MR2 championship - Race Reports & TV Coverage

MR2 Championship - May 27th 2012
Cadwell Park Circuit

George Robinson narrowed Paul Hinson’s championship lead to just four points after taking a double victory in rounds five and six of the Toyota MR2 Championship at Cadwell Park.

The demand for entries at the country’s most picturesque and rewarding drivers circuit was such that the 750 Motor Club were forced to find additional track time to accommodate all of prospective drivers. A three race format was adopted, with drivers split into three groups – each racing twice – based on their qualifying times. So although Robinson struck twice, Hinson was able to limit the damage with a victory of his own in the final race of the day.

It was Guy Hefford, who lay third in the championship after Brands Hatch, that struck first, though, setting the fastest time in qualifying by almost two tenths of a second. Hinson and Robinson were next up – thereby staking a claim for a pole position in a race apiece. Lee Gambell was a best-ever fourth, ahead of Ben Rowe and Michael Wells, while Matt Palmer – the winner of the recent televised non-championship race Castle Combe – was back in eighth.

Race one pitted Hinson against Robinson on the front row, and a superb start from the outside of the front row meant that AW Tracksport-prepared Robinson could swoop in front of the Hennessy Motorsport car of Hinson into the first left-hander at Coppice. With Cadwell being notoriously a difficult circuit to pass on Robinson was at a clear advantage, but Hinson didn’t defer lightly as the lead duo continued to pull away from Michael Wells.

As he reacquainted himself with the track, Palmer climbed up the order from row three, aided when Rowe had a spin on the third lap. He climbed into the podium positions on lap five as Wells slipped back, but continued to lose ground to the leaders.

Jim Davies enhanced the reputation that he had earned at Castle Combe by charging up the order in the first of the Class C Mk3 Roadsters. The Warwickshire driver battled through from eighth to fifth in his Rogue Motorsport-prepared car, becoming the first driver to defeat Stuart Nicholls in the class this season.

Behind Rowe came Matthew Wallis (Hotbadger Motorsport). Downbeat after qualifying, he enjoyed his “most enjoyable racing to date” after climbing to seventh from 14th on the grid. Connor Hambleton was next up in eighth, but had run as high as fifth before his tyres went off and gearbox problems set in. Paul Hutson and Steven Wells completed the top ten, while the only retirement was that of Paul Grimmett, who had a flying corner marker pierce his radiator.

Hefford’s chances in race two were stymied by the two place grid penalty he carried forward from a Brands Hatch indiscretion. Gambell was thus elevated to the front row, but another strong start from Robinson – this time from pole – gave him an almost unassailable position. Hefford climbed from fourth to second within a couple of laps, but could do little more than nibble at the leader’s two second advantage, although he did claim fastest lap.

Gambell gathered a train of cars behind him as he frantically held on to third position, but tangled with Davies – up from seventh position – at Park Corner on lap seven to end both of their races. In the melee, Clive Morphett popped up to third position and Rogue Motorsport boss Patrick Mortell to fourth. Michael Wells was fifth, with Grimmett – after assistance in fitting a new rad from fellow competitor Barry Willsher, demonstrating the true spirit of the championship – sixth.

Matthew Wallis again made up several places to reach seventh, pipping Lloyd Clarkson on the final lap. Stuart Nicholls pipped his father Mick by a second to win the Roadster division in ninth overall.

Hefford led the final race away from pole, and led by more than a second from Hinson as they crossed the stripe for the first time. After qualifying Hefford had been confident, but that evaporated in the sizzling heat as he struggled to get his car to perform as it had done in the morning. He found himself braking earlier and earlier as the race progressed – which Hinson spotted, and used to his advantage on the seventh lap, diving through at Park.

The erstwhile leader lost not one place, but two. Palmer had started sixth, but put in the best race lap times of the day (albeit well outside Mark Jessop’s lap record)to make it a three-way fight for the lead, following Hinson through when the chance presented itself. Hinson, though, was able to pull out a gap over the final two-and-a-half circuits.

Ben Rowe finally breached Gambell’s defences on the sixth lap to take fourth, heralding a slide down the order for his victim, who eventually placed 11th. After a final lap spin, Mortell slipped to sixth position, behind Hutson.

There was a sad inevitability about the final lap, six-car jostle for seventh position, with Hambleton getting spat out of the pack at Barn Corner, picking up considerable damage – although he limped across the line in 18th. Mick Nicholls therefore came home ahead of Morphett, Willsher and rookie Tim Heron.

The championship moves to Donington Park on June 24 for rounds seven and eight, with Hinson and Robinson now essentially a victory clear of Hefford and Palmer in the standings.

Report by Ian Sowman.

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