Rapid Welshman Ben Power (Guilsfield, Powys) enjoyed a highly successful outing on home ground at Anglesey Circuit over the weekend, 22nd/23rd April, to surge to the top of the MRF Legends Cars National Championship standings, taking three wins from the event’s six races.
Power, who went into the second race meeting of the season third in the title race, was quick throughout a weekend blessed with glorious North Wales sunshine and he could have potentially taken away four wins had it not been for a misfire in the second of Sunday’s contests.
Getting the event off to a terrific start with victory in the opening Heat on Saturday, Power went on to win the first of Sunday’s Heats and then wrapped up the weekend with a pressure-filled success in Sunday’s Final.
Jack Parker (Wolverhampton) won Heat Two on Saturday with Steve Whitelegg (Bury) taking the spoils in the opening day’s Final. The other win, Heat Two on Sunday, went the way of John Mickel (Horsham) who bounced back from not one, but two engine failures.
In the end-of-weekend Nations Cup ‘Legends Challenge’ allcomers race, Tom Grainger (Sidcup) took the spoils while ever-improving rookie Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield) won the annual ‘John Nicol Award’ which is presented to the driver deemed most impressive throughout the weekend – the accolade is only ever awarded at Anglesey.
“It’s been a great weekend, three wins and the one I didn’t win today [Sunday] was only down to a misfire – we had good pace all weekend”, said new points leader Power, “It’s Cadwell next and I really like it there, the Legends haven’t been there for a few years and neither have I so I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll go there with a positive frame of mind, see what we can do.”
Parker began Saturday’s first Heat from pole position but ultimately had to settle for 11th place after a gear issue, plus a five second penalty for exceeding track limits, prevented a potential top six result. Power secured his second race victory of the season a second clear of Mickel, with long-time race leader Robert King (York) rounding out the podium just ahead of Simmons.
In Heat Two, which was interrupted by a Safety Car period after an incident for Whitelegg, Parker got his revenge with a deserved win just ahead of consistent podium regulars Mickel and Power. Speaking of consistency, Paul Simmons (Lingfield) took another top four as the lead Masters runner.
Putting the race two disappointment behind him, Whitelegg returned to the top step of the podium in Saturday’s Final – which was red flagged a lap early – for his third win of 2017 with Parker second, Power third and Grainger fourth. Mickel had been in contention until his engine blew late-on.
After a strong day, coupled with misfortune for others, Power climbed to the top of the points table and was also overall winner of the day. Sean Smith (High Wycombe) was ‘Driver of the Day’, Rudman was ‘Rookie of the Day and ‘Team of the Day’ went to Marcus Pett (Boston).
Sunday double keeps Power on top at Anglesey
Nathan Anthony (Horley) lined-up on pole position for Sunday morning’s first Heat but Power, who started alongside on the front-row, immediately surged into the lead and fourth placed starter Grainger quickly assumed second.
Power and Grainger worked together well to establish a good advantage over the rest of the pack but on lap four, having sliced past for the lead moments before, Grainger’s hopes literally went up in smoke as a result of a failed oil line. Ultra-impressive rookie Miles Rudman assumed the mantle of challenger but Power won by just over a second. Third place went to Smith.
Pett was drawn on pole position for Heat Two but second placed starter Mickel immediately moved ahead and he never looked back on his way to a clear victory of 1.6 seconds, the reigning champion bouncing back well from his second engine failure of the weekend in the preceding contest.
This time, Whitelegg and Power were the drivers to encounter frustration – the former having to retire with damage following lap one contact and Saturday’s points leader Power suffering a misfire during the second half of the race which led to two pit visits and an eventual finish of 20th place.
King and Simmons came through strongly to finish second and third, after a great battle together, with Grainger fourth after his Heat One disappointment, Rick Leggatt (Worthing) fifth and Anthony rounding out the top six.
For Sunday’s Final, Parker started on pole and led away very well at the beginning. Breaking away from the pack impressively as the group behind battled, he opened a lead of 2.3 seconds on the first lap but it wasn’t long before his pursuers closed-in.
As the midway point neared Parker’s lead had been completely eroded with Power, Whitelegg and Mickel running line astern behind. Then, on lap seven, the Safety Car was called following an incident at the hairpin involving Mike Schlup (Cuckfield), who ran second early on, and King.
Racing resumed on lap 10 and Power applied immense pressure to Parker, getting a great run past Club to take the lead, but Parker refused to be dropped and with Mickel and Whitelegg close behind in third and fourth a true grandstand finish was guaranteed. Power, though, managed to fend off his challengers for his second win of the day and third of the weekend.
John Mickel – second overall in the championship: “This weekend has been hard, I’ll be glad to get away from the track, have a relax and then go again. We were top three on pace when we were running in all the races, it’s just keeping running that was a problem this weekend. You’ve got to take the rough with the smooth though, we’ll be back at Cadwell.”
Steve Whitelegg – third overall in the championship: “We did have quite a few issues this weekend but I suppose, overall, we’re going away with the car in one piece which is the main thing. We’ve got a few things to do though to get it back to peak [condition] for the next round. I’m looking forward to it, I love racing at Cadwell.”
Jack Parker – Heat Winner, Saturday: “There are a few things that could’ve been better this weekend, we had to change an engine in the first race as we lost second gear and then, in the second race, we had a starter motor seize on us. Overall though it’s been good, really close races and amazing to get a win. It was lovely to see Miles [Rudman] coming second in Sunday’s first race too.”
There are just three weeks to wait until the MRF Legends Cars National Championship is back in action over the weekend 13th/14th May, at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire.
Provisional MRF Legends Cars National Championship Points:
1st Ben Power, 2010pts; 2nd John Mickel, 1980pts; 3rd Steve Whitelegg, 1765pts; 4th Paul Simmons, 1700pts; 5th Jack Parker, 1540pts; 6th Miles Rudman, 1385pts
Provisional MRF Legends Cars National Championship Masters Leader:
Provisional MRF Legends Cars National Championship Rookie Leader: