MX-5s HEAD FOR A SILVERSTONE SENDOFF

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Will Simon Baldwin and co be able to spoil Roche's title party this weekend? - Photo: Jon Elsey

When Tom Roche returned to the wheel of a Mk1 Mazda MX-5 back at Snetterton in April, it’s quite plausible that no-one could have really envisioned just how dominant he would end up becoming by the time we reached the final rounds. Yet, here we are at the Silverstone International circuit with Roche’s win tally for 2016 standing at a staggering 14 top step visits. You’d be brave not to put your money on him both extending that tally and clinching the title in the process.

His advantage heading into this weekend stands at 70 points and with a maximum of 306 points (3 Group A race wins at 100 points each, plus 2 points for fastest lap in all 3) on offer, it’s not completely sewn up. As we saw both at Anglesey (mechanical issues) and last time at Rockingham (drive-through penalty), Roche can be beaten if a spanner happens to get thrown into the works, although this doesn’t happen very often. He will know that all he needs to do is produce 3 more confident drives and the championship returns to him once again.

That doesn’t mean that his nearest rivals won’t be giving him a hard time along the way. Far from it, as a number of drivers have all stepped up throughout 2016 to try and snatch a win away from Roche’s grasp without mechanical or judicial matters being the cause. Simon Baldwin arrives in relatively the same situation as last season, with the championship still a possibility in 2nd place, but needing a lot of luck on his side to reach it. Oliver Allwood has had an almighty year with a win at Anglesey and a very strong opening half of the season, allowing him to head to Laguna Seca for the Global MX-5 Cup Invitational where he performed well. 3rd in points is just rewards, however don’t count him out to steal the limelight if given the chance. His AB Motorsport teammate Michael Fisk has also come desperately close to a race win on several occasions now, so can Silverstone finally produce the breakthrough drive he needs to reach the top step at last?

There should also be a very healthy scrap going on for points between the drivers that sit below the top 4, with 5th down to 8th all on 4-figure scores. Clive Powles heads the lot followed by Paul Tucker, Simon Woods and Paul Bateman, all of which have had their ups and downs throughout their campaigns. All of them have appeared at least once on either a Group A or Group B podium, with Bateman having taken Group B wins at Rockingham and Donington, along with a healthy 4th place at Zolder. Powles has shown strong flashes of pace at times as has Tucker, while Woods is continuously improving race on race. Simon Goddard will also put in a strong showing despite only joining this season from Zolder onwards, while youngsters Jake Bailey and Jack Brewer have been able to progress through a steep learning curve in their first seasons. All will be pushing hard to end the year strong.

More drivers to keep an eye on include the Club 100 car of Stuart Symonds, Richard Collins, Paul Maguire and Joshua Jackson, all of which have had different levels of success throughout the year but have performed impressively at times. Go4It Racing also have a presence as normal with Kevin Brent completing another season, while Aaron Mason makes a return after debuting at Donington as does Jack Warry, a very impressive rookie who took a Group B win at Snetterton on his first attempt – and from the front row no less! Plus, look out for some last round additions to the grid in the form of Courtney Milnes, Ben Hancy and Scott Ferguson, while Patrick Lay, Sam Tatler and the shared car of Adrian and Charlie Burge all make their debuts here this weekend.

It’s been another action-packed year for the Championship and Silverstone promises to ring it out in style!

Scott Woodwiss

Next Race

The 2018 calendar will be announced shortly.

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