All-action TOCA support championships star at Brands Hatch

Brands Hatch provided the backdrop to a thrilling two days of TOCA support championship action this past weekend (May 6/7) as four categories served up an abundance of edge-of-the-seat entertainment on the Indy circuit.

Taking centre stage alongside the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at the Kent venue, a bumper trackside crowd – as well as many more watching on ITV4 – were treated to a feast of thrills and spills in contrasting weather conditions. 

One of the undoubted highlights of the weekend proved to be debut of the Legends Cars Elite Cup with JLM; however it wasn’t to be without its fair share of drama as both Saturday and Sunday’s grand finals were hampered by multi-car accidents. 

In the remaining races that did take place, Jack Parker – who was filling in for the injured John Mickel – blasted his way to a brace of wins whilst there were also victories for Will Gibson, Miles Rudman and Robert Barrable. 

Three new faces stood on the top step of the podium in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA over the course of the weekend however that didn’t stop Louis Sharp from extending his advantage in the points standings. 

The weekend’s opening contest – which took place in damp conditions – saw Kenato Le capitalise on a frantic front-running battle to score victory before Dion Gowda came to the fore to win a much drier race two on Sunday, inheriting the win from Deagen Fairclough who was penalised for gaining an unfair advantage.

Fortec Motorsport’s James Higgins then produced a commanding lights-to-flag victory in the weekend’s third and final contest to vault himself into second in the standings and more importantly, title contention.

Spoils were shared in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB as Robert de Haan and James Kellett claimed a win apiece on Sunday. 

In what is proving to be a sensational rookie campaign, Richardson Racing’s de Haan reigned supreme in a pulsating opener and then had looked to have repeated the feat in race two before he was hit with a post-race penalty, which gave Kellett a maiden win in the one-make series.

Rounding out the weekend’s support race action were three high-octane races from the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE JCW, won by Dan Zelos and Will Orton. 

EXCELR8 Motorsport’s Zelos didn’t put a wheel wrong in Saturday’s opener to master the wet conditions and take victory. However, he could do nothing to stop Orton the following day as the Hybrid Tune driver produced a virtuoso display out front to take a brace of race wins.

To view the full classification of results from all TOCA support sessions at Brands Hatch, CLICK HERE.

Both the Hagerty Radical Cup UK and Porsche Sprint Challenge GB will feature alongside the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA and Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE JCW when the BTCC support bill competes next at Snetterton 300 on May 20/21.

TOCA support package makes a splash at Donington Park curtain-raiser

Donington Park provided the backdrop to a memorable 2023 season-opener for championships competing on the TOCA support bill this past weekend (April 22/23).

Taking centre stage alongside the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship for another season, four all-action categories delighted fans with two blockbuster days of wheel-to-wheel entertainment under the flightpath of East Midlands airport. 

Dan Zelos’ pursuit of a second Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE JCW title got off to the perfect start as he blasted his way to pole position and two wins. 

Embarking on another season in the one-make tin top category, the former champion laid down his marker to the rest of the field with a commanding brace of victories, one in the dry on Saturday and the other in the wet on Sunday morning.

It wasn’t to be a hat-trick for Zelos though as he found himself caught up in a scary accident with Sam Smith that brought out the red flags. The high-speed incident – which took place on the run down to Redgate – saw Zelos walk away unhurt whilst Smith was extricated from the car and transferred to hospital for precautionary checks. 

With the race not restarting, Will Orton was declared the winner ahead of Joe Tanner and last year’s MINI CHALLENGE Trophy champion Nelson King. 

Louis Sharp put his stamp on the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by the FIA with a near-perfect weekend in the single-seater category. The New Zealander – who was one of the series’ leading lights in 2022 – claimed two impressive victories to grab the early points lead.

After narrowly missing out on pole position, the Rodin Carlin driver took a commanding win in the season-opener before then showcasing his overtaking prowess in a thrilling full reverse grid contest.

Starting 20th, Sharp carved his way through the order to clinch a famous victory before then capping off his weekend with a drive to sixth place as Noah Lisle triumphed in race three.

Spoils were shared in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB as pre-season favourites Robert De Haan and Adam Smalley claimed a win apiece. 

Touted as one’s to watch prior to the new campaign beginning, both drivers produced assertive performances to each stand on the top step of the podium. Joining them on the rostrum across the two races was Gus Burton and Matty Graham.

Concluding the weekend’s action were three races from Porsche Sprint Challenge GB, which had secured a full-time spot on the TOCA for this season after recently making sporadic appearances in previous years.

Second-year racer Toby Trice claimed the early bragging rights as he edged out Joe Warhurst and Steve Roberts in a frenetic opener. Roberts would then prove to be the driver to beat in the remaining two contests as he cruised to victory to establish an early championship lead.

To view the full classification of results from all sessions at Donington Park, CLICK HERE. 

Brands Hatch provides the next step on the calendar for three of the four championships – who’ll also be joined the Legends Cars Elite Cup with JLM – on May 6/7.

Vertu Motors named as new MINI CHALLENGE UK title sponsor

Organisers of the MINI CHALLENGE have announced a new title sponsorship agreement with Vertu Motors – part of the Vertu Motors Group – for the 2023 season.

The new partnership will see the popular single-marque series rebranded as the ‘Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE’ and will cover both the headline JCW class – which competes exclusively on the British Touring Car Championship support bill – and entry-level Trophy class.

Vertu Motors branding will feature on the windscreen of all competing cars across both classes, as well as on support vehicles and around racing venues up and down the country.

Robert Forrester, Chief Executive of Vertu Motors plc, said: “I am delighted that Vertu Motors is now an Official Partner with MINI CHALLENGE for this coming season. We have worked with the organisers for several years now and have admired their commitment, passion and enthusiasm for this series.

“Our Group’s brands already have strong roots in motorsport and a history of support across a multitude of disciplines, from the Birmingham Superprix in the 1980s, to sponsorship of Channel 4’s coverage of the Formula 1 in recent years, and of course, our Bristol Street Motors British Touring Car Championship team with EXCELR8 Motorsport.

“We strongly believe that this new partnership with MINI CHALLENGE, a very exciting, ‘Best of British’ motorsport series, epitomises many of the characteristics the Vertu Motors brand embodies including precision, innovation, technical advancement, commitment, determination and teamwork. We look forward to supporting each race weekend and connecting fans and communities with our ever-growing brand.”

Antony Williams, Championship Director for The Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE, added: “We’re incredibly excited and grateful to have the Vertu Motors brand on board with us for this coming season. Their enthusiasm and support have been brilliant already.

“The MINI CHALLENGE is the UK’s premier single-make race series and offers a great opportunity for drivers to put their skills to the test at some of the best tracks this country has to offer.

“The Vertu Motors group already holds brands that are well-known for championing motorsport at all levels, and we’re excited to see the Vertu Motors retail brand, which includes a multitude of MINI dealerships nationwide, fly the ‘chequered’ flag too. We’re all looking forward to the season ahead!”