Wiggin only JUST survived a Race 3 assault from Allwood to complete another hat-trick - Photo: Jon Elsey

Another intense weekend of racing took place in the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship on the Donington Grand Prix circuit, as the race for the title took another interesting twist. While one driver dominated once again, even he will admit that it was no easy task to win all three races.

 Qualifying proved a somewhat controversial affair, as across the two sessions a number of drivers were handed disqualifications for extending track limits one too many times, especially leaving a handful of regular Group A drivers demoted to the back of the grid in Group B and effectively putting them on the back foot before racing had begun.

Once the order shook out post-qualifying, Steve Foden was left as the fastest man and therefore lined up for the first Group A race on pole position with in-form man Joe Wiggin alongside him on the front row. Crucially, the two main championship contenders Will Blackwell-Chambers and John Langridge formed the second row with Langridge only a couple of points ahead heading into the weekend, while the third row saw an unlikely duo with Charlie Mugglestone and Oliver Graham slighty bemused but delighted with 5th and 6th respectively on the grid. David Waters would start 7th alongside Masters leader Jason Greatrex, with Dave Turton and Adam Bessell completing the top 10 starters.

Foden was able to beat Wiggin away from the start and held on to the lead for the opening four laps, but relentless pressure from Wiggin eventually saw Foden capitulate and give the #41 the place on Lap 5. Wiggin did his best to pull away as much as possible from 2nd place but was never able to stretch more than a 2 second advantage over Foden, and soon they were joined in the lead battle by 3rd placed man Langridge. The closing laps saw the trio lapping together in a tight three way stalemate, and in the end neither Foden or Langridge could progress further than P2 and P3 respectively. Bother drivers failed to dispose of Wiggin who went on to collect the first race win of the weekend, continuing to prove to be the in form man of the championship throughout the second half of the season. Will Blackwell-Chambers ended up falling away from the podium runners and had to settle for 4th place with teammate Adam Bessell completing the top 5 and Matt Pollard taking one of his best finishes in recent times with 6th. Sebastian Fisher collected 7th ahead of Jason Greatrex, Dave Turton and Oliver Graham in the top 10, while Charlie Mugglestone bravely soldiered on to take 11th place after impressively remaining around the front running cars for most of the race.

The first Group B race turned out to be all too easy for a fired up Oliver Allwood, who would have started the first Group A race from pole had his fastest qualifying time stood from his session. As it was, he clawed his way up from the back of the field to take the lead in less than three laps, and from there was untouchable as he displayed pace that was akin to that he’d shown in previous years when he’d been a championship contender. By the flag, he’d dominated proceedings to win by more than 15 seconds and easily book his passage back into Group A, leaving the rest of the field to scrap amongst the remaining four promotion spots in the top 5. In the end, it was Jack Brewer who shrugged off a 10 second delay at the start to power his way through to claim 2nd place, followed by Matt Luff, Martin Tolley and Marcus Bailey who all progressed back to Group A for the rest of the weekend. Behind them, best of the rest went to Michael Knibbs with Adam Craig missing out on promotion in 7th place, ahead of Matt Fletcher, Bryn Griffiths and Tim Dore.

Back in Group A, Joe Wiggin had a slightly easier time starting from pole position this time as he took the lead and ended up never losing it, as he allowed the cars behind to squabble for 2nd place. Notably, it was the two championship contenders that did so with Langridge able to edge out a few tenths over Blackwell-Chambers to eventually take 2nd place with WB-C a valuable 3rd. In the lead, Wiggin managed to once again set the pace and picked up win number 2 of the weekend by almost three seconds, while outside the podium places the drive of the race undoubtedly came from Oliver Allwood, who charged from near the back of the grid once again in a sterling effort to pick up 4th place by the flag and undoubtedly marking him out as a favourite for victory in the final Group A race. Jason Greatrex collected the final top 5 place with Steve Foden settling for 6th ahead of Matt Pollard, Oliver Graham, Adam Bessell and Sebastian Fisher.

