Croft sees the MX-5s return after a year's absence - it's certainly a drivers' favourite! - Photo: Jon Elsey

Croft in North Yorkshire is starting to become something of a drivers’ favourite in the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship as the teams and drivers make a return to the venue after a year’s absence. Last time out, Brian Chandler wowed us with his pace – and his last corner antics confirming his level of car control – as he marched a step closer towards the title that year. Fast forward two years and the race to be #1 is still as close as ever.

So, heading into the penultimate race weekend of the 2017 season, year long points leader Will Blackwell-Chambers STILL hasn’t been toppled from the head of the table, try as his rivals might. A recent return to form has seen him rack up 6 straight podiums throughout the Snetterton and Anglesey meetings, the latter achieved in a mix of dry and wet conditions. This means that WB-C has had rock solid consistency and minus a couple of blots on his copybook (notably Silverstone), he hasn’t really put a wheel wrong so far.

This is why his rivals are constantly chasing him, no matter how good their results. 2nd placed Oliver Allwood is still desperately searching for that first win of the season, but he should still be happy with the fact that he is now only 50 points behind Blackwell-Chambers and has constantly kept himself in the top 5 with 7 podiums this year. Immediately behind him is where we see quite the shake up post-Anglesey. Brian Trott will be asking himself how on earth he sits in 3rd, even though he inherited a victory after a technical infringement saw Samuel Smith plummet down the table with two exclusions and a Group B podium his only takeaways from Anglesey. Martin Tolley, a front runner in the fight for the Masters title, now moves up to 4th, while 5th placed multiple race winner Joshua Jackson also suffered an exclusion of his own for the same infringement as Smith at Anglesey. Still, his task isn’t impossible and a top 3 is still viable provided the rest of the season goes smoothly.

Others in the top 10 have also found themselves there through a mix of competitive and solid results. Charlie Burge sits an excellent 6th, having picked up his first Group A podium at Silverstone. Patrick Lay is another of the superb rookies we’ve had this year, showing that his group B win at Silverstone at the end of 2016 was no fluke and becoming a constant top 10 threat. Paul Tucker may have had the Masters title mostly on his mind this year, but should still be pleased with 8th in the standings at this stage, while the aforementioned Smith and Stuart Symonds round off the top 10 in points. A shout-out should also go to John Langridge, whose superb debut season in a rear wheel drive car has seen him show flashes of brilliance when it all goes right.

Speaking of said Masters Championship for our more experienced drivers, that battle at the top between Tolley and Tucker sees them separated by less than 30 points after dropped scores. Anglesey was a weekend where a win went the way of all of the top 3 in the standings (Patrick Collins being the man in 3rd). Each of them have both had weekends where they’ve either been on form or off the pace, so the last two meetings will be crucial to decide the outcome.

Also, as now seems to be a regular occurrence this season in the best possible way, we have some new drivers joining the Mk1 grid this weekend. Adam Rowlandson, Elliot Hann and Christopher Stapleton make their MX-5 Championship debuts here at Croft, so a warm welcome to the grid and the very best of luck for your first experience of MX-5 racing! Plus, of course, we have all of the usual suspects that make up a very lively, entertaining and friendly paddock to be a part of. With just 6 races left to decide who takes the 2017 crown and with Croft’s reputation as a circuit that provides fantastic action, this should be a real spectacle this weekend!

Scott Woodwiss

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Snetterton 300 - 10th - 11th Apr 2021

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