At this time of year, alongside taking some well-earned rest and downtime, it can be a useful exercise to look back on the competitive season and reflect upon individual or team challenges, successes, and overall progress made. We’ve taken this opportunity to collate some highlights of the season from our sponsored athletes, as we look forward to another busy season working across various championships in 2022.
Back in April, we were delighted to receive the news that Tom Rawlings had secured a deal to race with Paddock Motorsport in their new McLaren Customer Racing GT Cup set-up. Although something of a last minute signing (with a seat fit being completed on the Thursday evening before the opening race meeting!) Tom took the weekend in his stride, adapting to a new team environment, car, and unfamiliar endurance race format with impressive ease. Alongside new teammate Moh Ritson, the duo surpassed all expectations to take the team’s first podium finish in their debut weekend together at Donington Park.
Over the course of the season the pair took part in a closely fought battle in the GTH class championship, featuring among other manufacturer entries several evenly-matched fellow customer McLaren 570S cars. Things came to a head at the final round of season at Snetterton, where they managed to secure P2 in the GTH class with a strong result; adding a host of podiums and class wins over the course of the season. Read all about the ups and downs of this exciting final weekend here. Tom rounded out his first season in the McLaren Customer Racing family with a finalist place on their prestigious Driver Development Programme, an opportunity providing much learning to take into next season as he looks to continue his progress in endurance racing.
There was little time for Tom to celebrate his fantastic result in GT Cup as only a week after the season finale he took part in a surprise one-off return to the MINI Challenge JCW class with series stalwarts Lawrence Davey Racing. The MINI Challenge championship was where Tom spent two seasons racing in 2019/20, taking multiple podiums and an overall race win in the hotly contested BTCC-supporting series. With support from GT Cup sponsor Carwood Group, and reunited with previous race mechanic Bruno Costa (more on his season to follow) the weekend was something of a baptism of fire, with Tom having to drive around a mechanical issue that affected his grid slot and work through the closely-packed field to get a result in race two.
You can read the full story from this race weekend and Tom’s return to the MINI JCW series in our race report here. Before ending what had been a busy season, Tom once again showcased his versatility (and willingness to race anything!) by joining Lawrence Davey Racing again for a run alongside Leonardo Panayiotou and Nicky Taylor in the Ford KA 8hr Enduro event at Brands Hatch.
At the same Donington Park weekend in April where Rawlings was making his GT Cup debut, another special season opener was occurring a few garages down in the support race paddock. Brazilian driver Bruno Costa commenced his first full season racing in the UK after taking part and impressing in the JKS Sport car in a single Monoposto round at Silverstone toward the end of 2020. While there is often a behind the scenes story of hard work and sacrifice in getting onto a competitive motorsport grid for a season, we were particularly proud to see Bruno taking to the track in light of the unique personal sacrifices made in achieving his dream to both work and now race in the UK; alongside ongoing challenges of living in another country during the global pandemic. Read more about Bruno’s unique journey to racing in the UK here.
Bruno took a measured approach to learning and developing over the course of the year, acknowledging that a lack of testing time and a weight disadvantage in the bike-engined M1000 class were outside of his immediate control. Despite these challenges he achieved strong results, with three class podiums, and the 130R Performance DOTD award at Donington Park. In addition to results achieved on the score sheets, some personal highlights for Bruno included battling for the overall race lead at Castle Combe, and a fantastic drive on slick tyres in wet track conditions at his new favourite circuit Donington Park. You can read Bruno’s full run-down of his first season racing in the UK in the interview and season review we carried out with him after the final race weekend.
Elsewhere, in May Rob Welham was getting his third season in F1000 underway at Silverstone, with a fresh new blue and orange twist on his distinctive car livery for 2021. This was a season of big goals for Rob, with the last two both having been unfortunately disrupted due to mechanical reliability issues. You can go back and read our pre-season interview outlining Rob's goals and approach to the season here. After opening his campaign with a strong pair of top five finishes around the National circuit layout Rob went on to score consistently at every round, taking an overall win at Brands Hatch and another on the road at Oulton Park before a jump start penalty relegated him to P2. Rob hovered around P5 in the overall championship for much of the year thanks to this consistent approach, before a double podium at favourite circuit Snetterton resulted in a fantastic jump to finish in a top three championship position in this super competitive single-make series. Rob will be back racing the Jedi in F1000 again next season, and hoping to go two better to take the overall 2022 title as well as adding to his growing tally of wins in the series.
In September we provided support to another talented race mechanic who had aspirations of also racing the car she’d been working on. Patrycja Zabawska took part in a one off race weekend at Brands Hatch with Mallock Motorsport, as she looks to make a return to car racing after having to cut a promising karting career short several years ago due to the financial constraints familiar to many young athletes in the sport. With extremely limited testing time, and using a borrowed helmet, HANS and race kit due to the ‘last-minute’ nature of the deal being finalised, Patrycja put in an extremely impressive performance to progressively and gradually improve her pace throughout the event. After qualifying a very strong P11 (P4 in class) around the Indy circuit layout, Patrycja went on to bring home three strong race finishes and score points in a competitive field of 26 experienced drivers. We hope to bring more news of Patrycja returning on track in 2022, as she balances her race mechanic work in the Clubman’s Cup paddock with studying for a Masters degree in motorsport engineering and an internship with the McLaren F1 team.
Meanwhile, in September our new partners Scuderia Fern Racing sealed the Monoposto F3 championship with Lee Fern in their Dallara F301 car, in what may rival only the Formula One championship in the stakes of final round drama this season. The team ended the final round at Donington Park tied on points with their main rival in the F3 class, with only a last lap spin for another competitor plus application of a post-race penalty giving them the title win on countback. Over the course of the year the Warminster-based team took a memorable double win at their home track of Castle Combe, as well as staging a monumental effort to get their car repaired for some valuable championship points after being taken out in a multi-car race one incident at Oulton Park.
Next season Scuderia Fern will expand their operation to run two Formula Ford cars alongside their F301 Dallara in Monoposto, with 130R Performance providing a coaching and development package involving working with the team’s new drivers across all rounds of the championship. You can read more about this exciting new project via our announcement from earlier this year.
What does the 2022 season hold? While continuing working with our current supported athletes, we’ll be adding a couple more to the roster that we’re excited about announcing before the new season commences. Pending an assessment of the ongoing Covid-19 travel situation, our opportunities to race in Formula 4 and Formula Renault championships in Denmark and Sweden respectively will be back on the table, as will our Peak District motorsport-focused training camp during the mid-season break in August. With other new offerings including workshops for race team personnel in collaboration with another high performance coaching organisation, a refocus on multi-sports and triathlon work, and some other exciting new partnerships in the works... it's looking like another busy season. Stay tuned to our social media feeds or the news section here on the website to keep up to date with all the latest news!