In the UK there have been many Motorsport Clubs that have come and gone, but one continues to grow from strength to strength. The MG Car Club has been around for a number of years and throughout has shown entertaining racing in every form of vehicle that the manufacture has produced. Currently racing across the UK with seven championships ranging from classic to modern day machinery, one championship that reaches the headlines in various magazines is the MG Trophy. The championship has built up a reputation of high class racing as grids reach 30+ on a regular basis with all competing in the MG ZR, creating a unique single make series for drivers to learn the trade or race hard with friends. In the history of the championship, drivers have gone on to be successful in higher forms of Motorsport and Jack Goff is a prime example of this, as using the MG Trophy to progress to Clio Cup champion and now a regular in the Dunlop BTCC. The foundation of the championship is being cost effective for all level of drivers and is broken down into three Classes (A, B and C). Class A is for the more experienced drivers and usually the front runners, competing in full race spec ZRs, producing 190bhp on Dunlop control slicks. The B Class is similar to A but the ZRs run at 170bhp and run on 1B Dunlop control tyres as a way of reducing costs further. The final Class, C, is for race prepared road versions of the ZR, built for budgets of around GBP 3,000.00. The points structure for 2018 see all drivers competing together so any car from any Class can take the title, but drivers have to consider drop scores in calculating the overall positions.
Throughout the year the championship had visited three rounds of six and on the 14th and 15th July, the MG Trophy would be at Donington Park as part of a new British Sportscar Weekend. The event was set up by the MG Car Club and Morgan Sports car to celebrate the two iconic brands both on and off track. As part of the weekend, the MG Trophy would have action on both days, Saturday including qualifying and race one, whilst race two would be Sunday alongside a packed race schedule spanning eighty years of automotive history. In the build up to the Donington Park weekend the battle for the title has been changing between drivers of Classes A and B and currently holding top spot was Paul Luti on a drop score total of 89. If drop scores weren’t considered, Paul actually lied second behind A class driver Graham Ross, with the two now separated by two points as Graham held a total of 87. Graham’s closest rival was Jason Burgess on 78 points, but Jason was level on points with class B race winner Ryan Firth. Majority of the grid has so far been made of class B competitors and this was expected to be the case at Donington. In the Class C championship, John Booth in the No.50 ZR held top spot after three rounds with a drop score total of 83 and is followed closely by John Gil, the two separated by 8 points. Third place is held by David Heasman and whilst he held a strong overall point total, drop scores put him third on 71 points. The field in Class C has only reached seven throughout the year so the battle is expected to be between the two Johns and David for race win.
Ross Does Enough to Hold off Burgess
At a warm sunny Donington Park the MG Trophy began their weekend with qualifying Saturday morning and with a high track temperature, making the tyres last was crucial for all drivers. Spread between Classes A, B and C, twenty-nine drivers took to the circuit for fifteen minutes and the front runners set their sights on class pole. Lap times were similar across all classes, getting quicker as the session neared its conclusion. Class A was contested between Graham Ross and Jason Burgess and it was Burgess who grabbed it on his final lap, setting a time of 1:20.983, 0.081 seconds quicker than Ross. Championship contender Paul Luti grabbed the Class B pole with a time of 1:23.576 ahead of Sam Kirkpatrick, but unfortunately for Sam an oil leak at the top of circuit ended his session, bringing out the red flag and recovery trucks. Class C pole would go to Class leader John Booth, clocking a time of 1:27.229 and surprisingly ahead of some of the Class B runners.
The opening race for the MG Trophy got underway at midday under the Leicestershire sunshine and track temperatures were ever increasing. From pole position Jason Burgess was looking to lead away Graham Ross in battle for Class A and once the lights went out, both got superb starts. Burgess and Ross would run bumper to bumper and whilst both avoided any trouble, cars behind went everywhere at the bottom of the Craner Curves into the Old Hairpin. As damage took out a few to retire laps later, Class C leader John Booth was stranded, requiring assistance from the Orange Army and the safety car was deployed. At the end of the first lap Jason Burgess held the overall lead from Graham Ross, whilst Paul Luti had climbed to fourth to lead Class B and Tylor Ballard lead C down towards the rear of the field but ahead of some Class B competitors. The safety car would be out for a couple of laps before pulling in on lap four allowing Burgess and Ross to resume their battle.
The battle at the front of the field was frantic with Burgess holding a slender lead but it was the Class B battle that saw paintwork being swapped as Paul Luti came under threat from Tom Butler with William Payne from Class A mixing it for an overall high finish. The Class B fight had allowed Doug Cole to settle into third meaning he held an overall podium finish along with third in Class A.
