Touring car stars set the scene for double bill of tin-top thrills

The stars of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship and several of its support categories descended on Thruxton today (17 April) for a key test ahead of a tantalising double helping of the UK’s premier motor racing series over the coming months.

For the first time since 2007, Thruxton will play host to the BTCC twice this season – on 18-19 May and 16-18 August. As the fastest circuit in the country – with speeds reaching an eye-watering 160mph through the quickest sections – the popular Hampshire track presents a unique challenge. That means every opportunity to put miles on the clock is precious – and between them, the 29 touring car drivers in attendance today logged more than 1,200 laps.

Whetting the appetite for the forthcoming race meetings, fans enjoyed free entry to the test to watch their tin-top heroes in action – and if the drivers’ awe-inspiring commitment through Thruxton’s flat-out sweepers is anything to go by, spectators are in for a real treat come May and August.

Halfords Yuasa Racing star Dan Cammish was arguably the most committed of all, setting a scintillating pace in the morning session that nobody could match in the afternoon. More than three tenths-of-a-second under the existing lap record, the Yorkshireman led a Honda Civic 1-2-3 at the top of the timesheets, ahead of BTC Racing’s Chris Smiley and Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance ace Rory Butcher.

In evidence of just how close and intense the competition is in the BTCC, less than one second blanketed the gaggle of cars from Butcher in third all the way back to Stephen Jelley in 20th – setting the scene for six sensational races.

“I always enjoy coming to Thruxton,” enthused Cammish, the series’ reigning Jack Sears Trophy Champion. “It’s a lot of fun to drive and Honda has historically gone well round here. It’s a bit of a home track for us too, so it’s fantastic to have two race weekends this year.

“Thruxton is well-known as the fastest circuit in the country, and it feels every bit of it when you’re driving round. No matter how many laps you’ve done, Church corner never gets boring – it’s always an adventure. It’s enjoyable enough to drive on your own – but when you’re in a pack of 30 cars, it becomes a challenge like no other…”

More high-profile names at the test included defending title-holder Colin Turkington (sixth overall), current championship leader and Thruxton instructor Josh Cook from nearby Bath (seventh), Hampshire’s own Rob Collard (12th), five-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton’s brother Nicolas Hamilton (24th) and former F1 podium-finisher Mark Blundell (28th).

Making his BTCC debut this year, the 1992 Le Mans 24 Hours winner is still finding his feet in the series and adapting to its famously cut-and-thrust, doorhandle-to-doorhandle nature. He admitted that he also needed to re-adjust to Thruxton’s particular demands, having not driven the track for more than three decades…

“Thruxton is pretty unique as a circuit, and I think everybody really enjoys coming here,” said Blundell. “It’s a one-off – there’s nowhere else like it in the world. It’s flat-out and the lap just unfolds in front of you, with extremely challenging corners like Church that call for maximum commitment. It’s a remarkable place. You get a slot of slipstreaming in the races – which is vital for the drivers and very exciting for the fans.”

In addition to the BTCC, leading lights from the F4 British Championship – the Formula 1 stars of the future – the Ginetta Junior Championship for prodigiously talented 14-to-17-year-olds and the Ginetta GT5 Challenge took to the track, offering a glimpse of the wide variety of entertainment to be enjoyed later this year.

Advance tickets for the two Thruxton BTCC race meetings are available from just £13 for Saturday entry and £29 for Sunday. Accompanied children aged 12 and under will be admitted free of charge.

For further information or to buy tickets, see (May), (August) or call 01264 882222.

For more information on Thruxton’s race meetings and driving experiences, visit:

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TOCA support championships star at Brands Hatch

Brands Hatch played host to a memorable two days of racing on the TOCA support package this past weekend (April 6/7), with a raft of show-stealing performances across all championships.

Taking centre stage alongside the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, five categories produced  spell-binding edge-of-the-seat entertainment amid the challenging conditions.

Showcasing the next generation of motorsport talent aged between 14 and 17, the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship was back and better than ever with a pair of pulsating encounters wowing those in attendance.

Richardson Racing’s James Taylor edged a thrilling season-opener as he pipped debutant Zak O’Sullivan to the chequered flag by little over half a second, whilst 2018 Winter Series champion James Hedley rounded out the podium.

Race two saw Tom Emson emerge victorious from a nail-biting race which ultimately saw the top three covered by a mere 0.133. Narrowly missing out on the win was Hedley and Lorcan Hanafin, who had led a majority of the race.

The final season of the Renault UK Clio Cup began with Max Coates reigning supreme, enjoying a near-perfect weekend as he bagged a pair of pole positions and race wins. After topping the times in qualifying, the Team HARD driver converted his front row start into a lead that he would never lose as he led Jack Young and Brett Lidsey.

Young would be the winner on the road in the second race of the weekend but was later penalised after falling foul of rules regarding braking under the safety car. Despite having dominated proceedings, Young was issued a one-second time penalty, handing the win to Young whilst Lidsey once again bagged a podium.

In the Millers Oils Ginetta GT4 Supercup triple-header; Reece Somerfield, Harry King and the returning Will Burns took a win each to set up a tantalising year of on-track action.

Spoils were also shared in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB as two of the pre-season favourites, Dan Harper and George Gamble, set their stalls out as credible title contenders with a win each – Harper the one that finished the weekend on top of the standings.

Capping off the weekend’s racing was a trio of races from the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost, with the spoils being shared between Sebastian Alvarez, Luke Browning and Louis Foster who each took a win apiece.

From the full classification of results, click here.

All five TOCA support championships now head to Donington Park for the next event of the season, taking place on April 26/27.

Ginetta Juniors look to take centre stage at Brands Hatch opener

The next generation of UK motorsport talent is set to take centre stage at Brands Hatch this weekend (April 6/7) as the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship roars back into life with a bumper 24-car entry list.

Never short of entertainment on the TOCA support package and open to drivers aged between 14 and 17, the one-make tin-top category has become the ideal environment for youngsters to transition from karting into cars, and reap the benefits that come with it.

With the likes of current McLaren F1 star Lando Norris and BTCC runner-up Tom Ingram products of the Ginetta Junior programme, this years crop of aspiring superstars will be keen to make their mark and follow in their footsteps.

Of the 24 cars taking to the grid for the opening two rounds, just nine of them have experience in the series. Winter Series champion James Hedley will be one to watch in his Elite Motorsport G40, as will Lorcan Hanafan and Gus Burton – two drivers that ran Hedley close last November.

The remaining second-season competitors include former Scholarship winner James Taylor, Will Martin, Harry Dyson, Tom Emson, Ethan Hawkey and Ben O’Hare – and all will be looking to make experience count, especially in the early running.

Several drivers will take their first tentative steps into the world of car racing around the iconic Kent circuit however none of them should be written off, with many of them holding credible backgrounds in karting and other disciplines.

Casper Stevenson, Freddie Tomlinson and Will Rochford and just three of several first-time racers that will be keen to make their mark.

Frankie Taylor meanwhile will step across from the Junior Saloon Car Championship and bid to build on his encouraging pre-season pace.

The same can also be said for Ethan Brooks who is on the grid virtue of winning the Ginetta Junior Scholarship. Brooks is no stranger to the British Automobile Racing Club either after being a standout performer in the British Schools Karting Championship in 2017 and 2018, winning the title with Brentwood School on both occasions.

For more information on the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship’s opening event, including links to timetable and live timing, click here.

TOCA support championships make a splash in Scotland

The annual trip north of the border to Knockhill for four TOCA support championships proved to be a blockbuster one as treacherous conditions spiced up the on-track thrills even further this past weekend (August 25/26).

As the season heads towards an enthralling climax, every point that is on offer is becoming ever-more pivotal and that proved to be plain to see as the undulating Fife circuit marked the latest stop on the calendar.

Last in action at Snetterton, the Porsche Carrera Cup GB contingent were back with Dan Harper emerging as the driver many were talking about come the end of the weekend. Storming to pole position on Saturday, the Scholarship winner then splashed his way to a second win of the season in race one.

Harper wasn’t to have things his own way as he had to fight his way back into the lead after making a small mistake earlier in the race. The Northern Irishman capitalised on an error at the hairpin made by Lewis Plato to retake a lead he would ultimately not lose again.

