Reaching the half way point in the Production BMW championship at Snetterton, it was starting to become clear that the 2014 Runner up Gary Feakins could be the man to beat in 2015. With a victory in every race that he had taking part in so far, Gary should technically be championship leader, but absence at Silverstone left Matt Swaffer and Jack Gabriel tied as series leaders on 184 points, after six races. Third in the standings was series regular Rob Cooper, 24 down on Gabriel and Swaffer, however a run of podiums in recent meetings showed just how quick he can be and how he is capable of running at the front. Whilst Mark Palmer lied fourth on 164 points, the second Gary Feakins Racing 320i of Alex Ball sat in fifth, on 158 points, with Alex picking up top ten finishes on a regular basis. In a packed series of thirty plus competitors on a regular basis, podiums have been fought tooth and nail between a lot of drivers, with Snetterton seeing a return to the grid for David Graves, in the No.33 Graves Motorsport prepared 320i.
Feakins Controls Opening Race at Snetterton.
After dominating qualifying on a damp and slippery Snetterton circuit, Gary Feakins had secured pole position for the opening race on Sunday 12th July, with championship leaders Matt Swaffer and Jack Gabriel in fourth and eighth respectively. William Davidson was towards the front of the grid in the family prepared BMW E30 and a great start on a dry circuit saw a challenge for the lead, but Gary Feakins held from pole, to lead into turn one. Breaking away from the field early on, Feakins led Matt Swaffer on the opening lap by 3.092 seconds, as Davidson, Rob Cooper and David Graves completed the top five.
For the other championship leader, Jack Gabriel struggled down towards the rear of the top ten, losing out to George Sealey on lap two at Brundle and finding pressure from Edd Giddings, therefore losing ground in the championship. Whilst Feakins pulled away to a comfortable lead, Gabriel’s rival Swaffer was fighting for second with Davidson, seeing Rob Cooper holding fourth and David Graves fifth.
In terms of another championship challenger, Mark Palmer had been fighting in a group behind Ian Russell in seventh and eighth, but in the closing stages Palmer’s tussle with Russell ended with contact at Brundle and Palmer’s 320i bounced over the grass. This allowed Alex Ball an opportunity which he took for seventh, with Palmer staying in sixth.
On the final lap, Feakins took the flag by over seven seconds to secure yet another win, with Swaffer losing out to William Davidson, but taking the championship lead. In the battle for fourth, Cooper secured the honours as David Graves suffered a mechanical failure and limped across the line in seventh.
Production BMW Championship Race One Top Ten:
1) Gary Feakins (No.2 – BMW 320i) = 7 Laps = 17:02.792s
2) William Davidson (No.17 – BMW E30) = +7.723s
3) Matthew Swaffer (No.145 – BMW 320) = +10.480s
4) Rob Cooper (No.102 – BMW 320i) = +17.943s
5) Mark Palmer (No.8 – BMW 320i) = +20.310s
6) Alex Ball (No.47 – BMW 320i) = +20.447s
7) David Graves (No.33 – BMW 320i) = +21.339s
8) Ian Russell (No.18 – BMW E30) = +23.932s
9) Jack Gabriel (No.15 – BMW 320i) = +29.079s
10) Sam Strong (No.110 – BME E30) = +29.285s
Feakins & Davidson Go to the Wire in Wet Weather Thriller.
For the second and final Production BMW race at Snetterton, conditions had taken a turn for the worse and flooded the 300 circuit, with Gary Feakins on pole after his race one win. The sun came out before lights went green, making for an interesting race, as to whether it would hold and be dry, or the rain would return.
When the lights went out, both Davidson and Feakins got a brilliant start on a wet circuit, running side by side until Feakins broke out ahead at Agonstini corner. Behind the front two, Rob Cooper settled into third, whilst Matt Swaffer dropped back early on.
As conditions were extremely tricky, Feakins pulled clear with others pulling out margins over the car behind. Davidson held second by a decent margin, whilst Rob Cooper and Alex Ball were in viewing distance of one another. The driver on the move was Swaffer, pulling clear of Mark Palmer and looking to build on his championship lead, especially as Jack Gabriel was just inside the top ten.
Back at the front, the third lap saw the first challenge by William Davidson to take the lead. A chance on the outside at Brundle was halted before a mistake on lap five at the same corner gave Feakins an opportunity to secure victory. Within these two laps, Matt Swaffer had taken third away from Bell and Cooper as the rest of the field broke out into a single file train.
On the final lap, Davidson closed onto the boot lid of Feakins and challenged for the lead at Brundle and Nelson. On the outside of the corner, Feakins was able to hold on before having to switch left, right and left again into the bomb hole. Davidson’s challenge then ended exiting the bomb hole as the rears spun up on the wet surface, sending his E30 into a spin. This allowed Feakins to proceed to another victory, as Davidson recovered to finish second ahead of Matt Swaffer. The top five was completed by Rob Cooper and Alex Ball.
Production BMW Championship Race Two Top Ten:
1) Gary Feakins (No.2 – BMW 320i) = 6 Laps = 16:41.029s
2) William Davidson (No.17 – BMW E30) = +19.369s
3) Matthew Swaffer (No.145 – BMW 320) = +19.964s
4) Rob Cooper (No.102 – BMW 320i) = +20.230s
5) Alex Ball (No.47 – BMW 320i) = +21.812s
6) Mark Palmer (No.8 – BMW 320i) = +27.377s
7) Ian Russell (No.18 – BMW E30) = +27.811s
8) Matthew Wileman (No.131 – BMW 320) = +28.659s
9) David Graves (No.33 – BMW 320i) = +28.993s
10) Sam Strong (No.110 – BME E30) = +35.751s
The double for Gary Feakins at Snetterton brings him closer to the championship fight as the Production BMW Championship moves into its second half of the 2015 season at Brands Hatch in August. The Grand Prix circuit in Kent will host two races during the Lotus Festival, before Donington Park (19/20 September) and Castle Combe (10 October) will close out another season. In terms of the championship, Matthew Swaffer now becomes the sole leader, moving onto 276 points and holds a lead of eighteen over Rob Cooper, who has climbed up the order and into second. For Gary Feakins, the double has moved him to within twenty-six points of Swaffer, as Jack Gabriel’s difficult weekend leaves him fourth, on 247 points. With the championship being pretty close, expect to see plenty of change during and after the Brands Hatch meeting in August.
Production BMW Championship Standings:
1) Matthew Swaffer (No.145 – BMW 320) = 276 Pts.
2) Rob Cooper (No.102 – BMW 320i) = 258 Pts.
3) Gary Feakins (No.2 – BMW 320i) = 250 Pts.
4) Jack Gabriel (No.15 – BMW 320i) = 247 Pts
5) Mark Palmer (No.8 – BMW 320i) = 246 Pts
6) Alex Ball (No.47 – BMW 320i) = 240 Pts.
7) Ian Russell (No.18 – BMW E30) = 193 Pts.
8) Matthew Wileman (No.131 – BMW 320) = 182 Pts.
9) Andy Gay (No.62 – BMW E30 320) = 182 Pts.
10) William Davidson (No.17 – BMW E30) = 170 Pts.
For more photos of this meeting, please visit our Flickr album here.
For more information on the Production BMW Championship and to see Driver profiles and Points Standings, please visit their website: www.pbmwc.co.uk
Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs.