The season came to a close in dramatic fashion at Donington as once again the Pragas locked out the podium spots in both races. The new pairing of Jimmy Broadbent and Gordie Mutch were the stars on the day, taking their first brace of wins in the wonderful ‘Goldie’.
Though while Broadbent and Mutch took top step honours, it was Richard Wells and Tim Gray who took the most important step – that of the overall 2021 Praga Championship. The fight for the top went down to the final race with Wells and Gray beating Christopher Wesemael and Richard Morris to the title.
Wells and Gray were on pole for race one ahead of their championship rivals, with Broadbent alongside, ahead of Richard Morris and Charlie Martin on row two.
Race one started with mayhem throughout the pack as the 30 strong field piled into turn one. This mayhem left the Praga of Richard Wells and Tim Gray, a championship contender, beached in the gravel. Championship leaders, Richard Morris and Christopher Wesemael, also got caught up in the carnage and suffered steering and front suspension damage when their vehicle was caught with nowhere to go in the chaos. Morris limped back to the pits and the was repaired by the brilliant CW Performance mechanics who got the car back out in 25 minutes.
After the stricken cars had been cleared it was Charlie Martin’s ‘Ruby’ that was leading at the restart. Second was Miles Lacey, driving solo, while Ed Bridle had got ahead of Broadbent. Richard Wells had escaped the turn one gravel and caught the back of the train and Rod Goodman had to make a first lap pitstop, so both were a lap down. Ben Collins, Ash Dibden and Jem Hepworth were all taken out of the race in the melee on the opening lap, with Collins using all of his stunt driving skill to get the crabbing machine back to the pits.
After the safety car period ended the Praga’s became involved in several extremely close battles on track, notably Lacey, who found himself going wheel to wheel with an Aston Martin Vulcan. While he was bested at first by the Vulcan, he found a way past by the end of the race, finishing a hugely impressive second.
The racing was extremely close in the opening stint with the Martin, Lacey and Bridle battling the GT’s, along with each other as they exchanged places almost every lap. When the pit window opened Broadbent dived straight in, handing the car over to Mutch. A mid-race safety car bunched the runners together again and Mutch began to pick cars off one by one charging up the order. He passed both Chris Bridle and Lacey on his way to his and Jimmy Broadbent’s first win of the season. Lacey followed in second, with the Bridle’s third. Jack Fabby finished fourth and picked up vital points in his and Charlie Martin’s Championship fight as did Tim Gray who recovered his Praga to fifth in class.
After race one the championship had swung in the favour of the Tim Gray Motorsport team and they were on pole ahead of their rivals in the CW Performance and Powerhouse Performance cars. At the start, all the Pragas got away safely, though some Endurance runners tangled, causing the deployment of the Safety Car.
The 2021 Praga title wasn’t decided until the final race
At the restart Driver of the Day Richard Wells, kept the lead ahead of Broadbent and Morris, and when the pit window opened, the leading trio dived in at the same time. With success penalties for Broadbent / Mutch and a slow stop for Wells/Gray, it meant that when the three cars emerged it was Morris ahead of Gray, with Mutch in third place. Unfortunately Wesemael’s machine was still suffering from the race one incident and had gearbox issues soon after the pits, falling back in the order.
At the front of the field Gray and Mutch were lapping with almost identical times and were the fastest on track as dusk turned to night. With five minutes left on the clock, Mutch managed a pass on Gray as the pair were lapping backmarkers and it was good timing too, with the chequered flag falling early. It had become too dark for marshals to see to the next post and the race director made the decision to end the race a couple laps earlier. Mutch and Broadbent earned their second win of the day, Gray and Wells came second while Wesemael and Morris finished third; an impressive results considering the issues they faced.
The result meant that Tim Gray, Richard Wells and Alex Kapadia (who raced previously in the 111) were crowned Champions of 2021. Richard Morris and Chris Wesemael came runners-up and Jack Fabby and Charlie Martin finished third in the standings.
Rookie of the year went to the impressive Jimmy Broadbent, who seemed to make the jump from sim-racing to real racing with ease. Chris Wesemael was awarded Driver of the Year having taken three wins including the two-hour race at the Silverstone GP circuit.
The Pragas will be back next year in their own one-make championship, which will be run by Britcar.
Photos: Paul Cherry & Chris Valentine