Langridge now has the tough task of mantaining the championship lead - can he? - Photo: Jon Elsey

The latest rounds of the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Championship come at a crucial time in the season with just two race weekends left to run. The first of which comes here at Donington Park’s Grand Prix circuit where the paddock arrives after a change of lead in the points standings last time out at Oulton Park. Another mammoth entry is on the cards with 63 drivers set to pilot 61 cars, with a pair of two-driver combos amongst the line-up.

The man now at the helm of the championship lead is John Langridge, whose trio of podiums allowed him to leap frog long time leader and double defending champion Will Blackwell-Chambers, leaving him as the man everyone will have their eye on. Langridge’s overhaul of his main rival is thanks to a consistent run of finishes ahead of Blackwell-Chambers, allowing him to slowly but surely chip away at his points lead. Oulton Park was the tipping point as three more podiums helped him reach the top and he’ll be hoping that Donington Park brings more of the same. Contrast this with the mixed fortunes of Blackwell-Chambers, who may be struggling to find the ultimate pace from the Avon tyres that all drivers have switched to this season. Throughout the first half of the season, Will was able to pick up 5 wins but since Snetterton, he’s struggled to reach the podium and as a result has seen his lead eroded in the process. There’s no denying the pace of the double defending champion whatsoever, as it’s clear he still has what it takes to win races and perform at the front, but he will need to find an extra gear in these last two meetings to allow him to reclaim the lead and complete the hat-trick.

But if there was one man who you could arguably say is the one in form right now, you’d undoubtedly say that it’s former BMW Compact Cup star Joe Wiggin, with 5 wins from the last 6 races in what has been a fantastic debut season in the championship. Ever since he announced his arrival with two podium finishes at Brands Hatch, Joe has taken a little time to get up to speed but Snetterton saw him show his true hand with a complete grand slam of the entire weekend. Following this, two wins at Oulton Park has firmly put him in 3rd place with the top two in touching distance. Whether this has come too late to become a threat for the title remains to be see, but Donington appears to be another circuit that Wiggin has favour with.

Others who will be sure to keep the top three on their toes include Oliver Allwood, Adam Bessell, Jack Brewer and Steve Foden, all of which have had their fair share of strong results over the season. Allwood is yet to have won a race but leading Race 1 at Oulton Park from the front row may have seen him show glimpses of the driver who battled for the championship twice before. Bessell’s tail has been up ever since he took his first Group A win at Anglesey and has now cemented himself as a regular front runner with race winning pace. Jack Brewer’s first victory must simply be a case of when rather than if it happens, as on his day he has the potential to match teammate Wiggin in pace if the setup works his way. Steve Foden is another driver who continues to make more and more progress each weekend and has a couple of podiums to his name so far this season. Donington Park last year was the sight of his first ever rostrum visit, so he’ll be hoping to continue that run this weekend.

Over in the Masters competition for drivers aged 45 and over, it’s Welsh favourite Jason Greatrex who continues to head the way from double champ Martin Tolley and Marcus Bailey, although both were able to take the fight to Greatrex last time at Oulton Park and remain his main pursuers in the race for the crown. As well as all of the usual suspects and familiar names and faces that line up this weekend, once again we’re happy to welcome yet more new drivers into the mix with Andrew Dean, Oliver Attard, Ian Blake and Mark Bond the latest additions to the 2019 roster of Mk1 drivers. Welcome one and all!

Scott Woodwiss

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Silverstone International - 21st - 22nd Mar 2020

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