2013 Season Review

The inaugural season of the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Supercup

      

 Following a turbulent off-season at the end of 2012 for MX-5 Mk3 owners, the BRSCC announced a new championship only weeks before the first proposed meeting – The BRSCC MX-5 SuperCup. The aim of the  new championship being to continue the competitive and exciting racing of the now defunct Ma5da Cup into 2013, a championship which had seen drivers such as Rob Boston, Luke Herbert and Chrissy Palmer taking part. Running to the previous years regulations but reverting to the popular Federal RSR tyres, the MX-5 SuperCup kicked off at Castle Combe in March.

Castle Combe (Howard’s Day Meeting) – April 3rd 2013               

Wintry conditions greeted the 7 drivers who had been able to prepare their cars at short notice in time for the inaugural round of the MX-5 SuperCup. Experienced MX-5 racers Andrew Clarkson and Matt Davies set the pace in qualifying ahead of newcomer and then reigning 750MC Locost champion Mike Comber. Will Chappell, Julian Taylor, Simon Fleet and Ray Worley formed the remainder of the grid as the odd snowflake hung in the air.             

The racing at the season opener was to set the tone for the rest of the year, Clarkson and Davies battling from lights to flag, swapping positions virtually every lap with Mike Comber closing them down as he settled into his new car. Clarkson took the opening win from Davies then Comber who all then enjoyed an icy cold parade lap of the circuit in front of the spectators.   

      

A slightly more settled race two saw Davies steal a lead which he held to the flag as Clarkson and Comber battled behind with the rest of the drives giving chase, eventually Clarkson beating Comber to the flag. Although a small grid took part for the opening round, the championship received numerous positive comments from spectators and fellow racers on the quality of the racing and the SuperCup was deemed a fitting addition to the Howards Day meeting.             

Snetterton –20th/21st April               

Round two of the Championship saw 11 drivers make their way to the Norfolk circuit in somewhat warmer conditions than those seen at Castle Combe. The welcome return of Paul Sheard Autos to the championship saw Chrissy Palmer, Justin Newnam and Paul Sheard himself head out for qualifying with Newnam putting in a stunning lap to take pole ahead of Palmer and Clarkson.                   

Chrissy Palmer lead from into the first corner of race one but only two laps in suffered a car issue which sent him bumping across the grass in the circuit infield. This left Clarkson Newnam and Davies to battle it out for the win, with close racing being the order of the day again. A decisive point in the race saw the frontrunners three abreast on the exit of Agostini hairpin, Davies edging into the lead then managing to hold on to the flag for the win ahead of Clarkson. Behind, Paul Sheard in his first outing of 2013 battled with the ever improving Comber, continuing the great racing down throughout the field. Race two was a scrap from lights to flag with five cars running nose to tail, positions swapping each lap. Eventually Clarkson crossed the line ahead of Sheard to take his second win of the season, but with just over 1 second covering the top 4 cars across the line. This would turn out to be far from the closest finish of the year in 2013.            

Anglesey – 11th/12th May                           

Growing grids at Snetterton boosted driver confidence meaning more cars again made the long trip to Anglesey for the triple header SuperCup meeting, despite some drivers being unable to attend.                   

Grey and blustery conditions were set for the weekend and the drivers headed out for qualy in damp conditions. First time out in the wet back on the Federal RSR tyres caught some cars out, with some minor spins in the session. Sheard lined up on pole ahead of Davies then Chappel.       

Race one started dry with everyone getting away cleanly, Sheard making a break at the front from Clarkson. On the first time through Davies ran wide on the exit of Church allowing Chappell through, two laps later Davies ran wide again this time spinning and slithering sideways down the track. Drizzle began to fall and the pace slowed, this allowed Sheard to extend his lead but also gave Davies the chance to claw back some time, steadily catching Clarkson up to the final lap to pip him at the line for second place.                 

