Miles Rudman (Lichfield) and John Mickel (Horsham) claimed two wins each during the third event of the Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres season at Pembrey National Circuit over the weekend, 7th/8th May, with the former extending his lead at the top of the driver standings.
Also celebrating victory were title contender Will Gibson (Camberley), whose round four Final win on Saturday was the highlight of an outing of mixed fortunes, and Marcus Pett (Boston) who raced to his first win since 2019 during the second Heat of round five on Sunday.
Former champion Daniel Clark (Darras Hall) secured his first podium of the year in round four Heat Two, Chris Brockhurst (Westgate) visited the rostrum again after another very competitive weekend and Nick Bridgeman (Baldock) made a welcome podium return as well.
Local racer Ben Higgins (Powys) took the best overall result of his maiden season with fifth in the round five Final, also taking the Rookie win. Higgins had impressively led the way until a red flag stoppage midway, and finished less than a second shy of the outright podium. Fellow Rookie class driver Luke Simmons (Lingfield) achieved his first ‘Rookie of the Day’ award for round five on Sunday.
Mickel, Rudman and Gibson share spoils in round four
Rudman, Gibson and the returning Jack Parker (Wolverhampton) led the way in qualifying on Saturday morning, under nine hundredths of a second splitting all three, but it was Mickel who came through to claim his third victory of the season in race one of the weekend. Parker led early on from Steve Whitelegg (Bury) and Bridgeman, before Gibson then moved into contention.
He took the lead on lap three but his hopes evaporated on lap five when forced to retire. Parker assumed the lead again before Rudman moved ahead on lap seven, but Parker hit back the next time around. Mickel surged to the front with just over a lap to go and duly won by 0.6s seconds from Rudman and Parker, with Whitelegg fourth, Bridgeman fifth and Pett sixth.
Pett looked set for a potential first win of the season in Heat Two, leading the way for the first half of the race. Initially pursued by Higgins, Pett managed to open an advantage of around one second before Rudman closed in and passed him on lap five. Pett didn’t allow the double champion to pull away, though, with Clark also just behind battling with Gareth Sheridan (Altrincham).
During the latter stages there was nothing to separate the top three, Clark producing by far his most competitive run of the year and moving into second on lap eight as Parker edged nearer to the podium. Into the 10th and final lap Rudman had eked out a 0.3 second margin which he maintained to the finish, with Clark sealing his first podium of 2022 in the runner-up spot.
Parker saw off Pett for third place, with Sheridan fifth from Mickel and Rookie drivers Luke Simmons and Higgins who both impressed in seventh and eighth. Gibson, meanwhile, experienced another nightmare after lap one dramas dropped him 15 seconds off the pack – he finished 19th.
After an absolutely luckless time of it during the first two races, Gibson responded in style in the round four Final with an utterly dominant performance. Opening a significant lead before the Safety Car was deployed on lap three, to clear away a stricken car, Gibson never looked back after the lap five re-start to serenely cruise into the distance and win by just shy of seven seconds – sensational.
Mickel came through the order impressively to the runner-up spot to head home team-mates Brockhurst, taking his second podium of the season, and Paul Simmons (Lingfield). Rudman and Parker carved through the order well to take fifth and sixth.
Pett returns to winning ways with more success for Mickel and Rudman
Heat One of round five on Sunday morning delivered the second win of the weekend for Mickel, after a close battle for almost the entire 10-lap duration with Rudman – who was fastest in the earlier qualifying session – and Gibson.
Kieran Beaty (Hexham) led initially from Parker, before Andy Bird (Calne) hit the front and then Rudman came to the fore on lap three. With nothing to split Rudman and Mickel, the five-time champion made his move on lap seven as Gibson started to pressure. Mickel went on to win by 1.3 seconds from Rudman and Gibson, with Whitelegg fourth after a last lap pass on Bird.
Sunday’s second contest was red flagged on the second tour after an opening lap incident, with the order at that point seeing Mark Beaty (Gosforth) lead Whitelegg, Mike Schlup (Cuckfield) and the latter’s son Oli. The race was re-started over a reduced seven laps and Beaty led again at the end of lap one, before Whitelegg moved ahead on the second tour.
Pett, who applied big pressure to Whitelegg as they edged away from Beaty, hit the front on lap five and he went on to claim his first win in three years by 0.4 seconds from Whitelegg. Gibson finished third from Beaty, with Charlie Budd (Henley-on-Thames) fifth ahead of Brockhurst. Mickel was 23rd and a lap down after a mid-race pit-stop following earlier contact.
History looked like it might be made during the round five Final when ultra-impressive Rookie class racer Higgins opened a healthy early lead which, by the start of lap five, was 2.3 seconds over Paul Simmons. Following an on-track incident the Safety Car was deployed in time for lap six, just before the red flags were flown with Higgins leading Rudman.
After the required clean-up, racing resumed over five laps and Rudman seized the initiative to lead Mickel by a second after the opening tour. Mickel closed in more and more but Rudman held on to win by 0.2 seconds, while Bridgeman made a very welcome return to the podium in third from the very consistent Brockhurst. Higgins ended a terrific outing a career-best fifth, top Rookie.
Miles Rudman – Rd4 Heat Two and Rd5 Final Winner:
“I’m happy with the weekend overall, it’s been a strong event for us with some good points and good positions. There was a lot going on in the races, we were running on a changed configuration this weekend [National Circuit layout], and it was harder to overtake. We’ve just got to keep it up there, which we’ve done here again, I think we won both days with most points which is great.”
John Mickel – Rd4 Heat One and Rd5 Heat One Winner:
“Pembrey’s been good for the team and, personally, it’s good to have another couple of wins and move up into second in the championship. I got taken out in race two on Sunday, it is what it is, but we’ll go again at Brands – I’m looking forward to that. All of the team did well here this weekend, our Rookies Oli [Schlup] and Luke [Simmons] up there and [Chris] Brockhurst and Paul [Simmons] doing well. It’s all coming together.”
Will Gibson – Rd4 Final Winner:
“It’s been an up and down weekend, that’s the only way to describe it. I’ve not known a year like it in Legends with the top three drivers all having so much bad luck so early in the season. I am happy overall, Saturday was a disaster in the Heats but good to win in the Final. We showed we had the pace and Brands wasn’t a one-off, we were really fast here but it’s hard to overtake on this layout.”
Marcus Pett – Rd5 Heat Two Winner:
“It’s been a really good weekend, it’s a shame we had an engine go in the Final but I’m obviously really happy to have won again. We’re a lot more comfortable with the car this year, and the win this weekend will give me confidence. We were coming through strongly again in Sunday’s Final until the engine problem, so we know we’ve got the pace and that gives me confidence too.”
Brands Hatch Indy Circuit will welcome the Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres for the second time this season five weeks from now, over the weekend 11th/12th June, for the annual American Speedfest event. Legends Cars is supported by SulNOx and TV sponsor Parc Lane Cars.
Provisional 2022 Legends Cars National Championship Points (after Rd5):
1st Miles Rudman, 2535pts; 2nd John Mickel, 2165pts; 3rd Will Gibson, 2000pts; 4th Steve Whitelegg, 1835pts; 5th Marcus Pett, 1780pts; 6th Chris Brockhurst, 1485pts