Donington Race Report

Will Blackwell-Chambers Dominates Opening Meeting of “5 Club Racing” MX5 Cup
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Some 24 Mazda MX5 racers descended on a sunny Donington Park for the maiden meeting of the newly formed 5Club Racing MX5 Cup. A newly formed series aimed at offering close and exciting club level motorsport without unrealistic budget requirements. And close and exciting racing is exactly what we got……

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
The 20 minute session was a frantic affair as the MX5s shared the circuit with the Tegiva Civic Cup. This meant 40 cars of varying speeds were fighting for clear track to set an ultimate lap time.
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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.

Race 1
Superstar Pole man Will Blackwell-Chambers made a textbook start off the line and entered Redgate ahead of Hufford, Rodgers, Tolley and Ben Short, who were in a bumper to bumper freight train all the way up to McLeans. Tolley took advantage of Hufford’s and Rodger’s squabble to slip past them both in a gutsy maneuver to climb into second place.
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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.

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Will Blackwell-Chambers won comfortably with a gap of nearly 20 seconds over Tolley in 2nd. Hufford took 3rd ahead of Rodgers and Short. Coombs managed to hold off Craggy and Gandy who finished 6th, 7th and 8th respectively. The Flying Kiwi Monteith finished 9th and Matt Short rounded up the top 10.
Race 2
Our second and final race of the day saw WBC on Pole again from Hufford, Rodgers and Tolley with Italian Marco Aghem and Ben Short rounding up row 3.
Will B-C made another textbook getaway leaving Hufford and Tolley fighting out for 2nd and Short and Rodgers battling for 3rd.
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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.

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Matt Short had made a great start too and was closing in on the Gandy v Coombs battle and BMW Compact race series organizer Paul McErlean seemed to be having great fun with Kevin Dengate for positions 14th and 15th.

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.

The “5 Club Racing” MX5 cup was certainly delivering its promise of close and exciting racing with position swapping tussles taking place throughout the field.
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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.

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Alyn Robinson the “5 Club Racing” founder/director said he was overwhelmed by the success and the amount of fun that competitors had during the 1st meeting and cannot wait for the next race weekend.
Martin Tolley received driver of the day award which was voted for by the marshals of the circuit.
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Rounds 3 & 4 take place at Brands Hatch in Kent on Saturday 26th April.

Words: The Mobile Journalist 😉
Pictures: Jonathan Elsey (www.jonelseyphotography.photoshelter.com)

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