Routec Racing and RAW Motorsports prevail in the Birkett Six Hour Relay

Routec Racing’s BMW Compacts won a dramatic six-hour relay from Birkett and took the lead from sister team BMW Triers in the last 30 minutes at the unusually warm Silverstone.

The handicap trophy was, as always, the top prize at the endurance classic and the Routec Compact team was the seventh different leader to appear in the half-hourly bulletins. Not included, however, were previous doubles winners The Three Amigos, who also launched compacts as the crew had done for their 2019 and 2020 successes. Paul Hinson had a violent retirement at Copse, causing one of six safety car periods, while multiple Hot Hatch Champion David Drinkwater’s version regularly overheated, leaving much of the driving to Adam Read.

The Routec crew was luckier, however, as their plan to finish the race with just two pit stops proved flexible. “They sorted me out because I’m a bit too slow and now sent out a fast guy, Martin Gadsby,” admitted Martin Roche in the final hour of the race. That change could have proved crucial as the Compacts – with Colin Whitehouse also part of the lineup – were just 24 seconds clear.

A squad of MR2 Roadsters – Lock Stops & Two Smoking Tires – led by Adam Lockwood, winner of the championship race, along with Jim Mew and Danny Bryant, took second place after leading by a three-quarters distance. The best of several teams consisting of CALM All Porsche Trophy regulars – Dads and Their Lads (Daniel Crego with the McHugh and Walker families) completed the podium and also took a class win. Last year’s winner, now known as RAF Team Flywheel, was classified just 48th after a series of problems for the team’s cars. They lost the inter-service battle to RAF team Per Ardua, who finished sixth overall.

The early front runner, MX-5 based Team Red Rascal (who won competing in M3s in 2018) lost a number of laps when one of their members was disqualified for a flag violation, while Triple A’s Racing only ran strong midway through the race , to get it re-handicapped for using slicks. Another MX-5 team, Mazda Misfits, led three of the 12 intermediate standings but finished fifth.

The Scratch win went to the RAW team aboard Radical SR3s

Photo by: Steve Jones

The battle for the Scratch honors was equally intriguing, although only four Radical-based teams stood a realistic shot at victory in a race riddled with reliability and penalties.

The fastest of the teams – as evidenced by the fastest lap set by 2020 winner Shane Stoney – was Doris NWH’s team, which also included Roger Bromiley, Mark Williams and Ryan Harper-Ellam. This crew led the first four hours, after which a gearbox problem on one car and a spool problem on another left the team temporarily with just one working SR3.

Despite this, Stoney was able to take the team home in second place, benefiting when RJ Motorsport 1 had to serve a stop/go penalty for a yellow flag violation minutes after Wade Eastwood had taken the lead and minutes before scheduled end of the race. This crew – also featuring Alastair Smart and Charles Graham – had only been sixth after the wet first half hour but moved up as others struggled. The trio eventually finished third, continuing a streak of seven podiums for Graham.

However, the winner was RAW Motorsports – Rob’s Wronguns, with Chris Preen taking the checkered flag in his Radical SR3 XX. Despite two split penalties, the team – which also included John Macleod and Ben Stone in SR3 RSX – emerged 20 seconds clear.

Cadwell Park CSCC: Webb/Watson and Nuttall share seven wins

Stephen Nuttall flew high in the Magnificent Sevens

Stephen Nuttall flew high in the Magnificent Sevens

Photo by: Mick Walker

In challenging conditions at Cadwell Park, Rich Webb chased Stephen Nuttall to claim a Magnificent Sevens win for himself and Dave Watson before Nuttall hit back in the sprint race. Watson led away on a slippery stretch but polesitter Nuttall crashed into Hall Bends. Watson’s Spire RB7 then shadowed the leading Caterham Supersport until a spin cost him about 15 seconds.

With the pit stops completed, Nuttall now held a 13 second lead over Webb with less than half of the 40 minute race remaining. A series of fast laps by Webb on the drying track closed the gap and as Nuttall tried and failed to react to worn rain tires Webb swept up the field on the final tour at Coppice. “I didn’t have much left to give,” Webb said. Behind the leaders, Tim Davis used a few spins to give John Cutmore’s second Spire a third place finish.

The sun shone through for the 20-minute sequel and Nuttall was ‘on a mission’ after switching to dry tyres. After chasing Watson while his rubber got up to temperature, last year’s Caterham Seven UK champion passed the park straight and then pulled away to a 30-second victory. Watson struggled with wet tires, a nosecone-damaging trip to oil on the gooseneck didn’t help. Cutmore also suffered from the oil, once again losing third place to Davis.

Tom Mensley returned to Tin Tops after recent Modern Classics outings and claimed his first win of the year. His Renault Clio took Adam Brown’s Ford Fiesta ST through the early corners before Brown got the upper hand. With a 30-second penalty, Brown built up a 7-second lead over as many laps before Mensley pitted.