Race two would see George Gamble score victory, producing a controlled lights-to-flag performance however Harper was once again making a name for himself after producing a mesmerising drive to finish second. In the standings, a quiet weekend for points leader Dino Zamparelli has seen his series lead cut to just four points with Tio Ellinas hot on his heels.

Louis Foster was in unstoppable form in the Ginetta Junior Championship as he stormed to a brace of race wins. Picking up where he left off at Rockingham, the rookie held off title rivals Luke Browning and Adam Smalley to bring himself further into play in the title battle, closing to within 44 points of the standings summit.

Shane Stoney replicated Foster’s feat in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge as he bagged two wins in contrasting conditions. Basking in the Scottish sunshine, Stoney made his way from sixth on the grid into the lead to pip Max Bird by little under half a second.

Heavy rain welcomed the GT5 Challenge drivers on Sunday but that didn’t stop Stoney from once again starring. Holding a host of lurid slides around the 1.27 mile circuit, Stoney held his nerve to fend off the advances of James Kellett in a nail-biting finish to take a clean sweep at Knockhill.

Rounding out the TOCA support championship action was a trio of races from the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost. Johnathan Hoggard proved to be the driver to beat as he bagged a brace of pole positions and then a brace of race wins.

Title protagonist Ayrton Simmons maintained his championship charge as he triumphed in race two.

For the full classification results from all sessions and championships, click here.

The penultimate event of the season for the Ginetta Junior Championship, Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Renault UK Clio Cup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB and F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost will take place at Silverstone on September 15/16.

Adam Smalley prevails as champion from Ginetta Junior Championship finale

The Ginetta Junior Championship crowned Adam Smalley as its champion at Brands Hatch this past weekend (September 29/30) following a dramatic final event of the season around the iconic Grand Prix circuit.

Having served up a year of thrills and spills, the Junior category had one last chapter of 2018 to write and it proved to be entertaining all the way.

After showcasing themselves to being in a league of their own against the rest of the field, Smalley, Louis Foster and Luke Browning all arrived at the Kent venue with a chance of being crowned champion.

All three would shine over the course of the weekend with Richardson Racing’s Browning being the first to do so in race one. With the lead pack bumper-to-bumper throughout, overtaking moves were being made at almost every turn and the decisive one came in the closing minutes as Browning muscled his way past Smalley into the lead.

Going on to score a pivotal victory, Browning kept his title hopes alive whilst Smalley banked solid points in second. Foster meanwhile could only salvage fourth as Patrick Kibble rounded off the podium.

Arguably the most crucial race came in the second Junior duel as Smalley prevailed to extend his points lead. In a race of attrition, the Elite Motorsport withstood a barrage of attacks from the chasing pack before a late safety car neutralised the race, and due to the clock ticking to zero, that is how things would finish.

With all three drivers heading into the final race of the season still in contention, Smalley found himself in the pound seat holding a 26-point advantage over Foster. Starting on pole position, Smalley dropped down the order early on as team-mate Foster stormed to the front of the field.

As the laps ticked by, the battle for supremacy hanged in the balance but as Foster crossed the line to record his latest victory after a back-and-forth battle with Browning, Smalley finished fifth and with it, sealed the championship crown.

“It was pretty horrific!” he said after the race. “I got passed on the first lap, and then beaten up after that. I knew I had to finish around sixth to take the title comfortably. The goal was to go out and win it, but I did what I needed to to.

“I couldn’t control the emotion, it was too overwhelming, I’m over the moon.  We’ve been unfortunate in races, coming out on top is great.”

For the full final championship standings and results from all sessions at Brands Hatch, click here.

Ginetta Junior trio set for championship crescendo

The destiny of the Ginetta Junior Championship will be decided at Brands Hatch this weekend (September 29/30) with three drivers set to duke it out across what is expected to be a trio of high-octane races.

This year’s crop of youngsters aged 14 to 17 have served up a feast of entertainment so far, with 23 races of blockbuster action already in the books.

Heading south to tackle the Grand Prix layout of the popular Kent venue, the trio of Louis Foster, Adam Smalley and Luke Browning look set to continue their season-long fight for supremacy.

Once penalty points are applied, Elite Motorsport’s Foster heads into the title showdown holding a 21-point advantage. On the cusp of writing his name into the history books by the winning the series at the first attempt, Foster will be keen to continue the impressive run of results that has seen him move to the top of the standings.

