UK&I Skippies Return Home to Donington
November 25th, 2014 by JaimeB
With a third of the season already completed, Dominic Brennan found himself atop the UK&I Skip Barber League championship standings while race winners Marc Mercer and Richard Avery languished in second and third. Week Three saw the return of Donington for the league’s second race ever at this British classic, with 19 laps of the National layout. Taking pole position, for what is likely the most important race of the season for this league of Brits, was Simon Povey. Also starting from the front row, though, was the championship leader, followed by Graham Carroll, Mercer and Wojciech Swirydowicz (in his first race of the season).
The typically very polite Skippy league seemed to jump quickly to full attack as the field failed to complete three corners without an incident. Fahim Antoniades started ninth with the inside line for the first turn and stayed in that position for the meantime. Stuart Adcock in tenth had a better exit out of Redgate, though, and pressured Antoniades through the Craner Curves before contact between them sent Antoniades’ F2000 spinning off the track and down to P25.
Lap Two marked the beginning of what would be a very difficult stretch for pole sitter Povey, as both Mercer and Carroll mugged him at Redgate with Carroll emerging in the lead.
At the end of Lap Two, Tom Ward had a front row seat for a battle between Swirydowicz and Brennan for fourth place in The Esses. Both drivers struggled going side-by-side through the tight corners and, with their exit speed was severely hindered, allowed Ward and a following Marcus Hamilton to get great runs on them on the approach to Redgate. Swirydowicz held fourth from Ward but Brennan lost positions to Swirdowicz, Ward and Hamilton.
Carroll managed to keep Mercer at bay for three laps but, finally, he could hold off no more when Mercer got the inside line for Redgate. Carroll did his best, but Mercer finished the job with the inside line at Old Hairpin and took the lead.
Carroll is never one to back down, and immediately began looking for ways to regain his position. Thankfully for him, an opportunity presented itself just a lap later when Mercer struggled (ironically) through Old Hairpin and lost significant exit speed. Carroll hung it around the outside at Starkey’s Bridge and dropped Mercer back to second place with the inside line at McLean’s.
Carroll’s job got a lot easier just a few seconds later when Povey put pressure on Mercer at Coppice. Mercer caught some oversteer going through the outside line of the corner, was sent into the grass and dropped to fifth between Ward and Hamilton.
Approaching the halfway point of the race, Hamilton’s sixth place position came under attack from Brennan. Even with the inside line at Redgate, Hamilton was unable to resist the advances of Brennan and lost the position. Hamilton then had a mysterious issue through Starkey’s Bridge which dropped him another position behind George Streetley.
A bit further up at the front, Povey had just about enough of sitting behind Carroll, and pounced for the position with the inside line for Coppice. Carroll’s exit speed was much better than Povey coming onto Starkey’s Straight, but so was Swirydowcz’s, and Povey dropped to third into The Esses.
On Lap 11, Brennan looked to reclaim fifth off Ward, but oversteer from Ward caused contact between them and sent Brennan into the grass. Both drivers lost out to Streetley in the scramble, and Brennan dropped an additional position to Hamilton.
Later that lap Swirydowicz got a run on Carroll for the lead heading into The Esses. Carroll defended the inside line and Swirydowicz instead came under attack from Povey. Swirydowicz went a bit deep into the corner and took a bit too much curb, which pushed him into Povey. The resulting contact had devastating effects on Swirydowicz’s line and he was sent into Mercer, causing both drivers to go off the track.
After the Lap 11 incident a significant gap developed between the top two (Carroll and Povey) and Mercer in third. Mercer tried hard to gain whatever time he could on the front-runners, but instead found himself defending from Ward, Streetley, Hamilton, and Brennan. Heading into Redgate they went three wide with Mercer on the inside, Streetley on the outside and Ward in the middle. Mercer did well to hold them off while Hamilton took advantage of the situation and dropped Streetley to sixth.
The five-way battle for the final podium position raged through the race right up until the penultimate lap when Streetley made a lunge for the inside of Hamilton at Redgate to regain fifth place.
Streetley’s dicewith Hamilton continued on the final lap when things got a bit too close for comfort as contact between them sent Streetley into a spin and down into the large empty space between sixth and eighth.
With Hamilton hindered, Brennan saw a perfect opportunity to grab an extra position heading into The Esses for the final time. Hamilton defended the inside line and when Brennan went heavy over the curb he caught oversteer, nearly losing a position to Streetley before crossing the line in sixth.
At the front, Carroll held-off Povey for the remainder of the race and got his first win of the season, with less than two seconds separating the two. In the championship, Brennan maintains his lead at the top of the standings, but his 13 point advantage was pared to seven points with Mercer’s podium at Donington. With slightly lower finishing positions, Paul F. Grillo and Stuart Adcock were also big winners in the championship this week, moving into third and fourth respectively in the points. The biggest movement, of course, came from Carroll who jumps into fifth, tied with Avery.