The 2010 Schumacher BTCC kicked off with the first round at Mendip, the entry looked like a national with most of the major players on hand and showing they meant business. The weather leading up to the race was the best we had seen all year but wet, windy and colder conditions were forecast for the April bank holiday weekend. The majority of teams opted for the covered pitting at Mendip and possibly saving their corporate gazebos for the national in two weeks time.
With regards to the entry list the only difference on paper between this and a full national was that the BTCC run a 13.5 stock class, something that perhaps the BRCA officials attending the race would be keeping a close an eye on for the future.
Saturday saw a good turnout of drivers getting some more pre season testing, for the likes of Olly Jefferies, Elliott Harper and Chris Grainger they had already put quite a few miles on their cars around this track in their preparation for the 2010 season, but for some, who do not have the same resources as the top drivers this was their first time out on the black stuff this year, so for those drivers they were hoping for a dry track and looking to get on the pace quickly, they were unlucky.
Sunday morning and it looked like one of those days when survival seemed to be the name of the game, driving rain and strong winds greeted drivers as they arrived at the seaside track.
Some unusual seeding of the heats saw a real mix up of the order early on; drivers running in the lower heats would be at a disadvantage on a track that was drying all the time, three heats from the top saw Olly Jefferies struggling as did Chris Kerswell who was one heat from the top.
As the meeting progressed the leader board had an unusual look as some drivers opted not to go out, then as the last round approached the track looked dry. It was one of those occasions where you needed a clean run with no mistakes, Chris Grainger delivered one and took FTD in modified ahead of Elliott Harper, John Pape was next up for Schumacher scoring one of his best qualifying performances ahead of Olly Jefferies and Glen Westwood.
So the modified grid had an unusual look to it as did the Pro Stock grid, drivers like Rob West, Ryan Edwards and Dewi Jones were all down the order and missing out on an A final place. Up front it was Ricky Copsey for X-Ray that put in the best run and sat on pole ahead of fellow X-Ray man Adam Meakin, Mathew Quinlisk was third on the grid ahead of two fellow Schumacher drivers Mark Hancock and Sam Clifton.
In the 13.5 stock class Jake Williams set FTD, almost everyone commenting on the speed of the cars, to my untrained eye we were looking at the sort of pace 19t brushed was a few years ago, very impressive, but a starter class, not really sure about that. Jake took pole ahead of Mason Sadler and Jamie Carpenter.
By the time the finals lined up it was a dry track for everyone and the first A final of the afternoon fell to Jake Williams in the Stock class.
Ricky Copsey looked comfortable ahead of the Pro Stock A final but seven laps in and Ricky was sidelined leaving Lee Price to take the win from sixth on the grid, cheering up the Price family who were having “one of those days” with Lee’s brother Colin having lap counting problems in Modified.
Chris Grainger took a comfortable win in leg one of the A final ahead of Elliott Harper and Olly Jefferies, if leg one was a bit processional they made up for it in leg two.
Jake Williams failed to make the start of leg two of the stock final, Matt Sedgley took the win in Jakes absence but second place for Jamie Carpenter saw him take the overall win ahead of Matt with BRCA commentator Kris Kennedy completing the podium in the stock class.
Leg two of the Pro Stock A final saw a demonstration run from Ricky Copsey who led from start to finish but a topsey turvey set of results over the two legs saw Matt Quinlisk come out as the overall winner with local driver Mark Hancock second, Sam Clifton completed the Pro Stock podium.
By virtue of the now famous Schumacher raffle most people say right to end of the BTCC round and they rewarded with a great last final of the day. Chris Grainger looked to have the second leg of the modified A in his pocket but in the closing laps Olly Jefferies chased him down, as the drivers crossed the line for the last lap the TC5 was tucked up under the rear bumper of the Mi4 and both drivers gave it full beans on the last lap, Chris held on to take the win and the overall win with Olly second, making Olly the filling in a Schumacher sandwich and getting just reward for his fine qualifying performance was John Pape.
Round over and time to get the Schumacher prayer mat out for some better weather at round two as the championship stays in the south west and moves up the M5 and along the M4 to the Cotswold track in a few weeks.
Schumacher would like to thank the very accomodating Mendip club on a good event and the drivers for braving the elements!
Thanks also to Adrian Jefferies for the report.
Some video's are available here from Shane Walker.
First Modified A Final - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beesYRhxRG4
Second Modified A Final - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eZMGjmay_o
And full results on the Central Booking website.