Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres dominator Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield) continued his absolutely incredible form at Donington Park over the weekend, 21st/22nd August, with an almost perfect outing – taking a staggering five wins from the six races contested.
During an event impacted several times by rain, at times torrential, Rudman almost doubled his lead in the championship to 930 points as chief title rivals Will Gibson (Camberley) and John Mickel (Horsham) both endured terrible misfortune. Rudman’s victory tally for the year now stands at 12.
Jack Parker (Wolverhampton) claimed his fourth success of the season in the opening Heat of round 10 on Sunday, an incredibly tight winning margin of just 0.082 seconds. Rudman’s realistic hopes of a faultless weekend were ended when he was collected on the opening lap.
Sean Smith (Marlow) matched a season-best second place in round nine Heat Two on Saturday, with top Rookie class competitor Andy Bird securing his first outright top three in the same race. Gibson, Mickel, Steve Whitelegg (Bury) and Chris Needham (Altrincham) also enjoyed podium finishes.
Unstoppable Rudman does the double on rainy Saturday
Drizzle and a damp track awaited the drivers for round nine Heat One on Saturday, and reigning champion Daniel Clark (Darras Hall) made the most of the grip on the outside at Redgate to lead the opening race of the weekend.
While he did open a fair advantage initially, Whitelegg then challenged on lap two before Rudman moved to the front over the line into lap three as the trio ran three abreast. Having stormed through the order from 18th on the grid, Rudman dominated thereafter to win by 3.7 seconds.
Behind, Gibson made his way into second place midway through lap four and he was able to see off Whitelegg in the end by just 0.3 seconds. Fourth went to lead Rookie racer Bird, who pipped Mickel and Parker on the line on lap 10.
Heat Two also started on a slippery track and no sooner had the lights gone out, the action was red flagged due to a multi-car tangle. Although the stricken cars were swiftly cleared away, oil deposited around the circuit led to a very long delay and officials moved the race to the end of the day.
Re-starting almost five hours later, after seven o’clock in the evening, Marcus Pett (Boston) led away from pole on a drying track and at the end of lap one there was a twist in the title battle when both Gibson and Mickel pitted after early dramas.
It was a dream scenario for points leader Rudman who, already into second and right with Pett into lap two, set about challenging for yet another win. Grabbing the lead into Redgate on the inside, he went on to claim victory by 0.5 seconds on lap seven – the race shortened due to the circuit curfew.
Smith grabbed second on the final lap from Bird who still secured his first podium in Legends Cars with third place. Parker, the newly married Nick Bridgeman (Baldock) and Pett rounded out the top six. Mickel rejoined on the lead lap after his pit visit but finished 21st, while Gibson had to retire.
Three more wins for Rudman on Sunday as Parker takes victory too
As a result of the timetable delays on Saturday, the 12-lap round nine Final was moved to Sunday morning in place of the originally scheduled round 10 qualifying session. The action, though, was red flagged on lap two after a tangle at the tail of the top 10 at Redgate.
The race re-started over a reduced 10 laps and Mark Beaty (Gosforth) grabbed the early initiative before Mickel moved ahead. Smith hit the front on lap three but he ran wide at Redgate the next time around, enabling Rudman – who had stormed from the back – to move past to lead for the first time.
Parker, also driving very impressively, hit the front on lap five but a 10 second penalty for an ‘out of position start’ would ruin his hopes and he eventually finished fifth on corrected times. Rudman and Parker worked together well to build a gap at the front, Rudman making it a round nine hat-trick with the win from Mickel, Smith, Whitelegg, Parker and Bridgeman.
Rudman’s run of success came to an end in Heat One of round 10 later in the morning when he was caught-up in dramas on the opening lap – he eventually finished in 10th place. At the front, Mickel made the early running before trading the lead with Needham and also Parker. Mickel then moved back into the lead on lap four as the sensational battle intensified.
Needham hit back on lap six before Mickel passed again, then staying at the front all the way to the 10th and final lap. Impossible to pick a winner, on the sprint to the line Parker worked it perfectly to win by a mere 0.082 seconds from Needham with Mickel third, 0.093 seconds further back. Gibson, who thus far had endured awful misfortune, raced superbly to fourth.
Just as Heat Two was about to begin rain started to fall and an incident on the formation lap accounted for a number of cars. Additionally, Parker’s throttle cable snapped and Mickel had an oil line problem. After another formation lap the action got underway with Rudman leaping into second as Gibson took the early lead. Rudman then moved ahead further around the lap and led thereafter.
The race came to an early conclusion when Lenny Woodcock (Chichester) became beached in the gravel at the chicane, soon after podium challenger Whitelegg and others had gone straight-on at the same turn when the rainfall reached biblical proportions. The result was taken from the end of lap five with Rudman winning from Gibson, Smith, Bird, Needham and Paul Simmons (Lingfield).
After the torrential rain of mid-afternoon at Donington, the round 10 Final got underway on a greasy track around 40 minutes later than scheduled on Sunday evening with a husband and wife front row for the first time in Legends – reigning champion Clark alongside wife Elby.
The 2020 title winner led into Redgate and opened a lead of more than a second on lap one, but that man Rudman was already storming through and was into the top five. On lap three the Safety Car appeared due to a stranded car on circuit, but the action swiftly resumed only a lap later with Clark leading Rudman. The former champion wasted no time, passing Clark into Redgate and pulling clear.
Utterly dominant thereafter, Rudman was on rails and opened up an unthinkable Legends Cars advantage of nine seconds by the start of the 12th and final lap. He went on to win by 8.6 seconds in the end from Gibson and Mickel, both of them thoroughly deserving another podium visit after some awful luck during the weekend. Parker pipped Clark for fourth on the line, with Pett sixth.
Rd9 Heat One, Rd9 Heat Two, Rd9 Final, Rd10 Heat Two, Rd10 Final Winner:
“Coming into the weekend I’d have been happy with some good solid points scoring, but five wins – I couldn’t have asked for any better really. I would’ve liked to have the six wins, obviously, but I got taken out [in Rd10 Heat One]. If we can keep performing the way we are, hopefully we can bring it [the championship title] home again. There are a lot of points up for grabs still and a lot to play for.”
Jack Parker – Rd10 Heat One Winner:
“It was a tricky weekend with the conditions, we’ve had to cope with a lot of different things before but I’ve never known an event like this one with the track changing all the time – wet, oil down, then slippery, then dry. We’ve had worse weekends and it’s nice to have another win, but the DNF in the next race because of the throttle cable hurt us. We survived it all though and the car is in one piece.”
Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk will host the sixth event of the Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres season over the weekend 18th/19th September.
Provisional 2021 Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres Points:
1st Miles Rudman, 5320pts; 2nd Will Gibson, 4390pts; 3rd John Mickel, 4240pts; 4th Jack Parker, 3945pts; 5th Sean Smith, 3865pts; 6th Steve Whitelegg, 3125pts