Tom Roche's 16 wins undoubtedly saw him crowned Mk1 champion - Photo: Jon Elsey

It almost wasn’t doubted in anyone’s mind, however the Finals Weekend at Silverstone saw Tom Roche, subject to official confirmation, crowned as the 2016 BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Champion. 6 frantic races took place with plenty of action and one or two surprise results on the podium.

Indeed, the first surprise came when the first Group A race lined up as Roche appeared on the front row, however it wasn’t on pole! That honour went to AB Motorsport team boss Ali Bray, who was taking to the wheel of one of his own cars for the first time this season as a one-off. Neither would lead the opening lap as both Michael Fisk and Stuart Symonds passed both to make it an AB 1-2-3 in the first couple of laps, before Roche picked them off one by one to take the lead with 5 to go and clinch his 15th of the season ahead of Fisk and Bray.

Over in the first Group B race, there was another first time winner. Having spent his time racing karts beforehand, Patrick Lay made his MX-5 debut in stellar fashion by starting from 4th and then driving his way back from 6th after a poor start and threading his way back through to 2nd behind Courtney Milnes before taking the lead with 4 laps remaining. Keeping a cool head, Lay remained in front until the flag to take a very impressive first win on his debut no less! Jack Warry made a welcome return with 2nd place ahead of another debutant in Charlie Burge with 3rd place.

Into the second Group A race, Ali Bray wouldn’t go any further than the end of the first lap after he ended up in the gravel and trundled back to the pits. Up with the leaders, Roche held his now customary place in the lead and was able to hold a lead of around 2.5 seconds from Fisk behind. It stretched out by a further second by the time the chequered flag fell. Fisk held on to 2nd with James Harris made a welcome visit to the podium once more in front of Simon Baldwin and Paul Tucker.

Three familiar names managed to make the podium into the second Group B race as Joshua Jackson, Paul Bateman and Richard Collins all started the race in the first 3 places on the grid respectively. Jackson lead initially but Collins was able to overhaul him on Lap 3 and pull away to take another Group B victory. Jackson finished 2nd some 3 seconds away with Bateman 3rd. All 3 had taken Group B wins throughout the year and made for a fitting sight on the podium!

Onto the 3rd and final Group A race of the season and Tom Roche was bidding to complete yet another clean sweep of race wins to complete his championship winning year on a tally of 16 race victories. As it happens, someone had other ideas and that man was another of his season long rivals, Oliver Allwood. Ending his year on a high, Allwood was able to become the first man all season to take a win from Roche’s grasp on track without Tom suffering mechanical or judicial maladies. A hard fought 1st place went his way with Roche still managing 2nd and Simon Baldwin finishing up 3rd.

With the final race of Group B left to run, there was an outstanding favourite to win based on his Race 2 result. Thanks to a retirement, Ali Bray lined up 5th on the grid but soon showed that pole sitting pace once more as he lept into 2nd place before chasing down and passing Jack Warry for the lead on Lap 4. From there, he was never headed as he distanced himself from the rest of the pack and left Warry to do battle with another new face, former BRSCC Fiesta champion John Langridge who was making his first foray into MX-5s and having an impressive first weekend. He was reaards with a very strong and admirable 3rd place behind Warry, which made up the final podium of 2016.

So, that it – another sensational season of MX-5 racing has drawn to a close and Tom Roche’s form has been nothing short of phenomenal. It just goes to prove that his experience and raw pace are still present and that if you give him just the faintest hint of a race win, he’ll take it every single time. Congratulations to Tom and Blendini Motorsports for clinching the 2016 crown, although one has to wonder – just what will 2017 have in store and will Tom be back to defend it? If so, his rivals had better get plotting on how to take it from him right now!

The final breakdown of results via TSL Timing can be found here – SILVERSTONE RESULTS. A detailed in-depth report will be available in due course.

Scott Woodwiss

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