Maurizio Sciglio posted another overall win in the Datum Motorsport Ginetta G56A under the cover of a late-race Safety Car deployment, thwarting any chance of progress from threatening invitee Niall Bradley’s BMW E36.

Leading the field away at the rolling start were front-row sitters Jack Mitchell’s Century/SGM Ginetta G56A and Bradley Kent in the Essex and Kent Motorsport Hyundai Veloster, with Mitchell asserting his pro status by pulling out a significant gap, though Kent’s place at the head of the chasing pack lasted just a few laps, the normally slick-shod Veloster having a severe tyre issue – game over, for this race, anyway. Sciglio headed a close-coupled train of Datum stablemate Axe van Nederveen, Chris Bialan’s Cupra and Marco Anastasi’s Ginetta, while coming up fast from an out-of-position start was Niall Bradley’s BMW, and, just seven laps in, the Safety Car was deployed to allow recovery of Paul Murphy’s Ginetta G40, which was bedded in the gravel at Sheene Curve. Once the field was let loose again, two laps later, third-placed Anastasi was caught napping, and the Ginetta and Bialan’s Cupra went side-by-side into Paddock, but were joined by Bradley, making a move down the inside that just about made it through a gap that just about wasn’t really there – still, job done, and the black BMW was through to fourth place. The pit window opened, but the heavy-hitters stayed out, Bradley’s phenomenal progress continuing, picking off the Datum Ginettas of van Nederveen and Sciglio, but it was bad news for the leading Century/SGM Ginetta, Jack Mitchell pulling off into the escape road at Surtees, and having to be pushed into the pit lane, retiring with a gearbox issue, and denying Steve Fresle to capitalise on taking the lead car into his closing stint. Once the positions had settled after the frenetic 10-minute pit window had closed, Sciglio held a slender lead over Simon Mason, who had taken over the Cupra from Bialan, with van Nederveen next up, then Bradley and Anastasi, all covered by a few seconds, with the little Ginetta G40 of Jez Sussex sixth, making the most of the relaxed pit-stop timings for those cars. Bradley’s progress continued, van Nederveen and Mason were taken, but any thoughts for the black BMW to take the lead were thwarted when the Safety Car was deployed just eight minutes from the end of the race, as Caleb McDuff had stopped out on the circuit in the Team BRIT BMW-1Series. And so the chequered flag was shown under the caution, with Maurizio Sciglio’s Ginetta G56A leading Niall Bradley’s Invitation entry (and non-points scoring) BMW home behind the Safety Car, with Simon Mason gamely hanging onto third in the Sim Dynamics Cupra, ahead of the Datum Ginettas of Axel van Nederveen and Marco Anastasi, with Lee Goldsmith’s Geoff Steel-run BMW E52 completing the Class 1 field, and the overall top six places.

Class 3 winner was Jez Sussex in one of the SVG-run Ginetta G40s

Craig Fleming, returning to racing after a few years lay-off, was impressively hanging onto the back-end of the Class 1 field in the Class 2 TSR Audi TT in the opening laps, and Rob Ellick capitalised in his closing stint, posting the Class 2 win, and seventh overall, ahead of Tony Whitney in the SW Engineering Porsche 911, which had been caught in the middle of the teenage rampage of Clios in the opening stages, though far from being frustrated, Tony was amused and enthused by the situation; “It was great, I pulled away on the straights, but they caught me up around the corners” he said with a wide grin. Invitee James Alford relished his debut on the Brands GP circuit in the second TSR Audi TT, bagging the final class podium spot, while sadly, the Team BRIT BMW240i expired just minutes from the end, after slowing with mechanical issues, Asha Silva having taken over the car in second place in class following Noah Cosby’s impressive start, where team mate Bobby Trundley had run in tandem in the squad’s Class 3 BMW 1-series, before cruel fortune brought both Team BRIT machines to retirement simultaneously.

Of the battling Clios it was the #12 car of Alex Nevill and Harry Hickton who took the class win

So the Class 3 win went to Jez Sussex, who had magnificently held on to ninth place overall in the SVG-run Ginetta G40, the highest overall placing for these machines since they were drawn into the Championship. Sussex, and second-in-class stablemate Stephen Moore had run together in the early stages, holding second and third overall positions at one point during the pit stop window, and their moments of glory were no doubt assisted by the reduced pit-stop timings for the G40s, enhancing equalisation for all classes, while Paul Murphy recovered from his early trip into the gravel to claim the final class podium spot. The Renault Clios put on the usual show of nose-to-tail, side-by-side and place-swapping action, positions changing multiple times during the race. Harri Reynolds took the early lead, with Harry Hickton and Maurice Henry disputing second place, and in the second phase, Alex Nevill wrested the lead from Rhys Lloyd, who then had Hadley Simpson to contend with. With action suspended under the Safety Car finish, it was a one-two for Dragon Sport, with Hickton/Nevill ahead of Reynolds/Lloyd, and Henry/Simpson third for Max Coates’ High Row team. Dragon Sport’s Sam Neser and Jack James finished fourth, ahead of High Row’s James Harrison and new co-driver John Cooper.

Sadly not making the grid for it’s racing debut was the EDF BMW E46 of Dave Farrow and Martin Byford, an engine issue identified in qualifying causing the skeleton staff of EDF to perform some heroic mechanical work to ready the car for the Sunday race.

Words: Steve Wood, photos: Chris Valentine and Steve Jackman

Overall podium from race 1

Maurizio Sciglio’s coach (right) joins the celebration