Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield) secured his second Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres crown in winning style at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on Sunday, 7th November, wrapping up the title with two races to spare after a truly fabulous season.
With his 17th race win of the year in Heat One of round 16, Rudman – whose car is prepared by Pro24 Raceshop – ultimately sealed the 2021 title by 560 points to become only the eighth driver in Legends Cars history to win more than one championship, his first coming in 2019.
Outgoing champion Daniel Clark (Darras Hall) ended a challenging year with a very popular first victory of the season in round 16 Heat Two. Sean Smith (Marlow) bagged an equally popular first win of the year in round 15 Heat One on Saturday, 6th November, and also ended the year as the Gerard McCosh Napoleon Award Champion – formerly the ‘Masters’ class.
Vice-Champion John Mickel (Horsham) was the only double victor in Kent, winning both Finals to conclude the season with a total of 13 victories. Will Gibson (Camberley) took his seventh race win of the year in round 15 Heat Two, going on to seal a very competitive top three championship finish.
Andy Bird claimed the coveted 2021 Rookie Class title and also returned to the overall podium, while Mike Schlup (Cuckfield) delivered a series of impressive performances all weekend at his ‘home’ track and duly delivered his maiden podium.
First win of year for Smith, victories too for Gibson and Mickel
Steve Whitelegg (Bury) made the early running at the beginning of Heat One on Saturday morning, soaking up pressure from Smith and Nathan Anthony (Horley) before the Safety Car was deployed in time for lap two. At the re-start on lap five, Smith grabbed the lead at Paddock Hill Bend.
Another Safety Car was required from laps seven to nine, leaving a two-lap sprint, and Smith aced the re-start before claiming his first win of the year by a tenth of a second with Whitelegg seeing off Mickel to retain second. Jack Parker (Wolverhampton), Anthony and Gibson completed the top six but Parker was later disqualified for an eligibility issue, elevating Rudman into sixth.
Clark made a good start to Heat Two but Chris Needham (Altrincham) soon took the lead ahead of Schlup, Rudman, Clark, Bird and Mickel. After taking second on lap two Rudman closed on Needham and Clark battled back into the top three, as Gibson continued to move up through the order.
Into the second half of the race Rudman grabbed the lead on lap six with Needham second and Mickel up to third. Gibson, still climbing through, took third from Mickel on the outside at Druids and then brilliantly moved into second on the run down to Graham Hill Bend before closing on Rudman.
Mickel’s championship bid took a big hit on lap seven when a tangle with Needham put the latter off into the gravel and retirement, with Mickel recovering to finish in 13th place. Gibson and Rudman remained glued together to the finish, Gibson taking a sensational seventh win, with Schlup sealing a superb first podium from Bird, Clark and Charlie Budd (Henley-on-Thames).
Saturday’s round 15 Final delivered a great response from Mickel with his 12th race victory of the season, a Mickel Motorsport one-two with Paul Simmons (Lingfield) just 0.2 seconds behind the team leader at the chequered flag. Simmons launched strongly at the beginning to slice through into the lead and, after an early Safety Car period, he stormed away at the re-start on lap five.
Mickel worked his way into second and passed Simmons for the lead on the sixth tour, and they duly pulled clear of the rest. Parker made the last step on the podium his on lap 10 after passing both Clark and Robin Fountain (Boston) in quick succession, with Clark ultimately pipping Needham for fourth place – Fountain rounding out the top six.
Rudman raced to a sensible ninth place, doing just what he needed to, while Gibson fought back well from almost the back of the field to finish in the top 10, following a lap five trip through the Paddock Hill Bend gravel.
Rudman seals title, Clark grabs first 2021 win, Mickel doubles-up
Sunday’s racing didn’t begin how anyone wanted when Heat One was red flagged at the end of the opening tour due to an unfortunate multi-car tangle, triggered after Gibson was pushed wide onto the grass at Surtees, but thankfully all drivers emerged unscathed.
Following a single file re-start, originally led by Schlup, Gibson moved to the front at the end of lap two before Parker took the lead on lap five at Druids. Rudman, who started 19th on the grid, moved to the front on lap six and a sensational scrap over the podium order raged to the finish on lap nine.
