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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.

Voyce lifts the fog and doubles up at Snetterton

mark hales webSituated deep inside the Norfolk flatlands lays Snetterton circuit, the venue for the 2012 finale of the GAZ Shocks BMW Compact Cup sponsored by MAHA UK Ltd.

With the weather predicted as "fine" and temperatures set to be tepid we had high hopes for our final outing of the season. A thrilling final was assured with many looking to romp home ahead of their rivals and find bragging rights for the last time in 2012. To ensure no one was disappointed Mark Hales had been enlisted to liven up the running using the same car Tom Onslow-Cole used last time out in Donington. So the scene was set and those who arrived on Saturday settled in for the night and prepared themselves for the day to come.

Sunday morning greeted us with an unwelcome and unexpected guest; fog! So thick was the lingering mist that it could only be described as soup, visibility was reduced down to only a handful of meters and it soon became pretty obvious that no one would be heading out for Qualifying on time. A decision was made early on to abandon timed runs for qualifying and the course safety car lead out the competitors for three untimed sighting laps at a controlled pace. Of course without timed laps to reference a grid order would need to be determined, for championships this is a simple task, line the cars up in order of championship position. A different method would need to be found for our competitors, as championship status will not be awarded to us until 2013. Series Director Paul McErlean had a plan though and a cunning one at that. Firing up a spreadsheet he has used to keep tabs on the drivers for 2012 he was able to bash together some fancy mathematics and determine a grid line up using the drivers own statistics. This allowed a grid to be formed and agreed based on the positions different drivers would usually qualify and made sure that they started in a grid slot they were comfortable with, the only unknown for this system was Mark Hales who was gifted sixth position due to his known race craft. Following this system for allocating grid positions Andrew Tsang would lead the pack with Stephen Roberts for company. Ryan Bensley and Stuart Voyce would start directly behind leaving Mark Hales with Kevin Denwood for company in fifth.

bmw-compact-mark-hales webAs predicted the fog was taking time to clear and questions were raised to the 750 Motorclub about the feasibility of running a day’s racing; they however assured us that as long as the weather lifted sufficiently by 12:30 we could almost be guaranteed our allotted races. An early lunch break was called not long after 11:00 once all the sighting laps were completed for all formulas. This was done in the hopes of visibility improving enough to get underway once all the Marshalls and staff who make racing possible were all fed and watered. Word would spread soon after that racing for the tin tops would begin soon and the paddock took on its usual atmosphere of anticipation as drivers prepared final checks. Around an hour later than scheduled the GAZ Shocks BMW Compact Cup sponsored by MAHA UK Ltd would get underway for the second to last time.

Lights out for race one and Stephen Roberts would continue his run of form as a fast starter and lead Andrew Tsang followed by Stuart Voyce, Ryan Bensely and Kevin Denwood down to the first corner. Only a few corners later Voyce would find a way through on Tsang to take himself up to second place and set off in pursuit of Roberts who was already beginning to pull out a gap to the cars behind. Voyce would find his feet soon enough and begin to apply pressure to Roberts and a game of cat and mouse around the circuit began. Roberts seemed to have the measure of Voyce behind but at no point did his victory look assured the laps ticked along and no one on the pit wall could tell who would come out on top. We were deprived of our fight to the line though when around half distance Roberts would slow to a crawl and eventually pull off from the circuit with engine failure letting Voyce off the hook to charge home to victory. Tsang and Bensley would have uneventful races to round out the podium. Elsewhere behind Denwood would do an amicable job of fending off attacks from both Mark Hales and Martin Gambling to cross the line fourth and Colin Bysouth would produce a solid recovery drive having been demoted to last (twenty fifth) place after a first corner incident to cross the line eleventh.

Owing to the lack of a lunch break race two would arrive in quick time. The cars assembled on the grid, lights out and they were away for the final time in 2012. Voyce would ace his start and be unchallenged for turn one and set about creating a gap to the cars behind. Denwood would get away well challenging Bensley and Tsang into turn one but would be unable to find a way through and settled into fourth place. Although action remained in short supply ahead of him, plenty of action would take place around Denwood for race two. First of all he found himself under pressure once again from Mark Hales who having got used to the car in the first race had found a grove he was happy with and pretty soon Denwood would see our guest driver make his way through. Continuing on renewed pressure would return to Denwood again in the form of David Mountain and Colin Bysouth, whilst the former would find a way through and take off in pursuit of Hales, Bysouths brave lunch down the inside of Denwood into Nelsons corner would end in him not being able to cling to the tarmac and a detour on the grass would ensue. However there was still no let up for Denwood and he would soon be pressed by both Gambling and Drinkwater who following on from Bysouth made passing maneuvers out of Murrays for a straight up three car drag race down the start and finish straight. Drinkwater would stay ahead of them both and Denwood was forced to pull in behind Gambling after all three played dare on the brakes and around the first turn. Disaster would strike for Drinkwater though and with only two corners to go his clutch failed and he began losing positions and would drop from sixth position to twentieth across the line. Voyce would take his second win of the day and the season with Bensley and Tsang finishing off the podium once again in second and third respectively.

bmw-roberts-leads-voyce webThe final trophy presentation for the season was sponsored by title sponsor MAHA UK Ltd and ex competitor Louis Tunmore joined Press Officer Dan Collett for the presentations. Driver of the day was a tough decision and judges Dan and Louis had found it hard to choose. Lap by lap on each race the deserved driver changed however eventually both would settle on awarding David Mountain with the final honor for 2012. Ravenoil most net gains award was passed on to Mark Gazzard with most net losses awarded to Simon Roche. The final piece of the awards Louis picked a name from a hat for the Apex Track Day Award and presented it to series newcomer Phiroze Daver. That concludes the series for 2012, it’s been a great year and we would like to thank everyone who has supported us from drivers to marshals to the 750 Motor Club and of course to our sponsors. We hope to see you next year when the GAZ Shocks BMW Compact Cup sponsored by MAHA UK Ltd returns in 2013 with its newly found championship status.

Finally we would like to finish by dedicating the Snetterton event to Tony Marlow car number seventy one who was sadly lost to us in life but not in memory just a few weeks before the event. Tony was loved and respected throughout the paddock and the loss came at as a great shock to all who knew him and his larger than life mobile home where we would serve up an untold number of cups of tea and stories of racing from yesteryear. A parade lap in his honor had been planned but due to the torrid weather we were unable to make it happen, all of our cars and few from other formulas ran with “RIP Tony Marlow” stickers in memory of him and I will sign off the final race report for 2012 with the sticker he ran on the back of his car “The older I get, the faster I was!”

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