Chandler the Champion!

Brian Chandler - 2015 Mazda MX-5 Champion! (Photo: Jon Elsey)

There was no telling exactly which of the 5 drivers that were in contention for this year’s BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship, but after 6 more races to decide who placed where and who scored what, the top prize was decided. You can probably guess who given the title and picture, but let’s go through how the driver in question got there!

The 5 drivers in contention for the crown – Darron Lewis, Sam Smith, Brian Chandler, Ben Tuck and Simon Baldwin – all took to qualifying on Saturday morning with hopes of securing as high a grid spot as possible for the first race, to give them their best chance of maximum points. When the clock hit zero after both sessions and times were combined, it was Smith who had struck the first blow, blitzing the field with pole by a staggering 8 tenths from Chandler. Brands Hatch race winner Ben Short returned to line up 3rd in the A race alongside Stuart Symonds, while Tuck and Baldwin were forced to share row 5 together with Lewis a further row back in 12th.

Smith’s pole position would come back to bite him sadly, as due to a technical irregularity found during post-race scrutineering after the first encounter, he was subsequently disqualified from the result. Aside from this, it was Chandler who continued where he’d left off from his domination of Croft to notch up another win for his tally. He did so by 7 second from Tuck and Lewis, who crossed the line less than a second apart. James Harris claimed 4th ahead of Baldwin, while Short just held off the ever improving Martin Tolley for 6th.

In the first Group B race, Richard Collins endured an enjoyable race long battle with Graham Colby to hold on for the win, while behind them Michael Close won out in a excellent 3rd place battle with David Henderson and Michael Lawson, who completed the top 5.

Into Group A’s second race and Chandler pulled away in the early laps, only to be reeled in again by the chasing trio of Tuck, Lewis and Short. Despite having to look in his mirrors for a brief while, Chander then found himself creating a gap once again and made it two from two by nearly 4 seconds from Tuck, while Lewis claimed the final podium spot ahead of Short, who had been in 2nd for the first part of the race where he’d caught Chandler. Richard Breland fended off the attentions of James Harris to round out the top 5.

The second Group B race was all about damage limitation for Sam Smith after being thrown out of Race 1’s result and climbed into the lead from 5th on the grid, which he subsequently held on to and took the win from Joshua Jackson, Stephen Craggs, Roger Chesneau and Chris Hart. The race had tob finished under safety car conditions after a skirmish at Redgate saw a hefty coming together between Piers Chandler and newly crowned GT Academy Europe champion Romain Sarazin, with the latter coming off a little worse for wear.

With the final race of the the season for Group A left to decide who walked away with the championship, all eyes were on the field to see who would win. Chandler made the best start from pole to lead with a decent margin early on, but once again was caught by those persuing him – primarily Ben Tuck. The #3 stuck himself on Chandler’s back bumper with 1/3 of the race still to go and, doing everything he could to take points away from his rivals, duly passed him with a handful of minutes to go. It stayed this way to the flag with Tuck securing victory, while an emotional Chandler knew that 2nd place was enough to crown him the 2015 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Champion! Lewis could do no more in 3rd place, while Sam Smith drove his heart out from 25th on the grid to finish 4th, escaping from some sensational mid-pack racing that wowed the spectators. James Harris emerged from those battles to secure a top 5.

The very last race of the season for the championship, the third and final encounter for Group B, was always going to be frantic. That proved to be correct when Simon Orange’s lapse in concentration left him too late on the brakes and careering into Alex Soar and Nick Riley at the final chicane, planting all three into the gravel. After several safety car laps followed by the final 7 and a half minutes of racing, it was Stuart Symonds who stormed through from 3rd on the last lap to steal an incredible win ahead of Kevin Brent and Richard Collins, after Symonds braved it out through the Craner Curves and the Old Hairpin to carve his way to the front. Courtney Milnes just missed out in 4th with John Cockburn-Evans had to put up a stringent defence to hold 5th place from Sam Bailey and Christian Young.

So, that’s it – another season done, dusted and logged into the record books. Our congratulations go to our newly declared Champion Brian Chandler, who finished the season with a staggering 9 victories, 3 podiums, 7 fastest laps and two pole positions (from qualifying sessions) – a worthy winner! Now the question remains – where next for #76? Will he stay to defend his crown, progress into a Mk3 MX-5 to contest the SuperCup or will he set his sights further afield? Who knows, but you can be sure that whatever he does, he’ll be quick!

The BRSCC would like to extend a massive thank you to all of its personnel for their hard work and efforts over the course of the 2015 season, particularly Mandy Andrew, Bob Marsh, Glynn Lee and Dominic Ostrowski for their involvement with the championship. We definitely cannot forget to extend thanks to Jon Elsey as well, who has given us some phenomenal photography of this year as well some exceptionally brilliant race reports which he puts together in his own time. If we have forgotten anyone else, apologies!

Obviously, we definitely can’t negate to mention all of our drivers. Whether it was just the one race or an entire season, you’ve all raced hard, fast and fair this year and for that we are incredibly thankful and grateful. We’re really excited to see you all back on the grid again in 2016 and hopefully once again you’ll have a few new faces joining you as well. Enjoy the off season and fingers crossed we’ll see you at the awards dinner, Autosport International and/or the BRSCC Dinner Dance!

As always, the full breakdown of the results of all of our races can be found HERE.

Scott Woodwiss

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