Snetterton – 11th / 12th July 2020 Race Report, Images and ResultsPosted on: July 13th 2020 • Posted in: Race Results
At last, lights out on our first races of 2020….. Here is Chaz Draycott’s first report for The Creative Funding Solutions Sports 2000 Championship
Rounds 1 & 2 – Snetterton 300
With very little testing on Friday afternoon due to a couple of red flags in the sessions and some shenanigans on behalf of the Formula 3 cars, Qualifying was the first real test for the cars and drivers this season.
As expected Tom Stoten and Michael Gibbins set the pace early on with Paul Trayhurn and Josh Law not too far behind. Neil Burroughs had issues with the car and had to end his session prematurely – he would line up 9th on the grid.
With the two title protagonists locking out the front row, it was looking like business as usual before the race had even got on the way. A clean start saw Michael Gibbins keep his lead into turn one, while an inspired start by Dominic Lesniewski Saw him jump from 6th to 3rd temporarily, making contact with Josh Law as he squeezed into a tiny gap along the pit wall, before dropping back into 5th place.
Gwyn Pollard, in the solo invitational Crosslé, started to tussle with Pete Needham and Andy Chittenden until the latter had to retire from the race with brake issues. Unfortunately, after settling into a rhythm, Gwyn himself would retire with a suspected head gasket failure. This gave the aforementioned Pete Needham a nice buffer at the front of the Pinto class, which he would go on to win.
The top three showed great consistency throughout the entire race, barely deviating from each other’s lap times. The gap between race leader Gibbins and the two chasing cars fluctuated corner by corner but the reigning champion held on to take the first race win of the season.
Neil Burroughs put in a great drive, showing his true pace to make it up to 4th place by the checkered flag after starting 9th. During his ascent he overtook Giles Billingsley, Dominic Lesniewski and a great three-way scrap between Roger Donnan, Nick Bates and Mike Turner.
John Owen would retire a few laps from the end with a broken drive shaft, but the first round of the season remained a clean and controversy free opener. Neil Burroughs would certainly be one to watch in Round 2, starting right near the sharp end.
In the baking hot sunshine of Snetterton on Sunday afternoon, the cars lined up after a long morning of maintenance. Michael Gibbins wasn’t able to get the start that he wanted and by Riches he was third behind Josh Law and Tom Stoten. Neil Burroughs slotted in behind with Giles Billingsley in 5th and Dominic Lesniewski in 6th after he wasn’t able to replicate his great start from Saturday.
In the Pintos, it was Needham leading them away while Pat Egan dropped to the back – Andy Chittenden inheriting 2nd place early on with Richard Cooke just behind.
John Owen and Paul Trayhurn started from the back of the grid but made early progress, overtaking the Pinto cars in the first lap. The latter would overtake Grant Gibson a couple of laps in, before setting his sights on Mike Turner, Nick Bates and Roger Donnan ahead.
Back at the front, Michael Gibbins had a sensational couple of laps and retook the lead with Tom Stoten falling down to third. Neil Burroughs was on his tail and tried a late braking manoeuvre into Murrays but it didn’t pay off – Neil saying before the race he would have to be brave on the brakes as he couldn’t quite keep with the top guys in a straight line.
After only three laps, the bright yellow number 90 Lola of Pat Egan rattled it’s way into the pit lane – engine troubles cutting his weekend short.
Paul Trayhurn’s comeback through the field was inspired – almost overtaking one car per lap and consistently matching the pace of the guys at the sharp end. After overtaking Billingsley and Lesniewski on his way there, the latter pair would trade lap times to the flag, finishing barely a second apart.
With a couple of laps to go, reigning champion Gibbins had extended his lead to just over 5 seconds but Josh Law wasn’t done with him yet. He started to consistently take chunks out of Michael’s lead, doing the fastest lap of the race on the final tour, bringing the defecit down to 2.9 seconds at the line.
It wasn’t enough in the end though, which meant that Michael Gibbins took maximum points away from Snetterton and opened his 2020 season in the best possible way. The aforementioned Law would be happy with second place, while Stoten and Burroughs crossed the line third and fourth, almost 30 seconds off the lead.
John Owen and Ash Law would have a couple of laps of dicing as the number 28 MCR made his way up the order from the back of the grid. A mistake by Ash late on in the race would mean that the gap opened up, but he showed great improvement from the start of the weekend.
Peter Needham had another straightforward race in the Pinto class to take maximum points in the opening weekend, with Andy Chittenden and Richard Cooke rounding out the podium after being close together all race.
Overall it was a very enjoyable opening weekend for everyone involved – spirits were high and it was clear that the racing had been sorely missed over the first half of the year. It looks promising that there will be a lot more Pintos present at Silverstone too, which – despite being 5 weeks away – is sure to come around very quickly.
Many thanks to Chaz for his report and also his excellent commentary over the weekend.
Race images credit to Jakob Ebrey
Race images credit to Chaz Draycott