Lining up in the order they had finished, now in full wet conditions for race 2, Davies and Sheard streaked away at the front, running nose to tail race long. Sheard finally took the lead using the wide line at the hairpin to get a better drive out of the corner than  Davies and take the win, Comber in third. Battling behind were Chappell, Clarkson and newcomer John Davies who raced hard for the full 20 minutes, crossing the line in a train with Clarkson just ahead. Race three again saw Matt Davies and Sheard pull away in the slippery conditions, Davies leading the race but now wise to Sheards tactics. With just two laps from home he snatched a a front wheel under braking at Rocket and ran widegifting Sheard his third win of the weekend.        

Anglesey proved to be the weekend that the championship battle became a three way affair with Sheard joining Clarkson and Davies as a multiple race winner. 

Cadwell Park - 22nd/23rd June 

A rain affected qualifying allowed Davies to take pole with a quick lap early in the session, with the surface becoming greasy after this some drivers retired to the paddock while others got some valuable wet running with a changeable forecast predicted for another triple header SuperCup weekend.             

In race one Clarkson and Davies ran side by side through the first two corners, Clarkson hanging on the inside line going onto the park straight, with Comber and Sheard in hot pursuit. Shortly after the start rain began to fall heavily affecting visibility for all drivers, Sheard suffering particularly with a misted screen. This allowed Clarkson and Davies to break away while Comber grappled with Sheard. The Federal tyres coped superbly with huge amounts of standing water as did the drivers who all brought the cars home safely in treacherous conditions, Clarkson winning from Davies then Comber.                   

Race two started with a drying track and drivers struggling for grip in places. As the track dried Sheard had worked his way through to the front from 5th ahead of Clarkson and Comber. However the race was cut short following a significant 70 mph off for Davies ending with a heavily damaged car and the race result being called. A testament to the strength of the MX-5 Mk3 is that not only did Davies step out uninjured but thanks to efforts from all the SuperCup paddock offering assistance and spare parts he was able to make it out in the same car for the last race of the weekend just 3.5 hours later.                      

The final race remained dry and a tough battle for second between Clarkson, Comber and Chappell allowed Sheard to move away at the front, Comber eventually getting the better of Clarkson who was then hounded to the line by Chappell. Cadwell was the weekend where Mike Comber began to really hit form and where Matt Davies slipped up in the championship battle. It was also at this point in the year that the BRSCC confirmed they would continue with the new MX-5 SuperCup format in 2014, great news for existing and future drivers.         

Donington Park – 13th/14th July                         

Following a nationwide heat wave, the Donington meeting took place in scortching temperatures and bright sunshine – exactly the weather for close racing in open top sportscars! All drivers look forward to Donington park and as such an ever growing grid of MX-5 Mk3s hit the circuit for qualifying. Clarkson, Sheard and Comber circulated together around the fast Leicestershire circuit going on to take the first three positions followed closely by returning driver Abbie Eaton in her first outing of the year.   

Race one got underway in scorching temperatures Clarkson leading into the first corner. Battle commenced as Comber and Eaton gave chase. Several laps in and brake issues for Sheard saw him slip back down the order meanwhile a mistake by Clarkson allowed Comber to take a commanding lead. As the race went on track temperatures began to take their toll on the tyres with some faring worse than others. Comber at the front was struggling which allowed Davies who had come from 5th to close him down as the laps ticked off. The pair went side by side  up to the flag but it was Comber who took a well-deserved firstSuperCup win. Abbie Eaton took third on her return to MX-5 racing.

      

Race two in slightly cooler conditions was to be one of the fights of the season with the front 4 slugging it out from start to finish, at times nearly three abreast down the start finish straight AND Craner Curves. Sheard lead over the line the most times but didn’t have it his own way elsewhere round the lap, losing out to Comber and Davies after they worked together to catch the leader but then just fighting back to take second behind double winner Comber.           

Brands Hatch – 3rd August 

The ever popular Brands hatch meeting always attracts big grids and this was no exception for the SuperCup. Hot weather and close racing enticed Max5 Racing Championship front runner David Chapman out to join the SupeCup Fun. Qualifying saw Chapman on pole in his Paul Sheard Autos Run Car alongside Sheard himself. With Eaton and Clarkson taking up position on the second row.       

