Allwood's battle-scarred MX-5 survived a dramatic final race to become provisional champion - Photo: Jon Elsey

Amongst difficult changing weather conditions and a dramatic and tense final race of the season, Oliver Allwood did just enough to provisionally become the 2020 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship champion at Brands Hatch, with the fate of the title ultimately set to be sealed in the appeal court.

Heading into the final weekend of competition amongst the festivities of the BRSCC Formula Ford Festival, just two drivers were in contention at the time on the weekend itself with Allwood and main rival Mike Comber separated by just six points heading into the final three races of the season. However, despite sitting in 12th in points heading into the meeting, Joe Wiggin still had a chance to steal it for himself. After receiving a disqualification for failing a post-race tech inspection on the Saturday of the Silverstone meeting, Joe elected to appeal the decision which would be heard in the National Court after the Brands Hatch weekend had finished. Therefore, if the disqualification was overturned and Wiggin regained the 100 points originally earned for that win, this would ultimately push him back up to the top of the table and see him claim the championship for himself. With this hanging over proceedings, the only thing all three drivers could do was drive as hard as possible and score as many points as they could to try and settle it in their favour once it was all said and done.
The final qualifying session of the season produced some fairly typical results. Despite a small drizzle part way through, Group 1 managed to set the faster of the two quickest times, with Wiggin ending up top from Allwood, Matt Luff, Jack Brewer and Fraser Fenwick, while in Group 2 on a completely dry track it was left to Brian Trott to top the session from Sebastian Fisher, Comber, Stuart Symonds and Steve Foden. With the three-group format in use again for this meeting, it meant Wiggin would be on pole for both of his races in Group A.
So it was that Groups A and C lined up first on Saturday with the weather doing no one any favours. Rain had been affecting the sessions all day and this first race would be no exception with Wiggin on pole, Allwood alongside and Fisher and Comber lined up on the second row right behind them. All of the title contenders headed into Paddock Hill Bend together with Fisher for company as he tried to steal 2nd from Allwood, but holding the outside line almost helped Oliver stay in front. Heading into Druids, Fraser Fenwick put two wheels on the grass and also compromised everyone around him, but thankfully managed to get away with it without drama while Steve Foden made life difficult for Comber early doors. Wiggin had the lead at the end of the opening lap from Fisher and Allwood with Comber holding station in 5th behind Fenwick.
Allwood pinched 2nd back from Fisher on Lap 2 and immediately pressured Wiggin for the lead, taking his AB Motorsport teammate Fenwick with him. A handful of laps glued to Joe’s bootlid caused Wiggin to twitch through Paddock Hill Bend, immediately helping Allwood into P1 while Comber took the outside line through Druids to go from 4th to 2nd, and with Fenwick also getting past Wiggin, it put him down from the lead to 4th in just two corners. This then became 5th as the incredibly fast starting Kian Donaldson had shot up the order and picked off Wiggin outside at Graham Hill Bend to push the multiple race winner down to 5th. Not finished with his progress, Donaldson then stole 3rd from Comber and from there the top three quickly tried to pull away. Clive Chisnall’s excursion into the Clearways gravel then brought out the safety car for a few laps, leaving a two-lap shootout for the win.
Knowing his teammate needed the victory and the points, Fenwick only applied light pressure to Allwood, who held on to take a third win of 2020 and securing an AB Motorsport 1-2. Donaldson brought his BS Motorsport car home in a sensational 3rd with Comber on his tail, while Wiggin completed the top five ahead of Fisher, an amazing drive from Ben O’Hare from the back of the grid to 7th place, Oliver Graham, Foden, and Tim Dore who came home top Masters driver.
Sunday’s weather was no better as more rain ensured there was no let up in the treacherous conditions. Wiggin again started on pole for what would be his final race of the season, meaning he had to make this result count to stand any chance of still being able to grab the championship if his disqualification appeal was successful. Brian Trott would start alongside on the front row for Groups A and B, followed by Fisher and Matt Luff, Jack Brewer and Symonds. Wiggin and Trott pulled level off the start while Symonds shot through the second row starters off the grid, before Trott took the lead on the outside at Paddock and held on through the opening lap, while Wiggin had to contend with a fast starting Steve Foden who was hasling him for 2nd early doors. Once again the safety car had to be called thanks to Sam Attard beaching his car in the Druids gravel, bunching the pack back together again.
