TCR UK – Round 3
Donington Park – 29th May 2022

RACE REPORT

After taking the lead at the start of lap three, Max Hart never looked back and as the chasing pack battled for the remaining positions, the JamSport Hyundai i30N driver went on to cross the line to win by 9 seconds – an unusually large margin in TCR UK circles – ahead of the Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai i30N of Bradly Kent and the Race Car Consultants VW Golf GTi of Isaac Smith, who claimed second and third respectively.

When the lights went out at the start of the race, pole-sitter and round one winner Chris Smiley made the most of his advantage, the Restart Racing Honda Civic FK7 TCR driver leading the 25-car field into Redgate (turn one) ahead of Adam Shepherd (JamSport Racing Hyundai i30N) and Hart. In contrast, Hugo Cook’s launch off the line from P2 didn’t go as planned, as the Audi RS3 LMS driver suffered a loss of power.

Even though the cars were inseparable, the top three held station until the entry into McLeans on lap two, when Shepherd and Smiley touched, the contact resulting in the race leader taking to the grass. As a precautionary measure, Smiley headed into the pits to have the radiator cleared of debris and the car checked for damage before returning to the track, albeit significantly down the order.

With Shepherd’s car showing signs of its previous encounter, Hart seized the opportunity and at the start of lap three, snatching the lead at Redgate and progressively pulling away from the rest of the field.

A battle for third now raged between the Kent brothers and Smith, who were caught shortly afterwards by a charging Jamie Tonks (Area Motorsport with FastR CUPRA) in sixth. Such was their pace, they reeled in Shepherd and on lap seven Bradley Kent found a way past at the Esses and set off after Hart, who was by now 10 seconds further up the road.

Shepherd, however, could do no more than pull into the pits with a broken rear shock absorber, leaving the battle for second between the Kent brothers, Smith and Tonks. Others who visited the pits were round two winner Jessica Hawkins (Area Motorsport with FastR CUPRA), 2021 runner-up Bruce Winfield (Area Motorsport CUPRA) and 2021 VW Cup Champion Jack Depper (Capture Motorsport VW Golf GTi), each suffering from sudden tyre degradation.

With Hart ultimately uncatchable, Bradly Kent could do no more than settle for second. However, the fight for the final step of the podium continued right up to the closing stages of the 25-minute race with Tonks making a bid for supremacy on a number of occasions, only to slide wide under braking. Consequently, Lewis Kent crossed the line in third ahead of Smith, their positions later reversed when the Clerk of the Course, deemed Kent’s earlier passing manoeuvre a little too robust.

Despite his aborted overtaking attempts, Tonks was happy with his fifth place finish, having only taken delivery of his sequential gearshift CUPRA on Friday. Also pleased with his morning’s work was Alex Ley (Daniel James Motorsport Hyundai i30N), sixth an impressive result for the TCR UK debutant.

Also delivering an impressive performance was 23-year-old Bradley Hutchinson in seventh, and Ant Whorton-Eales, who gave the JamSport Racing Subaru Impreza TCR its best UK result to date in eighth. Rounding off the top ten was Matthew Wilson (JWB Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición TCR) and Scott Sumpton (Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai i30N) in 10th – another impressive performance, bearing in mind the 17-year-old had only previously competed in the Junior Saloon Car Championship before this year.

Adding to his achievement, with championship regulations dictating that the top 10 positions are reversed for the second of the days two races, Sumpton will line up in pole position for this afternoon’s round four, which is scheduled to get underway at 18.25.