Motorsport

TOCA support titles decided as McCullough wins third Martin Donnelly Trophy

Even for a series with a reputation for close racing, the finish to the final Ginetta Junior contest of the Silverstone weekend was remarkable. Points leader Aston Millar crossed the line just 0.01 seconds ahead of Robert de Haan to take the most dramatic of victories.

Even without the photo finish, it had been a thrilling race, with Will Jenkins, Millar and de Haan all taking turns in the lead. Jenkins made the early running before de Haan, briefly, and then Millar worked their way to the front.

De Haan then retook the place on the final tour on the grass exiting Copse but Millar was not to be denied, getting a super run out of the final corner to go around the outside of his Richardson Racing rival and secure the win by millimetres, with both going wide off the track at Woodcote in their attempts to secure the honours.

“I got a really good exit from the last corner and I didn’t even see the chequered flag!” said R Racing’s Millar, who admitted he only knew he had won when he saw his car pictured on the giant TV screen at the side of the track. “It was a brilliant moment.”

That victory capped another strong event for Millar, who maintained his incredible run of finishing every race this season inside the top six. He was second in a frenetic race two – which marked Jenkins’ maiden victory, and the first this season for the frontrunning Elite Motorsport squad, as both he and Millar passed early leader Seb Hopkins at Becketts.

Hopkins had also initially led the opener but his defences were breached by de Haan at Becketts on lap three, and Millar made a rare error further around the lap by running wide at Luffield. De Haan initially pulled away from the squabbling pack but only just held on from Jenkins and Hopkins at the finish, while Millar recovered to fourth after an eventful final tour.

Those results mean Millar’s advantage now stands at 42 points over Liam McNeilly – who managed a best result of fifth in Northamptonshire – and he believes his consistent approach is now paying dividends. “It’s such a tight championship so that consistency is what you need,” said Millar. “It was heart-breaking to keep getting fifths [at the start of the year]. I’ve now got more confidence and I can keep pushing.”

And that is ominous for Millar’s rivals as he looks to continue his consistency and conclude the season in style.

Dominic Wheatley, Mini Challenge Trophy, Silverstone 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

The Cooper class of the Mini Challenge fought out three frenetic slipstreamers at Silverstone. Dominic Wheatley claimed a deserved title in the final contest – despite not having won a race, his consistent high finishes in such a competitive series as this have been extremely impressive.

Wheatley was one of four in serious contention for the crown, along with reigning champion Harry Nunn, Matt Hammond and Louie Capozzoli, and it was Nunn who was first to fall. He’d qualified second to Wheatley but, after the early battling, Capozzoli established himself in front. Nunn ran briefly through the Luffield gravel while fighting Wheatley, before disaster struck. A nudge from Joe Wiggin sent Nunn smashing into the pitwall, prompting red flags and a Capozzoli win.

Nunn was given dispensation to switch to a spare car, and he started from the pits in race two – and so did Hammond. An isolator issue had struck, and Hammond was off the list of realistic title contenders. This time, Charlie Mann got the better of Capozzoli, while Wheatley lost third to Tom Ovenden on the final lap.

With the top 10 reversed on the grid, the final race was the best. Poleman Mike Paul led for a few laps before Nelson King, then Capozzoli, then Wheatley got through. Ovenden was fourth going into the final lap, but got past Wheatley into Copse, then benefited from the leading duo’s fight to squeeze ahead and defeat King by 0.010s, with Capozzoli a further 0.083s adrift. Wheatley just had to shadow Capozzoli to claim the crown, and fourth was enough.

Matias Zagazeta, British F4, Silverstone 2021

Matias Zagazeta, British F4, Silverstone 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Matias Zagazeta entered Silverstone with a five-point lead in British Formula 4 – and he left with a slightly extended 17-point advantage. But that does not tell the story of an incident-filled weekend where all of the championship protagonists struggled.

The Peruvian’s improved position was largely down to him converting pole into a win in the opener. It looked like closest rival Matthew Rees would threaten the Argenti driver after passing Aiden Neate, but Rees never got close enough to challenge and then drifted further back late on.

