Fun and games
2019 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship.
Round 7, Donington Park.
This was the situation going to Donington Park, the 7th race weekend of the year: despite all of the ups and downs, I was in the fight for the championship and held a small 4 point lead over reigning champion, Will Blackwell-Chambers. There are 100 points for winning a race, 98 for second, 96 for third and so on, plus 2 points for fastest lap. With six races to go (three here and three at Silverstone), realistically one or the other of us will win overall as the gap between us and Joe Wiggin in third place is around 50 points. He is the form man at the moment and with 62 drivers entered stranger things have happened.
The atmosphere was a little tense before the races as there were question marks over the eligibility of parts on some cars and also an argument about track limits violations in qualifying. I managed to stay away from it fortunately, and posted the second fastest time in my group which would be fourth on the grid for race 1A. Several people had all of their times removed and had to start from the back of the B race, so I was happy to be in the game.
At the end of lap one I was into third place and ahead of Blackwell-Chambers, but he was in close attendance and we went side-by-side down the Craner Curves; I just came out on top. I slotted into second place a little later but not for long as WBC slipped past me during the fighting for a few corners before I passed him for good. I then caught up with the front two and had a good race, but it all nearly went wrong on the final corner where second and first almost hit each other! We survived though and with my third place finish pulled out four points as I scored fastest lap too.
Race 2A was more straightforward; running in third place for the first two laps before passing Will into Redgate. Wiggin had pulled a good gap and while I did edge closer I was never significantly quicker to catch him. I was pleased with our pace though as I was able to drive away from Will to score another result in my favour.
Then followed race 3A; one of the most stressful races of my life. We had a bit of decision to make ahead of the race about which tyres to use and I knew on the green flag lap things were going to be tough! I had a good start and was in the lead out of turn one, but just didn’t have the rear grip and dropped two places as I slithered around.
By now, Will was getting to the point where he was starting to need cars in between us so he could make bigger points gains. He passed me on lap two and shortly afterwards I was back down in fifth with other cars all over me. Things were not looking good! I kept at it though and things started to improve. Will was overtaken for third, but it wasn’t long before I could see he was going to try everything he could to back me into the pack behind. For over half the race I was trying to attack Will whilst also defend from seven other cars behind. Some of his defence was a bit close to the bone, but all just about legal. I was very relieved to reach the chequered flag in fifth and thanks must go to the clean driving of Adam Bessell who could have really thrown a spanner in the works at times.
Despite the last race, we had made further gains in the championship and will go to Silverstone with a slender eight point lead. It’s not much, but I would rather have it than not!
Circuit photo credit: Colin Bass Photography.