Wiggin waited for his first MX-5 win, and like buses, three came along at once! - Photo: Jon Elsey

The latest rounds of the Mazda MX-5 Championship saw what could prove to be a rather pivotal weekend in the chase for the title, as one driver picked up the first wins of his Mazda career and the main contenders ended up with mixed fortunes.

After an impressive Friday’s testing, Joe Wiggin went into the first qualifying group filled with confidence and it certainly wasn’t for nothing. Making the most of the new Avon tyres for this season and rebounding from a somewhat disappointing Anglesey meeting last time out, Wiggin went on to set the fastest time in both Group and overall from the combined times in both groups. By contrast, points leader and double defending champion Will Blackwell-Chambers took 2nd quickest, but was just over 3 tenths off Wiggin’s fastest time, while Joe’s teammate at Tucker Racing Jack Brewer was a mere two hundredths back in 3rd fastest. Marcus Bailey had also made great strides throughout the year on the new Avon rubber and showed it with 4th fastest, ahead of Adam Bessell completing the top 5.

Over in the other group, John Langridge made the most of a clear lap to end up fastest, but compared to Group 1 he was almost a second slower that Wiggin and thus resulted in Langridge winding up with a front row start for Race 1. Oliver Allwood managed 2nd fastest time ahead of Steve Foden in 3rd, with Jason Greatrex set to line up as top Masters driver with the 4th best time in the group and Lewis Cannon continuing to show ever improving pace with 5th fastest.

Based on qualifying, Wiggin’s pace was ominous and that was proved somewhat correct come the first Group A race. Holding the lead from pole, Wiggin first of all had to deal with a fast starting Blackwell-Chambers before Langridge took over P2 on Lap 4 and pressed on in a bid to catch Wiggin. Langridge did well to keep the #41 within a second’s gap throughout the race, however Joe always seemed to have an answer pace wise and in the last couple of laps was able to eek out a few more tenths. Thus, after a tricky previous few meetings after his superb Brands Hatch debut, Joe Wiggin drove to the chequered flag and clinched what some would have claimed to be an overdue first Mazda MX-5 Championship victory to his and Tucker Motorsport’s delight. Langridge picked up 2nd place and crucial points towards his title charge, while Jack Brewer was able to steal 3rd place and demote Blackwell-Chambers off the podium and down to 4th at the flag. Allwood completed the top 5, with Greatrex top Masters driver home in 6th place with Bessell, Sebastian Fisher, Steve Foden and Adam Craig completing the top 10.

Richard Wootten started the first Group B race from pole position, but was beaten away by young charge Owen Mills, who lead the opening few laps before Wootten was able to repass on Lap 5 despite a brief additional challenge from Graham Rumsey. This quickly faded, leaving Wootten to try and extend a gap to 2nd place. This he did, and by the end of the race he was just over 3.5 seconds clear of Mills in P2 as he went on to take the win and the promotion into Group A for his second race. Oliver Jenkins completed the podum with 3rd place, followed by a strong result for Tim Dore with the Australian claiming 4th. Graham Rumsey took the last Group A promotion spot with 5th place, followed by Ivan Leary, Stuart Ross French, Alan Hawkins, rookie Jack Lemmer and Nick Le Doyen.

A rocket start from Joe Wiggin in the second Group A race ensured he had a lead of over two seconds by the end of the first lap alone, leaving Langridge and Brewer to fight over 2nd place; the latter was able to pick up the pace hold on for the first two laps before the former moved back in front before the end of Lap 2. Langridge then made an effort to try and close down the lead gap, but just couldn’t shake off the persistent Brewer until the #93 fired back past with three laps to go. From there, Langridge had to settle for the final step on the podium and the points to go with it, as he simply ran out of time. Ahead of them, Wiggin drove as if he were in a class of his own with another fastest lap of the race and a second lights to flag victory in as many races in Norfolk. With the rest of the podium also set, Allwood was close to joining the battle for 2nd place as he finished just a few tenths away from them in 4th. Jason Greatrex completed the top 5 as he incredibly stole the position from Will Blackwell-Chambers, forced to reside in 6th place at a circuit which has never given him very much fortune. Foden claimed 7th place ahead of Fisher in 8th, with Bessell and Craig completing the top 10.

It was a fairly straightforward race for Charlie Rawles at the front of the second Group b race as he charged away from 4th place on the line to lead in the opening few corners of Lap 1 and thus went on to head the way to the end. This wasn’t without some kind of pressure from debutant Fraser Fenwick, who showed some remarkable progress on his first race weekend to keep Rawles in his sights. For most of the race, Fenwick kept Rawles within a second of his 2nd placed car, but Rawles’ experience shone through as he was able to keep the lead just out of reach from start to finish. In the end, Fenwick did close in to less than half a second but was unable to unseat Rawles, who completed a lights-to-flag win. Clive Chisnall picked up one of his best Group B race results with 3rd place after quickly picking off Stuart Ross French and Adam Sparrow on the opening lap and clai ing the position for himself for the remainder of the race. French and Sparrow respectively completed the top 5, with Jack Lemmer taking 6th place ahead of Hawkins, Leary, Dann and Robinson.

Joe Wiggin headed into the final Group A race of the weekend staring down the barrel of a possible clean sweep of the entire weekend, having waiting for his first overall race win since the beginning of the season. Once again starting from pole, Wiggin led the opening lap with Brewer, Allwood and Langridge on his tail followed by Blackwell-Chambers back in 5th place. Immediately, the cars behind Wiggin began to apply the pressure as over the next couple of laps he was only a quarter of a second ahead. Then, Lap 4 saw them skirmish which allowed Wiggin to extend the gap to almost 3 seconds by the end of the lap. From there, Joe was in the clear and reeled off the remaining laps in the second half of the race to take his most dominant win of the weekend, plus capturing the fastest lap yet again to complete something of a grand slam from all three races. Jack Brewer would once again come 2nd to equal his new personal best from earlier in the day, while Langridge took another podium with 3rd place crucially even more points out of leader Blackwell-Chambers. Will, in turn, ended up 5th behind Oliver Allwood, with Greatrex taking 6th ahead of Bessell, Foden, Tolley and Fisher rounding off the final Group A top 10.

In the final Group B race, Bryn Griffiths fended off an initial challenge from Australian racer Tim Dore before heading the field for the rest of the race to pick up victory. Dore managed to maintain 2nd place while Oliver Jenkins was a comfortable 3rd place to round off the podium, with Owen Mills and Alan Hawkins completing the top 5. Rookie Jack Lemmer took another solid 6th place  from Ivan Leary in 7th, with Bruce Robinson, Christian Dann and Nick Le Doyen completing the top 10.

Now there’s something of a break until the next rounds at the beginning of August at Oulton Park, where the second half of the season may well see some interesting developments in the race for the title!

Scott Woodwiss

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