A record entry of Mk1s tackle what's set to be a barnstorming season finale! - Photo: Jon Elsey

After seven race weekends, 21 races and almost 100 drivers registered at the time of writing this, it’s clear to say that this year’s BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship has been the best and most popular in its history. More and more drivers are flocking to the series to see just why the Mk1 version of Japan’s uber-popular little sportscar is such a hit on the racetrack. We arrive at the finale at Donington Park in Leicestershire with a title battle to settle and 71 cars set to descend on the paddock – the biggest entry of the year and probably of all time!

So, what of said title battle? At the moment, the top spot is held by the man who has clung onto it (somehow!) since the very beginning. Will Blackwell-Chambers kicked off his return to BRSCC shores with a hat-trick at Brands Hatch, followed by a double at Cadwell Park. From there, it took him until last time out at Croft to make another triple of victories, but a consistent string of podiums in between helped sustain his points lead. On paper it makes it look like something of a formality, but as his misfortunes back at Silverstone proved, it’s NEVER that easy!

His closest rival that will be going all out to stop him is Oliver Allwood. The title contender from 2016 has once again proved that consistency is critical to maintaining a charge for the championship. Eight podiums and a constant presence in the top 10 has allowed him to keep a steady stream of points flowing; this, in turn, has helped Allwood reach P2 in the standings, but some 72 points back from Blackwell-Chambers. It means he’ll have his work cut out to stop him and perhaps that first win of the year could be on the cards.

Joshua Jackson has had something of a breakout season in 2017. Lying 3rd in the standings, Jackson entered the year as a multiple Group B race winner, but come Silverstone he’d risen to the top step of the Group A rostrum twice. A further six podiums have also helped him into a high position in the points. At the time of originally writing this, Jackson was still shown as excluded from the second Group A race at Anglesey due to a technical infringement. However, after a successful appeal, Jackson has been reassigned the win and the points that go with it, putting him as something of an outside bet for the title. He holds a comfortable advantage over 4th placed Brian Trott, whose quiet season of solid scores could see him steal the final championship podium spot – provided Jackson doesn’t suffer a weekend of drama.

5th placed Martin Tolley is also a name to look out for, as he will lock horns with main rival Paul Tucker in the hotly contested Masters title. It will be nip and tuck all throughout the weekend, with Tucker also lying 7th in the overall standings. Sandwiched between them is multiple race winner Samuel Smith, who was in the hunt for the crown before he too fell foul of technical irregularities at Anglesey. Despite this, on any given day his pace is formidable, and he will be out to make sure teammate Blackwell-Chambers secures that coveted title.

This season has also seen a brilliant crop of rookie drivers tackle their first full campaign, with Charlie Burge and Patrick Lay both holding 8th and 9th respectively, while former Fiesta champion John Langridge has had his share of ups and downs but sits a very credible 11th. The top 10 could be on the cards, but he’ll have to overhaul Stuart Symonds’ 42 point advantage to do that.

As has been a trend this year and in particular over the years at the final races, there’s a mass influx of new and returning drivers making their first foray into this year’s Championship, and we welcome them one and all! MR2 racer David Martin decides to switch Japanese marques for this occasion, while expect to see Leslie Charneca, Richard Bartlett, Marcus Bailey, Charlie Besley and stuntwoman Zarene Dallas all make their MX-5 Championship debuts. Best of luck, everyone!

So, a large entry list for a nail-biting season finale on a circuit that many of the drivers love. That sounds like it has all the ingredients to make this final weekend of the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Championship something of an absolute barnstormer. Get ready – this will be one wild weekend for our mighty Mazdas!

Scott Woodwiss

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