Trott now had to rebuild his lead all over again on the restart and managed to get away well but not quick enough to drop neither Wiggin or Foden, the latter surviving a lurid moment putting a wheel onto the concrete outside of Paddock Hill Bend to remain 3rd. Trott again managed to create a gap to leave Wiggin to deal with Foden for 2nd, the two cars locked together in combat for a number of laps allowing Matt Luff turn the duo into a trio. Matt superbly drove past Foden for 3rd despite a little panel rubbing and then immediately hounded Wiggin for 2nd place succeeding in passing on the exit of Paddock. Wasting no time, he latched onto teammate Trott’s tail, the two AB cars doing all they needed to hamper Wiggin’s points score, although they couldn’t help swapping places with a brilliant outside move from Luff at Paddock for the lead, remaining in front to claim his first win of the year. Trott stayed 2nd while Wiggin took a crucial 3rd place with Foden with Brewer right on his tail to the end, with Luke Pullen, Symends, Dore, Matt Pollard and Paul Bateman completing the top 10.
Everything now hinged on the final race of the season with Groups B and C all set to race together in a final 15 minutes that would decide one way or the other who would be the provisional champion. Trott and Allwood, both with a race win each already during this weekend, held the front row together and with Luff in 3rd alongside Comber, everything looked to be weighed in Oliver’s favour. The circuit had now dried significantly but was still a little damp, adding an extra catalyst into the mix - but no-one quite predicted or expected what was about to happen next…
Allwood and Comber ended up side by side heading into Paddock with Comber’s outside line allowing him to power into the lead, but if Allwood thought that was his biggest problem, he was about to get a big shock. Right behind him already playing rear guard were both Fenwick and Luff, but as the leaders approached Druids for the first time Fenwick snatched a break and locked up. This in turn saw him nudge the back of Luff’s car, who then incredibly was pinballed into the rear of Allwood’s car. The contact sent Allwood spinning before his car was then hit from behind by another driver in the pack, which set off an almighty chain reaction as a multi-car pile up ensued at Druids. Incredibly all but one car got away from the incident, albeit with several drivers suffering damage in the process including, crucially, Allwood with a crumpled rear end. Despite this, Oliver was still running for the moment in 21st place as the safety car calmed the pack down, but soon had to make for the pits for the team to look at the damage, while Comber maintained the lead with Trott, Graham, Luff and Fenwick.
The safety car was only brief and on the restart, Trott got a much better drive onto the pit straight and made full use of it to challenge Comber for the lead straight away and steal it at Graham Hill Bend, while Luff wasted no time in powering past Graham for 3rd and Comber for 2nd in the same lap. Luff immediately began pressing teammate Trott as the two AB cars once again quickly pulled away and managed to soon pass Trott to claim the lead before after the leaders came upon an ailing Allwood, who had just rejoined the track after a couple of laps in the pits while his team checked the car over, now down in 29th place.
In the closing stages, three cars dropped off the road in separate incidents at different corners of the circuit, including notably Oliver Graham from what would have been 4th place had he managed to stay on track. This in turn saw the chequered flag thrown early with just a couple of minutes of go, giving Luff the win in the end with Trott in 2nd and Comber finishing 3rd, which in turn ended up allowing Allwood to drop the race score as his worst result and gain enough points back to provisionally claim the 2020 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship title by just two points from Comber - at the moment, anyway! Fenwick finished the final race in 4th ahead of an excellent 5th for Adam Craig, with Luke Pullen and Kian Donaldson finishing 6th and 7th from rookie Zak Oates, Bill Taylor and a stunning drive by Michael Knibbs to go from the back of the grid to 10th.
So, after all the drama that 2020 had already provided, it had to be a dramatic conclusion to the 2020 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship to round off the shortened season. Now all we can do is wait for the appeal to Joe Wiggin’s exclusion to be heard at the National Court to see whether or not it will be overturned and thus if that then changes the points table once again. However, for the moment we say congratulations to Oliver Allwood, the PROVISIONAL champion for 2020! Whatever happens, we’ll be raring to go once again with another season in 2021, when hopefully we can get a full calendar of racing completed - can we have a normal year again, please?
Scott Woodwiss

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