Gibson nosed ahead into the final tour, securing the lead on the outside line at Paddock, but Rudman managed to hit back to take the win – and seal the championship – by a mere 0.083 seconds. Gibson shaded Parker for second with Schlup superb again in fourth, only 0.149 seconds covering the top four. Anthony held off Nick Bridgeman (Baldock) for fifth position.
Heat Two of round 16 delivered a landmark moment in the 2021 championship, the first win of the year for last year’s champion Clark. Starting on the front row, Clark ran second to Bird initially before Rudman moved through and the newly crowned champ then took the lead on lap four.
With nothing to separate the trio, Clark took the lead for the first time on the fifth tour and Smith then moved into contention and hit the front at the start of lap seven. On lap nine, though, his hopes of another win were dashed when his car slowed and he headed for pitlane. Rudman assumed the lead but Clark passed him on the last lap to win by 0.168 seconds with Bird taking third.
Mickel became the only double race winner of the weekend with a great victory in the round 16 Final, fending off the ultra-quick Gibson during the last few laps. Jonty Norman (Wakefield) led the race initially before Simmons took over, but Mickel passed his team-mate at the start of lap three.
Following a mid-race Safety Car period, due to a car off in the barriers on the run up Hailwood Hill, Mickel controlled the action to soak up Gibson’s pressure. Smith capped a very strong event with third place, ahead of new champion Rudman, Simmons and Whitelegg.
Miles Rudman – 2021 Champion and Rd16 Heat One Winner:
“It’s obviously amazing to win the championship, it’s what we’ve been working hard towards all season. The first one is always the most special, it felt a bit more comfortable this time, but it’s still a fantastic feeling. On Saturday I was too cautious, it’s not how I drive or enjoy driving, so I told myself for the second day I’d get on with it and that’s what we did – the car has been amazing all year. I’d love to come back and defend the championship next year, we’ll have to see what happens.”
John Mickel – Rd15 Final and Rd16 Final Winner:
“The last race of the year at Brands always seems to be my lucky race, I think I’ve won four or five of them. At the end of the day, I think Will [Gibson] was the quicker car but I made my car twice as wide. I thought they’d all freight-train me and get past, so it’s great to end the year with another win to add to the one on Saturday. Thank you to all my sponsors who have been with us all year.”
Will Gibson – Rd15 Heat Two Winner:
“We had some issues with the handling but sorted those out and made good progress. It’s good to have another win, a shame we couldn’t win more races but we knew it was unlikely we’d finish anything other than third in the championship. I don’t like to bang on about luck as you make your own sometimes, but we have had more than our fair share of bad luck this year – five DNFs shows that. We know we’re quick enough to win it, so next year we’ll try even harder again.”
Daniel Clark – Rd16 Heat Two Winner:
“To be honest we weren’t sure we’d do this weekend as we’ve had such a bad year. Last year the car we had was set-up by Colin Smart and we never changed it all year, it worked perfectly. When the new car this year got bent, we struggled to get it working how we wanted and it’s been like that all season. We changed lots of things every race this weekend, and it’s amazing to take a win. We’ve ordered a new chassis for next year, so the plan is to get some testing in and be back stronger.”
Sean Smith – Gerard McCosh Napoleon Champion and Rd15 Heat One Winner:
“It’s been a long year, this win has been a long time coming! It’s taken us all season to get back to where we were in 2019 before my big accident. We should have had two wins this weekend, gutting the engine blew on the last lap in race two today, but we’re still happy with how it’s all gone. Matt [Roach] has done a great job with the car and worked very hard. We’re aiming to be challenging for that top three again next year and, hopefully, the championship.”
Provisional 2021 Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres Points:
CHAMPION: Miles Rudman, 8070pts; 2nd John Mickel, 7510pts; 3rd Will Gibson, 7105pts; 4th Jack Parker, 6335pts; 5th Sean Smith, 5755pts; 6th Steve Whitelegg, 5345pts
Gerard McCosh Napoleon Award Champion: