Silverstone National Extends Championship Hunt!
Following our previous meeting at Castle Combe, and in the build up to this Silverstone meeting, there had been some noise on the airwaves about penalties given out by the Clerk of the Course to Steven Dailly and James Gornall…the 2 current favourites for the 2017 Nankang Tyre BMW Compact Cup Championship crown. Although it’s never pleasant to see and hear some of the nonsense spoken or being shared on social media (the majority from people with no knowledge of the facts or of the rules under which we race), there was definitely the potential for some great racing between these pair, as both of them were fired up and raring to go!
As has been the case in every one of our race meetings so far, the conditions were dry and almost perfect for our early Sunday morning qualifying session. With our largest grid of the season so far, 33 BMW Compacts rolled onto the stunning Silverstone National circuit to do battle for the best grid positions in both of our races. We didn’t have too long to wait before working out that James “Jiggy” Gornall and Steven Dailly were again proving that they both have just a little bit more pace than everyone else as they consistently swapped lap times within hundredths of seconds of each other. Ben Huntley and Sam Carrington Yates were also looking rapid, but just couldn’t find that little bit extra to really put Jiggy and Steven under pressure.
In the end, Steven took pole for race 1 of the day with a blindingly quick late lap time of 1:11.506, with Jiggy just behind him at 1:11.518, proving again that there is absolutely nothing between the pair. Ben Huntley was very close to their pace however and he was the only other driver to dip below the 1 minute 12 second pace, with a stunning lap of 1:11.915.
For race 2, the front 2 swapped places with Jiggy taking pole and Steven lining up beside him in P2. Ben Huntley again showed that he’s one of the most improved drivers in the field, by taking P3, closely followed by Sam Yates who would line up in P4 for both races.
Behind the front rows, it was very clear that we were in for some extremely close racing, as the next dozen or so drivers were all separated by the narrowest of margins!
Top 10 Qualifyers: Race 1
Steven Dailly 1:11.506
James Gornall 1:11.518
Ben Huntley 1:11.915
Sam Yates 1:12.246
Matt Parkes 1:12.316
Ian Jones 1:12.347
Owen Hunter 1:12.362
Mark Skeats 1:12.397
Tom Griffiths 1:12.414
Keith Towers 1:12.425
Top 10 Qualifyers: Race 2
James Gornall 1:11.613
Steven Dailly 1:11.785
Ben Huntley 1:12.019
Sam Yates 1:12.287
Owen Hunter 1:12.395
Keith Towers 1:12.494
Matt Parkes 1:12.496
Tom Griffiths 1:12.519
Mark Skeats 1:12.529
Ian Jones 1:12.556
*Apologies at this point for the lack of lap by lap detail on the days races. The author of the race reports did not have access to the race commentary box for this meeting*
As the huge 30+ grid rolled up to the grid for the start of the first race, the conditions were again dry and perfect. As the lights went out Steven Dailly made a cracking start and kept his car just ahead of Jiggy as they headed into and out of Copse, although there was zero gap between them! Jiggy was intent on making an early move for the lead and had managed to get side by side with Steven on the run down Wellington Straight towards Brooklands, however he didn’t manage to turn this into a pass.
Sam Carrington Yates had made the jump on Ben Huntley and was into P3 early on, with Ben falling back to P6 behind Matt Parkes and a very rapid starting Ian Jones who had made it through to P4 from 6th on the grid. So 1 lap gone and Dailly led Gornall, with Yates, Jones, Parkes, Huntley, Skeats, Hunter, Towers and Corfield completing the early top 10. Through the 2nd lap, Owen Hunter was the only mover inside the top 10 group as he managed to get past Mark Skeats to move up from 8th to 7th. Behind the top 10 the racing was as close and exciting as it always is in the Nankang Tyre BMW Compact Cup Championship, and racers such as Gordon MacMillan, David Sharp, Tom Griffiths, David May and Ruaridh Clark were all having their own scraps for position with each other.
By mid way in the race it looked like Jiggy (who was still behind Steven, but almost glued to his rear bumper) was waiting to capitalise on any mistake that Steven might make, but Steven continued to be almost inch perfect through every braking point, entry, apex and exit and was leaving Jiggy with hardly a sniff of a gap. As in the first lap, Gornall managed to almost get his car side by side with Dailly a few times, but he had to compromise his line to do so and didn’t manage to make anything stick. Carrington Yates was looking comfortable in P3, however he wasn’t able to mount a challenge to move forward as the front pair were already more than a second and a half up the road from him. Aside from the leading 3, the closest fights inside the top 10 were between Ian Jones and Ben Huntley who were squabbling over P4 and P5 and had swapped positions a couple of times already. Behind this pair Mark Skeats and Keith Towers were also swapping positions in their fight for P5. Matt Parkes had by now dropped out of the top 10 running after a technical issue forced him to pit for some attention.
