After the frustrations of the COVID-19 affected 2020 season, it was great to get back on track at Croft Circuit for 2021. Sadly, the March and April Silverstone and Snetterton meetings were cancelled, but some reworking of the schedule means that we have a seven meeting season with 21 races. And, there’s a new format for the 2021 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship with the introduction of BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Clubman Championship for the less experienced (i.e. slower than yours truly).
The new format means bigger grids for most of the races. 40 cars provides plenty of action and no doubt the occasional challenges of passing the backmarkers on the shorter tracks.
It was time to put some investment into the car and… remove the several kilograms of filler. Through AB Motorsport, a complete bodywork “upgrade” was sorted – new wings, new rear quarters and new doors were fitted and a complete respray. Now the car may weigh the same on both sides!
A new livery was attached incorporating an additional sponsor – JZM Porsche – the Porsche specialists where I currently work. Sadly, I was unable to sneak a 911 GT3 RS engine under the bonnet. The BRSCC scrutineers may have spotted that.
Croft Circuit – a new experience
A lengthy trek up to Darlington took me to Croft Circuit which dates back to the 1920’s and has been staging major races since 1996 including the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), along with support series. the Porsche Carrera Cup Great Britain, Renault Clio Cup and the Ginetta Junior Championship.
Some course knowledge gained on my racing simulator (supplied by the excellent Digital Motorsports) and a cloudy but dry test day prepared me for a decent qualifying session for my first race of the season – a 12th position on the grid out of the 40 entrants.
It was followed by a reasonable performance in the first race, gaining two positions and finishing in 10th. Race 2 saw me pick up the pace on a wet track, finishing in 9th. For many of the early laps, I was struggling to pass my teammate, Stuart Symonds, which meant that I lost ground on the leading pack. But once past Stuart, I put in a flying lap and gained the extra points for the fastest lap at 1min 46.7secs, half a second faster than anyone else in the race.
Race 3 was a challenge with a very wet track and heavy rain. I made it up to 8th, but then fell foul of the wet conditions and dropped back down to 14th. Some decent overtakes in the latter half of the race meant some progression and a finish in 11th.
8th in the Championship
So, a reasonable start to the season on a circuit that was completely new to me means that three solid performances puts me 8th in the overall championship. Those top five finishes that I’m looking for this season have yet to come.