Motorsport often delivers the widest range of emotions and that was certainly true for racers from the Motorbase Driver Academy at Knockhill in Scotland over the weekend, 30th/31st July, where a double class podium for Ru Clark in the MINI CHALLENGE was the undoubted event highlight.
On a weekend where Motorbase and its NAPA Racing UK entry secured its first race victory of the season in the headline Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with Ash Sutton, for the young Academy drivers it was a less fruitful outing by and large with a series of luckless incidents.
For Scottish racer Clark, though, his home races went well and particularly in round nine of the MINI CHALLENGE where he stormed through the order from an uncharacteristic 20th on the grid to finish an excellent 12th overall and second in the Graduate class for JWB Motorsport.
Repeating the runner-up result in the Graduates in round 10, the Perth racer – who celebrated his 22nd birthday this week – was an improved ninth overall. Unfortunately, his run ended in round 11 with retirement on the opening lap.
Team-mates Jack Mitchell and Jamie Osborne both endured a tough weekend with the latter posting two unfortunate non-finishes, in rounds 10 and 11, and Mitchell having a mountain to climb in the second and third races after his MINI ground to a halt just off the startline in round nine.
Conversely, Osborne raced to a fifth place finish in the Rookie class and the top 15 overall in the opening contest but his visit to Knockhill then unraveled in the next two races to bring a frustrating end to the event for the JWB driver.
Mitchell, who had qualified fourth fastest for race one, had to begin round 10 from the back of the grid after the enforced retirement in the opener and he charged through the order brilliantly from 27th on the grid into 14th place at the finish. More fantastic progress was made in round 11, slicing through from 14th at the start into the top six – salvaging vital points for second in the standings.
Ginetta Junior Championship contender Harri Reynolds experienced his most vexing event of the year by far, picking up a total of just seven points at Knockhill with a 14th place finish in race two of the weekend, round 12. After qualifying eighth for round 11, a mechanical issue forced him out on only lap three and in round 13 another non-finish occurred on the fourth lap of the encounter.
Star rookie in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship, Hugo Ellis, endured a Knockhill nightmare when a start-line accident, involving five cars, ruled him out of the first race of the weekend on the spot and the damage sustained to his car also prevented him from participating in race two. On the positive side, Ellis was thankfully uninjured in the incident as were the other drivers.
Pete Osborne – Motorbase Performance Team Owner and Team Principal:
“We’ve seen, and celebrated, some fantastic success for the Motorbase Driver Academy over the first half of the season so we mustn’t be too disappointed with how the Knockhill weekend turned out for our drivers. Harri and Jamie had some terrible luck in Ginetta and MINI, and the crash in the first Porsche race was pretty worrying. We were so relieved to see Hugo walk away uninjured.
“Looking at the positives, Ru delivered two outstanding drives in the MINIs and Jack fought back very impressively after the frustration of race one when he was forced to stop as soon as he’d started. Obviously, it was great to see Ru finish second in class twice at his home track, particularly in front of such a great Knockhill crowd – oh, and happy birthday Ru from everyone at Motorbase!”