After following Burgess bumper to bumper it was on lap seven that Ross found his way pass, making his way through at the top of the circuit as traffic starting to become a factory for the front runners. A slight increase in speed gave Ross the advantage and once ahead he never looked back, increasing his margin but still under pressure as Jason maintained the gap to less than a second until the chequered flag, with Doug Cole comfortably in third pushing on with consistent lap times and matching the front runners for pace. Behind the podium positions William Payne broke clear of the Class B fight, with Luti keeping Butler at bay. The fight was becoming a four-way tussle in the closing stages as Sam Kirkpatrick and Matthew Turnbull joined the party, bringing with them Class A runner Robin Walker. Walker was able to get ahead in his slightly faster MG ZR but his involvement meant competitors lost time in tackling Paul Luti. In the closing stages Luti had to withhold a challenge from Kirkpatrick and held his nerve to take the Class B victory. Kirkpatrick settled for second and Tom Butler was third, however post-race the result was amended with Matthew Turnbull taking second and Jake Roberts third as Kirkpatrick picked up a fifteen seconds track limit penalty whilst Tom Butler was handed five seconds for a similar infringement.
In Class C Tylor Ballard took a comfortable class win finishing on the lead lap ahead of Joseph Dalgarno and John Gil, with all three finishing inside the top twenty overall.
MG Trophy Race One – Top Three Classes:
1. Graham Ross (No.92) = 13 Laps = 20:44.140
2. Jason Burgess (No.16) = +0.582s
3. Doug Cole (No.99) = +12.098s
1. Paul Luti (No.69) = 13 Laps = 21:18.826
2. Matthew Turnbull (No.64) = 21:22.987
3. Jake Roberts (No.31) = 21:23.472
1. Tylor Ballard (No.80) = 22:07.260
2. Joseph Dalgarno (No.93) = 20:49.040 +1 Lap
3. John Gil (No.36) = 20:49.239 +1 Lap
Ross Completes Donington Double
Race two was a much quieter affair on Sunday morning than Saturday’s race as from the front row Burgess and Ross did battle again, but this time Ross got out front from the start and held firm. With Ross leading the way, Burgess did everything he could in the earlier stages but by the half way distance had flat spotted the tyres and fell adrift, losing out by nearly four seconds over a distance of twenty minutes. The race win for Graham Ross boosted his title challenge as with this being his fifth on the bounce, the result in Class B handing him the championship lead.
Saturday had seen a frantic encounter in Class B and this repeated itself on Sunday with the usual contenders playing their part in a thriller. From lights out Sam Kirkpatrick became the early leader chased hard by Paul Luti. Things were clean on the opening two laps but on lap three Luti challenged into McLeans, ran out of road on the outside and beached in the gravel trap. The mistake cost Luti his race and handed victory on a plate to Kirkpatrick, as behind the battle for class podium became a three-way tussle between Ryan Firth (46), Tom Butler (55) and Matthew Turnbull (64). Positions chopped and changed due to involvement from class A runners and by mid-way distance settled into a fight for second between Firth and Butler, separated by the tiniest of margins. Ryan Firth would hold onto second in Class B at the chequered flag, followed by Butler with the gap being 0.483 seconds.
In Class C Tylor Ballard drove superbly to another class victory in what was a repeat of race one with Joseph Dalgarno second, but John Booth recovered from disaster in race one to take the final class podium spot.
MG Trophy Race Two – Top Three Classes:
1. Graham Ross (No.92) = 15 Laps = 20:28.762
2. Jason Burgess (No.16) = +3.958s
3. Doug Cole (No.99) = +4.614s
1. Sam Kirkpatrick (No.3) = 15 Laps = 21:16.447
2. Ryan Firth (No.46) = 21:18.503
3. Tom Butler (No.55) = 21:18.986s
1. Tylor Ballard (No.80) = 20:53.467 + 1 Lap
2. Joseph Dalgarno (No.93) = 21:01.084 +1 Lap
3. John Booth (No.50) = 21:02.545 +1 Lap
With rounds seven and eight concluded at Donington Park, four races now remained in the 2018 season as the MG Trophy visits Oulton Park on the weekend of the 1st September before concluding in Norfolk at Snetterton later that month on the 29th. Four races enable plenty of opportunity for movement within the championship standings and drop scores will play their part right up until the chequered flag during round twelve.
To keep up to date with the MG Trophy with race reports and championship standings or want to see what the MG Car Club has to offer, please visit MG Car Club.
To see our full photo album of the event up at Donington Park, please click here
Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs.