Three months later than intended, the Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres got its 2020 season off to a sensational start at Croft over the weekend, 11th/12th July, with Sy Harraway (Weston-super-Mare) winning three races and double victor Jack Parker (Wolverhampton) taking the early points lead.
Parker was the star of Saturday’s round one action in North Yorkshire, emerging victorious in Heats One and Two and then finishing third in the Final. Harraway, who had been on the podium in the first race before a retirement in race two, took his first win in the Final.
On Sunday, reigning champion Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield) secured the first win of his title defence in Heat One before Harraway won Heat Two and the round two Final – both times pipping Parker after terrific battles.
Multiple champion John Mickel (Horsham) wrapped up the opening event of 2020 with a trio of podium finishes, all third places, while Will Gibson (Camberley) claimed two rostrum results and Connor Mills (Upminster) chalked-up a podium with second place in the first of Sunday’s encounters.
Parker gets delayed 2020 season off to a great winning start
Last year’s title winner Rudman started off as you might expect, fastest in qualifying on Saturday morning from Parker and Harraway, but it was Parker who put his name in the books as the first race winner of the delayed 2020 season.
Harraway held the lead at the end of lap one after storming through from 11th on the grid, but Parker soon moved through and a great scrap ensued. During the last couple of laps Parker increased his stranglehold to win by three seconds. Mickel came through to finish in third ahead of Rudman, Daniel Clark (Darras Hall) and Steve Whitelegg (Bury).
Parker starred again in Heat Two, carving his way through from 12th on the grid to snatch the victory from Rudman who led almost the entirety of the encounter. The first four laps were all about a terrific three-way battle between Rudman, Gibson and Harraway but the latter’s hopes ended with retirement to the pits at the end of the fourth tour.
By that point Parker had climbed through to second and into the last lap he was just 0.2 seconds behind Rudman, before usurping his rival. Gibson wrapped-up a richly deserved podium in third, from Mickel, Clark and multiple Masters class champion Paul Simmons (Lingfield).
After the frustration of the previous race, Harraway hit back in the round one Final – and in some style too – with a faultless win. Starting seventh on the grid, he wasted no time in slicing through to the lead and midway through the eight lapper he was close to four seconds clear.
During the second half of the race Rudman, who began the encounter down in 15th spot, began to eat into Harraway’s advantage but couldn’t quite get there with the former taking the flag 0.5 seconds to the good. Parker, who also rocketed through from the eighth row, capped a fabulous opening day to take his third podium from three starts, a mere 0.045 seconds shy of Rudman.
Behind the top three, Clark and Steve McGill (Bo’ness) impressed in fourth and fifth – the latter having been as high as second early on – while Simmons completed the top six from Neil Shenton (Middlewich) and Nick Bridgeman (Baldock). Ninth for Mickel marked a terrific recovery, having been stone last and a long way shy of the pack after a lap one incident.
Two more wins for Harraway and victory for Rudman in Rd2
Sunday’s Heat One action started with a multi-car tangle at Hawthorn, in which Parker was caught up and sustained a puncture. As a result of those dramas, the Safety Car was deployed and stayed on track until the end of the third tour. When racing resumed, Mills led Rudman by a couple of tenths.
Rudman moved ahead soon after the re-start and just kept Mills at bay to the finish on lap six, only 0.274 seconds splitting them. Gibson took his second podium of the weekend just ahead of Mickel, while a great drive through from Clark secured him fifth – shading Mike Schlup (Cuckfield) on the line by just 0.027s. After pitting for a new tyre, Parker rejoined to finish 18th and also set fastest lap.
Heat Two was fast-paced race long, with Mickel initially leading Clark, Gibson, Harraway, Parker and Whitelegg. Harraway moved through into the lead by lap three with Parker working his way into second ahead of Mickel, and Parker then grabbed the lead on lap four. He stayed ahead into the sixth and final tour, but Harraway hit back when it mattered to win by 0.4 seconds.
Mickel secured third place for his second podium of the weekend, less than half a second back, while Rudman carved his way through the order into fourth at the finish – plus he set fastest lap. Gibson just pipped Mills to fifth by a mere 0.070 seconds. Clark and Whitelegg rounded out the top eight.
Sunday’s round two Final delivered Legends Cars racing at its best at the front, with Parker and Harraway battling it out for the win and nothing to split them. James Hall-Morton (Cleckheaton) was the early leader, ahead of Parker and Simmons with Harraway fourth into lap two.
Parker moved to the head of the field on the second tour and Harraway took second just a fraction behind. Breaking away from the pack and making it a private two-way scrap for victory, Harraway made the pass on lap five before Parker returned the favour on the penultimate tour. It was always going to go down to the wire and so it proved, with Harraway just sealing it by 0.078 seconds.
Mickel completed the podium, almost six seconds adrift, after passing team-mate Simmons on the eighth and final lap. Gibson, Clark, Mills and Hall-Morton completed the top eight. Just behind were Shenton and Bridgeman.
Connor Hughes (Hullbridge) leads the Rookie standings after the opening weekend, a consistently strong series of performances by the newcomer – son of former champion Paul Hughes – topped off by a terrific top 10 result in Heat One on Sunday.
Jack Parker – Double Croft Race Winner & Championship Leader:
“Five fastest laps from six, five podiums, two wins – what a great start to the season! It’s a shame we had the puncture in the first race on Sunday, we got tangled up in the contact at the second corner, but we got back out and set fastest lap to prove a point. The car has been absolutely brilliant, the team has built such a fantastic car and I hope we can continue this and keep up the team morale all year.”
Sy Harraway – Triple Croft Race Winner:
“It was all about bounceback-ability, when you have issues you get on with it. We had a misfire unfortunately and a DNF on Saturday, but Craig [Phillips] found the problem and we won the first Final. Sunday’s Final was a cracking race with Jack [Parker], just pipped him. He’s a great driver, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s going to be a good old battle for the championship again this year.”
Miles Rudman – Winner Heat One, Rd2 at Croft:
“It’s been a strong start to the season for us, definitely, and obviously good to take some podiums and a win on the first weekend. We didn’t get to finish Sunday’s Final due to an electrical problem but, overall, I’m pretty happy. It’s good to be straight back on it and we’re looking forward to the next rounds at Donington now.”
Leicestershire’s Donington Park National Circuit is set to host rounds three and four of the Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres season over the weekend 22nd/23rd August.
Provisional Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres Standings:
1st Jack Parker, 1000pts; 2nd John Mickel, 940pts; 3rd Miles Rudman, 895pts; 4th Daniel Clark, 880pts; 5th Sy Harraway, 860pts; 6th Will Gibson, 790pts