Looking along a line of 15 stunning BMW Compact Cup race cars in the sunshine of the Knockhill paddock, it was difficult to believe that this was only the 5th ever race meeting of our brand new Championship. There is certainly no let up in the momentum and the BMW teams showed the whole Scottish motorsport community that they really mean business. With cars currently racing and with those being built, it’s likely that 2014 will see grids of well over 20 cars!
Within the 15 car line up we gave a warm Scottish welcome to two racers from the Gaz Shocks / Marangoni Tyres BMW Compact Cup English series. Stratton Mackay and Bryce Greenwood had both made the trip North to help support their Scottish counterparts (quite literally in Stratton’s case as he definitely got married in a kilt!), and it added a new dimension to the whole weekend. Neither of them had raced at Knockhill before, but in Saturday testing both had shown themselves to be very quick and capable. We also welcomed another Scottish newcomer in Steven Dailly who’s white car was absolutely stunningly prepared. His Dad Paul admitted that he had spent most of his recent life in his workshop so that the car would be ready for this meeting…. and what a top job he and his team had done!
It was quite an emotional sight for everyone involved in the project this year as the BMW’s rolled out of the holding area and onto the circuit for qualifying. The record number of cars seemed to add a higher level of concentration than ever before, and everyone was taking things seriously. It might well just be “club racing”, but every single driver would be feeling exactly the same excitement and emotions that any F1 or BTCC racer will vouch for.
Stratton Mackay sadly didn’t manage to make qualifying, as even after a late night working on the car his team couldn’t cure some overheating issues that had plagued him in testing the day before. A disaster also struck Paul Mac as one of his wheels had been left loose after a last minute tyre change and he had to pit almost as soon as he had gone out.
Alan Kirkaldy struggled to get a good run without traffic for a few laps, but as normal he pinned an absolute stunner of a lap in a time of 1.04.523. Bryce Greenwood (who was entered as a non points scoring guest driver due to a small technical difference with his car) wasn’t far behind with a 1.04.629. The other two stars of the show were Billy Campbell who qualified in 3rd and newcomer Steven Dailly in 4th. After an inconsistent start to his season, Billy has just clicked with his car and showed that he has the natural ability to mix it with the front runners. Steven also showed that he has real talent and gave some of the more regular racers a bit of a scare. Christie Doran has also found yet another new injection of pace, and once again topped her own personal best lap times with almost a 2 second improvement!
Race one – The crowd at Knockhill was huge after the circuit marketing team had struck a web deal for discounted entry tickets, and all of them were lining the circuit after the lunchbreak in anticipation of the BMW race.
Alan Kirkaldy and Bryce Greenwood managed to keep their front row positions off the start, with a hard charging Billy Campbell close behind. Greg Graham made yet another trade mark start and managed to move from 7th to 4th before the chicane. Unfortunately for Paul Mac, at the start of lap 2 Scott Adams locked up under braking for Macintyres and tagged Pauls back wheel. This sent Paul into the gravel which caused a safety car to be deployed until has car was towed to a safe place. Scott managed to continue, but with a bent steering arm he was well off the pace.
As the safety car pulled off and the racing commenced, the top 4 stretched a bit of a gap leaving a great close battle between those behind. Garry Muir, Stephen Russell, Steven Dailly, Findlay Adams, Mark Souter, Stephen Emslie and Graeme Gordon spent a couple of laps jostling for position before Steven Dailly managed to make a break for it and tried to get caught up with the leaders. With all of the cars being so equal in performance, the racing was close and exciting, but in line with the whole ethic of the series, it was also very clean and fair with absolutely no bumping or door handle rubbing.
Unfortunately for Stephen Russell, he had to retire on lap 6 due to some overheating gremlins that had been plaguing him all weekend.
At the front, Alan Kirkaldy was having a great battle with Bryce Greenwood. They were pretty much nose to tail for lap after lap, but the race experience of Alan Kirkaldy came into play and he didn’t give Bryce any opportunities to attempt a pass. In the end they finished only 1 second apart, with a fantastic first ever podium for Billy Campbell who took the fastest lap time after a stunning drive.
