Langridge was delighted to wrap his first Mazda MX-5 title with a win in the final race - Photo: Jon Elsey

The final rounds of the 2019 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship saw John Langridge and Will Blackwell-Chambers go head to head for the title after a season long skirmish at the head of the points table. Only one could come out on top as champion and tensions were high as the final six races of the year played out on the Silverstone International circuit.

Another packed grid made the trip to Northamptonshire with 67 cars set to line up across the weekend, with the cars heading out for the final qualifying sessions of the season. Langridge headed out for the first group and promptly set the fastest time of the session, followed by a much improved Fraser Fenwick in 2nd place, then Matt Pollard, Masters points leader Jason Greatrex and returnee Brian Trott. Over in the second group, AB Motorsport boss Ali Bray announced his return to the grid in perfect fashion by going top of the session ahead of Blackwell-Chambers, while Matt Luff put in one of his best efforts of the season with 3rd fastest from Adam Bessell and Steve Foden.

In the first Group A race, Bray would get the jump from the front row over Langridge and lead the opening lap, before Langridge was able to sweep past before the end of Lap 2. Frazer Fenwick then took over at the front as he become embroiled in a battle with team boss Bray for several laps, before he was able to pull out a definitive lead that he would end up keeping until the chequered flag. Fenwick therefore took his first Group A win of his fledgling MX-5 career, and to make matters even better for AB Motorsport both Bray and Luff were able to overhaul and pass the two title contenders to knock them off the podium. Luff collected 2nd place with Bray in 3rd to see the team lock out the podium entirely. In form man Joe Wiggin took 4th, while in the race for the title Langridge beat WB-C to the final top 5 place, but ended up outscoring him by four points due to also capturing the fastest lap two-thirds of the way through the race. Steve Foden finished 7th ahead of Brian Trott in 8th, followed by Adam Bessell and Matt Pollard in the top 10.

Adam Craig started the first Group B race from pole position and ended up dominating from start to finish. Leading almost every single lap, he was never headed and drove to his second win of the season, leaving 2nd place downwards to be decided in a race long scrap between several cars. Despite finishing the first lap down in 10th place, Richard Wootten drove a tactical race to work his way through the field and take 2nd, while back in 3rd place it was a long awaited first podium appearance for Alan Hawkins. He too made steady progress up the field as the laps reeled off, taking 3rd place with two laps to go and a spot on the Group A grid for the next race as a result. Oliver Jenkins and Callum Greatrex completed the top 5 promotion spots, followed by an improved result for Christian Dann in 6th place. Thomas Jenkins picked up 7th ahead of Bruce Robinson in 8th, who was demoted there after contravening the regulations with a 7 second penalty, and the top 10 completed by Christopher Ginn and Luke Souch.

On to the second Group A race with Fenwick and Luff on the front row together, and immediately the pair went into combat for the lead from lights out. Langridge tried to keep with them initially, but both ended up in a race of their own as they raced away from the pack in their own private battle. After swapping places a couple of times throughout the 20 minutes, honours would go to Luff as he took his turn to score his first Group A win with Fenwick a close 2nd place. Bray played rear gunner behind him as he kept the charging back at bay several seconds behind the top two, working his way into 3rd place and allowing them to skirmish behind him until the flag with 4th place downwards constantly changing lap after with the two title contenders locked amongst them. By the flag, Langridge was able to take best of the rest with 4th place with Trott in 5th and crucially Blackwell-Chambers in 6th, losing more points and seeing his title chances just about slip away. Wiggin collected 7th place, followed by Greatrex, Fisher and a superb effort from Adam Sparrow to score his first Group A top 10 finish in 10th.

Another first time win occurred in Group B’s second race as Jack Lemmer, son of Barwell Motorsport boss and former British Touring Car Championship racer Mark, making the most of his pole position to immediately pull out a 1.3 second lead by the end of the opening lap and maintaining that advantage until the chequered flag. At one stage, the lead gap was over two seconds but in the final few laps he was reeled in by eventual second place man Brandon Abraham, closing the gap to just over 6 tenths by the finish. Charlie Rawles picked up the final podium place in 3rd with Nick Le Doyen and Clive Chisnall joining them in the top 5 to move up to Group A for the last race of the season. Christian Dann took 6th place, ahead of Owen Mills and Bill Taylor while Graham Rumsey and Bruce Robinson completed the top 10.

The title deciding Group A race saw Langridge head into it with a lead over Blackwell-Chambers of more than 20 points, meaning that unless something disastrous happened to John, the title was almost something of a formality. Starting in 4th place behind the three AB Motorsport cars, Langridge  moved into 3rd past Luff on the opening lap as Bray took the lead from Fenwick, while behind him what started out as a decent start for Blackwell-Chambers ended up becoming a nightmare as a mishap saw him slip to 13th place, effectively ending any chance at overhauling Langridge. Bray and Fenwick once again briefly swapped places and then swapped back while Langridge watched on waiting for his moment in 3rd place. He passed Fenwick for 2nd place on Lap 10 and set about his pursuit of the lead in the final five laps, incredibly stealing victory from Bray on the last lap to close out the season on fine style. Langridge captured the final race win of the season and with that, he was crowned the 2019 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 champion to his and BLiNK Motorsport’s delight. On that last lap, Bray not only lost the lead, but his place on the rostrum altogether as he lost out to both Luff and Fenwick on the final lap too as they took the podium places, leaving Bray down to 4th at the flag. William Hayden made it four AB cars in the top 5 with 5th place, with Wiggin in 6th and Greatrex scoring 7th place, also winning the Masters title in the process. Brewer, Fisher and Foden completed the top 10, while outgoing champion Blackwell-Chambers had to settle for a lowly 12th place to round off 2019.

For the final Group B race, Mike Comber Racing were able to end the year on a high note as Charles Mugglestone put in another superb drive to mimic that which he’d produced back at Donington Park as he spent the first half of the race in 3rd place chasing returning teammate Samuel Smith in the lead and Oliver Graham at the front of the field. Mugglestone picked up 2nd place just past the half way stage, before taking the lead from Smith with just three laps to go. Onwards he drove to take his second win of the year, as Mugglestone rounded off his 2019 campaign in the best possible way. Smith finished 2nd, while Owen Mills was promoted to 3rd place after Graham was given a penalty for an out of position start, leaving him 4th in the final race. Oliver Jenkins completed the top 5, followed home by Leach, Robinson, Thomas Jenkins, Matthew Fletcher and Christian Dann in the top 10.

So, another amazing season in the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 paddock has finished and a new champion has been crowned. Congratulations to John Langridge for capturing his first title in a rear wheel drive car, while commendations must be given to both Will Blackwell-Chambers and eventual 3rd placed man Joe Wiggin for pushing the champion all the way to the final weekend. With 112 drivers competing in the championship this year between the eight race meetings held, this surpasses the record set last year and make this, numbers wise, the most popular season we’ve had to date! We can’t wait for next season to roll around already, so thank you to every single person who has made this year what it was and we’re excited for what’s in store for 2020!

Scott Woodwiss

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