Despite a slow start due to fog, the opening Scottish Championship racing event of the year lived up to expectations today (Sunday 5th April). A record number of drivers headed to Knockhill to participate in seven Championship classes with 15 newcomers sampling their very first race weekends of their careers – including a number of our very own Super Lap Scotland Championship competitors making the switch to full-blown circuit racing for the first time.
The racing, despite a plethora of new blood in the ranks, was dominated by a number of familiar names. The titanic battle between Kenny Thrilwall, Joe Tanner and Oliver Mortimer resumed in the Celtic Speed Mini Cooper Cup, with Mortimer stealing the show from his rivals by taking two race wins, ahead of a solitary rebuke from Thrilwall. Tanner had to make do with a single podium, despite being stripped of a 2nd place finish in the opening race following a collision with Thirlwall – a collision that Tanner admitted and apologised for immediately after the race. That though, wasn’t enough for the officials and a five place penalty was issued, demoting Tanner to 7th place. Rest assured though, this won’t be the last encounter that one of this trio has with race officials this year – and from a neutral perspective, that’s a good thing – as there’s plenty of drama yet to unfold in this Championship battle.
Perfect scores all round!
Returning 2014 Legends Champion, John Paterson set about defending his Championship crown in perfect fashion today. The Motherwell driver amassed a ‘perfect 600 point score’ by bagging three Legends race wins today – a feat that only a handful of other Legends drivers have successfully achieved. That sees Paterson comfortably lead the series ahead of other podium scorers today including former Legends Champion Ross Marshall, David Hunter, David Newall and Euan MacKay.
In the BMW Compact Cup, Steven Dailly would have been eagerly counting the days until today’s season launch, knowing all-to-well that Mr BMW (aka Alan Kirkcaldy) would not be lining up on the grid for 2015. Instead, Dailly was joined by a 34 strong squad of racers (with more expected as the season progresses), all piloting similarly powered 1900cc BMW Compact cars; which meant that the field would be split into groupings to face-off on track. Dailly did all he could in his grouping, winning both his outings today and heading straight into the Championship lead. Elsewhere, Carol Brown took the race winning plaudits in the group B/C outing, whilst Cliff Harper, Shaun Forsyth, David McNaughton and Garry Clark (2) also enjoyed podium success.
Harry Simpson, blasted his way to two fairly straightforward Scottish Classic Sports and Saloons wins ahead of Jimmy Crow and Alasdair Coates – with both racers sharing a 2nd and 3rd place podium apiece. Wayne Macaulay also started his title defence in perfect fashion, by racing away with both Fiesta ST Championship victories ahead of Kevin Whyte and George Orr. Steven Gray and Jim Deans renewed their rivalry in the XR2 Championship – a battle that will likely rage on for the entire season. And, Ian Donaldson piloted his super-fast Mitsubishi Evo to two outright Scottish Saloons and Sports Car wins, ahead of Roddie Paterson’s Caterham on both occasions. Andrew Morrison – defending 2014 Saloons and Sports Car Champion – also claimed his first podium and class win of 2015 (as did Paul Brydon), but significantly, faced stiffer competition from Phil Dryburgh in the second outing behind the wheel of his Ginetta G50 sports car. Indeed Dryburgh, in the midst of a British GT, BMW Compact Cup and Saloons and Sports Car racing marathon this weekend, sealed the class A2 winning spoils in today’s second race, inflicting a rare defeat on the mightily consistent Morrison. In the MX5 Championship, veteran racer Olly Ross used all of his 52 years worth of racing experience to take a brace of wins today. Incredibly, Ross also revealed that he had claimed a staggering haul of 19 Championships throughout his racing career, and judging by today’s form, his 20th may not be all that far away.
Those meddling kids!
Jordan Gronkowski could have been forgiven for being quietly confident heading into today’s Formula Ford 1600 races, following his 2nd place finish overall last year and equipping himself with a new steed for the 2015 campaign. But, having just got shot of one pesky teenager – in the shape of Ciaran Haggerty who has moved onto the BRDC F4 series for 2015 – Gronkowski, reminiscent from a scene from Scooby Doo, will be cursing yet more troublesome teens as he travels back to Banff this evening.
Adam MacKay, recently confirmed as part of the Ecurie Ecosse young driver line up for 2015 (alongside the aforementioned Haggerty), set about hatching his own master plan today by securing two outright race wins behind the wheel of his Ray GR14. But perhaps the biggest surprise was that of young Karting sensation, Neil MacLennan. The Tore teenager, in his first ever Formula Ford 1600 season, indeed his first-ever car race, not only piloted his Ray GR09 machine to two debut podiums (3rd and 2nd), but did so in spectacular fashion in the opening race from the back of the gird. Team principal, Graham Brunton had eluded to the teenagers talents a while back, and won’t be surprised by today’s performance; indeed he’ll feel rightly justified with his and his team’s efforts to convince this young man, that his future lies in car racing, and truth be told, what a future it could be if today’s performance is anything to go by. Gronkowski though, never one to shirk a battle, will be well up for the challenge of reeling in these meddling kids and has a month to get to grips with the setup his single-seat racer before action resumes on Sunday 3rd May.
Knockhill Events Director, Stuart Gray commented:
“It’s been a tremendous start to the year, a record breaking day in many ways. There’s a lot to look forward to in 2015 with the SMRC, and indeed Knockhill, and l for one am very much looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds as the year progresses. It’s great to be back doing what we do best… hosting fast and thrilling racing events!”
Make sure you join us, for another thrilling day of top-class racing action on Sunday 3rd May.