After our opening round at Donington last month was cancelled due to snow, it was good to finally get to race in the 750MC Toyota MR2 championship at Brands Hatch last weekend.
We had a massive entry – 41 cars in total were on the entry list and all of us had to share the track for qualifying on the Sunday morning. That number is way in excess of the grid limit for racing, though, and we were therefore split into three groups to leave each of us being in two out of three races. Groups were selected sort-of based on qualifying times and I was to be in Race 2 and 3.
Unlike many other race cars I’ve driven, the MR2 still has its handbrake and on the sloping grid at Brands it enabled me to make a couple of the best starts I’ve ever managed. I got passed one of the Mk1s in the first lap and then found myself behind a Mk2 that I had already chased in qualifying. I wasn’t able to catch him though and so spent the rest of the race defending my place against those I had got away from at the start. The race was curtailed with a car stranded in the Paddock Hill gravel trap too close to the track to safely be removed. I finished 21st out of 26 starters, 13th in Class B. Full in-car from Race 1:
For my second race I made another decent start and at Graham Hill bend, a wayward Class A car delayed a few other cars in front of me, giving me an advantage which I took to pass a fellow Rogue Class B car. I didn’t do such a good job of defending this time though and a couple of fluffed gear changes meant I lost places to a pair of Class A cars who had spent several laps of frustration behind me. I finished the second race 23rd out of 27 starters, 12th in class, but with a fastest lap improved by 0.8 over qualifying. Full in-car from Race 2:
I was also delighted to meet Natalia Madlene who is employed as digital media producer by championship title sponsors Gala Performance. A Canon user like myself, this was to be her visit to Brands Hatch and was struggling to find places where she could record the images she needed while having to work “outside of the wire”, ie: without a media pass. She is well travelled and has an amazing eye – visit her portfolio to see examples of her work.
Our next races are at Mallory Park on 20th May, but I have another race coming up the weekend before which I will reveal shortly…
In stark contrast to the previous weekend – where the 750MC Toyota MR2 races, along with all other races, were cancelled due to the weather – I left Oulton Park on Saturday evening with two 4th-place finishes, by best ever in four seasons of racing in the BRSCC Porsches.
Here’s my complete in-car footage from the first of the two races. A crash just after turn 1 between four of the Class A Boxsters led to a safety car period which allowed me a chance to catch right up with Hugh Peart in the blue car and I tried my best to keep up with him – and a few goes at passing him – for the rest of the race. Sadly his defending was too good and he was able to keep his podium place.
Sadly I made an even worse start to Race 2 and was only able to get past the tail-enders but with Gavin Johnson cruelly DNF for a second time in a row, I still finished 4th.
Donington – and the first round of the 750MC Toyota MR2 Championship – turned out to be a bit of a let-down instead of the warm welcome it was supposed to be for my new sponsor for this season. Alongside AMPS Ltd., Rogue Motorsport had stickered up the car with the WeShield logo and although the cars were able to complete their qualifying session, considerable snowfalls meant the meeting was cancelled before any actual races took place.
The car peformed fautlessly during our short qualifying session – on a mostly dry track – but it was discovered quickly afterwards that its alternator had failed so the Rogue mechanics were quickly under the car fitting a replacement. Some juggling of the programme meant that just as some drivers had sat down to lunch we were called to the assembly area, where we sat for the best part of 3/4 hour while the Donington and MSA officials decided whether it would be safe to race. I can’t say I blame them for cancelling the meeting as with temperatures hovering around 0C, what snow was falling on the track had a tendancy to freeze. Whether the meeting gets resheduled for later in the season, we will just have to wait and see.
WeShield is a new range of car anti-theft products and their first product to market is an RFID key fob pouch that prevents the immobiliser code from being read by anyone while the key is away from the car. WeShield aim to launch other theft-prevention products in the coming year.
Meanwhile the key fob pouch is available from eBay for very little money given the peace of mind it brings.
For the first time, I will be competing for almost the entire 2018 season in the 750MC Toyota MR2 Championship, driving the same car Rogue Motorsport provided for me to drive in last year’s Birkett Relay at Silverstone.
As with last season, clashes between the BRSCC Porsche Championship and the Dunlop Britcar Endurance Championship – both of which I media manager for – meant I wouldn’t be limited to a maximum participation of four rounds in the 924, leaving me with a rather thin race season. But by complete chance, only two of the MR2 rounds clash, and I have opted to take part in the remaining six.
I’ve had a long association with Rogue Motorsport and their chief mechanic Matthew Wishart said: “We’re really pleased that Chris has joined us for the 2018 MR2 Championship season. We’ve worked with him in the past as he’s used our cars for driver training, as well as being part of our triumphant [Creventic] 24hr GT86 squad. This is the first time we’ve run him for a Championship campaign and we’ll provide him with all the support he needs to aim for the front of the grid.”
Patrick Mortell, managing director of Rogue Motorsport and MR2 Championship coordinator: “Chris has a lot of involvement in Motorsport, notably in media for both Britcar and the Porsche Driver’s Association so where he chooses to race is significant. We’re thrilled to count him amongst our competitors and wish him every success in the forthcoming season.”
Continuing their support for my racing are Northampton-based stage and theatrical sound and lighting equipment hire company AMPS UK Ltd. Their managing director Paul Alexander said: “AMPS are proud to be sponsoring Chris for his forthcoming season with the 88 Racing team. We look forward to seeing the on-track action and watching his progress through the rounds of both series.”
Another company has chosen to support my racing this season and I’ll be posting another story about them – and their interesting new product – shortly.