ROCHE GOES BOLDER IN ZOLDER

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The MX-5 boys and girls thoroughly enjoyed their summer jaunt to Belgium! - Photo: Jon Elsey

This past weekend proved to be a landmark occasion for the Mazda MX-5 Championship as a selection of over 20 drivers from this year’s roster packed up, boarded a ferry and crossed into continental Europe for the first time in the Championship’s history. Their destination? Zolder in Belgium. As it happens, despite it being their first time on non-UK soil, the racing was exceptional and rather well behaved!

This past weekend proved to be a landmark occasion for the Mazda MX-5 Championship as a selection of over 20 drivers from this year’s roster packed up, boarded a ferry and crossed into continental Europe for the first time in the Championship’s history. Their destination? Zolder in Belgium. As it happens, despite it being their first time on non-UK soil, the racing was exceptional and rather well behaved!

With just 21 cars in for this race weekend it meant that just one grid was needed for both races, giving a chance for those who may not usually find themselves in a Group A race, or towards the front in one for that matter, to grab some vital points towards their 2016 campaign. That being said, the main frontrunners all appeared to be in attendance, not least Tom Roche whose beginning to his Mk1 season had been almost perfect. After missing out on the coveted European MX-5 Cup Final spot to rival Oliver Allwood, Roche needed a strong weekend to bounce back.

Qualifying started well for the Blendini Motorsports driver, topping the session by just over a second from the aforementioned Allwood. Stuart Symonds seemed to find Zolder to his liking with 3rd quickest alongside Paul Bateman with Clive Powles on row 3 alongside Simon Goddard, while Simon Baldwin had to be content with just 7th ahead of Paul Maguire. Richard Collins and Lewis Field competed the top 10.

In Race 1, Roche appeared to take everything all in his stride as he drove away to the tune of 10 seconds and poached his 5th win of the season. Allwood followed suit in second with Baldwin a further 4 seconds or so back on the final step on the podium. Paul Bateman scored a superb 4th place ahead of Simon Goddard completing the top 5, with Clive Powles and Stuart Symonds in 6th and 7th. Lewis Field scored a satisfying 8th place, while it was neck and neck for 9th position between Richard Collins and Paul Tucker with the former just edging it by a fraction under 0.4 seconds.

For the second race, it appeared to be more of the same for Mr Roche, once again turning in another commanding performance at the head of the field. His efforts were once again rewarded with the completion of a clean sweep of victories, while this time behind it was Baldwin who got the better of Allwood to swipe 2nd place. Clive Powles and Stuart Symonds both went two better over Race 1 with 4th and 5th respectively, the latter completing the top 5 just a tenth ahead of Paul Bateman. Paul Maguire finished 7th with Paul Tucker, Lewis Field and Richard Collins rounding out the top 10.

Points wise, Roche still sits pretty at the top of the table with a 20 point advantage over 2nd placed Simon Baldwin, who himself doesn’t have that much of a cushion over Allwood – the pair just separated by two points. Clive Powles sits in 4th by the same margin ahead of James Harris in 5th, with Michael Fisk and Paul Bishop 6th and 7th, a tie for 8th between Paul Bateman and Brian Trott and Pual ticker just behind at the bottom of the top 10.

It’ll be back to UK shores for the next meeting as Rounds 8 & 9 take the Championship to the sweeps and dips of Cheshire’s magnificent Oulton Park International circuit on June 25th, where those who missed out on heading to Belgium will return to make up for lost ground. A massive thank you goes out to all of our attending drivers, teams, personnel and of course Circuit Zolder and all of their officials and marshals for helping make the Eurofest a hit with the drivers all weekend.

A fuller, more detailed report will be available in the near future. In the meantime, to check out the full results of the weekend for the Mk1s, you can find everything via Raceresults.nu HERE.

Scott Woodwiss

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Last Race

Donington Park 14th - 15th Oct 2017

Current Standings

Driver Accrued Points Adjusted Total
1 Will Blackwell-Chambers 2218 2044
2 Oliver Allwood 2130 2000
3 Joshua Jackson 2168 1976