In the opening laps of the second Group A race, Adrian Burge led the way from eventual winner Adam Craig before he succumbed to his advances on Lap 3. Craig then set about comfortably streaking away in the lead and remained unchallenged for duration to take one of his first ever MX-5 race wins, to his and his family’s delight. Burge lost out on 2nd place too as Michael Knibbs made the most of his ex-Stuart Symonds and former AB Motorsport prepared car to collect another strong Group B podium, while Burge did well to still complete the rostrum in 3rd. Lewis Cannon had to work his way through from deep in the field to race his way back to Group A by finishing 4th with the final promotion spot taken on this occasion by Bryn Griffiths. Matt Fletcher continued to make some impressive progress with 6th place from Tim Dore in 7th, Oliver Attard taking 8th, Christian Dann also showng improvement with 9th and Peter Tyler surviving the mid pack skirmish to collect 10th place as a result.

What came next was undoubtedly the race of the season so far as the Group A contenders lined up for their final race. With Wiggin again getting away well from pole and jumping straight into the lead, he was quickly joined by Allwood who made a cracking start to take 2nd place by the end of the opening lap. From here, the #63 hounded Wiggin for virtually the entire race practically glued to his rear bumper for all 20 minutes of the race’s duration. Lap after lap, Allwood tirelessly applied the pressure to Wiggin as he searched for an avenue to get through or an opportunity to prise the door open and take the lead. In the closing stages, Allwood very briefly got his nose in front but Wiggin straight back again, however all this squabbling allowed a stealthy Jason Greatrex to pop up behind them and pounce with a last ditch attack on the final corners of the race. As the three cars charged to the final corner, Greatrex’s nose was incredibly just in front in the lead, but left on the outside line into Goddards, there was nothing he could do to stay there and as the trio headed onto the pit straight to take the flag, it was Wiggin who somehow kept them both at bay to complete his second hat trick of wins in three meetings and his 8th victory in nine races. Allwood had showed everyone his pace was back with 2nd place and Greatrex enjoyed another strong finish to a weekend with 3rd place.

But that wasn’t the only fun and games in the race as behind the top 3, an epic fight for 4th place downwards in the top 10 was taking place involving both Langridge and Blackwell-Chambers amongst many others. After several laps of position swapping amongst them, crucially the 4th palce went to Blackwell-Chambers as he finished ahead of Langridge in 5th with Adam Bessell enjoying his drive to 6th place, Matt Luff taking a superb 7th and the rest of the top 10 filled by Sebastian Fisher, Steve Foden and Oliver Graham.

The final Group B race saw a popular victory take place as Charlie Mugglestone rebounded from  an off in his second race that brought it to a premature end to take the lead in the opening corners and never looked back from there. With his confidence buoyed thanks to his pace in the Group A races, Mugglestone shot off into the lead and was never caught, eventually winning by over 10 seconds. Oliver Attard delighted his former British GT champion Marco by taking his first ever racing podium with 2nd place, with Thomas Jenkins rounding off the rostrum this time in 3rd. Tim Dore and Ivan Leary completed the top 5, followed by Bruce Robinson, Christian Dann, Christopher Ginn, bill Rawles and Graham Rumsey.

So, the stage is set. All that remains is three more races at Silverstone in October to decide the fate of the 2019 title. Langridge now holds an 8 point advantage heading into the final weekend on dropped scores and knows that all he has to do is make sure he at the very least remains level on points come the end of the meeting to be champion, having won more races on countback. By contrast, WB-C needs to go flat out from the word go, hope that Langridge suffers bad luck and that he can outscore him by at least 9 points over the entire weekend to steal his third championship in a row. Add potential spanners in the works like the in-form Joe Wiggin, Oliver Allwood and more and the International circuit at Silverstone could have the makings of one of the most classic and highly anticipated title deciders in the championship’s history! DO. NOT. MISS IT!

Scott Woodwiss

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