MSV circuits hosted a wide range of major national and
international championships in 2012. Here's a round-up of some of
the most memorable:
The DTM returned to Brands Hatch with a new spring date, just
three rounds into a new era that saw BMW join existing
manufacturers Audi and Mercedes-Benz, and brand new cars, with
coupés replacing the older saloons. This meant that everyone
competed in current machinery, and could no longer state equipment
as a reason for a lowly result.
Unsurprisingly the order at the front was unchanged, but
Mercedes certainly had the edge in the early stages of the season.
BMW were closing the gap, with reigning champion Martin Tomczyk
providing a stirring performance in the M3 as he fought his way up
the field. However no-one could stop home hero Gary Paffett and he
took pole position on Saturday before dominating the race on the
Jamie Green was the only other Briton in the top ten after a
particularly tough afternoon for David Coulthard and Andy Priaulx.
But the crowd, including Jake Humphrey, Paul Di Resta and Jenson
Button, who awarded the winners' trophy to the McLaren test driver,
were ecstatic at the result. Afterwards Paffett said: "It's
very special, my first win here. I learnt to race cars at this
circuit and to win here is an incredible feeling!"
The closest challenger to Paffett was BMW's Bruno Spengler but
the Englishman's title lead looked unassailable after the race.
However the Canadian has been in a similar situation only to lose
out in previous campaigns and this experience paid off, for he
worked hard over the year to take the title
from Paffett at the final round. Next year Paffett will
be more determined than ever to repeat his 2005 championship.
Meanwhile in the DTM-supporting VW Scirocco R-Cup the popular
Legends category saw 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill make a
one-off comeback to competitive driving. Sensationally he topped
the opening practice session against the series young guns, and his
old friends from racing's 'rat pack': Mark Blundell, Martin
Donnelly, Perry McCarthy, Julian Bailey and honour member David
Brabham. However the latter was the most successful in the race
after Hill sustained damage in an encounter at Druids. Blundell and
Donnelly featured strongly, the latter performing the save of the
weekend after being tapped into a slide at Clearways.
Cooper Tires British F3 International
The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series season
started at Oulton Park over the Easter weekend, with a new Dallara
chassis and a big name in Carlos Sainz Jr, son of the rally legend.
With a reputation for being fast and in possession of great car
control skills - just like his father - he was tipped for great
things along with Carlin team mates Jazeman Jaafar and Jack Harvey.
However it was the rival Fortec team who came away with the honours
in Cheshire. Pipo Derani took a thrilling victory in the second
race when National Class runner Spike Goddard managed to hold off
the field for half the race, before Felix Serralles won the third,
setting him up for a title challenge.
Harvey won the opening race of the year however, and took a pole
and victory double at Brands Hatch two months later, with Derani
winning the reverse-grid second race once again. The British title
challenger took another MSV win at a wet Snetterton in August, with
Sainz and Harry Tincknell claiming the other two. Meanwhile Jaafar
was mounting a campaign based on consistency, and with Serralles
threatening to steal the crown for Fortec, the battle went down the
wire at the end of the season, with Harvey eventually declared the
Avon Tyres British GT Championship
Sharing the bill with British F3, the Avon Tyres British GT
Championship enjoyed a vintage season, with huge grids featuring
one of the best supercar line-ups on the planet. At the Easter
weekend opener, the United Autosports Audi R8 was cruising to a
lights-to-flag victory before slowing on the final lap, leaving the
BMW Z4 of the revived Ecurie Ecosse team to pick up the pieces. On
a strong meeting for German cars, Trackspeed picked up a win in
race two with one of their Porsche 997s.
The Trackspeed and Motorbase Porsches featured strongly
throughout the season but Ecurie Ecosse were on the pace again in
June on the Brands Hatch GP circuit. However the Z4 was being
hunted down by Aston Martin driver Johnny Adam in the final 20
minutes of the 2-hour race. Despite a 25 second deficit, Adam
passed the BMW in the closing stages and just missed out on beating
eventual racewinner Jann Mardenborough in the RJN Nissan GTR by
0.002 seconds. It was the closest ever finish of a British GT race
and one of the year's most memorable moments.
There was more drama at Snetterton in August with the weather
playing an important part in the proceedings. Torrential rain
showers added plenty of excitement, with another close finish in
race one as Trackspeed's Steve Tandy and Joe Osborne held off team
mates Jon Minshaw and Tim Harvey as well as the Alex
Buncombe/Mardenborough Nissan by less than two seconds.
Race two was much drier and saw United Autosports take their
first win of the year but only after they'd swapped their R8 for a
McLaren MP4-12C, the first to grace the series. They finished 16
seconds clear of Michael Caine and Daniele Perfetti in the
Motorbase Porsche but this pairing were to end the year as
champions, after several crews entered the final round in the hunt
for overall honours.
Delphi British Truck Championship
The Delphi British Truck Racing Championship added a third visit
to MSV circuits in 2012, with Snetterton 300 hosting a round of the
series for the first time in August. Before then, the second round
was held at Brands Hatch and rivals David Jenkins and Matt
Summerfield fought for Division 1 honours. The former, entering the
year as reigning champion, had a typically wild weekend that
included a spin, as Summerfield started a run that saw him dominate
Summerfield was victorious in Norfolk over the summer and at
seasons' end, as the championship ended with a spectacular firework
display, but Jenkins added a win in Kent to give him added
confidence over the winter. Meanwhile Tonbridge's David Smith was
equally as imperious in Division 2, but was unable to overcome Oly
Janes at the end of the year. With the latter missing many rounds,
it was a case of what might have been for the man from
British Superkart Grand Prix
Snetterton also added the Superkart British Grand Prix to its
calendar in 2012 and Lee Harpham dominated the second Round of the
European Superkart Championship with a brace of victories.
Defending champion Emmanuel Vinuales beat him to pole position but
it was Harpham who made the better starts, holding off his rivals
to the flag, with the former taking a solitary second place. Chris
Needham performed well but retired from both races, despite running
at the sharp end of the field.
Damien Payart scored his first championship points of the season
with third in the opening race, but tyre trouble in the second left
him back in sixth. Former champion Gavin Bennett took second and
fourth places, whilst Emmanuel Vinuales drove into a very
impressive second place in race two.
Tickets for the 2013 rounds of the DTM, Delphi
British Truck Racing Championship and the British F3/GT
Championships at MSV circuits are now on sale and you can
order them by clicking here.
Images courtesy of Hoch Zwei, Jonathan Hatfield, Simon
Hildrew, Norman Hayes, Az Edwards, Phatphoto, Danny Dzenis,
Gary Hawkins and Richard Styles