MGCC racers turn up the heat at Donington

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In 2021 the MG Cup’s fight for first also has been in large part a tale of two drivers: Mike Williams in his Metro and Morgan Short in his MG ZS 180. Short was unable to take part at Donington as his rebuilt engine overheated in Friday testing, but this did not leave Williams on easy street. He had a new foe. Or rather, just like in Midget & Sprite Challenge, a not-so new one.

Champion Richard Buckley, back this year in his frontrunning Rover Tomcat, took a clear race-one pole position then won both of Donington’s races, at each stage relegating Williams to second.

In the first race Williams jumped Buckley at the start, but Buckley took the lead back after three laps at the exit of Coppice. Williams stayed on his tail before dropping away slightly late on. Buckley’s victorious race-one showing also got him Driver of the Race.

Matt Simpson’s fellow Tomcat made it a trio at the front in race two, as he led early on after a fine start. Buckley got by for the lead on lap four, while Williams followed on lap eight but by this time Buckley was 3s up the road. He stretched his advantage to 6s by the end.

Buckley said: “This is my best circuit, and it does suit the car. [In race one] I managed to get past Mike and we had a good tussle. [In race two] I didn’t make the best start, and I managed to get past Mike, and I managed to get Matt into Coppice. And watching them fight is good – just giving me a little bit of breathing space. Once I had the breathing space I could pretty much run at my own pace.”

Williams meanwhile explained: “I’m never going to win at Donington because of the pace of the Tomcats unfortunately. I changed my strategy for the second race and I put the smaller tyres on the front, we dropped the gearing by about 11%, and we still weren’t fast enough.

“It was still a good race, Matt and I had a fantastic battle for second place. I’m always disappointed if I haven’t won. If I was happy with second place I’m not a racing driver. It’s been a cracking race and it’s been a good weekend.”

Points leader Iain Dowler in his MG ZR 170 comfortably won the Class B battle in race one ahead Kevin Burke’s similar machine, while Iain Boulton won Class A by 2.5s ahead of John Gil’s fellow 160. And in both classes there was a very similar tale in race two, with Dowler triumphing well clear of Burke – getting Dowler Driver of the Race this time – and Boulton again beating Gil.