JACKSON'S 5-STAR PERFORMANCE AT SILVERSTONE THRILLER

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Jackson (#72) had waited a long time for a Group A win - then two came up at once! - Photo: Jon Elsey

From the tight confines of Cadwell Park, the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship moved back down the country to the Midlands and the iconic Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire for Rounds 7, 8 & 9 of the 2017 season, in a weekend which saw a breakout pair of wins for one particular driver.

After an interesting pair of qualifying sessions for both groups comprising a staggering 56 cars and with the times combined, it left James Harris on pole position for the first Group A race alongside a stellar effort from Joshua Jackson. Roger Chesneau surprised many people with 3rd on the grid next to Oliver Allwood on the second row, from Paul Tucker and Samuel Smith. Jack Sycamore and Charlie Burge lined up on the 4th row while points leader Will Blackwell-Chambers couldn’t better 9th as he and Martin Tolley completed the top 10.

Initially, Allwood would lead the opening few laps at the head of the field until Jackson made his move on Lap 5 to hit the front himself. Jackson would then remain at the head of the field until just after half distance as pole man Harris took his turn to lead after dropping back to as low as 3rd in the leading group. From there, Harris and Allwood drove away as a pair from the rest of the pack as they became embroiled in their own battle. Despite his best efforts, Allwood couldn’t unseat the #37 from the top spot as Harris went on to take the chequered flag for the first time in 2017, while an almighty sort-out took place for 3rd position backwards that was eventually won by Jackson. He would just remain ahead of both Samuel Smith and Paul Tucker in the top 5, while points leader Blackwell-Chambers was unable to better 7th place behind Jack Sycamore.

The first Group B race put Courtney Milnes and Nick Le Doyen on the front row together from Ivan Leary and Michael Close, with Clive Chisnall taking up 5th place next to an out of place Patrick Lay, forced to make do with contesting for Group B victory after a poor qualifying session. Adam Reece and Teddy Clark comprised Row 4 as Adam Craig and Bryn Griffiths rounded off the top 10 started.

Lay made sure he wasted no time in charging to the front of the order by the end of the first lap, however over the next few tours of the National circuit it was Michael Close that made sure he was kept company in the lead just ahead of Ivan Leary. The top two started to work much in the same way as Harris and Allwood did in Race 1 and created a gap to Leary in 3rd, before a mistake just after the half way mark saw Close lose 2nd place. With a comfortable enough lead over everyone else, Lay rounded out the last few laps to take a Group B victory at the same venue he’d scored his first, On the Interational layout back at the finale in October last year. Leary took 2nd with Close claiming another podium in 3rd, ahead of Nick Le Doyen and Adam Craig; the top 5 would be progressing up to Group A for their second race.

For the second Group A race, Harris and Allwood lined up on the front row from Joshua Jackson, Samuel Smith and Paul Tucker. Jack Sycamore would start 6th with Will Blackwell-Chambers still with work to do from 7th. Charlie Burge, Martin Tolley and John Langridge would prop up the rest of the top 10 on the grid.

Sadly, it wasn’t long before the fortunes of both Allwood and Harris took a sharp nosedive as an incident at Becketts appeared to take them both out of contention straight away. Allwood’s race was done and dusted, but Harris would get back to the pits and venture out again some 3 laps down. All this left Smith leading from Jackson, Sycamore and Burge, with the #36 keeping the lead for approximately 2/3rds of the race as the pack behind squabbled over podium places. It would be lap 12, however, that would see the race change Jackson took the lead from Smith and Martin Tolley would quickly follow suit for 2nd. Tolley almost stole victory from Jackson in the dying moments of the race, but Jackson managed to brave it out and hold on by just over a tenth to score his first ever Group A win. Smith would have to settle for 3rd place ahead of a superb drive from Jason Greatrex to 4th and Sam Bailey equally impressing in 5th.

One thing to note in particular were the fortunes of Will Blackwell-Chambers, who was only able to circulate for a lap before falling foul of his bonnet flying up and impeding his vision. A quick trip to the pits fixed the issue and on returning to the track, he would spend the remainder of the race in a fascinating duel with the recovering James Harris. Even though they would both have to end their weekend in the final Group B race on Sunday together, along with Oliver Allwood, it was still a smile-inducing scrap to watch.

It would be Matt Pickford lining up on pole position for the second Group B race with Anthony Hutchins keeping him company on the front row. Alan Hawkins and Oliver Robinson made up the second row of the grid from Clive Powles and Courtney Milnes, while the top 10 was rounded off by Bryn Griffiths, Ben Hancy, Stephen Foden and Max Norfolk.

