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.