There is always a warm welcome for drivers at the Cotswold track but for this years BTCC round the welcome was almost tropical as drivers gathered on the hottest weekend of the year so far for round 2 of the Schumacher BTCC.
The Cotswold track has always been a popular venue with drivers and a 120 drivers for this meeting underlined that popularity, Chris Grainger was victorious at round one and started as favourite to win here, the super touring drivers seriously needed to give Grainger something to think it about because if he settles in to his stride to early the season could be over before its really got going.
Round one of qualifying and with the track getting warmer and FTD rather than round by round qualifying it was important to get a good first run, those who did get a get first run in was Lee Spencer Mi4LP, Zak Finlay Mi4LP and Jake Williams who were the top three in 13.5 stock, in Pro Stock it was James Hart Mi4LP that was the early doors leader ahead of Lee Price Mi4LP and Mark Musgrove Mi4LP.
No guessing who got it right in round one of Modified, the Schumacher Mi4LP Chris Grainger showed a clean set of heels to everyone, Olly Jefferies held on for four minutes until the rotor in motor gave up, this left Phil Chambers and John Pape Mi4LP second and third.
Another fastest time for Chris Grainger saw him keep the lead in the modified class, Phil Chambers stayed second from his first round time, another Schumacher driver in the form of Colin Price moved up to third with fellow Schumacher driver Mat White fourth, John Pape completed the top five with wait for it..yes another Mi4LP.
An improvement for Zak Finlay in round two but the young driver stayed top of the stock times, Scott Hauser Mi4LP moved up to second place with a time three seconds short of Zaks, after round three Lee Spencer moved up to third with a time three seconds shy of Lee’s.
James Hart did not improve in round two but stayed ahead of the chasing pack, Lee Price improved and stayed second, Ayrton Anderson put himself in contention with a quick time that saw the Tamiya driver move up to third ahead of the X-Ray of Ryan Edwards, and Mark Musgrove improved but dropped to fifth. Schumacher cars held five of the top ten places in Pro Stock after round two. Where was round one Mendip winner Matt Quinskirk you may ask, well you had to look a fair way down the order to the C final, Matt not able to take his Mendip form to Cotswold, just shows how competitive this class is.
With a track that reached maximum temperature times stayed pretty static for the last round of qualifying, none of the top super touring drivers improved, Brian Eldridge was looking good with the Photon but up front the top ten had a similar look to Mendip...
In Pro Stock Lee Price and Zak Smith posted their best times of the weekend as did Steve Lissamore, at the end of qualifying the top ten looked like this, Mark Hancock was showing his Mendip result was no fluke, the local driver putting some really good results together of late, Andy Robson was also showing well with his Schumacher .
In the stock class Jake Williams and Chris Graco were the only runners to make an improvement, the difference in speed and ability in the class was becoming as issue with some pretty aggravated drivers coming of the rostrum, something perhaps the series needs to look at before round three.
The top ten is stock qualifying was...
Zak Finlay converted pole position to a win in leg one of the stock final, Scott Hauser was next up, Zak and Scott were pretty well matched for pace both recording a 18.5 fastest lap in the final, young Mason Sadler completed the first leg podium coming up from sixth on the grid to take third.
The Pro Stock leg one A final saw James Hard lead Lee Price from start to finish, making a clean sweep for Schumacher was Mark Musgrove coming home third, Ayrton Anderson left the fray early on wiping two wheels of his Tamiya after a brush with the unforgiving pit wall.
Chris Grainger took leg one of the modified A ahead of Lee Price, Johnny Aird is putting a string of really good results together lately and another good run saw him net third. Worthy of a mention was Tom Jefferies beating some big name drivers to win both legs of the modified B final.
Second Leg of the A final saw Zak Finlay get hit by Scott Hauser not once but three times on the first lap, this dropped the pair of them down the order and allowed Jake Williams through from third on the grid to take the win, an all action second leg saw Lee Spencer next up with a recovering Zak Finlay third, the result was good enough to give Zak the victory overall.
James Hart made it two out of two with Lee Price once again second, Ayrton made up for his first leg incident finishing third. James Hart took the Pro Stock win convincingly ahead of Lee Price with Mark Musgrove third and Schumacher 1-2-3.
Chris Grainger cruised to a second leg win to overall victory, Colin Price was next up with yet another Schumacher 1-2-3 as Matt White completed the podium in leg two, so another win for Chris with Colin Price second, another driver putting some good results together of late is John Pape and John made it another Schumacher 1-2-3 completing the top three overall.
Round two and another memorable BTCC round, made even better by the weather which was scorching, lots of issues on track with the heat as almost every run saw a car grind to a halt with overheating problems. A great practise run for those looking toward the national in three weeks time, for many some work to be done, for the likes of Mr Grainger a chance to put their feet up and chill while the rest of the drivers scratch their heads and looks for more speed, better handling and some reliability.
Big thanks to Doug and his team for their efforts, the next round is at Aldershot on July 4th, entries are available at www.centralbooking.org
Thanks to Adrian Jefferies for the report.