The 2018 Trackday Trophy season got underway on Saturday, 14th April, at a bright and sunny Donington Park. With a capacity grid of 40 cars taking part; the mornings qualifying session was set to be an exciting 30 minute shootout with Class B, C and D cars taking to the track together with drivers competing in the Novice Open Class.
Trackday Trophy newcomers Robin Welsh and Paul Mcerlean in the Class B Raw Motorsport BMW 330 Clubsport were the quickest in qualifying, topping the time sheets and securing pole position with a lap time of 1:21.976. Gary Burstow in the GNB Racing 328i would complete the all BMW front row, missing out on pole position by just over a tenth of a second!
Sam Gay and Colin Tester were the fastest of the Class C entrants in their G&M Motorsport Honda Civic Type R and claiming third on the grid for their efforts. They were joined on the second row by Kevin Fullbrook and Keith Issatt in the Class B SRR Motorsport MINI Cooper S.
With times tumbling throughout the session; it was Ronan Quinn and Will Arif in their Ford Fiesta that would edge out Martyn Adams and Rob Adams in the Boreham Motorsport Mazda for the Class D Pole with less than two tenths of a second between the two.
The quickest of the Novice Open class were the RC Racing pairing of Richard Thompson and Chris Mayhew in their Renault Clio ahead of Hannah Gardin and David Smitherham in the Mini Motorsport Cooper S.
With qualifying complete the stage was set for the long awaited opening race of the 2018 season!
Starting from pole position, the Raw Motorsport BMW of Welsh and Mcerlean successfully defended their position at the head of the capacity field as they raced towards Redgate. Row three starter John Lyne in the Tylah Motorsport BMW E36 took full advantage of the increased traction offered by his rear wheel drive BMW, launching from the standing start up to third position by the approach to turn one, passing the Type R of Tester and Gay and the Cooper S of Issatt and Fulbrook.
James Clink, having qualified 12th in the Class C Blue Bolt Racing Clio, made progress from the start and was quickly gaining places. Alf Hyde in the Tylah Motorsport Fiesta ST taking full advantage of the bolting Clink, followed him through the pack before settling in behind the Nick White Racing Renault Clio ready for the decent through Craners.
Series newcomer Jamie Ward, despite losing two places on the opening lap, was successfully holding his position behind the wheel of the KJL Motorsport Fiesta and leading an increasingly competitive Class C battle that would last for the majority of the race.
The Class D pairing of Ben and Harry Corbey, sharing driving duties in the BAD Racing Honda CRX, were making real progress. Having struggled in qualifying and starting 26th on the grid the pair were determined to catch up with the other Class D entries and were soon making moves and catching the MX5 of Ben Abbitt and Richard Cooke together with the Fiesta of Quinn and Arif.
The opening of the pit stop window signalled the beginning of a flurry of driver changes. Unfortunately a number of teams incurred drive through penalties as a result of short pit stops.
The Raw Motorsport BMW of Welsh and Mcerlean, having set the pace at the front of the field for the majority of the race would go on to convert their pole position into the Class B and overall race win! Gary Burstow, although challenging for the lead, would reach the chequered flag second with John Lyne completing the all BMW podium in third.
The Class C spoils went the way of Jamie Ward, who on his TDT debut had produced a great drive and proved a worthy recipient of the Stephen Brown Memorial Trophy. Nick White and Jonathan Candler beating the MX5 of Dan Abbitt to the line by the slimmest of margins.
Bad Racing would secure the Class D win ahead of Ronan Quinn Racing and the Abbitt motorsport pairing of Ben Abbitt and Richard Cooke.
Hannah Gardin and David Smitherham in the Mini Motorsport Cooper would complete the class podiums - winning the Novice Open Class.
Raw Motorsport – Robin Welsh / Paul Mcerlean
GNB Racing - Gary Burstow
Tylah Motorsport - John Lyne
KJL Motorsport - Jamie Ward
Nick White Racing – Jonathan Candler / Nick White
Abbitt Motorsport - Dan Abbitt
BAD Racing - Ben Corbey / Harry Corbey
Ronan Quinn Racing - Arif / Quinn
Abbitt Motorsport – Ben Abbitt / Richard Cooke
Mini Motorsport – Hannah Gardin / David Smitherham
Stephen Brown Memorial Trophy
KJL Motorsport - Jamie Ward
GNB Racing - Gary Burstow / BMW 328i – 1:21.207