The 2021 Kumho BMWRDC Championship reached its halfway point with races 5 & 6 being run at Snetterton in East Anglia on the weekend of 3rd & 4th of July. Qualifying was to be held on Saturday morning, followed by the first race after lunch, followed by an evening “pig roast” organized & prepared by the inimitable Paul Brooker. Race 2 was mid morning on Sunday enabling all concerned to arrive home in time for whatever we all enjoy on a Sunday evening!

The weather forecast was for rain, wind, lightning followed by a plague of locusts & all the other doom & gloom & with half of that present early Saturday things looked less than promising. However it stopped in time for qualifying & 21 cars took to the track with two more mini drivers, Rob Austin & James Goodall joining our merry band. Long time Kumho driver Stephen Pearson put in an appearance in invitation class as he lives locally. Another newcomer to the Kumho championship was Stuart Pywell, a well regarded BMW driver & another of the Bradley crew, this time Adrian behind the wheel of the very smart 78 car.

The front row was a repeat of Brands Hatch, with James Card on pole & Brad Sheehan alongside him. Second row saw the two Mikes with Pensavalle edging out Vitulli, both in red M3 E46’s. Ian Crisp was 5th with local lad Bryan Bransom alongside him, while the 4th row had Darren Morgan-Owen in the last of the Class A cars & Adrian Bradley from the Invitation class. Leading Class B driver Kevin Denwood was 9th and the first of the Mini drivers Daniel Butcher Lord was 10th. Stephen Pearson and James Goodall, one of the new mini drivers occupied row 6 followed by Mini’s occupied by Rob Austin, Neal Clarke, Andy Langley, Zac Blackwell and Gary Papworth. Stuart Pywell driving a hired car completed the 9th row, with Trevor Ford, Peter Miller & Jeff Nixon completing the grid.

The weather remained damp, but there was drama as the grid formed up as James Card was alone on the front row of the grid. Brad Sheehan’s Capel Tree Surgeons backed car was under-going a gearbox change and a myriad of setbacks prevented him from joining the grid. James made a poor start off the line & was headed into turn one by Michael Pensavalle, Mike Vitulli and Darren Morgan-Owen, but by the end of the Bentley Straight it was Pensavalle leading from James Card with the pack in hot pursuit. Brad Sheehan & his crew had enough bolts fitted to at least make his car mobile & as he blasted out of the pit-lane he was a lap down on the field but proceeded to carve through the field. James took the lead on Lap 2 &the leading pair started to pull away from Vitulli and Darren Morgan-Owen. Ian Crisp & Bryan Bransom were locked in their own fight over 5th place with Adrian Bradley joining in. Pearson was next up with Dan & Andy in their mini’s mixing it with Class B leader Kevin Denwood. Goodall, Austin, Clark & Blackwell were next up the road scrapping over 12th place. James Card was in a tight battle with Pensavalle until Mikes car developed a misfire which resulted in retirement and was later diagnosed as a spark plug failure. By the end of the race James had stretched his lead to over 10 seconds from a determined Michael Vitulli who was himself 6 seconds ahead of the battle between Bryan Bransom & Darren Morgan-Owen with Bryan taking 3rd by less than a second. Adrian Bradley was a lonely 5th, Steve Pearson 6th & Kevin Denwood winning Class B in 7th. The battle of the Mini’s was resolved in favour of Daniel Butcher-Lord from James Goodall, Andy Langley & Rob Austin. Brad Sheehan took a well deserved 12th with Neal Clarke 13th, Trevor Ford 2nd in Class B, Gary Papworth, Stuart Pywell, Peter Miller & Jeff Nixon the remaining finishers, Jeff having acute gear selection issues did well to reach the finishing line, while Ian Crisp & Zac Blackwell retired after a coming together!

Saturday evenings pig roast was a spectacular success with drivers, family, mechanics and all who managed to attend. Thanks to Paul Brooker for all his efforts & to a number of drivers wives who provided the puddings (or sweet course if you are posh!)

Sunday morning started fairly bright but became more overcast as race time approached. Slicks were the order of the day for those classes with a choice and seemed ideal when the flag dropped & James Card made a great start to lead into the first corner but coming into Nelson his gearbox locked and he spun to a standstill on the exit of the corner. Luckily everyone avoided him and by the time the entire field had passed he managed to restart the engine & fine a gear to rejoin the race.

Meanwhile Brad Sheehan in his “Days of Thunder” lookalike, having fitted all the remaining nuts, bolts & brackets to his gearbox was the man on a mission, leading at the end of Lap 1 from Bryan in his orange 26 car. Mike Pensavalle was into 3rd with Mike Vitulli 4th. The commentators & photographers were the first to notice the falling rain & the drivers quickly sussed it out too! The Class A cars were a treat to watch fish-tailing under braking at the end of the Bentley Straight & power sliding out of Nelson towards the bomb-hole. Particular mention must go to Bryan Bransom who sadly retired with a couple of laps to go & Michael Vittuli who was really on the ragged edge. Brad held it together to take another win with Michael Pensavalle 2nd, Vitulli 3rd & Darren edging Adrian for 4th. 6th was Daniel Butcher-Lord in his Class winning Mini, James Card recovered to 7th. Andy Langley was 2nd Mini home & Kevin Denwood won Class B with Rob Austin completing the top ten. Ian Crisp, Neal Clarke, Gary Papworth, Stuart Pywell, Trevor Ford, Pete Miller & an intermittent geared Jeff Nixon completed the finishers. Soon after the finish the rain ceased & the sun came out!!

Drivers all seemed well pleased and with a return to Brands Hatch at the end of July for the next round, let’s look forward to more close racing & possibly even more mini’s.