Chris Needham (Altrincham) became the latest driver to join the prestigious list of Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres race winners at Snetterton 300 Circuit on Sunday, 20th September, after taking a sensational maiden victory in the round six Final.
Having delivered some great performances throughout the weekend to that point, Needham shone in the final race on Sunday afternoon to pip reigning champion Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield) by a mere 0.023 seconds.
Rudman, who almost made it a hat-trick of wins, concluded the event with a total of three podiums which included victories in Heat One on Saturday, 19th September, and Heat One on Sunday. John Mickel (Horsham) also took away two successes, his first of 2020, winning Heat Two on both days.
Jack Parker (Wolverhampton), who aced the round five Final on Saturday afternoon, put together a stunningly consistent weekend with podium finishes in all six races – three second places, two third places and the victory. In terms of the standings, Daniel Clark (Darras Hall) has opened a slim lead.
Three races, three winners on sensational Snetterton Saturday
Will Gibson (Camberley) started Heat One on Saturday on the front row and instantly stormed into the lead. Heading Robin Fountain (Boston) early on, they were joined by Rudman, Parker, qualifying pace-setter Mickel, Connor Mills (Upminster) and Steve Whitelegg (Bury).
On lap five there was drama when a spin for Gibson, across the grass into Riches, resulted in luckless contact with Mickel – Gibson retired while Mickel recovered to finish in 16th. In terms of the win, it all came down to the drag to the line where Rudman shaded Mills by just 0.047 seconds, with Parker only another 0.005 seconds back. Whitelegg was fourth from Fountain and Clark.
After the sensational action of race one, Heat Two had a lot to live up to. Unsurprisingly, the stars of Legends delivered once again with Mickel – who started on pole – winning by 0.1 seconds having somehow managed to keep half a dozen pursuers behind on the sprint to the chequered flag.
Mickel maintained the lead during the first half of the race, despite frantic action behind, but on lap four Parker, Rudman and Mills drafted past. Rudman then took the lead on lap five before Mills dived past at Agostini, and Parker then regained first at the Esses. Mickel, though, hit back on the final tour to win from Parker, Mills, Clark, Rudman, Mike Schlup (Cuckfield) and Gibson.
Saturday’s afternoon’s Final had absolutely everything, and was ultimately determined by an unfortunate tangle at the hairpin involving Sy Harraway (Weston-super-Mare), Rudman and Mickel on the last lap. Harraway led away impressively from pole at the start of the eight-lapper, and he had built an impressive gap of around 2.5 seconds as the midway point approached.
After getting ahead of early second placed runner Steve McGill (Bo’ness), Gibson – who was fortunate to avoid a spinning Jonty Norman (Wakefield) on lap one – quickly started to close down the leader and he was also joined by Rudman and Mickel. Gibson moved into the lead at the end of Bentley Straight on lap four and although Rudman passed him the next time around, Gibson hit back.
The Safety Car was deployed for lap seven to clear the stranded car of Connor Hughes (Hullbridge) and so a last lap dash for glory was in prospect. Gibson made a good re-start but went wide at Riches as Mickel challenged. Then, into the hairpin, Mickel’s hopes ended when he was tipped into a spin after unintentional contact from behind, with Rudman and Harraway caught-up as well.
Fountain took the lead, before being passed into Agostini by Mills and Parker, and on Bentley Straight the latter drafted past Mills with Fountain taking second. In the end, Parker won by 0.5 seconds from Fountain, his best result since returning to Legends, with Clark a stunning third after storming through from outside the top 10 on the last lap alone.
New Legends star Needham joins winners’ circle in Rd6 Final
If Saturday was sensational, Sunday was spectacular. Clark lined-up on pole for Heat one but fellow front-row starter Harraway moved ahead into Riches. Clark hit back down Bentley Straight and the lead continued to be traded lap after lap, with Mills then hitting the front at the start of lap three.
His turn didn’t last long though when a slide for Harraway, three corners later at Agostini, cost Mills badly and Clark duly sliced past into the lead. Harraway returned to the front shortly after but, on lap five at the Esses, contact pitched him into a spin and he eventually recovered to finish in 10th.
In the end, Rudman judged the lead battle to perfection and at the flag on lap six he pipped Parker by 0.050 seconds with Clark – who was leading out of the infield on the final lap – third. Just behind, Mickel took fourth, Mills fifth and Gibson bagged a superb sixth from the back of the grid.
Mickel started Heat Two on pole and into the hairpin on the opening lap he managed to be far enough ahead of contact between two rivals behind. Leading Gibson, Rudman and Whitelegg, the first 12 cars were nose-to-tail into lap two and along Bentley Straight Rudman moved into the lead.
There was nothing in it, Mickel hitting back into Agostini on lap three before Rudman and Gibson usurped him into the Esses. Gibson hit the front into the hairpin on lap four, but Mickel started his fightback – passing Rudman on lap five and then taking the lead at the end of Bentley. He held on to win from Parker, with Gibson third, Rudman fourth, Mills fifth and Needham sixth.
Needham started the round six Final second on the grid, alongside Bill Read (Oldham), and he took the lead immediately into Riches. On lap two, Paul Simmons (Lingfield) and Mills went past into first and second respectively and Mills then passed Simmons on the run to Agostini.
Although having been edged back to third, Needham hit back with a great move at the Bomb Hole to take second and he then grabbed the lead back on lap three. Mills pulled out of the slipstream into lap four to move ahead again, and Rudman took second before passing Mills. The first of two Safety periods then followed on lap five, due to Read’s car being stranded at the exit of Riches.
At the re-start there was more drama immediately, with Mills’ car expiring in a cloud of smoke. It meant the reappearance of the Safety Car and a one-lap dash to the flag. Rudman led the way into the final tour on lap eight, but on the sprint to the line Needham did it by just 0.023 seconds from the reigning champion. Parker finished third from Mickel, Clark and Gibson.
Miles Rudman – Rd5 Heat One Winner and Rd6 Heat One Winner:
“We drew a good grid position for the first race [on Saturday], we were close to the front anyway, but there were a lot of fast guys at the front. It was just a case of trying to work with each other and get to the end, it was so close all the way through the race. In Sunday’s first race I didn’t even know we were on the last lap, then I saw the chequered! It was all going on, so close, nothing in it.”
John Mickel – Rd5 Heat Two Winner and Rd6 Heat Two Winner:
“In the first race [of the weekend] we were unlucky as we got taken out, but this made up for it. The car was badly bent after the first race, but we got it straightened out and back together. You need some friends out there and the 13 car [Parker] gave me a big hand [with the draft]. Race two on Sunday was really good, hard work but it’s always hard work when you’re at the front.”
Jack Parker – Rd5 Final Winner:
“What an incredible race, and what a final lap it was. It was a shame what happened with John [Mickel], Miles [Rudman] and Sy [Harraway] on the last lap. I honestly thought I’d settle for fourth under a Safety Car finish, but to get the win was fantastic.”
Chris Needham – Rd6 Final Winner:
“It’s brilliant, I couldn’t be more chuffed with my first win – I love this circuit as well, I had a good feeling about this weekend. I knew if I was up at the front I just had to leave the right gap coming onto the straight [on the last lap]. Luckily I timed it perfectly!”
Provisional Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres Standings:
1st Daniel Clark, 2770pts; 2nd John Mickel, 2750pts; 3rd Jack Parker, 2720pts; 4th Miles Rudman, 2705pts; 5th Will Gibson, 2510pts; 6th Connor Mills, 2490pts