Anglesey International GP Circuit delivered some remarkable Legends Cars Championship with MRF Tyres action over the weekend, 18th/19th June, with four different race winners and superb double victories for Steve Whitelegg (Bury) and points leader Miles Rudman (Lichfield).
Making a guest appearance with organising club the BRSCC, the Legends Cars served up the usual blend of ultra-close action which thrilled spectators trackside and also fans at home with all six races streamed live online via YouTube – watch the breathless action back HERE
Whitelegg started the weekend off fastest in Saturday’s qualifying session and went on to win Heat One of round eight, with Will Gibson (Camberley) taking the victory in Heat Two and John Mickel (Horsham) on top in the opening day’s Final.
Sunday was reigning champion Rudman’s 36th birthday and he celebrated with back-to-back wins in Heats One and Two of round nine. Whitelegg then did the double with victory in the Final, winning a truly sensational battle with Rudman and Mickel. Gibson, meanwhile, established a new lap record of 1m42.548 seconds in Sunday’s second race.
Speaking of birthdays, Sunday also marked the 60th birthday for popular Legends Cars racer Bill Read (Oldham). He vacated his car for the weekend, his seat instead taken by Mick Mercer who made his first appearance for four years. He achieved a best finish of 18th in the round nine Final.
Due to a judicial process linked to an incident involving Mickel and Gibson in Heat Two of round nine on Sunday afternoon, the results of the meeting remain provisional as do the championship points.
Three different winners on sensational Saturday at Anglesey
Whitelegg bagged a front row starting slot in the grid-draw ballot for round eight Heat One and stormed to a dominant first victory of the year, a margin of over four seconds. After seeing off Luke Simmons (Lingfield) into the second turn, Whitelegg was never headed en-route to a popular win.
With Simmons, Ben Higgins (Powys) and Marcus Pett (Boston) initially battling over second, the fight for the runner-up spot latterly became a scrap between Mickel, Chris Needham (Altrincham) and Pett although Needham slowed on the penultimate tour. Mickel shaded Pett by just 0.1 seconds and took fastest lap, with Gibson scything through to fourth ahead of lead Rookie Simmons and Rudman.
Heat Two of round eight delivered an absolutely vintage Legends Cars conclusion, with a simply breathtaking final lap and four-way battle for victory between Gibson, Rudman, Mickel and Needham. Rudman led for the first couple of laps before Gibson moved through on lap three, although the reigning champion hit the front again with just under a couple of laps to go.
Into the eighth and final lap there was nothing at all to separate the lead quartet and Gibson made his move up the hill into Rocket, after a terrific slipstream, to grab the lead again. Staying ahead, just, heading into the braking area for the final corner Gibson was challenged around the outside by Rudman and he nosed ahead by a fraction – but lost the momentum with two wheels on the grass.
Gibson claimed his ninth victory of the campaign by 0.1 seconds with Mickel pipping Rudman on the line by a mere 0.055 seconds. Needham was fourth and also bettered Mickel’s earlier lap record, while Pett and Whitelegg rounded out the top six with Oli Schlup (Cuckfield) the top Rookie in 17th.
Saturday’s Final delivered a fair amount of incident over the first three laps, not least a tangle on lap two which ultimately required the intervention of the Safety Car due to Schlup’s stricken car at the side of the track – fortunately he emerged from a clash with just bumps and bruises.
Racing resumed on lap seven with Jack Parker (Wolverhampton) leading Daniel Clark (Darras Hall), Mickel, Higgins, Nathan Anthony (Horley) and Kieran Beaty (Hexham). Mickel took the lead into Rocket and stayed ahead but on the last lap a terrific switchback from Parker at the Rocket complex enabled him to move through. Mickel, though, was able to hit back at the penultimate corner to win.
Parker was just 0.2 seconds shy at the flag in second from Rudman, a remarkable fightback from the championship leader after being airborne on lap one also delivering the then lap record. Clark took a great fourth, Higgins was the top Rookie in fifth with another star drive and Whitelegg was sixth.
Birthday double for Rudman and another success for Whitelegg
Rudman gifted himself the best birthday present with victory in Heat One of round nine on Sunday. Charlie Budd (Henley-on-Thames) led away from the front row before Paul Simmons (Lingfield) and then Whitelegg took turns at the front – both short-lived as Rudman took the lead into lap two.
Able to edge away during the second half of the eight lap contest, Rudman wrapped-up his eighth win of the season 1.4 seconds clear of Gibson, who moved past the very consistent Whitelegg with just over a lap to run. Mickel charged through the order to fourth, finishing ahead of Parker and Pett, while Luke Simmons inherited the Rookie win, in 12th overall, after Higgins slowed on the final tour.
Sunday’s second race was all about the final lap, with high drama. Mickel and Gibson had battled for the lead from just before mid-distance, the former leading from midway around the first lap before Gibson moved ahead on the fourth tour around the outside at the hairpin.
Mickel successfully re-challenged on lap seven, with Rudman also in play in third, having worked his way through from 17th on the grid, but on the eighth and final lap an incident between Gibson and Mickel as they exited the hairpin side-by-side occurred – Gibson’s car ending up in the barriers.
Rudman gladly nipped through to make it back-to-back wins but post-race he was disqualified from the result on the grounds of a yellow flag infringement. That was latterly overturned and so Rudman reinstated to the victory from an impressive Needham, Pett and Mickel. Gibson dragged his damaged car to the finish in 18th place, and did have the scant consolation of the new lap record.
Sunday’s Final brought a phenomenal end to the weekend’s racing, with Whitelegg, Rudman and Mickel serving up a stunning final few laps. Higgins impressed from the get-go, opening a lead of over two seconds by the end of lap three and driving beautifully to stay at the front until the seventh tour when Whitelegg powered ahead and Mickel sliced through into second at Rocket.
Mickel grabbed the lead into the penultimate corner, with Rudman now into third after a loss of power on lap one. Three abreast on lap nine up the hill into Rocket, Rudman emerged ahead but Mickel quickly hit back. Then, on the final tour, Whitelegg passed his two rivals at the exit of the complex and held on to win from Rudman and Mickel. Gibson was fourth from lead Rookie Higgins.
Steve Whitelegg – Rd8 Heat One and Rd9 Final Winner:
“Starting on the front of the grid [Heat One] I thought the only way I’m going to get anywhere was to try and get away at the front while everyone else was battling behind. But I was very mindful the rest of the guys can bump draft but we made it to the end and got the win. I really enjoyed the Sunday Final, once I got through it was a cracking race – the last couple of laps were superb.”
Miles Rudman – Rd9 Heat One and Rd9 Heat Two Winner:
“It was a case of trying to focus on putting some good laps together [in Rd9 Heat One], which I managed to do, and it was a good way to start my birthday! [In Heat Two] I was third going into the hairpin, Will went for the lead – which I wouldn’t blame him to do as I would’ve done the same – but unfortunately they touched and both came off. I was there, fortunate for me I managed to pick up the lead and take first place.”
John Mickel – Rd8 Final Winner:
“That was tough. I had a bit of luck over the first couple of laps, there was like a parting of the waves and I got through some traffic quite quick, then the Safety Car came out and I knew Jack [Parker] was very strong. I thought I got away but with the wind and the drag, and the way you can pull people in on the back straight, you can’t get away.”
Will Gibson – Rd8 Heat Two Winner:
“Miles tried around the outside, he was probably slightly ahead as we went into the last corner and tried the wall of death. I tried to give him space, I didn’t want to run him off the track, and I think he just had enough space. We both got on the power so hard, that was close – really, really close. It was classic Legends racing that!”
There is now a lengthy nine-week summer break for the Legends Cars Championship with MRF Tyres, with the season resuming on 20th/21st August at Donington Park National Circuit.