Tom Mensley won Tin Tops at the wheel of his Renault Clio

Tom Mensley won Tin Tops at the wheel of his Renault Clio

Photo by: Mick Walker

Both crews managed super-fast turnarounds, but Brown came out nearly 20 seconds back. He was 12 seconds down when the checkered flag flew five minutes early after a huge explosion for John Ridgeon’s Clio. John Hammersley and Nigel Tongue (VW Scirocco) prevailed in the Clio 197 driven by Tom Oatley and James Joannou
simultaneous Turbo Tin Tops.

On his first visit to the circuit, Connor Kay overcame a penalty to win Group 1 of the Swinging Sixties by battle. That left Kay’s MG Midget ahead of James Hughes’ Austin-Healey Frogeye Sprite. The pair traded the lead but a delay when the Spite refused to restart cost the flawless Hughes much of his theoretical pit stop advantage. Kay locked it and rushed to victory in traffic.

In the fading light, Stephen Pickering (Sunbeam Tiger) led the early stages of Group 2 but his 30 second penalty saw him fall behind Dean Halsey’s Datsun 240Z. Halsey had been chased by Group 1 Gast Watkinson in the opening stint before a slow pit stop and traffic cost the Mini driver. Likely competitors – albeit facing penalties – Jamie Keevill (Lotus Elan S2) and Jon Wolfe (TVR Tuscan V8) were each edged out by driveshaft and differential failures.

The lead alternated back and forth in a combined Modern Classics and Future Classics race. But after clearing the road, Martyn and Rob Adams’ Triumph TR7 V8 eventually had the legs of Shaun Ely’s sprightly Peugeot 205 GTI. Clinton Ewen (BMW M3 E36) was honored at Modern Classics.

Cambrian Rally: First BRC victory heralds changes

Skoda driver Ruairi Bell led the BRC runners in Wales

Skoda driver Ruairi Bell led the BRC runners in Wales

Photo: Jakob Ebrey

Six laps down in the British Rally Championship, only two drivers had won in the 2022 season. But with both winners – champion Osian Pryce and runner-up Keith Cronin – opting to skip the series finale, there would be a chance for a new breed of BRC stars to shine at last weekend’s Cambrian Rally.

Whoever scored maximum points in the world-class North Wales forests would be first-time BRC winners and while the champions had been decided in Yorkshire in September, much was at stake for BRC1 hopes. Oliver Solberg, driver of the Axed Hyundai World Rally Championship, would also contest the event in a Volkswagen Polo R5 and thus provide the series competitors with the perfect benchmark.

Two closed-road tarmac tests in the darkness on Friday night added a twist to the event and while Solberg secured the lead, it was Skoda Fabia driver Garry Pearson who led the BRC crews after stage one.
But when the clocks stopped at Saturday morning’s first gravel test, it was fellow Skoda driver Ruairi Bell who had stormed to the lead after Pearson struggled in the rain-soaked conditions.

Like the other crews, Bell and co-driver Max Freeman struggled with the wet stages but largely stayed out of trouble to enjoy an 11-second lead over Pearson heading into the final stage of the morning loop. However, Pearson did not get out of the Penmachno test after damaging his steering.

Solberg was on the road for almost two minutes at the finish and with a rather meager national start, Bell was able to ride to his maiden BRC win. “It’s been such a difficult weekend on the stages and we’ve now had three podiums under our belt so to end our year with a win is just fantastic,” said a delighted Bell.

“It was a phenomenal season for us [in the BRC] and we’ve progressed with every single rally. I’m really looking forward to continuing to grow and improve and see what next season brings.”

Johnnie Mulholland took the Junior BRC win as his rivals faltered

Johnnie Mulholland took the Junior BRC win as his rivals faltered

Photo: Jakob Ebrey

Second place went to Junior BRC Champion Eamonn Kelly, who made his R5 gravel debut on BRC1 machines in a Polo R5. A trouble-free run was rounded off with the fastest overall stage time at the final test to give the Irishman a confident result.

For James Williams in his Hyundai i20 R5 it was a rollercoaster ride of a rally. Boost pipe issues on Friday night cost him almost two minutes before hitting back with three fastest BRC times on Saturday morning as the event switched to gravel. But a bale impact and more turbo issues hampered any further chargeback and he was lucky to cross the finish ramp at Llandudno with a BRC podium third.

The Junior BRC would also have a new winner thanks to Kelly’s entry into the R5 machinery, but it was an attrition rally for the youngsters. Early leader Fraser Anderson was forced to retire with engine problems on his Fiesta Rally4 ahead of Saturday’s opener and Ioan Lloyd did not make it out of the second race at Brenig with a driveshaft failure on his Peugeot 208 Rally4. With that, Johnnie Mulholland in his Fiesta landed his first Junior BRC win and secured second place overall.

Reports by Ian Sowman, Mark Paulson and Matt Cotton. Photography by Steve Jones, Mick Walker and Jakob Ebrey Photography. Interested in more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly motorsport issue again with Autosport Magazine

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