Aldershot hosted the first round of the BRCA touring car nationals this year, which would see many new changes to the format. With the number of rounds being lowered to four, the racing has been spread over both days of the weekend, with qualifying on the Saturday and Sunday morning, before three-leg finals for all on Sunday afternoon. The control tyre had also changed, and only time would tell if there would be an improvement over the tyre used last year. Possibly the biggest change to the national series was the discontinuation of the 27t stock class. The pro-stock class was instead created to cater for drivers that did not want to enter the immensely powerful modified class.
Qualifying started with clear skies and a fully dry track, and the pro-stock drivers were the first to take to the track. At the end of the first round, local drivers Glen and Jay Westwood had taken the first two positions, but Xray driver Luke Hobson was close behind in fourth at the end of the round. The modified drivers were next onto the track and reigning national champion took the round win, followed closely by Olly Jefferies and his Hot Bodies Cyclone. Olly will be aiming for the championship win this year after finishing so close in last year’s series. Young Xray driver Elliot Harper continued his form from the winter to finish the round in third place, with another Xray driver in the form of Ben Cosgrove taking fourth.
Round two of qualifying and the Westwood brothers continued to dominate the pro-stock class. Luke encountered some bad luck in this round, finishing down the order, while Matt Pocknell finished 8th in the round for Hot Bodies. In modified, Olly also had a bad round as he did not manage to start his run. Due to the nature of the round by round system, this put him towards the bottom of the pile as drivers worst results were not yet dropped. Ben took full advantage of Olly’s DNS and finished the round in second place behind Chris. Elliot was troubled by some bad luck in the run, but still finished 7th in the round to keep his place towards the top of the times. Jonathan Aird completed a storming run for Xray to take the fourth fastest time and dramatically improve his current position. Mark Stiles also made the top ten with his Hot Bodies Cyclone, finishing sixth in the round.
The third round of qualifying would be the last of the day, as temperatures began to decrease. Luke Hobson was back on form for this round and posted the sixth fastest time to remain in the top ten heading into Sunday. Olly Jefferies also turned his fortunes around to dominate this round and take the win. Elliot Harper completed an impressive run to take the second fastest time, with Ben Cosgrove finishing in fourth.
Round four was scheduled for Sunday morning, and while the pro-stock drivers managed to complete their runs on a dry track, the rain fell for the higher heats of modified. Luke Hobson continued his strong form into this round and completed his run to take the seventh fastest time with his Xray. There was a small delay half way through the modified class, but once the lightning had cleared the qualifying could continue. Xray driver Ben Ingram took full advantage of the conditions to post the fastest time in the round and improve his overall position. Andrew Carter and his Hot Bodies Cyclone also completed a consistent round to finish in second.
The final round of qualifying was to be run on a wet track for everyone, with no signs of it drying in time for the higher heats. Matt Pocknell posted his best result of qualifying with a fourth place finish, which would see his overall position in pro-stock improve and head into the top ten. Olly needed to beat Chris Grainger in this round to take his first ever national TQ, and he responded in style by taking the round win in wet conditions. Elliot Harper continued to perform flawlessly to finish in second overall, while Hot Bodies’ Stewart Noble showed his skill for driving in wet conditions by taking a fourth place finish in the round. Xray drivers Darren Styles and Jonathan Aird completed the top ten in the final round, further improving their overall positions once everyone’s worst scores had been dropped.
Once qualifying had ended and the scores were tallied, Mirage would be represented in the pro-stock A final by Luke hobson and Matt Pocknell, starting eighth and tenth respectively. Tom Jefferies performed consistently and faultlessly all weekend to line up in the pro-stock B final alongside fellow Hot Bodies driver Jordan Howe, also showing his talent throughout the weekend. Olly Jefferies took his first national top qualifying position in modified, showing his determination to win his first modified national title. Young star Elliot Harper ended qualifying in third position alongside Ben Cosgrove. Jonathan Aird’s high qualifying finishes were rewarded with a national A final for the Xray driver, making it four Mirage drivers in the top ten! Mark Stiles was unlucky not to have made the A final after failing to fit a transponder in the wet round, but lined up at the front of the modified B final. This final was littered with Mirage drivers, with Ben Ingram, Brian Eldridge, Andrew Carter, Darren Styles, Steward Noble and Sam Smith all performing excellently throughout the weekend. Cam Macdonald managed to secure 54th overall, a great result in his first modified national.
In the pro-stock A final, Matt Pocknell improved over his starting position to finish the day in ninth overall, as Luke Hobson finished alongside him in tenth after some bad luck in the finals. Hopefully Luke will be back at the front of the field at the next round in June. In the pro-stock B final, Tom Jefferies continued to drive consistently to finish in seventh place, with Jordan Howe in eighth.
The first modified final would require a tough decision from the drivers in their choice of rubber. The track was drying fast, but there was still many wet patches across the track. Chris Grainger was one of the only drivers to run on slicks, which proved to be the right decision as he gradually pulled away from Olly. Ben finished third in this final after Elliot had a serious tyre issue that abruptly ended his race. A scrappy start to the second leg meant that Chris was away at the front again. However, Olly pushed hard on a drying track and improved on his fastest lap many times but was not close enough to Chris by the five minute mark. Disaster again for Elliot in this round, as he finished down in ninth place. The final leg saw Olly and Chris push for the entire race, with Chris applying pressure in the last laps. However, Olly soaked up the pressure and won the leg to confirm his overall position in second place. Ben once again improved over his starting position to finish the leg in third place. This meant that Chris won overall, from TQ driver Olly Jefferies and Ben Cosgrove in third. Two Mirage drivers on the podium! Mark Stiles went on to dominate the modified B final, as Ben Ingram and Brian Eldrige completing the top five.
So overall a fantastic day for the Mirage team, with six drivers making a national A final! Thanks must go to the Aldershot club for providing a smooth weekend, and Adrian Jefferies for providing live updates throughout the weekend. Next round will take place at the Cotswolds club, where Olly will be hoping to show his home advantage, and Andy Moore will be returning to the UK racing scene to challenge for the title.
Super Touring – A Final results:
1. Chris Grainger
2. Olly Jefferies
3. Ben Cosgrove – XRAY T2’008
4. Matthew White
5. Glenn Doman
6. Christopher Delves
7. Colin Price
8. Elliott Harper – XRAY T2’008
9. Jonathan Aird – XRAY T2’008
10. Lee Woodhams
Pro Stock – A Final results:
1. Glen Westwood
2. Jay Westwood
3. Mark Sadler
4. Byron Humphries
5. Dominic Carter
6. Rob West
7. Dan Ghibaldan
8. Jason Butterfield
9. Matt Pocknell
10. Luke Hobson – XRAY T2’008
Source : XRAY