|SEAT CUPRA CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Boardman Wins SEAT Championship|
|Team Takes £100K Prize|
|Boardman Wins SEAT Championship|
Tom Boardman only had to start the final two rounds of the Smartnav SEAT Cupra Championship at Brands Hatch on Sunday (2nd October) to win the title and that’s precisely what the 21-year old driver from Forton in Lancashire did.
Having scored points, including seven wins in all previous 16 races, Tom came to Brands Hatch knowing that he must drop his two lowest scores and that two zeros now would be ideal. The unusual situation of a driver aiming to score no points began with a sheepish qualifying session on Saturday in which Tom successfully achieved his target of qualifying on the back row of the grid for both Rounds 17 and 18. On Sunday’s race day, his characteristic electric standing starts were replaced by a gentle mirrors-lights-manoeuvre type technique that is normally reserved for a driving test, as his main aim was to avoid getting innocently involved in anyone else’s first lap accident. After three laps running four seconds off the pace, Tom brought his Special Tuning UK/Triple R Leon Cupra R into the pits in both races, where he watched his rivals battle it out for the runners-up places.
Ideally Tom would have liked to be out on track putting on a show for the fans, but with the first team prize of £100,000 at stake he wisely wasn’t prepared to risk anything. Having been so subdued all weekend, he could finally show his true emotions when he stood on the final podium, where he was presented with the SEAT Cupra Championship title trophy by Jason Plato.
Tom said: “This has been the hardest challenge of my life and the biggest thing I’ve ever won. I started racing stock cars and autograss and its taken me four years of saloon car racing to be in a position to go out and win races and become SEAT Cupra Champion. It’s been a great season. I’ve worked hard, the team has been brilliant, the racing has been spot on and the competition very tough. I really want to be in the British Touring Car Championship next year because I think I could do a very good job and be competitive.”
By winning the penultimate round, SEAT Cupra Championship runner-up Mat Jackson (Whale Tankers/Jackson Motorsport Leon Cupra R) can be proud that his eight race wins this year is more than anyone else has scored in one season in the history of the series. Mat likes his car to be set-up so the back slides a little and as such he was the most spectacular driver at Brands Hatch with big four-wheel sideways drifts around Paddock Hill Bend entertaining the 20,000 crowd and Motors TV audience.
It almost cost him the race win in Round 17 when he got a little too sideways at Westfield Bend and he lost all but 0.3 seconds of his lead, but he managed to keep Tom Ferrier (Darwin/Team Parker Racing Leon Cupra R) behind him to win. Likewise a few grassy off-circuit moments exiting corners saw Mat finish 3rd in the final race after an exciting battle with Carl Breeze (Blue Chip Group/Barwell Motorsport Leon Cupra R), while a brilliantly on-form Ferrier clinched victory in Round 18 to go with his 2nd place finish in the previous race.
Out on the circuit, Mat had been the SEAT Cupra star of Brands Hatch – qualifying on the front row for both races (1st and 2nd), finishing on the podium in both (1st and 3rd) and setting two fastest laps. His family-run Jackson Motorsport team received a cheque for £40,000 and at just 24-years of age the SEAT Cupra Championship has discovered another BTCC star of the future.
Mat said: “I’m well pleased with our performance in the second half of the SEAT Cupra Championship and if we’d had that pace at the start of the season I think we would have won the title. We had a slow start and we lost the series in the first six races, but that’s history now. Well done to Tom – he’s driven well all season and he’s a worthy Champion.”
Ferrier finished 3rd in the series (Team Parker Racing wins £30,000) and Breeze was 4th (Barwell Motorsport wins £20,000) and together with Boardman and Jackson they have been invited to represent the UK team at the SEAT Leon European Masters Race in Istanbul on November 26 - where they’ll compete for the European title against the top four Cupra Championship drivers from Spain, Germany and Turkey in identical Leon Cupra Rs. As part of the Championship prize, they’ll also be invited to test a SEAT touring car.
With £10,000 going to the team who finished 5th in the series, the battle for the final pay-out was keenly fought out between five drivers. In the end this too went to Barwell Motorsport – but only after a tie-break. Its driver Alan Blencowe (Blue Diamond Leon Cupra R) finished 3rd in Round 17, but only 7th in the final race after a huge sideways moment at Surtees corner. Henry Taylor (Mortgage Strategy magazine/Total Control Racing Leon Cupra R) looked on course for the money until he ran wide at Druids which let Blencowe overtake and despite a magnificent performance all weekend in which he raced superbly, 4th and 5th in both races weren’t quite enough. They both finished the season on 116 points – but on best race results Alan secured 5th in the Championship by virtue of scoring five 3rd place finishes while Henry’s top race result was 4th. Henry is therefore classified 6th in the Championship – a remarkable achievement having missed all pre-season testing and the opening two races.
Even though Adrian Churchill was best at Brands Hatch, Ian (Bedford Battery Co/Churchill Motorsport Leon Cupra Rs) finished 7th in the series, two places ahead of his brother. Jonathan Young (Commercial Vehicle Direct/Triple R Leon Cupra R) was the meat in the Churchill club sandwich, after his confidence and results improved after he’d switched teams mid-season.
Mike Doble (Castrol/Doble Motorsport Leon Cupra R) finished the season strongly. After his best qualifying session of the year he started Round 17 from 5th on the grid and Round 18 from 6th. He was unlucky in the races: in the first he lost ground on the opening lap and finished 9th and in the final race Mike was running 5th before he hit the kerb exiting Graham Hill Bend and spun. He managed to stop just before he hit the tyre barrier and thereafter had a great battle for last place with Nick Leason (Cube Design/CMS Motorsport Leon Cupra R). They finished just 0.094 seconds apart – with the advantage going in Nick’s favour.
Westfield Bend had caused a great deal of problems for many drivers in all the BTCC support races, and unfortunately one of these included Harry Vaulkhard (Fluid Design Solutions/JS Motorsport Leon Cupra R). The 19-year old former schoolboy motocross rider from Newcastle Upon Tyne crashed heavily into the barriers on lap 9 and Round 17 of the series was stopped immediately – but the strength of the Leon Cupra R saved him from any injury.
Final 2005 Smartnav SEAT Cupra Championship points (top 10)
1. Tom Boardman….265pts
2. Mat Jackson….253pts
3. Tom Ferrier….216pts
4. Carl Breeze….193pts
5. Alan Blencowe….116pts
6. Henry Taylor….116pts
7. Ian Churchill….96pts
8. Jonathan Young….93pts
9. Adrian Churchill….93pts
10. Mark Cole….67pts
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