Things did not go as well in the other two races for Zagazeta, who tangled with Zak Taylor in race two and was restricted to 11th, before then being collected by David Morales at Brooklands in the finale.

Fortunately for Zagazeta, his rivals failed to capitalise, with Rees and Joel Granfors dramatically colliding in race three after the Swede was launched into the rear of the JHR car, having struck a kerb when attempting a move around the outside of Brooklands.

Instead, Georgi Dimitrov held off rookie Arden team-mate Cameron McLeod to win the reversed-grid race, while Joseph Loake pounced when an ambitious move from McKenzy Cresswell at Becketts delayed Zagazeta and Rees to triumph in race three.

Matias Zagazeta, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Silverstone 2021

Matias Zagazeta, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Silverstone 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Given Harry King’s superlative performances in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB last year, more of the same was expected this season. But, for a variety of reasons – including stiffer opposition – he has been unable to replicate that form this time around. And that meant it was difficult to believe King’s victory in the opening race at Silverstone was just his second of the 2021 campaign.

The Team Parker ace grabbed the lead with a typical Harry King move, a brilliant dive down the inside of Lorcan Hanafin at Brooklands. Hanafin had little time to fight back as the race – which had already suffered an incredibly long safety car period after Micah Stanley spun into the barriers at the pit entry – was red-flagged shortly after when Justin Sherwood and David Shaw collided at Luffield.

Points leader Dan Cammish was fourth in the opener, behind Kiern Jewiss, but that gave him the reversed-grid pole and the Redline driver duly converted that to victory, despite Hanafin putting him under intense pressure in the second half of the race.

Those results mean Cammish has a narrow three-point lead over JTR’s Hanafin, while King – who dropped behind Will Martin to finish fourth in race two – is a distant 25 further back.

Ginetta GT Academy, Silverstone 2021

Ginetta GT Academy, Silverstone 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

The inaugural season of the Ginetta GT Academy series has been all about two drivers. It was therefore fitting that Toby Trice and Angus Whiteside should wrap up their respective GTA and rookie crowns a round early when the category joined the British Touring Car support bill for the first time at Silverstone.

But, while the pair did enough to provisionally seal their titles, their stranglehold of the series did end in the opener. Trice was already on the backfoot after setting just one timed lap in qualifying before being stranded in the Luffield gravel, and he had to start down in eighth.

Whiteside, however, seemed well-placed to extend his recent run of wins by taking pole but the want2race driver’s opener was just a brief contest. Battling with Roy Alderslade at Copse, he was sent spinning and was subsequently collected, his race over. With another collision at Brooklands, the safety car was called.

Former MG Owners’ Club champion Martin Wills had shot into the lead at the start and, despite being briefly challenged by Thomas Holland at Becketts, the Assetto Motorsport driver was able to hang on to take his maiden series win, while Trice worked his way up to fourth behind Wes Pearce.

The regular formbook was restored in race two as Whiteside had no such problems this time around, taking a lights-to-flag victory from pole, ahead of Wills, whose bid to retain second was aided by Holland passing Edward Acres for third in the closing stages. “This felt like redemption!” smiled Whiteside. “I got a break pretty early on – and it was a long 22 laps then.”

Seventh place, and fourth in GTA, was enough for Trice to seal the crown – his progress from the very back aided by Gilbert Yates completely misjudging a dive up the inside of Becketts and clattering into Pearce, triggering a safety car period. “To be the first GTA champion is great,” enthused Trice. “I have to thank SVG Motorsport – we’ve worked hard and got the results.”

Whiteside got to enjoy similar celebrations after adding another win in the finale – his sixth from the past seven races. Series debutant Holland passed Wills at the start to take second, as Trice ended his weekend with a podium, having relegated Wills to fourth on lap three.

Kirkistown 500MRCI: McCullough bags Martin Donnelly Trophy hat-trick

Ivor McCullough (Van Diemen RF01), Martin Donnelly Trophy, Kirkistown 2021

Ivor McCullough (Van Diemen RF01), Martin Donnelly Trophy, Kirkistown 2021

Photo by: Roy Dempster

Fifteen years after he won the first Martin Donnelly Trophy at Kirkistown, Ivor McCullough returned and did it again using the very same Van Diemen RF01.

