Round 6 Report - Hethel - 28th September 2013
Anthony Lidster boosted his title hopes this weekend when he recorded his first Pace Ward Mitsubishi Lancer Register Sprint Series victory of the season at Hethel Test Track. The Evo VI driver set a time over half-a-second quicker than anyone else on the fourth of the day's six runs, whilst Brad Sheehan in his Evo IX and winner of the previous round Gary Hayward in his Evo VII, were left to fight it out for the remaining podium places.
The sixth of seven venues visited this by the series this year was the private test track belonging to Lotus. Extensively refurbished in 2011, the circuit is situated behind the famous sports car company's factory in Norfolk and the MLR event utilised nearly all of its 2.2-miles of FIA quality asphalt.
Perfect conditions greeted the MLR competitors when they arrived at Hethel on Saturday morning, with the dry and bright weather persisting throughout the day. Following the sighting lap, the first of the practice runs kicked off the day's action.
It was a cautious start for most, as they established the level of grip and braking points around the track - especially at the end of the long 'Mansell' straight and entry into the tight second-gear chicane. Initially it was Sheehan who set the Class D pace, but on the fourth and final practice run, Lidster showed that the luck which had eluded him earlier this season may just have changed.
In Class C it was clear that William Griffiths and his Evo XI were enjoying the track's configuration and were not only quickest of the category during practice, but fifth fastest overall. Ben Casement carried on from where he had left off last time out at Castle Combe by going quickest in Class B, whilst Nick Hanbury surprised many of the regular Class A runners with an impressive time on the last of his four preliminary runs.
After a short break, the serious action got underway in the afternoon, with Hayward setting the best time on the first of the competitive runs and looking like he might make it two wins out of two. But Sheehan had other ideas and went quicker on the second. Unfortunately for Hayward, any thoughts of fighting back were dashed on run three, when a suspected rear differential problem brought his day to a premature end.
Hayward's retirement meant that the Class D and overall lead was now a two-way battle between Sheehan and Lidster. Eager to secure his first win of the season, Lidster threw caution to the wind on run four and it paid off, when he posted a time 0.55 seconds faster than anyone else was to achieve for the rest of the day.
Try as he might to stay in contention, series leader Logan Black was finding the speed-centric test track a little too much for his less-powerful Evo VII. Having spun on run four after pushing his car beyond its limits, Black elected to call it a day and not compromise his chances of challenging for the title on the final round in four weeks time.
Another not to realise his full potential was Barry Smithson, who's day ended even earlier than Black's or Hayward's, when his Evo VI's driveshaft took a turn for the worse on run number two. Consequently, the final Class D and overall positions read Lidster, Sheehan, Hayward and Black.
Meanwhile in Class C, it was Paul Allin who took the early advantage in his Evo V, setting the fastest time on the first of the competitive runs. But then Griffiths went a full second faster on run two. Not to be outdone, Allin took back the category lead on the third, but a clean outing on the fifth was enough to see Griffiths secure the final advantage by a slender 0.33 seconds.
In familiar fashion, the battle for Class B honours was another closely fought affair, with the first three cars ending the day separated by just 0.39 seconds. Whilst he was quickest during practice, Casement's competitive sessions didn't start well when he discovered the effectiveness of the circuit's gravel traps.
This left Simon Griffiths to scoop the first run in his Evo VII, with Barry Jordan doing likewise on the second in his Evo VIII. Griffiths took control again on the third, with Casement, having recovered from his earlier indiscretion, setting what was to become the Class B FTD on the forth.
In Class A, Ian Fleming and his trusty Evo II once again showed that his near 20-year old car is still a match for its more contemporary counterparts, overhauling initial category leader Hanbury and his Evo XI on run two.
Fleming got quicker as the day went on and posted his fastest time on the six and final run, with winner at Castle Combe Alan Rochelle in his Evo VI snatching second place from Hanbury on run three.
After an excellent day's sport, the final scores mean that, with driver's counting their best four results of the season, each of the MLR series' four classes will be decided on the seventh and final round. Taking place at Teesside Autodrome on 26th October, it is the only round that runs in the dark and therefore, an exciting finale beckons for the end of the MLR Sprint Series' seventh consecutive season.
The 2013 Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series is sponsored by: Pace Ward performance insurance, SuperPro suspension parts, AP Tuning, Ross Sport and HKS.
Round 6 Class WinnersClass Driver Car TimeA Ian Fleming Evo II 1:29.87B Ben Casement Evo VIII 1:26.27C William Griffiths Evo IX 1:22.46D (FTD) Anthony Lidster Evo VI 1:17.96Click here for a full set of results
Overall standings after round 6Pos Class Driver Car Points1 D Logan Black Evo VII 19802 D Anthony Lidster Evo VI 17153 D Gary Hayward Evo VII 14644 D Kenny Brookes Evo V 13975 D Brad Sheehan Evo IX 13656 D Barry Smithson Evo VI 13357 D Jonathan Chambers Evo VII 9928 C Stephen Moore Evo VI 7879 C Paul Allin Evo V 77510 C William Griffiths Evo IX 733