The field was made up for all ability levels, ranging from absolute beginners through to experienced and accomplished MX5 competitors. Even the odd veteran by the way of Matt Short and Andy Coombs were on the grid.
Qualifying was dominated by the young but experienced Will Blackwell-Chambers who topped the time sheets from the start of the session. He ultimately put his machine on Pole, a whopping 2 seconds in front of seasoned racer Garry Hufford, who in turn was 1.5 seconds clear of 3rd place starter James Rodgers.
Grid slots 3 – 10 were covered by just 1 second. Martin Tolley, new comer Marco Aghem, experienced podium finisher Ben Short, BC Motorsport prepared Sam ‘Gandy’ Gendy, Andy Coombs, Paul ‘The Kiwi’ Monteith and Stephen ‘Craggy’ Craggs filled the top 10 grid slots respectively.
By the end of lap 3 Tolley was 3 seconds clear of 3rd place man Ben Short who was fighting hard to hold of a charging Rodgers and Hufford. On lap 4 Short made a small mistake to let Hufford and Rodgers through into 3rd and 4th positions.
Further down the field Andy Coombs lead a parade of cars driven by Stephen Craggs, Sam Gendy and Paul Monteith in what was looking like an epic battle for 6th place. Coombs was using his many years of experience and an effective ‘elbows out’ style to defend from Craggy who in turn had his mirrors full and under massive pressure from Gendy. But Gendy was not safe yet and Kiwi Monteith was breathing down his neck keeping him honest.
By the end of lap 5 WBC had afforded himself a 15 second lead over Tolley and Hufford.
At the rear of the field, Italian new comer Marco Aghem was making profitable progress working his way up from 24th on the grid to 17th by lap 7 after a hard fought battle with Nick Le Doyen, Kevin Dengate and David Hart.
Just ahead of them veteran Matt Short and Daniel Stewart were jostling for 10th place.
Craggy succumbed to Gandy’s when he ran wide at the Fogarty Esses and Gandy was able to pressure Coombs until the final lap when stupidly Gandy made the same mistake as Craggy in exactly the same place. This allowed Craggy to take advantage of the situation and climbed back up to 7th leaving Gandy in 8th with just 2 corners to go.
Will B-C made another textbook getaway leaving Hufford and Tolley fighting out for 2nd and Short and Rodgers battling for 3rd.
Hufford was keeping Will B-C honest through the first few corners while defending from a hard charging Tolley. However by the end of lap 3 Ben Short had moved up into 2nd place ahead of Tolley and Hufford. This 3 of them were locked in a position swapping tussle for most of the race which allowed Marco Aghem to close in on the trio.Coombs, Craggy, Gandy and Monteith were locked in a similar frantic duel for 7th. This time however Craggy was too strong for Coombs and on lap 4 he passed him, taking Monteith with him leaving Gandy to try and pressure the wily old fox Coombs into making a mistake.
Meanwhile, back at the front the weekend favorite Will B-C had stretched his lead considerably to 14 seconds. This meant he was pulling away from the pack at a rate of about 2 seconds per lap. An astonishing feat by any racing terms.
Just behind the top 4, Ben Short and Marco Aghem were swapping place several times a lap in an epic hard fought battle for 5th. Not counting Will B=C’s monumental lead, positions 2nd to 5th were cover by just 5 seconds.
At the rear of the field MX5 new boys David Hart, Nick Le Doyen, Stuart McKay, Matthew Chambers and Welsh man Gareth James were all enjoying their first taste of what Mazda MX5 racing is all about.
As the last lap board went out Will B-C’s lead was nearly 15 seconds and neither Tolley, Hufford, Rodgers, Ben Short or the fast closing Italian Aghem couldn’t do anything about the runaway car #43. Behind the top 5, Craggy was holding off Monteith and Andy Coombs was just about able to defend from Gandy who completed the top 10.
Words: The Mobile Journalist 😉
Pictures: Jonathan Elsey (www.jonelseyphotography.photoshelter.com)