Photo credit: (Jakob Ebrey Photography) Alex Denning won race one and two at Snetterton before a wheel stud failure meant he had to retire from race 3.
After the successes of Knockhill the Graves Motorsport JCW team headed to a very hot Snetterton for rounds 12, 13 and 14 of the series full of optimism for the weekend’s races.
Continuing his race winning form from Knockhill last time out Alex Denning took pole position with Graves Motorsport team mate Lewis Brown in 3rd place. Max Coates claimed 6th and Bradley Gravett only narrowly missed out on a top ten in 11th, his best qualifying performance of the season. Dominic Wheatley set the 16th fastest time which meant he would start directly ahead of Ross Marshall in 18th and Harry Nunn in 22nd.
The first race of the weekend was held on Saturday afternoon, Alex and Lewis had to fight off the attentions of Sam Weller and Jack Mitchell to claim a win and a 3rd place podium finish. Max battled with Jason Lockwood in the early stages of the race but had to contend with what he thought was a puncture after contact from behind. He lost a place in the process coming home in 7th. Dominic Wheatley made progress throughout the race to finish in 14th. Unfortunately, Bradley and Ross suffered drive-shaft failures whilst Harry was forced to retire.
With a large crowd watching trackside the JCW’s put on a fantastic race on Sunday morning. From pole position Alex Denning was in control, but was challenged by Jason Lockwood late on. A photo finish confirmed that Denning was ahead by just 0.016. Alex and Lewis worked as team-mates early on to get into a 1-2 position however contact resulted in retirement for Lewis. Whilst Max held onto the front running pack, he was unable to mount an attack and had to settle for a 7th place finish. Dom recorded his best result of the season in 9th but more importantly had joined the leading group of cars and stuck in with them. Ross made up a place mid-race and finished 22nd but was right on the back of a 10-car battle for 12th position. Unfortunately, both Bradley and Harry were forced to join Lewis in retirement as both suffered from over-heating engines.
With 31? heat the weekend’s reverse grid finale was a race of attrition for the team. Dominic rewrote his own PB and took his best result of the season in 8th. Lewis Brown made progress through the field after starting at the back, finishing 12th. Ross had been running in 20th until confusion over a message on the race control to driver communication system prevented him from taking the finish. Harry snapped a drive shaft off the start-line curtailing his running before it had started, Max completed just four laps before his drive shaft snapped. Unfortunately, Bradley didn’t start following his engine issues in race two.
Team manager David Graves said, "It’s been a really mixed weekend. Alex was fast all weekend so was deserving of his pole position and double race win. It was such a shame Lewis sustained damage in race two otherwise he would have no doubt added to his race one podium. Max got stuck in to try and get to the podium positions but ultimately couldn’t get through. Dominic had a fantastic weekend to record his best finishes in the MINI CHALLENGE. Ross had some good battles throughout the weekend and was right with the pack finishing in the low teens. Bradley and Harry had disastrous weekends which is frustrating for them and the team who had put in a big effort over the weekend, especially with a dual engine change and gearbox rebuild on Saturday evening.”
The next event for the Graves team is a second visit to Thruxton with the Trophy category of the MINI CHALLENGE who will support the BTCC for the final time this year. Earlier in the season the team took two wins and a brace of podiums across the series’ first weekend racing at the Hampshire venue. The JCW’s will be back in action for their penultimate round at Silverstone on the 24th & 25th September.