Carl Boardley, Alex Ley share Silverstone wins
Carl Boardley extended his lead in the TCR UK Championship with a fourth victory of the season, whilst Alex Ley also made it onto the top step of the podium in the latest meeting of the season at Silverstone.
Boardley took full advantage of issues for two of his main title rivals in the opening race to score victory in his Cupra, whilst Ley overcame a race one penalty that saw him miss out on the reverse grid pole to storm through from eleventh in race two – which would be restarted after an early incident saw the action red-flagged.
Saturday’s qualifying session would prove to be a closely-fought affair that ended with the top four drivers on the grid covered by less than a tenth of a second.
In a session that saw multiple laps disallowed as drivers pushed to the limit – and beyond – to extract more pace from their car, it was Area Motorsport duo Adam Shepherd and Bruce Winfield who would ultimately lock out the front row of the grid.
It would take less than ten minutes in the session for the qualifying lap record to fall as Scott Sumpton’s Honda was the first car to dip below the previous mark set by Dan Kirby, with both Winfield and then Oliver Cottam lowering the benchmark still further as the field completed its first runs in the session.
Winfield would sit on top before the field came in for fresh rubber and then lowered his benchmark still further when he headed back out to extend his advantage at the front.
However, team-mate Shepherd had other ideas and despite snaring pole by just 0.022s by the time the chequered flag dropped, he would set two laps that would have been good enough for pole.
Winfield therefore had to settle for second place ahead of Sumpton in the older FK7-spec Honda – who would be only 0.057s from pole. Points leader Boardley rounded out the top four despite being one of the last drivers to hit the track in the session in his Cupra.
Cottam’s Audi took fifth ahead of the similar car of Joe Marshall, with Jenson Brickley and Andy Wilmot rounding out the top eight – Wilmot returning to action this weekend at the wheel of the Cupra that had started the season in the hands of Dan Kirby.
Defending champion Chris Smiley was outside the top ten in eleventh place, with newcomer Jeff Alden qualifying at the back in his Vauxhall Astra.
Shepherd made the best start when the opening race kicked off, heading the field down to Copse for the first time ahead of a fast-starting Sumpton and championship leader Boardley – with Winfield slow away from the line to slip back to fourth.
Boardley and Winfield both cleared Sumpton before the end of lap one, with Cottam’s Audi leading the chasing pack behind ahead of Marshall and Brickley.
Brickley overhauled Marshall on lap three to move into the top six and set about chasing down Cottam as the leading quartet looked to break away at the front, with the race settling down until Winfield suddenly dived into the pits from third at the end of the eighth lap a apparent suspension issue.
That moved Sumpton up into third spot but he was under pressure from Cottam, who made his move for a podium spot at Brooklands on the following lap.
The Audi would be run wide on the following corner however as he found himself on the outside line, with Brickley getting up the inside and Cottam bouncing across the gravel – dropping him back to seventh as Bradley Kent and Joe Marshall also nipped ahead.
From P7 on the grid, Brickley wasted little time in getting ahead of Sumpton into third spot, but the Honda man then tried to come back at him a lap later – the pair making contact going onto the back straight on the following lap.
That dropped Brickley back down the order again and put Sumpton under pressure from Marshall, who briefly managed to get ahead before the Honda man swept back ahead into Copse to retain the position.
Sumpton would then be run wide at Brooklands and dropped behind both Kent and a recovering Brickley to suddenly find himself back in sixth.
Shepherd continued to lead the race at the front ahead of Boardley as the pair battled clear of the fight for third but suddenly the leader slowed on the exit of Becketts – with the Hyundai slowly heading back into the pits as he joined Winfield in retirement.
With his two closest rivals in the points now out of the race, Boardley inherited a comfortable lead over Marshall and Kent, with Brickley now up into fourth from Jac Constable and Sumpton.
Marshall and Kent would engage in a huge battle for second spot but their fight provided Brickley with the chance to close in on the pair as they diced wheel-to-wheel, with Kent tapping the rear of the Audi at Luffield to open the door and get the inside line going into Copse.