So, as the race for the lead continued, it was as close as ever between Steven and Jiggy, and Steven was continuing to give very little away in terms of passing opportunities to the man behind. Jiggy was giving it everything he had to stick to the bumper of the number 64 car, and although he was constantly moving and searching for just one passing chance it just wasn’t being offered to him. On the last lap of the race however, Jiggy thought his luck was in as Steven seemed to go a little bit deep into Luffield which opened up a bit of a space on the inside. Being the full on racer that he is, Gornall immediately went for it and committed himself to an attempt at squeezing up the inside of Dailly’s car. The move didn’t quite come off however and the end result was a little bit of contact between the 2 cars, with Dailly still managing to hold onto the lead. A visit to the Clerk of the Course after the race saw Jiggy being issued with a 5 place grid penalty for Race 2. As always between these pair, the racing is never “dirty”, but when two drivers are so evenly matched in pace as they are, any passing move is going to be very very tight and will always carry a risk of contact (much like the move that resulted in Steven’s penalty at the previous round).
As the chequered flag dropped, Dailly took the win with Gornall close behind. Sam Carrington Yates managed his race and pace perfectly to hold onto P3, whilst Ben Huntly just managed to hold off a very hard pushing Ian Jones for a well deserved 4th place. Mark Skeats drove a great race to take P6 with the ever determined Keith Towers not giving him a seconds peace close behind him in P7. Alan Corfield crossed the line in P8 after a cracking race from his P13 grid position, although he had Tom Griffiths pushing him over the line in P9. Taking the final top 10 position was David Sharp after another excellent personal performance.
Race 1 top 10 finishers
Sam Carrington Yates
As the cars lined up for our second race of the day, it was expected by most that Jiggy’s 5 place grid penalty would result in Steven Dailly making one of his customary faultless starts and sprinting away from the following pack to take his 2nd win of the day….however as anyone who’s ever watched a Compact Cup race before will tell you….always expect the unexpected. And that’s just what happened!
As the lights went out Steven’s car seemed to bog down and he didn’t get cleanly off the line. This allowed him to be jumped by Huntley and Carrington Yates, however worst of all from his point of view that was Gornall from 6th had made a blinder of a start and was into 2nd place by the time the cars exited Copse on the very first lap! Before the first lap was done there was even more damage done to Dailly’s race as he had a coming together with Ben Huntley which dropped him back to P14. Jiggy on the other hand was taking absolutely no prisoners and he had already passed Yates to take the lead by the end of the first lap. So, with one lap gone we had Gornall leading with Carrington Yates in P2, Ian Jones almost impossibly into 3rd after starting in 10th, with Skeats, Griffiths, Parkes, MacMillan, Corfield, Towers and Tim Scott Andrews making up the leading 10 cars.
As the race progressed it was clear that Jiggy had the bit between his teeth as he set consistent error free lap times, all of them within hundredths of seconds of each other, and which allowed him to gap the following pack by almost half a second a lap. To those watching, it was pretty clear that unless his car suffered some kind of mechanical issue, the win was his…and this was indeed how it panned out.
Behind him however, a very determined Steven Dailly had started pushing his way through from his lowly mid table position and was intent on collecting as many points as possible. By the end of the 2nd lap he was already into P9 and he wasn’t done yet by a long way.
Sam seemed to be comfortable in 2nd place and was managing to maintain a half second gap between himself and Ian Jones in 3rd, who himself was looking comfortable enough ahead of a consistent looking Mark Skeats in 4th. Tom Griffiths in 5th was watching in his mirrors as Matt Parkes and Gordon MacMillan were tripping over each other, and he would also have spotted Steven Dailly making up even more places behind these two.
By around midway in the race, Dailly had caught and passed the pairing of Parkes and MacMillan and was homing in on Tom Griffiths and Ian Jones in an attempt to make the podium…which only a handful of laps previously would have seemed impossible. However, Steven wasn’t phased by the task and was steadily making up ground and taking places. Almost unbelievably, by lap 10 he had caught and passed Jones and was up into P3, but still almost a second away from Sam who was looking fairly comfortable for 2nd place. That was to mean nothing to Dailly however as he relentlessly reeled in Sam and squeezed past him on the next lap! Although he’d defied the odds to get himself into P2, Steven knew that catching Jiggy was an impossible task.
Behind the leading pack there were again some top performances and personal bests being set. It’s great for the championship to see new faces appearing inside the top 10, and also to see others delighted at finishing in their best positions so far this year.
After what was a wonderful race for all those watching (and most of those competing), the top 10 finishers were as follows.
Sam Carrington Yates
Tim Scott Andrews
Next up we’re off to Rockingham, and with the Championship so finely balanced it’s sure to be another great meeting with some fantastic racing!