Despite Jimmy Broadbent taking the chequered flag first at Snetterton, Mittell Cars’ Scott Mittell and Charles Hall took top points from the first Praga Cup race of the weekend. Post-race penalties raised them from third to first place with the sister Mittell R1 helmed by Chippy Wesemael and Dan Gore ending the day in second. Idola Motorsport’s Ed and Chris Bridle took their first podium of the championship as a result of the post-race technical disqualifications.
A turbo issue for the No.87 R1 raced by Jimmy Broadbent and Gordie Mutch saw their car experiencing overboost during qualification resulting in them starting from the pitlane, but the problem re-surfaced during the race. Despite then running in a lower power map to mitigate any potential performance gain, scrutineering ruled the car out. The No.4 R1 raced by Rob Wheldon and Matt Bell to second on the podium was also disqualified from the results during post-race scrutineering.
The race began with a neat rolling start as the pack of R1s thundered down to Riches led by the Team RAW Motorsports’ No.4 car, which started on pole with Rob Wheldon at the wheel. He kept his lead, while behind him the Arden by Idola Motorsport car helmed by Arden’s young American driver David Morales jumped the team Mittell Cars’ No.29. But it was Ben Collins in the Praga Team 85 R1 that made the best start, jumping up from the back row all the way to third, getting past Chris Wesemael through the Hamilton bend and contributing to his ‘Driver of the Day’ award.
Praga Guest Driver Gordie Mutch, who had a point to prove having started from the pit-lane, quickly moved up the grid passing the No.84 Idola Motorsport R1, Raw Motorsports’ Rod Goodman and The University of Wolverhampton Racing car.
At the front, Morales, who drives for Arden Motorsport in GB3, put to use his close quarters driving skills passing the No.4 for the lead into Montreal. The American, for the most part, controlled the gap to Collins who had also found a way past Wheldon. Wheldon then fell prey to Wesemael and the top four stayed this way until the arrival of Mutch, who was the fastest driver on track.
Upon his arrival, Mutch quickly dispatched the No.4 down the pit straight despite stern defense from Wheldon who left a single car width to pass. Mutch dispatched the No.29 in similar fashion, getting a great run on the Bentley Straight and passing down the inside at Brundle.
A mistake through Hamilton from Morales closed the gap for the top three and Collins started his attempt to pass the young American. Morales defended hard, closing the door on Collins who took to the grass at Palmer and then again through Coram. But in this instance Mutch capitalized taking second and then the lead as Morales pitted that same lap.
When Morton took over the wheel of the No.85 from Collins, the gap he had over Matt Bell’s No.4, was far less and closing rapidly. Charles Hall, who had taken over the No.77 Mittell Cars R1, was at this stage lapping the fastest. Bell, in his first Praga outing, caught Morton in a few laps and passed him through Oggies. Morton then lost another place on the preceding lap, as Hall braked later into the Montreal hairpin and sailed past.
It was now about the gaps. Broadbent had a large lead over Bell, however Bell was reeling him in. Hall was fastest driver on track and was closing in on Bell. Dan Gore in the sister Mittell car was closing in on Morton.
With all the gaps closing, it set up a nervy finish for most of the field. Broadbent had slowed by dropping the power on his car and had his lead cut by Bell, who was just keeping ahead of Hall. Morton was holding on to fourth but under attack by Gore in the final lap. On the final lap, Morton’s defense broke as he spun around, dropping behind Gore and the Idola Motorsport’s No.84
Up front, Broadbent had put in a great shift, doing enough to be the first car to take the flag. Bell maintained his second place at the line, an impressive result on his Praga debut. Hall’s third meant he took another great haul of points for his and Scott Mittell’s championship fight. Gore and Wesemael finished fourth, followed by the Bridle twins, Morton and Collins, Goodman, Morales and Hepworth and it was the No.11, of Shane Kelly and Stefano Leaney, that was the final car to take the chequered flag.
After the race, the No.87 and the No.4 cars failed post-race scrutineering and were excluded from the results, along with Rod Goodman in his No.31. These penalties meant that it was a Mittell one-two: a great result for their championship hopes. It was also good news for the Bridle twins who secured their first podium of their season.
Re-live the race on the BARC YouTube channel
Text: Angus Martin, photos: Jakob Ebrey Photography.