Kumho BMW Championship: Rounds 1 & 2

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­The wait is finally over, we’re finally ready to drop the flag on the 2017 Kumho BMW championship. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for racing. The sky was blue and Brands Hatch was bathed in the early spring sunshine. The preparation and planning had all come down to this. We caught up with Paul in the paddock to see how things were stacking up for the weekend ahead.

 

It had been a busy week in the build up to Brands. The issues found at the pre season test have been rectified, the livery had been changed, and the sponsors had been schmoozed. Paul was looking tired, but the car was looking great. Automac and Specialist Cars are still promoted with pride, but with new additional sponsorship from Allsystems the M3 now has a new blue and black flash down the side. A significant step away from the red we are accustomed to. In my mind the M3 bares a striking resemblance to one of the best-looking BTCC cars of all time, the 1999 Volvo S40 driven by Rickard Rydell (Google it, you’ll see for yourself).

 

For race one Paul qualified in a respectable 6th place. Qualifying had shown a few final suspension tweaks were needed. He is also the only driver in the A class running on treaded tyres, putting him in class A2. He qualified just over a second behind the pole sitting M3 CSL running on slicks. I think we can all agree that’s pretty darn respectable.

 

The lights went out for the 2017 season and as the cars came flooding round Paddock Hill Bend I was reminded of what a great championship this is. The field has grown so much that they now have to run the A class cars in a separate race. The B, C, and D classes run in a second race later in the day, doubling the BMW racing fans enjoyment.

 

Paul escaped any first lap paint swapping, which saw a 130i end up in the gravel at Druids with a rather broken looking rear wheel. Paul settled into a nice rhythm and he was certainly holding his own amongst the other cars racing on slick tyres being a permanent feature in the mirrors of last season’s A1 class championship runner-up, James MacIntyre-Ure. The laps ticked off and he finished in 9th behind an E92 M3. The benefit of being the only runner in A2 was he was the uncontested winner in class all weekend. He also tops the tables in the overall championship. There are other drivers registered to race in A2 throughout the rest of the season so there will be people with eyes on his silverware.

 

Sadly I could only be at Brands on Saturday, but by all accounts Sunday went to plan. He qualified in 9th and finished a very respectable 5th, showing us that things are very much going in the right direction. The next round of the championship is at Rockingham Motor Speedway just outside Corby on the 8th and 9th of April. Tickets are £12 if booked in advance, and under 15s get in free.

AuthorGraeme Franklin
PhotographyGraeme Franklin

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