Race 1 BMW Result
1st (27) Alan Kirkaldy
Guest (66) Bryce Greenwood
2nd (15) Billy Campbell
3rd (10) Greg Graham
4th (84) Steven Dailly
5th (92) Garry Muir
6th (65) Mark Souter
7th (35) Findlay Adams
8th (38) Graeme Gordon
9th (34) Stephen Emslie
10th (64) Christie Doran
11th (82) Scott Adams
DNF (5) Paul McErlean
DNF (69) Stephen Russell
DNS (18) Stratton Mackay
Due to the amount of races that SMRC had impressively managed to fit into the one day, there was a long wait until the 2nd race. Throughout the afternoon the weather changed from bright sunshine, through to pouring rain…. nothing new for Knockhill then! Due to a technical glitch, Bryce Greenwood had decided not to start in race 2, but Paul Mac being the absolutely top bloke that he is, offered to lend Bryce his own car for the race. Although Bryce wasn’t 100% sure, he decided to race Paul’s car rather than miss out and have to head home early.
When the BMW’s were instructed to head to the pre-race holding area the sun was shining and everyone was on dry tyres and dry weather settings. The weather stayed this way until the cars headed onto track for the warm up lap, but as they lined up on the grid the heavens opened. With the conditions as they were the first corner could have been a disaster zone, but every driver played their part in keeping it clean and damage free.
Alan Kirkaldy again kept his position and managed to get away in the lead, but with Bryce close behind in the borrowed car of Paul. Greg Graham and Billy Campbell had a tussle for a couple of corners, but Billy wasn’t as keen on the wet conditions and settled in behind. Mark Souter on the other hand really came into his own and worked his way up behind Greg and into 4th, before pulling another good move on Bryce to take him into 3rd. On the exit of Clarks, Bryce got it a bit sideways which allowed Greg into 2nd place a few car lengths behind Alan Kirkaldy.
Behind Mark Souter, there was again a very tight battle between about 8 cars and once again everyone adhered to the clean racing ethos and kept it fair. Findlay Adams also seemed to enjoy the slippy conditions and he made up a couple of places to put himself in 4th. Garry Muir had set his car up for completely dry conditions and he struggled to keep any momentum, not helped by the fact he’s still on the same set of tyres he started the season on!
Stephen Emslie had the same issue, and his worn dry weather tyres gave him a tricky time of it as he tried to keep it on the black bit. He managed to give the watching crowd some fine entertainment as he caught various sideways moments throughout the race. Christie was also putting her recent skid pan training to good use as she fought hard to control her car. She then had a huge slide over Duffus which will look great on the telly, but stayed calm and managed to get back onto the circuit to collect more valuable points. Scott Adams also really struggled with the wet conditions but to be fair to him he’s hardly had any seat time in the car at all and the conditions were treacherous. He also managed to keep it all together and finished the race.
Up front, Greg Graham was nibbling away at the lead of Alan Kirkaldy and was trying everything to catch up. Alan’s race experience was keeping him smooth and well off the slippy kerbs, but to have any chance, Greg was having to risk a spin by using the kerbs. The tactic seemed to work as 2 laps from the end Greg made a move up the inside of the hairpin to sneak the lead. Again, due to the clean racing ethics of the BMW Compact Cup, Alan gave Greg fair racing room to make the move. On the final lap, Alan decided to go for it and also use more of the kerbs, and although he gained some ground it wasn’t enough to recover the situation. This left Greg with his first race win, Alan in a close 2nd and a great drive by Mark Souter to take his first ever podium in 3rd.
Race 2 BMW Result
1st (10) Greg Graham
2nd (27) Alan Kirkaldy
3rd (65) Mark Souter
4th (35) Findlay Adams
6th (84) Steven Dailly
Guest (5) Bryce Greenwood
7th (38) Graeme Gordon
8th (92) Garry Muir
9th (15) Billy Campbell
10th (69) Stephen Russell
11th (82) Scott Adams
12th (64) Christie Doran
13th (34) Stephen Emslie
DNS (5) Paul McErlean
DNS (18) Stratton Mackay
All in all a great showcase meeting for the Marangoni Tyres Scottish BMW Compact Cup! We had visitor entrants from the English series, another new local car and driver, and lot’s of clean, close and fair racing.
A final word from poor Stratton Mackay who along with his race crew travelled from just outside London to race with us at the weekend….. and due to mechanical issue he didn’t get on track.
“I can say that I have never been to a friendlier paddock and had such a good time while up against the wall!! Barring the bloody motorsport (mechanical issues) we had a great time. So with that in mind I’ll be back to enter your final round if that is ok???? Thanks again to all, you have a great championship there and a great group of people,
It’s how motorsport should be.