2016 Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series Round 5 – Croft

7th September 2016

Round 5 Report
3rd September 2016

It’s fair to say that every round of this year’s Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series has presented competitors with a different challenge – and round five at Croft was no exception. While events this season have seen some of the fastest times posted by cars not running in Class D – the category for the most modified vehicles – normality resumed last weekend.

Leading the charge was Phil Reed, who secured Class D victory and set fastest time of the day in his Evo VI, whilst another 2016 returnee Paul Allin claimed the honours in Class C driving a rare Evo IX Wagon. Having set FTD in round four at Hethel last month, Steve Peel was the first non-class D runner at Croft and consequently won Class B in his Evo VI, whilst Bruce Winfield headed an evenly-matched Class A field home and taking part in his first ever sprint driving his Evo IX.

As it has done on a number of occasions this year, the weather played its part in the outcome of the day – and this time even more so. When competitors arrived at the 2.1-mile circuit situated a few miles south of Darlington, the dry and overcast conditions looked ideal. However, the rain arrived after the first of the morning’s three practice sessions and from then on it never really stopped.

Even allowing an hour for lunch in the hope that the conditions would subside, made no difference at all. But it wasn’t just the standing water on the track that was to provide a challenge to the running of the day: the rain was also falling on the microphone that was recording the noise levels which, coupled to the additional ambient sound generated by cars driving through the water on the track, meant that noise limits were close to being surpassed.

Not wanting to cause any issues with the local residents, organisers opted to release cars one at a time, rather than start at 30-second intervals, as normal. Consequently, it was to take longer than usual to execute each of the competitive runs that comprised almost a full lap of the circuit, time constraints eventually allowing for three to take place during the afternoon.

And although this is about half the usual number, the amount of time on track was still commensurate with that of traditional sprints run by other organisations. The upshot of this compacted format meant that the competition became even more intense, as drivers knew they had to make each run count!

Unphased by the aquatic nature of the course, Reed was quickest out of the blocks and set the fastest time on the first run, the 2015 Pro Extreme Time Attack Champion going on to set his best time on his the third and final outing. But it was no easy task, as 2015 Class D MLR Sprint Series Champion Anthony Lidster in his highly modified Evo VI who chased Reed all the way to the end, eventually just missing out on the Class D top spot and FTD by 0.40 seconds.

Notwithstanding the indifferent levels of grip that does not normally suit the more powerful machinery, the next three overall positions were occupied by Class D cars: Gary Hayward (Evo VII), Barry Smithson (Evo VI) and Steve Reed (Evo VIII).

Unusually, the margins that separated the winners of Class C and B – Allin and Peel – were more apparent, with second-placed Alan Rochell (Evo VI) and Nick Greenwood (Evo V) respectively, struggling to find traction on each of their runs. However, Class A was a different matter and Winfield’s final advantage was just 0.46 seconds ahead of Simon Griffiths (Evo V) and winner of the category last time Alex Bones (Evo V), who missed out on the runner-up spot by just 0.1 second.

Even though the day had been effected by the weather, at the end of the event organisers were pleased to report that feedback from competitor had been extremely positive and drivers said they had enjoyed their day at England’s most northern racetrack.

Competitors now have an eight week break before the sixth and final round of the series, which takes place on 29th October at the venue that is likely to provide the most demanding course on the calendar: Cadwell Park.

Increasing the series’ profile this year is the addition of live commentary and video filming at every round that will be broadcast throughout the season on social media.

The six-round 2016 Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series is sponsored by: Pace Ward performance insurance, SuperPro suspension parts, AP Tuning, Ross Sport, Turbosmart and HKS Europe.

Round 5 Class Winners
Class Class sponsor   Driver Car Time
A SuperPro Bruce Winfield Evo IX 1:41.63
B AP Tuning Steve Peel Evo VI 1:38.20
C Ross Sport Paul Allin Evo IX Wagon 1:43.50
D Turbosmart Phil Reed Evo VI 1:27.84 (FTD)



The Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series features four classes:

  1. Class A: Fast Road – sponsored by SuperPro
  2. Class B: Track – sponsored by AP Tuning
  3. Class C: Super-Track  – sponsored by Ross Sport
  4. Class D: Unlimited – sponsored by Turbosmart

All cars must be road legal.

2016 Calendar
2nd April: Pembrey
1st May: Snetterton
11th June: Castle Combe
13th August: Hethel
3rd September: Croft
29th October: Cadwell Park

For further details and to register for the series please contact Darin Frow: darin@lancerregister.com

Track Days / Test Days / Motorsport Days