Donington Park 13th/14th July 2013

More new winners......

Donington Park saw some of the best racing yet this season in the Mazda MX-5 SuperCup, with such evenly matched cars and drivers it was a fantastic spectacle to watch. Mike Comber had a brilliant weekend to take his first ever win in the SuperCup and then immediately followed that up with his second. They were certainly by no means easy victories though as Sheard, Davies and Clarkson fought him hard all the way and it was impossible to have guessed who would finish in front in either race! The championship points  are now even closer at the top of the table as we edge towards the climax of the season. Full race report below.

Race Report

      

Saturday - Qualifying

Glorious sunshine and blue skies greeted the drivers as they arrived at the Donington Park garages for rounds 12 and 13 of the BRSCC MX-5 SuperCup. The cars would be racing on the National circuit, so were assembled on the not in use Melbourne Loop to get ready for qualifying as the temperatures began pushing into the high 20s. With limited testing available at Donington Park a lot of drivers needed to find their lines as well as put down some meaningful times during the 20 minute session.   

From the green flag Clarkson, Comber and Sheard set the pace for the session, circulating together and exchanging fastest laps for the duration of qualifying. Eventually it was Clarkson who snatched pole position from the others  with a 1.24.7, just 2 tenths faster than Sheard and Comber. Former Dunlop Production Touring Car class B champion Abbie Eaton who was returning to the championship following a year out of the MK3s, put in a brilliant time to give her 4th position on the grid. 

Matt Davies back on circuit with his repaired car after a big shunt at the previous meeting at Cadwell struggled with the set-up of the car and massive oversteer, after only having completed the rebuild of his car the night before. His qualifying efforts put him fifth on the starting grid alongside Will Chappell who was also experiencing major oversteer due to a problem with the handling balance of his car. Following closely behind and heading up the fourth row was newcomer Darren Standing, narrowly outpacing Julian Taylor and Jon Chappell. Andy Davies then Ray Worley rounded out the grid.

During the session a number of lap times were disallowed due to drivers  exceeding the track limits, showing just how hard drivers were pushing. With times across the field being very close, exciting racing looked a certainty for the rest of the weekend!

Race 1 

The first race after the lunch break started at the hottest part of the day, track temperatures soared above 30 degrees in the midday sun and  the drivers were grateful for the open roofs and cooling airflow of the MX-5 MK3s.

As the lights went out, Andrew Clarkson lead from pole into Redgate ahead of Mike comber, with Abbie Eaton tucking into 3rd place. Eaton then edged up to 2nd over the line, taking the place from Comber before later in the lap swapping the place back. This freed up Comber to hunt down and begin a lengthy duel with Clarkson for the lead, running bumper to bumper and changing places many times until a decisive move by Comber at McLeans left Clarkson kicking up dirt. By this time Paul Sheard had begun to slip backwards with braking issues and Davies had made his way up into 3rd in front of Eaton.

Catching Clarkson who was  struggling with a slow puncture, Davies made a move for second at the chicane. Clarkson defended hard on the entry taking a tight line into the first part of the chicane meaning that he then ran wide off onto the dirt at the exit which let Davies get ahead and also allowed Abbie Eaton through and up into 3rd. With Davies now running in clear air he set off in pursuit of Comber who had built up a five second lead but who had also pushed his tyres hard during the earlier battle with Clarkson. By the final lap Davies was right on Combers rear bumper having set fastest lap on the way. Approaching the final chicane on the last lap of the race, Comber was forced to  defend from the hard charging Davies. This compromised Combers line through the corner allowing Davies to get a better run onto the start finish straight and go side by side passed the chequered flag. Comber just held on to take his first SuperCup win by a margin of only 0.07 seconds!

Eaton managed to hold off the recovering Clarkson to take third, meanwhile behind a race long battle between Darren Standing, Will Chappel and Julian Taylor saw Chappel come out on top behind Paul Sheard in 5th.

Sunday - Race 2

Conditions for race 2 early on Sunday morning were much cooler with the skies slightly overcast, allowing the drivers to push their tyres and run at a much faster pace. From the off it was clear that the drivers had had their Weetabix and pole sitter Comber leapt into the lead from Davies who  started alongside him on the front row. The leading 4 of Comber, Davies, Clarkson and the fast starting Sheard began to make a small break from the field with Will Chappell keeping in-touch and threatening to make a group of 5 in the leading bunch. The front four circulated bumper to bumper for lap after lap, with positions changing several times each lap, all four cars running abreast at one point over the start finish line, but Sheard somehow managing to retain the lead at the line most laps.

A mistake by Clarkson through the Old Hairpin while leading the pack saw a hairy moment as he slithered sideways across the track in front of the pursuing three, eventually ending on the grass with the others having narrowily avoided a collision. Davies then lead for a lap before Sheard made a late braking move up the inside into Coppice to once again hit the front, this time pulling a half second gap over Davies and Comber. The chasing two then worked together to close the gap to the leader over the next couple of laps as the minutes ticked away. Just as the chasing duo latched onto the rear bumper of Sheard, he crossed the line  with just 1 second to spare of the 20 minute race, meaning one more final lap of racing.

With Comber and Davies all over Sheard at the line, both managed to slip through at Redgate and down the Craners demoting Sheard to 3rd. Comber then managed to make a break for it, pulling a small gap to Davies while he defended in 2nd. On the last lap Sheard got the better exit from Coppice forcing Davies to hug the inside going into the final chicane. Comber crossed the line to take his second win of the weekend, setting fastest lap on the way with a 1.23.8, just half a tenth off Jim Edwards Jnrs 2011 Mk3 lap record. Sheard and Davies crossed the line together but it was Sheard who took 2nd place at the flag with Davies again losing out by just 0.07 seconds. The action was frantic but clean  throughout, a well judged race by Comber allowing him to clinch the top step on the podium for a second time in the weekend.

Mike Comber's in car video from Race 2: This is the most exciting in-car of the year so far!

A race long battle raged between Ray Worley and Andy Davies for 10th with Worley using his experience to defend and come out on top. Will Chappell who had been right there with the leaders struggled later in the race with tyres going off, while the recovering Clarkson was just beaten by Eaton to the line for 4th who came out ahead in the battle which also included newcomer  Darren Standing. Julian Taylor fended off Jon Chappel after some close racing throughout the 15 lap race. 

                              

Close finishes and clean bumper to bumper racing are fast becoming trademarks of the MX-5 MK3 SuperCup, a great weekend was enjoyed by all the drivers off and on track in the July heat.

Full results from the weekend:  TSL BRSCC SuperCup Results 

 

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