Photo: TCR UK

Jenson Brickley earns first TCR UK win in reversed-grid Croft race

Jenson Brickley came from third to win the reversed-grid TCR UK race at Croft, making him the fourth different winner in four races this season.

Alex Ley started on pole, ahead of Bradley Hutchinson and Brickley. Hutchinson took the lead into the opening corner, but threw it away exiting Tower Bend on the second lap as he drove way wide and bounced over the grass. Although he managed to keep control of his car and the lead when he returned to track, he was very soon down to third place and continued to lose places thereon.

Ley moved into the lead ahead of Brickley, but he then had some handling trouble on lap three and Brickley moved past. Once ahead he made the most of clean air, setting the fastest lap several times. Once Adam Shepherd passed Ley for second the lead gap did shrink to 0.6 seconds, but Brickley then pulled away again and won by three seconds.

“Sounds good, don’t it?” Brickley said when asked how it felt to take victory on his fourth series start, and in a family-run entry.

“From free practice we knew we had the pace, and we messed up with qualifying. Then we were stuck in the middle in Race 1, and a wrong tyre decision made us drop back a few places. The reversed grid definitely helped, but I think we had the pace in that one.”

Shepherd, who had only been confirmed as taking part at 7pm on Friday night, made himself comfortable in second place and the efforts of the Hyundai i30 N TCR driver to make it onto this weekend’s grid meant he earned Driver of the Day, but also means he starts from scratch with finding the budget to contest the next round of the season.

Joe Marshall passed Ley for third in the middle of the race and managed to keep Shepherd in his sights, and Bruce Winfield also soon overtook Ley who then had to defend from Carl Boardley and Bradley Kent.

However a three-wide moment then brought an end to Ley and Kent’s hopes, with the latter going off at the Complex and Ley having to pit. Ley’s race ended at that point, while Kent went on a few more laps near the back of the pack before also heading to the pits to retire, while Boardley finished fifth having applied lap after lap of pressure on Winfield.

Jac Constable finished sixth from tenth on the reversed-grid, doing so by pipping Callum Newsham to the chequered flag, and Chris Smiley was eighth but had a five-second penalty that dropped him behind Hutchinson.

After his early error, Hutchinson’s car picked up more damage and shed several bits of bodywork – which prevented drivers from attempting overtakes at two corners due to the debris remaining on track – but after dropping to eighth just a third of the way into the race did not then lose further ground.

Winfield has grown his championship lead over the day’s two races to 11 points, with Boardley now his closest rival. Marshall has risen to third in the standings, a further 18 points behind, and Brickley is fourth.

The absent Lewis Brown has dropped from second to eighth, behind Shepherd, Ley and Kent. Round three of the season takes place at Oulton Park on 10 June.