Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres runner-up Steve Whitelegg was left speechless at Silverstone on Monday (November 12) after getting behind the wheel of Rob Austin’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship HMS Racing Alfa Romeo Giulietta.
Having a topped a special prize table which runs separately to the overall championship throughout the 2018 campaign, the Bury-based racer experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity and impressed those in attendance.
Tackling the Northamptonshire venues Grand Prix layout for the first time, Whitelegg also got his first taste of a front-wheel-drive race car by firstly experiencing a number of passenger laps with BTCC race-winner Austin before being unleashed behind the wheel himself.
“This test has been, in a word, awesome!” Whitelegg said. “In every sense of the word the whole experience was awesome, absolutely brilliant. I’m lost for words to be honest, everything was better than I could have even imagined. The braking of the car, the acceleration, the handling and balance, everything was superb.
“I had a spin on my first lap, at The Loop, but I got going again without any problems and then just continued to build and build every lap. Rob [Austin] had told me the left-rear tyre would be cold and, sure enough, it was! I just played myself into it steadily, built up the speed, and by the end I really felt I was on it. The Alfa was handling superbly, the HMS Racing guys have done an amazing job.
“The Becketts sequence is unbelievable in a top-line touring car, I’ve no idea how the F1 drivers go through there like they do. I’d never driven the GP track before, so the experience was incredible – I had visions of Mansell passing Piquet!
“I’m so grateful to Simon [Belcher – DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing team principal], Rob [Austin] and the entire team who were fantastic all day, plus Phil Cooper at Legends of course, for an amazing day I’ll always remember.”
HMS Racing’s Belcher added: “The day went really well and everyone had a great time. Obviously, Steve has been in Legends for a long time and he’s continued to up his game every year, he’s done a great job and really deserved this prize. There were a couple of runs at the start as a passenger, to get a feel for everything and take advice from Rob, and then he had his run.
“He doesn’t have any front-wheel drive experience at all, so to get behind the wheel of a podium-finishing BTCC car for the first time Steve had a lot to learn but got up to speed quickly and did a very good job. He did everything we could have asked, brought the car back in one piece and had a huge smile on his face!”
Also joining Whitelegg at Silverstone to experience a handful of passenger laps with Austin were fellow Legends competitors Sean Smith, Jack Parker and Nathan Anthony who finished second, fourth and fifth in the prize table respectively.
Newly crowned five-time champion John Mickel, who ended the year third in the BTCC prize test table, was unable to attend the event due to work commitments.