The final round of the 2012 season would see the SuperSport champion crowned and with dropped scores taken into account, the battle would be very close, with potentially just a few points separating the leaders and the 2-Eleven runners of leader Steve Train, Tom Chatterway and Simon Deacon in the pound seats. However another win for Rob Fenn would strengthen his challenge too.
Meanwhile, despite being out of contention, Adrian Hall would be staking his claim for the most wins in the season against Fenn, so an intriguing contest was in prospect. The Production title had already been claimed at Donington in Rob Boston’s favour, and this would be a chance for him to add yet another victory to his total.
Practice & Qualifying
Jamie Stanley boosted co-driver Glenn Sherwood’s title hopes with a strong performance in practice, whilst a few places behind, potential winners Rob Fenn and Adrian Hall lapped within a couple of seconds of each other. Steve Train was fastest of the 2-Eleven runners and was some way ahead of his rivals.
The long Snetterton 300 lap gave the two driver teams a lot of pressure to deal with over the twenty minute session, with just a couple of attempts to make the difference if both were to spend time in the car. Fenn put in an early lap to top the session by more than a second from David Harvey’s 340R, which for this weekend he was sharing with GT and historic ace Michael Lyons. Martin Donnelly had jumped ship to share Adrian Lester’s Evora, the sole V6 machine in the field, and sat in third early on from Hall and Jewell.
Lyons then lapped the 340R at a furious pace to topple the Fenn Elise by nearly two seconds. Jewell, too, improved his time to place himself third on the provisional grid. Then Donnelly took second, almost immediately beaten by Fenn, and on the next lap the team claimed the fastest time of all.
However the 340R beat this time by a mere four hundredths of a second and as the flag came out, just one chance remained for both squads. The Fenn Elise was a second-and-a-half quicker around the three-mile track and the matter was resolved in their favour. Lyons and Harvey held on for second from Donnelly and Lester, with Jewell fourth. Hall took fifth place from championship leader Train.
In the Production class, Boston, after suffering problems with his car in Elise Trophy qualifying, was in a fight with Ken Savage and Adam Knight, all three on the margins of the top ten. However Andrew Bentley took class pole and seventh place overall, from Exige Cup leaders Glenn Sherwood and Jamie Stanley. Mark Gooday was ninth, with title challenger Chatterway tenth. Deacon was down in fifteenth place and had his work cut out if he were to take the spoils.
Fenn got a great run to Riches and Donnelly followed him on the inside, taking second place despite Lyons’ defence. The Evora was then through into first by the time the field reached Montreal, where Jewell’s race ended. As Donnelly completed the opening lap, the safety car was out. The recovery operation took several laps to complete and threatened the races of the first and third-placed cars, as their drivers were unable to build up a decent gap before their stops.
When the race finally restarted, the pitlane window was minutes from opening but already Train and Deacon were having problems. Fenn meanwhile, harassed Donnelly before making his stop relatively early. Both leaders stayed out to build a gap to the rest, whilst behind, Bentley held an excellent place near the front of the field, whilst Hall was having a more subdued weekend; nevertheless he was still well in the top ten.
Donnelly made his stop as late as possible, whilst Lyons stayed out one more lap. Around the long Snetterton 300 circuit, it was too much for both, stopping just after the window closed. However for now they were ahead on the road and with Lester rejoining with the Evora, a thirty second gap to Fenn was whittled down in just a lap, the Motorsport Elise passing by ahead the next time past the pits. Fenn’s next task, however, was to claw back 25 seconds on Harvey in the 340R. Sure enough, he was past within another lap!
Meanwhile, Stanley had taken over the GWS Exige and after an entertaining dice with Hall, was after Lester and Harvey. He took the Evora within a few laps and set off for second place and potentially the championship for his team mate. However with just five minutes to go, the dark and wet conditions meant that the race would be called early. Stanley had to complete the lap in second place.
Fenn crossed the line to win the race, which also placed him in contention for the title. After a wait, the next car through was Stanley, then Harvey. However the latter team’s late stop denied them a podium position and the subsequent three-lap penalty dropped them to 18th place, two above Donnelly and Lester.
These penalties moved Train up the order to fifth behind Hall and an excellent Bentley, and with the class win, was more than enough to confirm him as champion. Gooday finished sixth, with McNeilly and Chong seventh, Capstick and Goff eighth, Chatterway ninth and Production champion Boston tenth.
The championship decider provided plenty of tension and excitement as a close title chase could have fallen to any one of several drivers throughout the hour. Fenn’s fightback gives him the most wins of the season and almost the title but two low scores earlier in the year ended his chances, whilst Stanley’s customary late charge left Sherwood short by an agonisingly short margin. In the end Train’s consistency and pace, putting him at the top of his class once more, ensured that he took the spoils.
Meanwhile earlier problems for Boston meant that he offered no challenge in the Production class but with the championship already wrapped up, second in class was a respectable way to end a brilliant season. For once he was overshadowed, by an inspired Bentley, who delivered a performance normally reserved for the champion.
The Lotus Cup UK season is now over but some of the drivers will be racing at Brands Hatch in a fortnight at the Lotus 6 Hour race.
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