Donington Park, the home of the 750 Motor Club, welcomed the 2015 season with a busy weekend which saw sun, wind, rain and hail but drivers, marshals and officials fought on through all the weather to bring an action-packed weekends racing. Owen Hunter starred in the second Gaz Shocks Compact Cup race.
With so many cars taking part, the group system was in place for the Compacts so front-runners James Gornall and Steve Roberts weren’t part of the second race. After a quick getaway former MR2 champion Paul Hinson led the way but didn’t have the pace to live with the leaders so fell back to fourth.
David Drinkwater then headed the pack but Hunter made his move to lead on the penultimate lap and was not going to allow anyone to get back ahead of him. Therefore, he took his maiden victory in the Compact Cup in his third year of trying. It was an emotional win for the youngster and his Dad Dave as they could finally celebrate a win after lots of hard work and dedication.
Hunter may have taken the headlines but 2013 champion Roberts took the two other races. He always made the best start and no one could find their way ahead of the former Formula Ford expert. Mike Tovey was the chaser in race one and Gornall in the third.
The Premier Choice Group 750 Formula Championship had a cracking opening race with a three-way tussle for the victory. Pole man Bill Cowley (Cowley Mk4) battled with David Bartholomew (PRS 1B) in the early stages in a slipstreaming brawl. He fell away in the second half allowing Robin Gearing (Darvi P88) to dice with Bartholomew. It came down to a sprint to the line as Gearing carried more speed through the chicane lapping backmarker and was able to come out on top.
Cowley drove a dominant opening three laps but pitted into retirement with a strong lead in the second encounter. Gearing then led as Bartholomew was hampered with a slow start and spin at Coppice. Bartholomew cut a thirteen second gap down to five at the flag. Mick Harris (Darvi 877) was best of the rest in third. Dick Hartle (Tristesse Mk7) took both class B wins.
Tim Gray (Spire GT3) was dominant in the tricky conditions that greeted both Spire Sportscars Bike-Sports races. He won by 47 seconds in the opening contest with his closest competitors having offs. Philip Cooper (Radical PR6) came from fourth to second on the final lap to claim second as he used his Autograss experience on the slippery circuit. Bob Scanlon (Radical SR3) came third and won class A with Tim Porter (SR3) behind. James Breakell (PR6) took fifth despite a spin during a fantastic drive from the back of the grid.
A start-line incident halted the start of race two when Oliver Cox (Radical SR4), who had a fantastic run in the first encounter, stalled and was collected by John Prickett (SR3) and Scott Mittell (Mittell MC-52B). When the action restarted Gray stormed from eighth, due to the reverse grid, to lead by Redgate. He went on to win by 57 seconds. Cooper and Will Brown (PR6) joined him on the podium. Mark Conroy (PR6) was the winner in class A. Being the only class C competitor Julian Griffiths (Spire) won the class both times. Mittell and Peter Lague (Spire) shared class D honours.
A mistake on the seventh lap stopped Adam Shepherd from winning the opening Tegiwa Imports Civic race. He still claimed second with an incredible performance in his first competitive car outing. That allowed Danny Winstanley to take the victory with Stock Hatch graduate Carl Swift in third after a race-long battle with Mini ace Endaf Owens.
Carnage at the Old Hairpin saw many drivers take to the grass at the start of the reverse grid contest and Bernard Galea came out on top with a four second lead. Winstanley and Swift worked at that gap though and headed the race by the third lap. Swift was unable to find a way ahead of the TVR man and a trip through the gravel cemented Winstanleys double victory. Shepherd came through to third after passing Galea on the eighth tour. Mark Anderson took both class A wins.
Shaun Traynor won for the first time in the Millers Oils Toyota MR2 Championship and replicated it in the second contest. Kristian White fell off on lap four allowing Stuart Nicholls to take second in race one with Miles Hodgson third. Nicholls was leading in the second contest but contact between him and Traynor at McLeans saw Nicholls plummet through the gravel but he fought back to fourth and still won class C both times. Hodsgon and White finished on the podium in race two with Dave Hemingway and Trevor Cooper sharing class A victories.
The opening SR & GT Challenge / Bernie’s V8’s encounter was a fascinating affair with Cheng Lim’s Cobra, Tim Davis’ Tuscan and John Plant’s Allard all being strong in different areas. Plant and Lim traded places until Plant had to limp into the pits with a puncture and Davis didn’t quite have enough straight-line speed to pass Lim but claimed the win in race two. Julian Bailey-Watts (Ford Falcon Sprint) took third in the opening battle after a good dice with Eike Wellhausen (Lister Jaguar Knobbly) and William Toye (Triumph TR8). Toye took third in race two behind Lim.
The 45 minute Cartek Electronics Roadsports Endurance Series race was struck with three Safety Car periods. A four coming together at Redgate caused the first lengthy one followed by oil and Matt Cherrington’s BMW Z3, which led with Martin Gambling, came to a stop in a dangerous place. Allan Gibson (Lotus Exige) utilised the Safety Car best and came out on top with the Jones brothers MR2 in second after Owen Fitzgerald and Daniel Wylie (BMW M3) were excluded for overtaking under yellow flags. Aaron Harding and David Salter (Renault Clio 172) took third overall and first in class B.
James Rogers (Mazda MX5) won class C.
The Ariel Atoms of Martin James and Nick Whitehead excluded in both Protech Sports Specials races which meant Stephen Ward (Westfield Aerorace) and Anton Landon (Cyana Duratec) took a race apiece. Both won their class in each encounter. Ward fought Stephen Lansley (Procomp LA Gold) in the opener with Ward taking the challenge to Landon in the second encounter. Lansley and John Moore (Arrow 2) chased them. Adrian Cooper (Procomp LA Gold) and Martin Buckland (RAW Striker) won a race each in class B.
Lee McNamara beat Ian Allee in the opening Demon Tweeks / Yokohama Locost race after favourites Danny Andrew and Stuart Sellars retired. Sellars didn’t get off of the line but won race two with Andrew following him home after an early off. Martin Wellard took third in the opening encounter after a typical slipstreaming battle ahead of David Jones in by far his best showing.
Ben Short took both 5Club Racing MX5 races, beating Will Blackwell-Chambers on both occasions. Favourite Brian Chandler was not a feature due to engine issues which caused two DNFs. Sam Gendy and Jason Greatrex took a third apiece.
Christian Pederson (Austin 7) was dominant in the 750 Trophy race. Martin Kemp (Racekits Merlin) beat Michael Harvey (JB Special) after a great dice between the pair. Gregan Thruston (Austin 7) claimed class A honours.