Brickley was fixed onto the rear of Kent’s Hyundai and as the three cars headed into turn one, it was Brickley who emerged ahead as he jumped up into second, with Marshall holding third from Constable – who managed to get ahead of Kent heading onto the Wellington Straight.
Kent would be the next of the front-runners to hit trouble as he suffered a front-left failure with less than five minutes remaining to drop out of the action.
At the front, Boardley was untroubled as he secured the race win ahead of Brickley, with the points leader easing off through the final laps given his advantage at the front but still taking a comfortable victory by nearly three seconds.
Marshall rounded out the podium in third spot as he eased away from Constable through the closing stages, with Sumpton following him across the line in fifth place.
However, a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits would drop him down to ninth place and promoted Cottam, Smiley, Callum Newsham and Brad Hutchison ahead of him in the results.
Matthew Wilson scored tenth in his Cupra thanks to a track limits penalty for Ley, which meant he would snare pole for the second race of the weekend.
Sumpton made the best start when the lights went out to start race two as Wilson found himself shuffled wide going through Copse for the first time, with Hutchison’s Audi getting up into second spot and Newsham and Smiley then going three wide with the pole-sitter on the run up to Becketts.
Going into the right-hander, Newsham tagged the rear of Hutchison’s Audi which got out of shape as Smiley then tried to dive up the inside of Newsham’s Hyundai.
That forced Newsham wider into Hutchison who was turned into a spin across the front of the Hyundai and clattered into Smiley – sending the defending champion spearing off into the barriers heading onto the Wellington Straight.
Newsham would also grind to a halt with a damaged front left wheel as the field behind was forced to scatter in order to avoid the chaos behind.
The safety car was deployed with Sumpton leading from Wilson and Ley – who had somehow jumped from eleventh to third – with Cottam, Marshall and Brickley rounding out the top six before the race was halted to allow the two stricken cars to be recovered.
The grid would then be reformed in the positions that the field was running in at the time of the stoppage for a shortened 15 minute race.
Sumpton held the lead from Wilson on the restart before Ley made his move at Becketts to take second, with the Hyundai man then launching a bid for the lead into Brooklands.
Contact between the pair saw Sumpton slide wide as Ley hit the front, with Sumpton dropping down to P10 in the Honda.
Running on fresh tyres, Ley led the early stages as Wilson came under pressure from Cottam, who nipped into second spot on lap four in the Audi, with Boardley having come up into fourth after avoiding the drama on the initial start.
Boardley then hit trouble on lap five when he was tagged by Brickley going through Brooklands and was knocked back to tenth.
As Cottam closed onto the rear of Ley’s Hyundai, Kent grabbed third spot from Wilson and set off after the lead pair, with Brickley, Shepherd and Winfield following behind as the Area Motorsport pair charged through from the back.
That charge however would come to a head on lap seven, with Winfield diving down the inside at Brooklands and clattering into Shepherd – putting Shepherd out with broken rear suspension.
Having chased down Cottam, Kent slid up the inside at Becketts to try and grab second, eventually make the move stick at Luffield to take the place only to go off within half a lap when he went straight on at Becketts and was forced to retire.
It left Ley with a slender lead over Cottam, with Brickley jumped ahead of Wilson into third and Winfield and Boardley rounding out the top six; with the latter carrying damage from his earlier contact.
As the clocked ticked down towards zero, Cottam and Brickley were closing in on Ley at the front when the Audi slowed on the penultinate lap, with Cottam diving into the pits and retirement.
That left Ley clear at the front for his second win of the campaign ahead of Brickley, with Wilson taking the flag in third for his maiden podium finish.
Winfield took fourth ahead of Hutchison, Darelle Wilson and Wilmot, with Boardley dropping down to eighth in the closing stages as a result of the damage he was carrying on his Cupra.
Sumpton took ninth after his early contact, with Luke Sargeant’s Hyundai Elantra rounding out the top ten.
Post-race however there would be a change to the result, with Brickley hit with a penalty for the contact with Boardley that would drop him down to eighth place in the results.
That promoted Wilson to second and put Winfield onto the podium, despite him also being penalised for the contact with Shepherd – with a five-place grid penalty to be served next time out.
Race winner Ley will also serve a similar penalty for his move on Sumpton.