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We are long used to Mike Williams winning MG Cup races, but don’t be fooled into thinking the two more that he won at Brands Hatch were straightforward. Firstly, he doubted until the 11th hour that he’d be able to take part at all due to technical problems with his Metro (pictured above). And then, having resolved those, he had a new on-track challenge in the shape of Morgan Short, son of famous racer and team boss Martin.
Morgan raced in a Class A Rover 216 GTI last year, and he has now upgraded to a frontrunning MG ZS 180 (also pictured above) that he raced for the first time at Brands. And like Williams his participation was in doubt in advance, as he was initially only on the event’s reserve list.
Matt Simpson led from the start in his Tomcat, while poleman Williams dropped to third behind Short. The Metro man passed after a few laps’ battle, but soon had to do it all again as the race was red flagged when Ian Boulton went off at Surtees, and Williams dropped back behind Short on countback. Both Short and Williams vaulted past Simpson at the restart, and a few laps later Williams got the lead from Short exiting Graham Hill Bend. Short dropped to third behind Simpson by just 0.039 seconds with a last-gasp track-limits penalty.
Iain Dowler, in fourth place overall, comfortably won the Class B contest in his ZR 170, while Jon Gil got the Class A win, and Driver of the Race with it, after passing Jago Keen.
It looked like race two would be more straightforward for Williams as he led from Short, but at mid-distance he spun at Graham Hill Bend, letting Short by into first. Williams though was able to quickly hunt Short down and pass him for the lead, again on the exit of Graham Hill Bend, aided by the fact that Short’s MG ZS was surging due to being short on fuel.
“It’s been a funny week,” said Williams. “We had so many issues with the car, didn’t really get to start it until last Saturday. Matt [Simpson] came round to help me and we got the engine in: because of the new regs I’ve had to downgrade to a standard engine now. It was problem after problem after problem on the rolling road, then I did some laps here on Friday but I was having to change up at 6000rpm; that’s just unheard of. I was introduced to Dan Surridge, we stripped the whole of the VVC mech out and he fixed all of the stuff. Went out today and it was so much better.
“It was just an awful week waiting to happen and all of a sudden it’s just become fantastic. Great qualifying; great race. Not just the result but the feeling of going round doing what we were doing. It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s still buzzing me.”
Short was fairly satisfied too. “It’s brilliant. For a big heavy car [the MG ZS] handles really well. The car was extremely understeer-y in the first race – with that big V6 hanging over the front wheels. I was quicker than [Williams] in lots of places but I was losing all of it in Graham Hill Bend and that’s where he got me.
“Second race we made some changes to try and reduce some understeer which really helped. We put in five litres less of fuel than we did the first race, and it started to surge once I got past Mike, literally two laps later. Coming through Paddock it was like the throttle’s just not on. But realistically P2 is where I deserved to be.”
Dad Martin added: “In the first race he was very gentlemanly, and [after the race one restart] he grew some horns. He’s learning so much in a very friendly but very competitive environment.”
Darren Harris won Class B, and took the Driver of the Race award, after passing Dowler mid-race. Gil again won Class A.
Great to see that regulation changes has brought the pack together with the introduction of 1.8 K Series VVC 170 spec engine for the Metros in class C. Making this option more affordable for new drivers to step into the top class in the MG Cup in 2021