Our second meeting of the season for Rounds 3 and 4 of the BRSCC Alfa Romeo Championship will be at the Snetterton 300 circuit on 20th/21st April.
This was to have been a TCR UK headlining event but due to low entry numbers the TCR UK series has now been combined with the Touring Car Trophy run by Maximum Motorsport and this has led to the issue of a revised season’s timetable which excludes Snetterton. Our other two meetings on the TCR bill however – at Croft on 6-7 July and Donington 19-20 October – are still on the TCR season’s timetable. The absence of the cars at Snetterton does mean, however, that we will have our own exclusive qualifying session rather than having to share it with another Championship.
Of the drivers who were at Brands in March we will be missing Dave Messenger (booked a holiday in the USA many months ago on the premise that we are never racing on Easter weekend – Murphy’s Law has applied), Gary Miller (malfunctioning ECU), Andrew Fulcher (truck racing), Cip Nistorica (not on his plan), Scott Austin (very poorly engine), Eric Yim and Keith Waite. However, we do warmly welcome new drivers Jamie Thwaites (155) and Martin Jones (147) and returning drivers Anthony George and Jon Billingsley to the Championship. Sadly Riccardo Losselli has had to withdraw the entry of his 4C as the car is still not quite ready. A grid of 14 cars is in prospect. There are other drivers still waiting in the wings, hopefully for Cadwell: Graham Seager, Ray Foley and Roger McMahon in the Modified Class, Andy Inman is due to test a new 156 GTA Power Trophy car being prepared by Peak Alfa shortly, and as well as some (or all!) of those returning who were at Brands we are hoping to see the McFies’ Abarths back on track very soon, budget permitting.
The Twin Spark Cup will be the most numerous class at Snetterton. Tom Hill will be hoping to follow up his brace of class wins at Brands with a repeat performance here, but he will need better luck than he had in the blazing summer heat of Snetterton last summer when an incident put him out of Race 1 and a recovery drive from the back of the grid netted him 3rd place in Race 2. His closest rivals at Brands were Richard Ford and Andrew Bourke and both are back to do battle here and will be trying their utmost to ensure that Tom doesn’t get everything his own way. Richard will be hoping to repeat his double race win here last year and Andrew is sure to be building up his race pace after last year’s sabbatical. The ever competitive Simon Cresswell had wretched luck at Brands with mechanical woes and similar misfortune last year at Snetterton. He is overdue for some good results and will be keen to be in the mix for wins or high placings this weekend.
One intriguing entry is Anthony George in a Bianco Twin Spark. Anthony is a former double champion and in the past we have been used to seeing him in either of his two immaculately prepared racers – the fearsome 156 Turbo and the rapid 33. However, neither car is race-ready at present and as it has been a couple of years since Anthony last raced he will be easing his way back in a 147 Twin Spark – although having said that ‘easing’ is probably the wrong word when you’re in the midst of Twin Sparks! It will be very interesting to see how he fares. Steve O’Brien acquitted himself extremely well at Brands after a 5-year break from the Championship and will be looking to build on that performance in his 147; he is another driver who we anticipate will show steadily improving race pace as the season progresses. Jon Billingsley raced in the Championship in the 4 seasons up to 2016 and is therefore another driver returning after a break from Alfa racing. His was a relatively late entry here so how he will fare we don’t really know but he certainly knows his way around a race car. Last but absolutely by no means least, we welcome Martin Jones to his first ever race in the Alfa Championship. Martin tested a Twin Spark at the Motorsport Days event at Silverstone last autumn and subsequently acquired his 147 from James Browning. The car had race victories and other strongly competitive finishes in James’s hands, so a very warm welcome Martin! We hope he has an enjoyable and successful weekend with us.
The Modified class will again see battle joined between Barry McMahon’s superb 156 Turbo and Richard Thurbin’s Delta Integrale, with Mervyn Miller no doubt hoping to be in close contention also. It was a huge pleasure to see these 3 on track at Brands where they provided a marvellous spectacle of fast competitive racing at the front of the field, Barry and Richard eclipsing the lap times of the Porsches in so doing. In theory the long straights at Snetterton should favour Barry’s car, but Richard is sure to have been working on what is needed to increase his straight line speed and his lightning starts and huge grip through the twisty sections of the circuit should make it an absorbing contest. Mervyn Miller cannot be discounted either; he is a fine driver and more than capable of race wins as we saw at Anglesey last year.
The Power Trophy entry is headed by current class champion and lap record holder Paul Webster in his 156 3.2 GTA. Local driver Paul will be hoping for better reliability this time out after a rare retirement resulted in a no points score in the second race at Brands. Joining Paul once again will be the immaculate Alfa Mito built by Dave Peddie for the Mito Register of the Owners Club and driven once again by experienced driver Ben Sharich. It’s great to have what is sure to be an ever improving race version of a current Alfa model racing alongside more established models and it will be interesting to see how the car goes on its second outing of the season. We are also delighted to have Jamie Thwaites joining the Power Trophy line up for his first Alfa championship race in the Caged Steel Motorsport 3 litre 155. Jamie has had experience driving in other championships and is a welcome addition to our line up.
All in all, it promises to be an interesting weekend of racing with the mix of new faces and returning drivers joining the regulars for another two rounds of competition on the Snetterton 300 circuit.