Chevron B15); 2 Simon Armer (Brabham BT21) +1.16s; 3 Steve Seaman (Brabham BT21); 4 Michael Scott (Brabham BT28); 5 Keith Messer (Vessey HF); 6 Leif Bosson (Brabham BT28). FL Armer 1m45.62s (84.87mph). P Smith. S 14.
1 Clive Hudson (Eclipse SM1); 2 Paul Boyd (Eclipse SM1) +0.35s; 3 Matthew Booth (MK Indy RR); 4 Rob Johnston (Cyana MK2); 5 Stuart Adam (ARD SR2); 6 Nigel Brown (Sylva Phaser). FL Boyd 1m44.17s (86.05mph). P Hudson. S 21.
1 Adam Shepherd; 2 Carl Shield +5.45s; 3 Luke Sedzikowski; 4 Martin James; 5 John Brown; 6 Brett Evans. FL Shepherd 1m45.22s (85.19mph). P Shepherd. S 13.
O’hara ran wide and onto the grass, being passed by all and sundry. He got back on but the moment was lost and a further excursion, followed by an electrical gremlin, ended his day early. The action up front continued, and a lap later the number was further thinned when Roe – driving Noel Dunne’s RF01 in place of his usual Firman car – came off second best in a tangle with Dempsey. Dempsey continued, Roe did not.
Davidson was the next to go, his Mondiale suffering a suspension breakage but, by that time, Murray had established himself in a solid lead from Dempsey with Ryan Campbell’s Reynard third. That’s how things stayed to the finish, Murray’s winning margin being almost eight seconds.
It was another win for Murray, and a good first outing in the Motorsport Ireland scholarship car for 16-year-old Dempsey. Campbell kept well clear of Andrew Noble’s Van Diemen to complete the podium party.
Formula Vee provided even more excitement. In the first race for the B&C Irish Championships, Paula Moore kept her Leastone ahead of the Sheanes of Gavin Buckley and Anthony Cross for the full 15 laps, despite the best efforts of both chasers to demote her. A couple of times a Sheane got its nose in front, but Paula always had an answer and despite the constant pressure, she won through in the end, by 0.103s.
The winning margin was even smaller in the A race, which was redflagged following a fourth lap incident at Colonial. It involved Moore and Stephen Morrin and resulted in the latter having to be removed, unhurt, from his inverted Leastone. This left just five cars to contest the restarted race, a frantic affair during which most of them managed to snatch the lead at one time or another before the chequered flag came out. When it did, all were covered by less than 0.1s in a Monza-type finish with Colm Blackburn scoring his first Vee victory, just, ahead of Justin Costello, Dan Polley, Kevin Grogan and Gavin Buckley.
And then there were the Fiestas. History will record that Thomas Agnew won both races, one from new champion Jonny Forsyth and Mark Stewart, and the other (in which Forsythe started from the back but still finished third) from Stephen Moore. History will probably have little to say about the antics going on further down the field where all sorts seemed to be happening simultaneously, to the great delight of the spectators, especially those at the chicane, where two-wheeled motoring appeared to be the latest craze. Suffice to say that 18 cars started the day but only 12 completed the first race and 14 the second. End of term high spirits most likely…
Jim Larkham in the Radical had taken a brace of Roadsports victories ahead of John Benson’s uprated S2000 Crossle. The Crossles of Paul Conn and John Mccandless took a third place each. In the hotly contested 1.0-litre class, Paul Thompson (Striker) twice defeat Mark Francis (Locost) although the pair were only feet apart on both occasions.
Among a meagre field of Saloons and GTS which ran concurrently there were two wins for Andrew Armstrong (BMW M3) from Stephen Traub (Honda Integra).
1 Kevin O’hara (Van Diemen RF01); 2 Alan Davidson (Mondiale M89S) +0.076s; 3 Ryan Campbell (Reynard FF89); 4 David Nicholl (Reynard FF89); 5 Sean Conway (Crossle 70F). Fastest lap Davidson 1m01.102s (89.08mph). P O’hara. S 11.
1 Niall Murray (Van Diemen RF01); 2 Jordan Dempsey (Van Diemen LA10) +0.458s; 3 James Roe (Van Diemen RF01); 4 Andrew Noble (Van Diemen JL012K); 5 Jamesy Hagan (Reynard FF89); 6 Andrew Blair (Reynard FF84). FL Murray 1m01.050s (89.16mph). P Murray. S 9.
1 Murray; 2 Dempsey +7.963s; 3 Campbell; 4 Noble; 5 Hagan; 6 Blair. FL Murray 1m01.308s (88.782mph). Class winners Murray, Campbell, Blair and Nicholas Gibson (Crossle 40F). P O’hara. S 19.
1 Colm Blackburn (Leastone JH002); 2 Justin Costello (Leastone JH002) +0.006s; 3 Dan Polley (Loh Sheane); 4 Kevin Grogan (Leastone JH002); 5 Buckley; 6 Cross. FL Polley 1m06.911s (81.347mph). P Polley. S 15. (80.89mph). P Moore. S 10.
1 Thomas Agnew; 2 Jonny Forsythe +4.036s; 3 Mark Stewart; 4 Stuart Agnew; 5 Craig Davidson; 6 Eorann O’neill. FL T Agnew 1m16.887s (70.792mph). P S Agnew. S 19.
1 T Agnew; 2 Stephen Moore +4.327s; 3 Forsythe; 4 Stewart; 5 S Agnew; 6 Davidson. FL Forsythe 1m17.244s (70.465mph). P S Agnew. S 15.
1 Jim Larkham (Radical PR06); 2 John Benson (Crossle 37S) +32.175s; 3 John Mccandless (Crossle 47S); 4 Paul Thompson (Striker Honda); 5 Mark Francis (Locost Honda); 6 Paul Conn (Crossle 47S). FL Larkham 59.975s (90.76mph) CW Larkham, Thompson. P Larkham. S 8.
1 Larkham; 2 Benson +25.394s; 3 Conn; 4 Thompson; 5 Francis; 6 Mccandless. FL Larkham 1m01.065s (89.14mph) CW Larkham, Thompson. P Larkham. S 8.
1 Andrew Armstrong (BMW M3; 2 Stephen Traub (Honda Integra +2.268s; 3 Donal O’neill (SEAT Cupra); no other finishers. FL Armstrong 1m03.383s (85.88mph) P Armstrong S 3.