A rewarding year for both clubs and drivers

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DESPITE the current economic climate, motorsport in this area saw local competitors enjoy a good season during 2010, writes Arthur Debenham.

In fact, with many competitors looking to find motorsport at an affordable level, some clubs such as the 750MC, which mainly promotes low cost race championships, may well have gained competitors for this reason.

It has certainly been a rewarding year for 750MC competitors locally, with the RGB and Toyota MR2 Championships in particular. Had it not been for technical problems during the early part of the year, Stephen Lumley would surely have taken the MR2 title.

As it was, he was more than a match for the eventual champion, but the points deficit was such that he head to settle for the runners-up spot. Meanwhile, the MR2’s youngest competitor, Stowmarket’s Alex Lennon, took a maiden victory at Snetterton.

The class A drivers in the RGB Championship were really defeated for the overall title by the points-scoring system. If only a few entries are running, reduced points are awarded. So, a few entries, less points, hardly the way to attract more into the class, just the way to kill it.

I have seen it in rallycross, and have always argued against it.

So, for Paul Rogers in the Contour, built by Bury’s David Dawson, and the Spire GTR of Troston’s John Cutmore, it would be a battle for class honours.

John’s new car had a number of occasions when it lacked the power of the Contour, but he did secure second in the class championship, needless to say behind Rogers.

With Cutmore’s 2009 Spire replacing his Fisher Fury, Denham’s Matthew Green enjoyed an excellent season in class B of the RGB Championship. So much so, that he ran out a worthy class champion.

The new Sabre RGB, from AB Performance, of Buxhall, made some promising appearances and this car must prove a strong challenge in 2011.

We had expected to see Mildenhall’s Elliot Stafford in both a Ginetta and the Mighty Mini Championship, but only the Mini appeared. A somewhat frustrating season did, however, allow for an outright victory late in the year at Snetterton.

Another driver waiting until the end of the year for success was Kevin Williams. It was third time lucky for the Barrow-based driver, as he was in the winning team of the Birkett Relay race at Silverstone.

For Hessett’s Brian Mitcham, it was really a step into the unknown, as he purchased a rare Mallock U2 Formula Junior race car. He took in an ambitious programme of races in the UK and abroad. His enthusiasm was rewarded with an outright victory in the re-opened Donington Park.

It was probably once again, the power of competing on your local circuit that helped Rob Dyball and Mark Livens take their Honda Civic to victory at Snetterton, in the CSCC Tin Tops series. It was fitting reward for a team that had been at the front of the field for most of the season.

A wet bank holdiay at the end of May did not dampen the spirit of George Shackleton, from Badwell Ash. In only the early stages of his first full season of racing, he took his maiden victory at Rockingham.

In a two-race programme, he took second in the first driving his MK6 Cooper JAP 500cc F3, before going on to win race two.

Rallying was probably the sport to be hit hardest by the recession, with one or two events failing to reach the minimum entry required. It is, of course, expensive to promote, especially when it comes to paying for forest roads.

For Wickhambrook driver Keith Pettitt, it was a great season as he contested the Flanders International Rally Challenge. Driving his MK2 Lotus Cortina in the Historic category, he took outright victory in the class and third overall.

His co-drivers were James McCullough and Bury teenager, Hannah Ellis, the latter making quite an impression on her debut.

Lady drivers, Claire Rix and Clare Abrey both turned in good results, and Owen Le Roy took his Vauxhall Astra to class championship victories in the MSA English and BTRDA National Championships.

At the end of the year, Keith Pettitt moved into the co-driver’s seat for the National Rally, which ran alongside Britain’s contribution to the World Rally Championship - Rally Wales.

Here he sat alongside Henry Hardiment in the Mini Cooper S. Despite a number of problems, they came away with a second in class award. This last event highlights one of the great aspects of motorsport. Competitors can compete on circuits and events, sometimes against the world’s greatest drivers or, at least, on venues used by these drivers, such as Silverstone, etc.

How many local club competitors in football, cricket etc, will get the chance to play at venues such as Wembley or Lord’s?

Next week, I will continue this review, looking at oval racing, karting, autocross etc. If you have a story let me know.

In the meantime, Happy New Year.

DIARY DATES Car Trial. Norman Perren Memorial Trial, Saturday, January 1. Organised by Eastern Counties MC, Seckford Hall, Woodbridge, 10.30am.

Short Circuit. Wimbledon, Saturday, 2pm. Winternationals, Superstox, 2.0 Hot Rods; Lightning Rods; Bangers.

COMING SOON Short Circuit. Wimbledon, January 16.

Car Trial. Wattisfield, January 16.

Harlton, Cambs, January 23.

Autosport International Show, NEC, January 13-16.