CHANDLER HOPS TO A TRIPLE ON PEMBREY EASTER WEEKEND

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Chandler drove all weekend as if he'd never been away! - Photo: James Roberts

The Mazda MX-5 Super Series enjoyed a fruitful opening rounds at Brands Hatch a few weeks ago with three different winner from all three races. Now the series moves on to a new venue as Pembrey Circuit in South Wales welcomed the competitors for the first time. Along with the bright and sunny conditions, the weekend also gave the drivers their first chance to competitively race on the new Clubmans layout.

Even though the entry was a little smaller than that which had populated the Brands Hatch paddock, Pembrey did see the return of a familiar face behind the wheel of a Mazda. 2015 Mazda MX-5 Mk1 champion Brian Chandler brought a newly build Mk3 to give it a competitive shakedown, electing to do the driving himself in his first Mazda race on BRSCC shores since Anglesey last year. Alongside him came drivers that had all been present at Brands Hatch as they eagerly awaited the first session of the weekend.

Come qualifying on Saturday morning, it was clear that Chandler was going to start as favourite as his pace was evident. He blitzed the session to take pole position for Race 1 by 0.8 seconds, leaving Simon Fleet to top best of the rest as he would line up on the front row next to him. James Kell and Jo Marshall finished up 3rd and 4th fastest respectively ahead of Jeremy Crook, Clive Powles, Alex Miller, Matt Pickford, Darren Kell and Declan Lee.

The opening race was barely corners old before an incident prompted an immediate race stoppage. On the approach to the new complex for the first time, Jeremy Crook lost the car under braking forcing him to take to the grass in an attempt to avoid an impact. Sadly, this wouldn’t be the case as rejoining the track saw him collect both James Kell and Simon Fleet, leaving all three cars out on the spot on the infield. Immediately the red flag was thrown, the cars were recovered and the grid reformed as quickly as possible.

Once racing did get back underway, Chandler was able to race away at the front in a lead which saw him unchallenged for the duration. Despite the best efforts of 2nd placed Marshall to keep up with the former champion, Chandler proved to be just that little bit too quick. With a gap of almost 10 seconds on the start of the last lap, Chandler took it steady on the final lap and coasted across the line to take Race 1 with ease, allowing Marshall to close in to bring the gap down to just over 5 seconds at the end. For 3rd place, Alex Miller saw off the intentions of an improved Matt Pickford to take up the final podium spot, while Clive Powles would round off the top 5. Cameron Thompson was next to finish in 6th ahead of Darren Kell and Liz Walton.

The second race wasn’t quite as straightforward for Chandler as the first the day before, as this time he was challenged and even passed at one stage. From the start, Marshall was able to get a better launch off the line and lead the opening two laps before Chandler lined him up and took the BC Cars Motorsport machine into the lead on Lap 3. However, behind the pair someone was charging hard in a bid to take glory. Alex Miller and the Boreham Motorsport mechanics seemed to have found something overnight that worked as Miller was able to not only pick off Marshall for 2nd with relative ease, but then began chasing and catching Chandler for the lead by midpoint.

Over the course of the second half of the race, Miller applied the pressure lap after lap, even getting ahead for a moment before Chandler muscled his way back past. In the end, despite the valiant efforts of Miller gunning for his first win, it wasn’t enough to deny Chandler making it two from two. Pickford put in arguably his best drive in a Mk3 to date as he caught the leading pair towards the end and cemented a well-deserved 3rd place. Jo Marshall picked up a distant 4th place finish ahead of Clive Powles once again in 5th, followed by Darren Kell, Thompson, Lee and Walton. Both James Kell and Simon Fleet had been able to compete, albeit James forced to a backup car, but neither would see the flag as Kell was involved in an incident at Dibeni Bend that put him out on the spot, while Fleet suffered mechanical issues that forced him to park up on the infield once again.

Moving into the third and final race of the weekend at Pembrey later that afternoon, it became something of a battle for survival. Again Chandler didn’t make the best of starts, allowing Miller and Pickford to stream past him to lead 1st and 2nd across the line at the end of Lap 1. However, Chandler picked off teammate Pickford to take 2nd before again claiming the lead by Lap 3, this time passing Miller. As Chandler aimed to pull away in the lead, he was aided his main contenders falling by the wayside. First, Simon Fleet was involved in an incident which forced him out with damaged rear suspension, followed by both Pickford and then Miller dropping out with their own mechanical problems. As this all took place, it aided James Kell in his efforts to make his way through the field from the back of the grid.

By the chequered flag, Chandler had completed a successful hattrick and competitive shakedown of the new car by taking the win, while James Kell’s rise through the order ended with a well deserved 2nd place to end a sour weekend on a high note. Marshall completed his own triple by taking his third podium of the meeting, followed by Darren Kell, Walton and Powles as the remaining finishers.

Next up on the Super Series calendar is a trip north to the fantastic Cadwell Park circuit in Louth, Lincolnshire where the twists, turns and undulating elevation changes will really suit the MX-5s down to a tee. Who will become the king or queen of the “mini-Nurburgring” in 2019?

Scott Woodwiss

Next Race

The race calendar will be announced shortly.

Last Race

Silverstone (International) 5th - 6th Oct 2019

Current Standings

Driver Accrued Points Adjusted Total
1 Brian Chandler 0
2 Joseph Marshall-Birks 0
3 James Kell 0