Pickford led the first 5 laps as he pulled out a gap as big as 1.6 seconds, before Powles would make his way past on Lap 6 as a 4 car group formed between Powles, Pickford, Hutchins and Robinson. 2nd place swapped between the trio running behind Powles several times as the #18 got back to the front of a race once more, but in the finals laps Hutchins found he had some pace left in the tank and launched an attack for victory. It appeared to work as while Powles was shuffled back to 4th after a mistake on lap 14, Hutchins first picked off Pickford and then leader Robinson to hit the front and stay there to the flag. He took a much deserved first win of the season, while Pickford stole 2nd on the last lap from Robinson with Powles and Russ Lindsay, as all 5 would move into Group A for their last race on Sunday.

When the time came for that final Group A race, after all the drivers were given a second drivers briefing first thing that morning, Jackson and Tolley headed the field on the front row from Greatrex and Bailey on row 2. Langridge and Brian Trott occupied the 3rd row ahead of Roger Chesneau and Samuel Smith, and Row 5 was made up of Charlie Burge and Paul Tucker.

What followed was 20 minutes of pure magic up at the front of the field as eventually a lead group of around 10 cars formed, constantly swapping places in a true display of fantastic race craft with virtually no contact. Tolley was able to take the lead from the start and hold off the hungry pack of cars behind for 5 laps, until Smith forced him to capitulate on Lap 6. Smith would hold on himself for a further 3 laps before Tolley got it back on Lap 10, but behind them drivers were stacking up until at one point 10 cars were separated by just 3 seconds!

Smith would take it back and it looked as though he would finally take his second win of the season, however it was not to be as after hovering in the podium places all race, Joshua Jackson not only stole his second win of the weekend away from Smith’s grasp on the last lap, but Charlie Burge would also stick the knife in as he had it away with 2nd place too, pushing Smith down to 3rd place again. Tolley couldn’t better 4th while Langridge picked up his best ever result so far with 5th place.

As mentioned earlier, the trio of Blackwell-Chambers, Harris and Allwood were forced to compete in the final Group B race earlier in the day after their Race 2 troubles, however all of them would start behind pole sitter Ivan Leary. Blackwell-Chambers would start 2nd, Harris 3rd alongside Nick Le Doyen and Allwood had to cast off from 5th next to Max Norfolk on Row 3. Ben Hancy and Alan Hawkins made up Row 4 from Courtney Milnes and Bryn Griffiths.

As expected the aforementioned trio quickly formed a small pack and began to drive away as they diced in a battle of their own. Harris was the man who initially led, but he and Allwood would end up swapping the lead on several occasions. The 3 cars were so close together all race that come the end of lap 10, Allwood and Harris were literally inseparable – as in a dead heat across the line! More constant lead swapping followed in the remaining laps until eventually it would be Harris picking up his second win of the weekend, albeit this time not gaining maximum points on this occasion. Allwood settled for 2nd, while Blackwell-Chambers didn’t hit the front once and had to settle for 3rd. Meanwhile, a fantastic 4th place battle had raged virtually all race. Nick Le Doyen picked up 4th place and while Ivan Leary took 5th on the road, a 10 second penalty pushed him down to 7th place behind Courtney Milnes and Ben Hancy.

Despite his less than satisfying weekend, Blackwell-Chambers miraculously still has dropped scores to thank as he still leads the championship courtesy of his 5 wins and single 2nd place from Brands Hatch and Cadwell. Smith’s consistency has helped him remain in 2nd, albeit 25 points back. Allwood’s a further 3 away, although one can’t help wonder he would have been higher had he not fallen foul this weekend. Joshua Jackson catapults up to 4th thanks to his two wins, ahead of Martin Tolley who will have been buoyed by his fine form. His chief Masters rival Paul Tucker, whom he now sits level with on points in the Masters standings themselves, is now 6th from Charlie Burge and Brian Trott, while Jack Sycamore has done incredibly well to sit 9th despite only competing in two meetings. Rookie John Langridge also continues to make excellent progress as he completes the top 10 standings.

The next rounds will take place at the winding Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire, which on completion will already signal the half way stage in the championship. Blackwell-Chambers will be desperate to find his form again after a dismal Silverstone performance by his standards, but he knows that from now on every result has to count. Let’s see what he’s got when the circuit picks up and moves on again in June!

You can find the full breakdown of results via TSL Timing HERE – SILVERSTONE RESULTS

Scott Woodwiss

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Last Race

Donington Park 14th - 15th Oct 2017

Current Standings

Driver Accrued Points Adjusted Total
1 Will Blackwell-Chambers 2216 2042
2 Oliver Allwood 2130 2000
3 Joshua Jackson 2166 1974