His success last weekend was actually his third ‘Donnelly’ victory – the second came in 2012 – but this time he did it in spectacular style, having started from the back of the grid after missing qualifying due to work commitments, and it also happened to be his first race of the year.

McCullough was helped in his quest when brother David and Jordan Dempsey tangled at Colonial after just a handful of laps. Also, Alan Davidson was tipped into a full 360-degree spin at Debtor’s Dip and Darwin Smith went gardening at the same spot, while Brandon McCaughan and Drew Stewart tangled at Fishermans and retired.

All of this helped Ivor McCullough, who had been picking off the midfield runners one by one, to make even more rapid progress towards the front.

In theory things should have settled down but, as is typical with Formula Ford action, they didn’t. Instead, the lead group reformed with Dave Parks, the recovering Davidson and Dempsey still very much involved as Ivor McCullough arrived on the back of the pack before he worked his way through to emerge in front. It took several nailbiting laps before this all worked out but, when the chequered flag flew, McCullough was in front with Parks and Davidson next in line. Dempsey, who had earlier won the opening FF1600 encounter from the McCullough brothers (Ivor ahead of David) brought his tattered Van Diemen RF99 home in fourth spot.

Among the Pre-90 brigade, McCaughan took the top honours – and fourth overall – from Davidson in race one after a banzai move at the Hairpin, while fellow Mondiale M89S driver Davidson’s third overall in the ‘Donnelly’ restored the status quo.

Irish Legends, Kirkistown 2021

Irish Legends, Kirkistown 2021

Photo by: Roy Dempster

There were upsets in Formula Vee where, after a red flag and restart in race one, Jordan Kelly proved to be the class of a very full field. Obviously nobody had told him that Class B drivers aren’t supposed to win, since the Donegal man simply drove his Sheane – the same car that his father Brian used to claim the Vee title in 2003 – away from everybody in both races, the second one netting him the Emerson Fittipaldi Trophy. Tim Murray (Leastone) and Anthony Cross (Sheane) completed the podium party on both occasions.

The Irish Legends also provided plenty of entertainment, with Dublin teenager Jamie Moylan winning the first and third races, both times from Peter Barrable, and placing third in the race he didn’t win. That went to Geoff Richardson from Robert Barrable, and Richardson also took a third spot in race one, while 76-year-old Ivor Greenwood finished third in the final encounter.

Philip Sheane took Formula Sheane race one honours ahead of Richard Kearney and Derek Roddy, while the spoils went to Kearney from Roddy in race two, with Paul McLoughlin third ahead of Sheane.

A brace of Roadsports encounters yielded identical results, with Jim Larkham’s Radical PR6 leading Niall Fitzsimmons’s Prosport over the line. Fast-starting John Benson’s Crossle took a brace of third spots and was right up at the front in the opening laps before the Radicals took over.

The Mondello-based Leons of Shane Murphy, Barry English and Sam Mansfield claimed a brace of 1-2-3 finishes in the SEAT contest. The concurrent NI Saloon affair was headed by another SEAT, the Cupra of Donal O’Neill beating Greer Wray’s BMW over the line twice, while Gregory McMillan topped the Mazda MX-5 results.
Paul Stewart won a nailbiting Fiesta Zetec opener ahead of Neville Anderson and Megan Campbell.

Race two ended with a red flag before half distance when Greg Elliott crashed at Fishermans. None of this concerned Colm Barrable, who fought hard to stay ahead of German visitor Timon Dohnke. The talented Campbell scored her second podium finish of the day, having successfully fought off the advances of Anderson for third.

Reports by Stephen Lickorish, Marcus Simmons and Richard Young. Photography by Jakob Ebrey Photography/Motorsport Images and Roy Dempster. Want more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly fix of motorsport with Autosport magazine.

Shane Murphy (SEAT Leon) Saloons, Kirkistown 2021

Shane Murphy (SEAT Leon) Saloons, Kirkistown 2021

Photo by: Roy Dempster

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