Lone-driver Seb Dubois, in a Ginetta G56 GTA run by Matt Cherrington’s TMC team, took a convincing Race 1 win in the opening round of the 2024 Trophy Championship, finishing nearly 12 seconds ahead of the considerable opposition.

Lone driver Maurizio Sciglio powered his Ginetta to 2nd overall

It was a scrappy rolling start as the red lights went out – Ben Green, in the Century Motorsport Ginetta G56 GTA (run by Simon Green) led away from pole, but second-row starter Bryan Bransom, in a brand new BMW E92, was faster away and had nowhere to go but the newly-mown grass verge leading up to Redgate. Fast- starting too were Axel van Nederveen’s Ginetta and Lewis Kent’s Hyundai Veloster, coming through the middle of the pack and muscling Simon Mason’s Cupra, the contact throwing the Ginetta into the Armco with steering damage, and the Hyundai to expire just a few laps into the race with an overheated and seized engine. Green was streaking away in the lead, with the Ginettas of Maurizio Sciglio and Seb Dubois coming out of the first-corner fracas in second and third, but Bransom had the bit between his teeth, and with more grass than a Flymo in the grilles of the BMW, easily took them both by the end of the first lap. It wasn’t to last though, he was soon pit-bound to remove the blockage, but the engine was severely overheating and the car was then retired, as was Lee Goldsmith’s BMW, another casualty of first-lap shenanigans, his re-entry to the track after a trip through the gravel disturbing a fast-starting Alex Nevill’s Clio (17th to 10th place) , which bedded into the gravel itself. The Safety Car was deployed for just two laps, and once the field went green again, Dubois took second place and held it until the mid-race mandatory pit stop sequence, where Stephen Fresle relieved Ben Green in the leading Century Ginetta, and Dubois took a lead he would hold to the end. Simon Mason was proving the competitiveness of touring cars in Class 1, his Jabbasport Cupra heading the Datum Ginettas of Sciglo and Marco Anastasi, while Rob Ellick in the TSR Audi TT and Noah Cosby’s Team BRIT BMW 240i were duking it out for Class 2 honours. Youngster Daire Flock headed Class 3 in the Westbourne Gen 5 Clio, ahead of a close-packed line of Dave Farrow’s Fun Cup, Alex Turnbull’s little Ginetta G40, and Caleb McDuff’s Team BRIT BMW 1-series, while the Clios were a mid-field pack led by Harri Reynolds, followed by Maurice Henry, Andy Tucker and Sam Neser.

Once the frantic 10-minute window for mandatory pit stops had closed, and the field settled, Fresle, now in the Century Ginetta, gamely held-off Dubois’ attempts for a whole lap, but eventually had no answer. Fresle then fell into the clutches of Sciglio and Anastasi, maurauding like a pair of Sicilian bandits, and then Chris Bialan, recovering in the Jabbasport Cupra started by Simon Mason. Bialan had his sights set firmly on an overall podium finish, and an exciting close-down in the final laps saw him just miss out to Anastasi by less than half a second at the flag. Also in Class 1 was the MacG / Race Car Experience Seat Leon of first-timers James Shanks and social media influencer George@GCM, who finished down the overall order but accomplished their intentions in their first-ever race. The Class 2 win went to the TSR Audi TT of Rob Ellick and Mark Jones, who led the class from the early stages, and were far enough ahead to be untroubled by a sensational late-race charge from internationally-successful Nigel Greensall, who took over David Gooding’s Geoff Steel-run BMW E36. Tony Whitney, in the SW Engineering Porsche 911 had to extract himself from the middle of a squabbling Clio pack early in the race, on his way to third in Class 2, while poor Asha Silva toured round on three cylinders to claim fourth in the Team BRIT BMW 240i started by Noah Cosby. Irish teenager Daire Flock was never headed in Class 3, the Westbourne Gen 5 Clio a lap ahead of Martin Byford in the EDF Fun Cup machine, which was started from the pit lane by Dave Farrow, with lone driver Alex Turnbull, in the SVG Ginetta G40, completing the class podium, while fourth place went to the new Team BRIT pairing of Dom Shore and Caleb McDuff in the BMW 1-series.

Dragon Sport stamped their mark on the Clio class

Dragon Sport team boss Rhys Lloyd consolidated the Clio class lead established by Academy-winning protege Harri Reynolds, ahead of the High Row Clio of Harley Simpson, who had maintained the second place held by Maurice Henry’s opening stint, while the Dragon Sport /High Row cartel was intercepted in third by the MacG / Race Car Experience car, absolute beginner Kieran Shanks doing enough in his opening stint for more experienced Josh Tomlinson to secure a podium place. High Row’s James Harrison / Ben Jenkins partnership were fourth, ahead of the Spires Motorsport car of Anton Spires and Andy Georgieu, while Jack James took over the Dragon Sport car started by Sam Neser, but lost time when it cut out on the circuit, and Travis Coyne was up against it after relieving Alex Nevill, who had been delayed by an avoidance spin on the first lap of the race. Andy Tucker had run third in his High Row Clio, but BTCC star Nick Halstead was forced to retire the car with brake failure shortly after taking over.

Words: Steve Wood, photos: Steve Jackman