Legends Cars history was made at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 6th/7th May, with the opening two rounds of the all-new Legends Cars Elite Cup with JLM wowing tens of thousands of fans, as part of the support package to the high-profile British Touring Car Championship.
Delivering remarkable action as always, with two of the six contests screened live on ITV4 for the first time in Legends Cars’ 29 years of action, racing returnee Jack Parker (Wolverhampton) aced two victories while Will Gibson (Camberley) and Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield) took a win apiece.
The event’s other winner was Ireland’s Robert Barrable (Dublin), who emerged victorious in Heat Two of round two on Sunday afternoon – the first of the live televised races. Round one’s Final on Saturday was abandoned after a red flag on lap one, with the circuit curfew fast approaching.
In the Rookie class battle, Tyler Read (Weedon) claimed three wins with Andrew Rogerson (Maidenhead) taking the other two. Read starred in Heat One of round two with his maiden outright podium in third place, while last year’s Legends Cars Rookie Champion Ben Higgins (Abermule) and fellow sophomore driver Oli Schlup (Cuckfield) each achieved career-best runner-up finishes.
Gibson and Parker share spoils on opening day of Elite Cup
Heat One of the weekend, the first ever Legends Cars race as part of a BTCC event, provided an outstanding battle for the victory between Gibson and Schlup with the former managing to win by a second on a tricky, wet track. Schlup profited from pole in the grid draw and, after seeing off Chris Needham (Altrincham) who did lead momentarily at the end of lap one, Schlup starred in control.
By the start of lap three Gibson was up into second, from ninth on the grid, and he hit the front at Paddock Hill Bend on lap five. Tied together for the remainder of the race, Gibson managed to hold off his impressive challenger, with Parker starring to take third on his return – from 23rd on the grid. Fourth went to the equally rapid Connor Mills (Upminster) ahead of Andy Bird (Calne) and Needham.
While the rain had abated for Heat Two, the greasy track made for an even trickier contest and it was wet-weather specialist Parker who ultimately dominated the encounter. Nathan Anthony (Horley) started on pole but was quickly challenged by a fast-starting Barrable, while Parker had already leapt from eighth to fourth by the time the field exited Paddock.
Swiftly into the lead, Parker led by an incredible 1.7 seconds by the end of lap and pulled well clear before red flags were shown – due to stricken cars – on lap six. At the resumption, Parker wasn’t threatened and won by two seconds from a racey Higgins, who just shaded Bird for a career-best finish. Barrable was fourth from Mills and Nick Bridgeman (Baldock).
Round one’s Final, taking place on a wet track with quantities of spray, had to be red flagged early on after Paul Musselle (Buckingham) was tagged into Clearways and the spin led to eight or more cars being caught-up. Rookie class driver Rogerson had been leading when the stoppage occurred but due to the circuit curfew, the race was abandoned and not re-started.
Parker, Barrable and Rudman all on top on Sunday
Parker made it two wins for the weekend during the first Heat on Sunday morning, a good battle on a greasy drying track with former double champion Chris Grieve (Hexham) settled on lap eight of 10 when Grieve went wide off the circuit at Paddock and through the gravel. Rookie racer Read had led early on, before Grieve seized the initiative on lap two.
While Parker ran unchallenged to the flag during the last couple of laps, a star drive from 19th, behind him Higgins impressed again with his second top two of the event – from 23rd on the grid. Read completed a fabulous drive with his first outright podium, while Marcus Pett (Boston) snatched fourth on the final tour from Mills, with Gibson coming through to sixth.
Heat Two was the big one – screened live on ITV4 – and the action didn’t disappoint, thrilling huge numbers of new Legends fans. Barrable drew pole and led from Charlie Budd (Henley-on-Thames), with Bridgeman moving up into third ahead of Oli Schlup. Parker then moved into the podium placings ahead of a Safety Car period on lap four, due to Mike Schlup (Cuckfield) entering the gravel.
Racing resumed on lap six and Budd took a look at Barrable into Paddock, which allowed Parker to dive inside for the run to Druids to go second and then take the lead into Surtees. Barrable hit back on lap seven, prior to another incident at Paddock involving Higgins and Oli Schlup. With just two laps to go, red flags were shown with Barrable claiming the win from Parker, Gibson and Budd.
Round two’s Final was also screened live on ITV4 after the last BTCC race and an excellent battle at the front developed between pole-starter Rudman and Needham. The latter grabbed the lead on the outside into Paddock at the start, but Rudman moved ahead into lap two with nothing to split them.
Matt Isherwood (Nantwich) moved into the top three by the end of the third tour and he closed rapidly on the leaders. Then, on lap five, Needham moved back into first at Druids but on the sixth tour the action was red flagged after a worrying incident at Paddock – all drivers thankfully OK. The result was taken back to lap four, with Rudman winning from Needham, Isherwood and Grieve.
Jack Parker – Rd1 Heat Two and Rd2 Heat One Winner:
“It’s been a great weekend, the car Mickel Motorsport brought here has been so fast and on rails to be honest. I only jumped in the car for the first time on Friday and everything felt different to my old car. To do what I’ve done has been unbelievable and I can’t thank the team enough. It was a shame about the last race, but overall it’s been a fantastic weekend with the crowds and live TV as well.”
Will Gibson – Rd1 Heat One Winner:
“No matter what happens in the Elite Cup we’ve stamped our name in history by winning the first ever Legends race at a BTCC event, and dedicated it to my late brother Tim as well. We were a bit unlucky with the red flags and the countbacks, without those we’d be very close to Jack [Parker] in the points. Roll on Croft now but, before that, the return to Brands for the championship season.”
Robert Barrable – Rd2 Heat Two Winner:
“You kind of never expect to come in and challenge the regulars, so I’m delighted with how we’ve gone here this weekend. It was great to win the TV race, I only had a couple of laps battling with Jack [Parker] before the red flags but it was good. It’s definitely been worth the journey over from Ireland! We know we have the pace now and the racing is good, it’s hard but fair.”
Miles Rudman – Rd2 Final Winner:
“It was nice to get the win in the last race and have a positive finish to the weekend. I was just as happy to complete some laps as I was to win to be honest, after the issues in the earlier two races on Sunday. We’ll get the Se-Van stripped down and start again at Croft where I want to take big points, and hopefully some more wins, in as many races as I can.”
Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire will host the second event of the Legends Cars Elite Cup with JLM on 29th/30th July. Prior to that, the Legends Cars Championship with MRF Tyres will be back in action for rounds three and four of its season over the weekend 17th/18th June at Brands Hatch – as part of the American Speedfest.
Legends Cars racing in the UK is supported by JLM Lubricants, Allgrowth Ltd, Carless, Vital Equipment and MRF Tyres.
Provisional 2023 Legends Cars Elite Cup with JLM Standings:
1st Jack Parker, 760pts; 2nd Will Gibson, 690pts; 3rd Robert Barrable, 625pts;
4th Connor Mills, 615pts; 5th Andy Bird, 540pts; 6th Marcus Pett, 530pts