2019 Season Review
Updated: Feb 10
The 5 Club MX-5 Cup enjoyed a thrilling season in 2019, to mark the MX-5’s 30th anniversary. From the season opener at Castle Combe on Easter Monday to the final rounds at Oulton Park in October, bustling grids and door to door action was the order of the day. 8 different drivers won races during the season showing just how open the 2019 championship was, over 50 different drivers raced in the championship over the course of 2019. At the end of the season following in the footsteps of Will Blackwell-Chambers, Ben Short and Paul Maguire, it was Ben Hancy who walked away the 2019 champion following 17 rounds of closely fought racing.
It was Ben Short who started the season in fine style winning the first two of three races at Castle Combe on Easter Monday. Short won the first race by just over nine seconds from Paul Bateman, with Ben Abbitt in third. Race two saw Short double up on victories, taking race two by just over a second from Bateman with Ian Tomlinson this time in third. Between races two and three, Short’s car developed a problem, meaning he had to take to the race three grid in another car. Having to start from the back of the grid Short put in one of the performances of the season, going from 28th to 8th by the end of the first lap. Short would finish in third, with Bateman just edging out Hancy by 0.194. Short would not be seen on track again until Donington Park later in the season.
The next three rounds of the championship at Croft, were an early turning point in the championship. Paul Bateman had a car issue in race one which saw him retire and not take part in the rest of the weekend. Hancy won race one with Steve Foden in second and Ian Tomlinson rounding out the podium. Race two saw the same three drivers on the podium, Hancy victorious from Tomlinson, with Foden in third, Jordan Johnson was fourth and a part of the lead battle. Race three was to be Foden’s as he became the fourth different winner in six races. Ben Hancy was in second place 4.313 behind Foden, with Ben Abbitt finishing third taking a second podium of the season.
The championship travelled to the picturesque Anglesey for rounds 7, 8 & 9 as the season reached the halfway mark. Paul Bateman, keen to put a disappointing Croft behind him, took round 7 by 0.25 from Ben Hancy with Steve Foden also in the mix as the top three were the class of the field. A wet second race saw Foden dominate as he took the win by over six seconds, Ben Hancy and Ben Abbitt rounded off the podium. Ian Tomlinson and Jordan Johnson were in close attention and rounded out the top five. The final race at Anglesey saw Bateman take his third win of the season from Foden and Hancy.
The championship travelled to Snetterton for rounds 10 & 11 in Norfolk. Round 10 was run primarily behind the safety car, in tricky conditions Ben Abbitt took his first 5 Club win from Ben Hancy with Paul Bateman third. The tricky conditions saw Jake Dormer take a season best sixth place, in one of the stand out drives of the season. Race two was run in much drier conditions, Abbitt doubled up taking round 11 from Hancy and Bateman. Dan Abbitt had his best finish of the season taking fourth place with Graeme Chatten in fifth. 5 Club regular Bobby Andrews took seventh place, with Lloyd Huggins in ninth, this would be Huggins final race of the season, before being deployed overseas with the Armed Forces.
Brands Hatch, was the next stop on the 5 Club championship tour for rounds 12 & 13. Ben Abbitt sustained an injury between Snetterton and Brands, which would see him sadly miss the rest of the season. Jordan Johnson, in his first full season of 5 Club, took a fantastic victory in the first race, just edging out Ben Hancy by the smallest of margins. Ian Tomlinson rounded out the podium with Richard Baxter in fourth place. Hayden McDonald took a well-deserved fifth, on his return to the championship, having missing the previous three meetings, following an incident at Castle Combe. Round 13 saw another gladiatorial fight back as Ben Hancy started in 29th place to finish on the podium in third place, picking up crucial points along the way. Ian Tomlinson took his first win of the season from Jordan Johnson.
The penultimate round of the season at Donington Park, saw the biggest 5 Club grid of 2019 with 35 cars out racing, including some notable guest drivers. Former champion Will Blackwell-Chambers topped off the list of guest drivers with Mike Comber, Tom Smith and Ben Simms all out racing. The guest drivers would not be eligible for points but they still would race just as hard. It was the guest driver Comber who won the first race with Blackwell-Chambers in second and the returning Ben Short in third. Race two saw Short take his fourth win in six races as he took victory by just under a second from Blackwell-Chambers with Hancy in third.
The championship was still up for grabs at the final meeting of the season at Oulton Park on the Island circuit. Ben Hancy put in a champion’s performance when it was needed taking pole position, two wins and two fastest laps. Hancy cantered away in race one, winning by nearly six and a half seconds with Bateman in second and Jordan Johnson in third. Dan Blake took a season best fifth place, closely followed in sixth by Matthew Short, in his first meeting since Castle Combe. Adrian Johnson was eighth, with Kevin Dengate rounding out the top ten. The final race of the season saw Hancy take his fourth win of the season with Jordan Johnson and Ian Tomlinson in third. Tomlinson only just took third with Dengate just a tenth behind in fourth. Bateman took seventh place in a car which had sustained damage in a first corner incident, but bravely brought the car home to the checkered flag.
When all 17 rounds were over and done it was Hancy who took the championship by 48 points after dropped scores. The battle between second and fourth in the championship was intense, with just eight points separating three drivers. It was Tomlinson who took second in the championship with 1326 points, fighting off Jordan Johnson by just five points, with Bateman a further three points behind, Graeme Chatten rounded out the top five in the championship, with Adrian Johnson sixth, Dan Blake seventh, Stephen Robinson eighth, Stephen Reed ninth and Dan Abbitt in tenth.
The 2019 season saw a mix of experienced MX-5 drivers go head to head with a class of new, fast, hungry MX-5 rookies, pushing the experienced drivers to the limits and then some. The 2019 season produced fantastic racing, the future looks bright for 2020 with the 2019 rookies having a year under their belt, the experienced drivers looking to show they are still on top and another new class of 2020, looking to emulate their 2019 counterparts and show they are not their just to make up the numbers. The first two rounds of the 5 Club MX-5 Cup begin again at Castle Combe on Easter Monday, we hope you can join us.