As race 1 got underway Sheard took the lead followed by Chapman and Eaton with Clarkson also hot on their tales. Comber was unlucky at Paddock Hill bend making contact with Britcar racer Clint Bardwell as he spun, knocking his battery connection loose. Sheard led the race until an uncharacteristic engine failure put him out, as well as leaving a streak of oil up the hill to druids. This caught out many of chasing pack with only Chapman making it through unscathed while Clarkson and Chappell spun towards the gravel. This left Chapman to take a comfortable win from Eaton followed by the recovering Clarkson.     

For the second race of the weekend Sheard borrowed Chapman’s car to start from the back and keep his championship hopes alive. This left Eaton on pole and she proceeded to lead from the line and for the majority of the race. A small mistake by Eaton allowed both Clarkson and Sheard by, Sheard making a great recovery drive to finish in second just fractions behind Clarkson at the line. With Matt Davies unable to make the meeting and all the drama on track, Sheard and Clarkson left Brands Hatch separated by only 3 championship points heading to the final round on the fabulous Oulton Park International Circuit. 

       

Oulton Park – 14th September             

Oulton Park was the ideal setting for the Final Round of the 2013 season. With 18 drivers entering to take on the Cheshire circuit in evenly matched cars, the SuperCup had really moved forward since the first meeting at Castle Combe. Sheard lead the championship fight, closely followed by Clarkson and then Davies who still had an outside chance at the title. To make things more interesting both Sheard and Davies could not afford to drop another score each having already had 3 non-scoring rounds .   

Drying conditions meant that qualifying was only going to get quicker and after a few laps Sheard and Comber were heading the time sheets , just 5 laps in and after setting the leading time Comber got out of shape into Shell Oil’s Hairpin ending up partly beached in the gravel under waved yellows. This reduced others pace through this section of track and even with circuit conditions improving elsewhere, Combers time was not bettered. Sheard lined up second ahead of Clarkson then Davies. 

As the lights went out in race one Sheard bogged down off the line while Comber made a great getaway. Two corners in and Clarkson took the lead with Comber down to 4th. This was a lead that Clarkson would hold to the finish but only after having to defend his position all race long from the 3 chasing drivers. It was an epic battle from lights to flag with 6 cars racing nose to tail for the top six positions for the full 20 minute race. At the line just 1.1 seconds covered the top six cars! Paul Sheard coming home in third and Clarkson taking the victory meant that they would go into the final race equal on points.   

The last race of the SuperCup Season began in evening sunshine with Clarkson taking the lead. After some shuffling of positions the race settled down to be far less frantic but no less tense than race one had been. Sheard lead from Davies then Clarkson with each holding a steady gap to the other as the clock ticked down. 2/3 through the race the red flags were shown, necessary to allow the air ambulance from an incident earlier in the day to take off. At this point Sheard looked to have the championship won with the noise curfew looming and little race distance left it looked to be all over. After a short stoppage however, the race was to be restarted. Davies was unable to take up second position following damage after clipping a tyre bale, promoting Clarkson to second alongside Sheard. What followed was a 3 lap dash with six cars scrapping for the win. With Clarkson leading going into the final corner of the final lap Sheard attempted to pass around the outside of lodge, knowing whoever finished ahead would take the championship. Exiting the corner Sheard ended up sideways on the grass with Clarkson also slow off the corner, this allowed Eaton and Comber to cruise passed, Clarkson in 3rd and Sheard demoted to 5th at the line, making Andrew Clarkson the 2013 BRSCC SuperCup Champion. Abbie Eaton’s victory made her the sixth different race winner in seven meetings during the season! 

The nail-biting finish to the year provided a great finale to what had been an epic year of exciting racing and championship progress for the BRSCC MX-5 SuperCup. Congratulations to Andrew Clarkson on winning an extremely hard fought championship battle.

2014 is shaping up to be even better than 2013 for the SuperCup with new drivers and new cars expected to be racing, get in touch with us;

Via the Website www.mx5supercup.co.uk

Twitter www.twitter.com/MX5SuperCup

Forum:  www.forum.brsccmazda.com/categories/supercup-chat

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