Having enjoyed a consistent first half of the year, six victories from the past seven races has seen the teenage sensation topple his rivals and take the lead of the championship with just three races to spare.

Former Ginetta Scholarship winner Smalley is Foster’s main protagonist in the title battle as it stands and he had been leading the standings for a majority of the season before Silverstone.

With a total of 15 podiums to his name, including six wins, Smalley has been a revelation in his second season in the championship and the Elite Motorsport driver could yet walk away as champion.

Richardson Racing’s Browning sits third on the leaderboard, albeit 48 points off the summit. Seven victories have been the peak of his season however a handful of low scoring rounds is the reason why the #11 machine will enter the weekend needing to do the most if he is to steal the title from under the noses of Foster and Smalley.

Whilst all eyes will be focused on the top three in the standings as they duke it out for the championship crown, several other drivers will be keen to end their 2018 campaigns on a high.

Patrick Kibble, James Taylor, Ruben Del Sarte, James Hedley and Greg Johnson are just a handful of drivers that have been in the mix for podium finishes this year and all of them, plus a host of others, could play a pivotal role in the outcome of the title if they throw themselves into the mix at the sharp end of the grid over the course of the weekend.

Qualifying for the Ginetta Junior Championship takes place on Saturday at 10:30 before races one and two at 14:45 and 17:45 later that day. The final round of the season takes place on Sunday at 12:55.

Bumper two days of action lie ahead at Rockingham

Rockingham is set for a blockbuster weekend (April 14/15) as the British Automobile Racing Club as a host of championships descend on the Corby venue for two days of flat-out action.

Marking the first of several visits the Club will make to the circuit during the course of the 2018 season, fans are set to be treated to a diverse range of pulsating races over the course of the event.

Boasting a variety of jaw-dropping machinery, Britcar’s Dunlop Endurance Championship is back for another season and the curtain will raise on the 2018 campaign at Rockingham.

With marques such as Ginetta, Ferrari, Porsche, Radical and BMW, to name a few, being represented on the grid, there is something for everyone as the championship roars into life with a 50-minute sprint race and two hour endurance encounter.

The Renault UK Clio Cup Junior Championship continues at Rockingham with rounds three and four taking place. A four-car grid will duke it out this weekend with Nicholas Reeve the man everyone is chasing after enjoying a dream debut at the season-opener.

Bagging both victories, Reeve and the Specialized Motorsport squad enter the event as the ones to beat however Lorcan Hanafin, Louis Doyle and Gus Burton will all be hoping to topple the youngster.

There will be tin top action for drivers aged 14 to 17 in the Junior Saloon Car Championship this weekend too. Renowned for how cost effective it is and giving drivers the perfect stepping stone from karting, the JSCC has long been a proving ground for racers to go on to big and better things.

With some familiar names and returning faces making up the class of 2018 this year, it is all to play for however the early title contender is Ben Kasperczak, who bagged a pair of wins at Silverstone in late March. Whilst the likes of Jemma Moore, Tony Rodriguez and others will be aiming to beat the rapid youngster, Kasperczak sits in the box seat as it stands.

Reigning Michelin Clio Cup Series champion Ben Palmer finds himself in a similar position too after coming off the back of two wins at Silverstone. Securing a late deal to be on the grid, Palmer asserted his dominance early on and will be a favourite for sure at Rockingham.

The Lancaster Insurance MG Owner’s Club Championship is another series that is hitting the track for a second time this season at the weekend. Bringing together some of the most iconic cars that the illustrious brand has produced over countless decades, there is something for everyone during

Iconic is one word to describe the Mini brand and in the Mighty Mini Championship, the popular car is celebrated with edge-of-the-seat thrills ’n’ spills. Pitting the Mighty and Super Mighty classes together on the same grid, wheel-to-wheel battles are the norm with notable names such as Scott Kendall and Jo Polley being drivers to look out for.

Capping off what is set to be a frenetic two days of racing this weekend is the BARC Saloon Series, Honda VTEC Challenge and Classic VW Cup. Sharing grids throughout Sunday, these trio of categories are set to provide some of the best saloon races around, with a diverse range of cars and models going head-to-head with each other.