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bmw compact cup

BMW Compact Cup Series

If you’re looking to get in on some racing action with a limited budget and have a decent shot on a level playing field, look no further than this tightly controlled one-make series...

The GAZ Shocks BMW Compact Cup is a one make series based on the E36 Compact (’94 – ’01 M44 1.9 16v engine).

It is aimed at drivers who want their racing to be both fun and superb value. 

Suspension is GAZ Compact Cup spec coilovers. Engine is standard with a series supplied Superchips remapped ECU.

Transmission is standard 5 speed gearbox; final drive ratio is standard 3.38.

Tyres are Toyo 195/50/VR15 and there is a minimum weight, including driver of 1125kgs.

The Return of Donington Park - This time it’s a bit more serious…

return donnington parkThe more astute among you will remember we have already been to Donington once this season, back in June and it did not disappoint, serving up two equally exciting races would be a tough act to follow. Since then we have been to Anglesey which thrilled us with a tight circuit, glorious weather and yet more exciting racing.  This time however our return to Donington is a bit more serious, a successful sequel we all know must be better than its predecessor. Would Donington continue the GAZ Shocks Compact Cup sponsored by MAHA run of form and treat us again to a taste of fine motoring cuisine? In short, yes, but to find out why you will just have to read on.

Early on Saturday morning twenty eight finely prepared BMW 318 Compacts head out onto a dreary Donington circuit, clouds hanging grey in the sky, qualifying is underway. Taking his debut in the GAZ Shocks Compact Cup sponsored by MAHA Tom Onslow-Cole normally the pilot behind the wheels of the WSR Ebay British Touring Cars machine was to get his first taste of just what all the fuss of this Tin Top series was all about. His first time in the car our full time racing driver and all round good guy would be pitching his racecraft against some of the UK’s best club racing drivers as well as upcoming star of TVRs Danny Winstanley and the ever quick Rob Boston usually found competing in the Lotus Elise Trophy. The clock ticking down to the end of the session lap after lap would see improvements from all, the times tumbling away as drivers found there groove and reminded themselves of the flow of the East Anglian circuit. Business as usual it would seem, Andrew Tsang taking another pole position and Ryan Bensley lining up alongside to lock out the front row. Rob Boston competing in the red and silver liveried Rude Racing car would line up behind them with Stephen Roberts for company. For Tom OC though success was a little further from his reach, even though each time he crossed the start and finish line he was that bit quicker than previous lap, eighth position was the best he could achieve showing him just what he was up against. He would have a fine view of Alex Dew in fifth place and Martin Gambling in sixth place ahead of him on the grid and Danny Winstanley alongside for seventh.

Weather conditions were on the up for race one, the sun beginning to peak through the clouds, the temperature could almost be classed as summertime. Our cars took to the grid in formation for the first of the days races. A slightly delayed start the boards telling the drivers how long until the race began counted down, 1 minute, 30 seconds, red lights counting up to five, a brief pause and the lights were out and our race was underway. A torrid start for both men at the front of the grid would see Stephen Roberts storm through to first position from fourth on the grid by the end of the first corner. Hot on his heels first pole sitter Andrew Tsang settled into second position ahead of Ryan Bensley receiving a lot of pressure from Rob Boston behind. Martin Gambling would promote himself to fifth and Danny Winstanley up to sixth with Tom OC for company. Alex Dew would lose out at turn one dropping back to eighth. Tom OC would press hard on Danny Winstanley and on his second attempt at passing would find a way past at the final chicane of the first lap, coincidentally Rob Boston would find his way past Ryan Bensley at the same place just ahead of them on the road. Bensley would suffer engine failure only a handful of laps into the race and would be forced to pull over and end his days running. Having dispatched Bensley at the end of lap one Boston set off after Tsang in the 53 car and only a few laps later would find a way by the series leader in an audacious move up the inside at McLeans, with Tsang unable to defend Boston was up to second place. Both podium runners would set off after Roberts but Tsang would be unable to keep pace with Boston who was lighting up the timing screens with each passing lap. The two leaders would fight hard for the top step on the podium with Roberts offering a pretty solid defence against Boston who was desperate to find a way by. Eventually on the last lap Roberts would put a wheel on the grass into Roberts chicane, the correction required would allow Boston to draw level and ultimately cross the finish line just a mere 0.05 seconds ahead of Roberts. Meanwhile Tom OC who had fought his way through fourth position was beginning to suffer fuel surge towards the end of the race leaving him vulnerable at Roberts Chicane. Alex Dew, Danny Whinstaley and Martin Gambling were all closing on the touring car driver and they crossed the line appearing as though they were putting on a display of how four cars can all occupy the same part of a race track. The final result was too close to call from the side lines but official results would show Tom OC holding his fourth place, Alex Dew in fifth place, Danny Winstanley in sixth and Martin Gambling in seventh place, all within 0.15 of a second of each other, never before has a finish been so close in the Compact Cup.

The cars took to the grid for race two all eager to get underway and finish what they started in race one. Having settled into the race one finishing positions the lights would go red and go out for the final time that day for the GAZ Shocks Compact Cup sponsored by MAHA. Underway Roberts would continue his run as the form starter and lead down into turn one with Onslow-Cole and Tsang both challenging Boston for second place. Boston has the measure of both drivers though and by the time they had exited turn one, Tsang and Onslow-Cole would be scrapping with one and other for third place, Tsang would be the eventual loser of that battle though dropping back behind Onslow-Cole and Whinstanley before they reached Craners for the first time. Sadly the early momentum would be short lived when Neil Roche suffered a quite spectacular engine failure, smoke and oil poured from the car and his day was over. The race was red flagged and it took some time for the marshals to clear the circuit of oil. Cometh the restart, cometh the action, Boston would take pole back from Roberts at turn one and Onslow-Cole would get the drop on Roberts too down at Craner Curves to take second place. Whinstanley would also get by fourth placed Andrew Tsang demoting him to fifth. Job done for the fulltime racers, all so it seemed anyway. Ever keen to fight back our club racers set about extracting their positions back. Two corners later and Roberts would repass Onslow-Cole for second place and Whinstanley would sit almost bumper to bumper with Onslow-Cole for the remainder of the lap with Tsang in hot pursuit. The following lap would see no position changes at the front with the top three seeming to eek out a very small gap to those behind but not for long. It all started at Redgate Boston would run wide allowing Onslow-Cole to close as Roberts drew alongside Boston through Hollywood down to the braking zone of the Old Hairpin, as they exited the corner both Boston and Onslow-Cole would run wide allowing Roberts through to pole position and Whinstanley to briefly up to third, but the touring car driver would return to third place running through Starkeys Bridge. From there the race would finish in that order although it never looked certain with all the drivers attacking and defending with the utmost skill showing a real credit to their abilities and the series.

Post-race ceremonies and Dan Collett would hand out the trophies for the day as has become his duty for the series. Driver of the day was issued to Martin Gambling who’s dogged determination with his car had shone through for the whole weekend. Tom Onslow-Cole would pick the Apex Award draw and present Simon Roche with his trackday token, who also unluckily picked up the Ravenoil least net gains award with the most net gains award going to Stuart Voyce. Next time out we go to Snetterton for the final two rounds of the GAZ Shocks BMW Compact Cup sponsored by MAHA where Mark Hales will be running to see just how things have changed since he last ran  with the grid in 2011.

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