Another difficult meeting for Paul Sheard Racing, the fourth round of the BRSCC MX-5 SuperCup was overshadowed by rare mechanical troubles. However, two strong finishes for Justin Newnam at his local circuit gave the team a positive showing.
After heavy rain for Friday’s test day, the weather settled down on Saturday and the free practice and qualifying sessions took place in warm, dry conditions. As at Cadwell Park, the Paul Sheard Racing team consisted of only four cars, however the line-up was very different; Cambridge-based Justin Newnam returned for his second race of the year at his local track, Adam Brindle was also back after missing the previous round, and Geoff Gouriet made his first appearance of the year. The team was completed by regular front-runner David Chapman. But after missing the test session on Friday, Chapman found himself struggling for pace while also learning the Snetterton 200 circuit layout. He could only manage 5th place in qualifying despite several setup changes to try to cure the car’s lack of grip. Also dealing with handling issues, Justin Newnam qualified 7th but had shown better pace in practice. Just fractions of a second behind him were Adam Brindle in 8th, while Geoff Gouriet managed an impressive 12th after more than 6 months away from racing. Geoff made up for lost time on Saturday by also competing in the supporting Nippon Challenge races, where he finished 12th overall and won his class in both races.
Saturday’s sunshine gave way to ominous grey clouds on Sunday morning, and as the cars lined up for the first race the rain began to fall. With most of the drivers using dry setups, several of the front qualifiers made slow starts on the now slippery circuit. 5th-placed David Chapman made a quick getaway but it wasn’t to last - his race ended with a gearbox failure on the first lap. Justin Newnam, who had been hindered by a car spinning in front of him on the first lap, soon set about chasing down the group ahead of him. He took advantage of the tricky conditions to make his way up to 4th half way into the race. Though he was caught by Matt Davies later on, Justin finished in a solid 5th place, the best of the remaining Paul Sheard cars. Adam Brindle, following a spin at the second corner, spent the early laps carving his way through the field; after 15 minutes he had worked his way up to 7th and was challenging the cars in front, but his engine failed in spectacular fashion with just two laps to go. Geoff Gouriet had a mostly uneventful race to finish 10th.
With only a few hours between races, the Paul Sheard team had to work quickly to fix their two broken cars. The destroyed gearbox in David Chapman’s car was replaced with plenty of time to spare, but with no way of repairing Adam Brindle’s engine he would have to drive the spare car in race two. Race one had been damp but a heavy shower shortly before race two left the track fully wet with standing water in places. Starting from the back of the grid after their non-finishes in the first race, David Chapman and Adam Brindle took advantage of the other drivers’ cautiousness and forced their way through the grid - by the end of the first lap David was up to 6th and Adam was 12th. Unfortunately an incident with another driver put Adam off the track and left him on a recovery drive from last place. Meanwhile, Justin Newnam and David Chapman began working together to progress through the field. Setting lap times faster than everyone except leader Tom Roche, they reeled in fourth-placed Matt Davies, but despite several attempts at overtaking, neither was able to hold the position and they crossed the finish line in 5th and 6th. Adam Brindle had a lot of time to make up but managed to finish 13th - a good drive in a car that was completely unfamiliar to him. Geoff Gouriet had another lonely race to finish one place ahead of Adam in 12th.
The next round of the MX-5 SuperCup Championship takes place at the always-popular and picturesque Anglesey circuit on August 9th and 10th.
1st 58 Mike Comber 603 (9 races)
2nd 19 David Chapman 592 (9 races)
7th 34 Clint Bardwell 526 (7 races)
9th 17 Darren Standing 502 (7 races)
16th 18 Paul Sheard 360 (4 races)
19th 68 Justin Newnam 348 (4 races)
21st 16 Adam Brindle 312 (4 races)
22nd 6 Julian Taylor 300 (4 races)
24th 27 Jim Hart 252 (4 races)
26th 71 Geoff Gouriet 1
By David ChapmanBack