This year’s Milltek Sport Civic Cup Grand Finalé at Snetterton lived up to its expectations, with four action-packed rounds making it the championship’s busiest ever meeting that provided an exciting end to a truly memorable season.
The final outcome saw championship leader all year Alistair Camp secure a well-deserved Cup Class title, whilst Mervyn Beckett did what he needed to do to take the Production Class crown.
The event saw two wins by Morgan Bailey and a win a-piece by Matt Luff in the Cup Class, whilst in the Production Class for cars with fewer modifications, championship newcomer David Marshall scored a hattrick of wins, with Nick Charlier recording his first victory of the season in the first race.
The weekend’s four rounds meant that a total of 104 points (25 for a win and one for setting the fastest lap) were up for grabs. Consequently, five drivers were in the frame for the Cup Class honours and six for the Production Class.
Round 11 (Race 1)
Following the postponement of round 11 due to be held at Donington Park at the end of August, the race was rescheduled to take place on Saturday afternoon at Snetterton.
However, the action didn’t last long, when a coming-together involving a number of cars on lap two brought things to an early conclusion. With the stricken Civics requiring recovery and the autumn light fading fast, the race was rescheduled – for a second time – to run first thing on Sunday.
The most notable victims of the incident were Production Class front-runners Mark Hughes and Alfie Threlfall, who was leading the championship at that point from Beckett. Such was the damage to their cars, Hughes had no choice to retire.
However, with Threlfall heading the Production standings, his team drove through the night from Somerset to bring the spare car to the circuit. Although Threlfall was unable to contest round 11 – as it was not the car in which he qualified, at least he could use it in rounds 14. 15 and 16 in order to keep his title hopes alive.
Fortunately, Sunday morning’s race was a cleanly fought affair and although the cold track made grip levels unpredictable – which led to a number of spins and slides – there were no stoppages or delays.
Bailey kept out of trouble on the opening lap as others were caught out on cold tyres and, having pulled out an early lead, he went on to win by just over two seconds, a margin usually unheard of in the Civic Cup.
George Alp-Williams crossed the line third, while in the Production Class Charlier recorded his maiden win of the season. Beckett finished second and in Threlfall’s absence, it was enough to set up his bid for the category title. Alfie’s brother Harry finished third.
Round 14 (Race 2)
With regulations dictating that competitors drop their three lowest scores from rounds 1 – 13 but not for the last three, it meant that any mistakes or non-finishes in any of Sunday’s remaining races would prove significant. As such, the tension in the paddock before the start of round 14 was as high as it had been all season.
George Alp-Williams led the 25-car pack off the line and up to the first corner, where four cars turned in side-by-side. With the track and tyres temperatures still not at their optimum, the subsequent sliding around enabled Bailey to do what he had done in the earlier race and emerge at the head of the field.
Camp was second and went in chase of the lead. However, his challenge was tempered knowing that with Bailey, not a championship contender, finishing ahead of his rivals and not compromising the next two races by trying to win this one was by far the best policy.
Alp-Williams passed Ryan Bensley at the hairpin with two laps to go to take third place and make up some of the ground lost at the start of the race. There was a then a gap before a group of six cars locked in a race-long battle for the remaining top-ten positions.
The group was headed up by Bradley Lane, followed by Ben Sharpe, Dave Buky and significantly Matt Luff, Camp’s closest challenger for the title.
Third in in the drivers’ standings at the start of the weekend Jamie Tonks was having a nightmare of a race and following a range of issues, dropped to the back of the field.
In the Production Class, Dave Marshall could not have made a more impressive debut and having qualified in pole position, held onto the lead until with two laps to go Nick Charlier edged ahead. However, Charlier’s advantage was short-lived, when he ran wide a lap later allowing Marshall to retake the lead.
Beckett who, like Camp, was also looking for points and not places, finished third and with Alfie Threlfall suffering alternator problems in his replacement car and pulling into the pits and never re-emerging, he now held the advantage for the category title.
Round 15 (Race 3)
With the top ten grid positions from the previous race reversed for each of the classes, the pole-sitters on this occasion were Max Edmunson and Edward Sibbald in the Cup and Production categories respectively.
Off the line, Edmundson held on to his start-line advantage, ahead of Luff and Sharpe, who had worked his way past Buky on the opening lap.
With the Civic Cup living up to its reputation to provide close racing, things were getting tight further down the field and coming under the bridge at the end of the Bentley Straight and into Brundle, Production Class leaders at the time – Rhys Lewis and Travis Coyne – made contact, the resulting aftermath requiring a safety car period while the track was cleared.
When the lights went green again, it was Edmondson followed by Luff at the head of the field – but not for long, when contact was made going into turn one at Richies, the impact sending both cars off the track.
Whilst Luff was able to continue – albeit in tenth place – Edmondson ended his challenge in the tyre wall, the upshot of which caused the red flag to appear and the race stopped after five completed laps.
With positions established from the competitors running at the time of the red flag, Luff was declared the winner, with Sharpe second, Bailey third and champion-elect Camp classified 21st overall and 14th of the Cup Class runners.
Further down the field, it was two-out-of-two for Marshall in the Production class, followed by Charlier and Beckett, who was continuing to rack-up points in his bid for the category title.
Round 16 (Race 4)
With times based on the second-fastest laps in qualifying, Alp-Williams resumed his position at the front of the grid as the cars lined up for the final time this season in the autumnal Norfolk evening sunshine.
This time it was five abreast into the first corner, with Tonks squeezing through to take the lead ahead of Alp-Williams, with Bailey in hot pursuit.
Tonks was in charge for the first half of the race, until Alp-Williams left his braking to the last at the end of the Bentley straight and managed to elbow his way past on the grass on the entry to Brundle Corner.
Then, with three laps to go, Alp-Williams pulled up a lap later, he found himself out front ahead of Tonks and Bailey – the double-winner earlier in the day also having issues and in closing stages was passed by Lane and Luff.
Having a relatively quiet race in comparison with others this season, Camp kept himself out of trouble and following a calculated drive, he crossed the line in eighth place and secure the 2021 Milltek Civic Cup drivers title for him and his team, Area Motorsport.
In the Production Class, it was another textbook race for Marshall.
Beckett initially led the charge, but not wanting to risk his opportunity to secure the title, the five-times class winner this season was more than happy to allow Marshall through to take his third victory of the season and in doing so confirm himself and his team MJ Motorsport as Production Champions.
Third place on this occasion went to Coyne, with Harry Threlfall fourth – a position that relegated his luckless on this occasion brother Alfie to third in the end-of-season standings.
Cup Class Champion – Alistair Camp
“It feels great to be champion. I had a few issues today, but I can forget them now the job’s done. We’ve worked hard all season to get here, testing whenever we can and it’s paid off. The Civic Cup is a great place to be, with such a friendly atmosphere in the paddock. You can’t get a better championship to race in.
“I really have to thank everyone who’s been involved in my campaign, especially Area Motorsport. Becoming a father a few months ago and now becoming champion, I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Production Class Champion – Mervyn Beckett
“I’ve been a bit lucky today, with Alfie (Threlfall) having issues this weekend. I feel sorry for him not being able to put up a fight following the incident last night and then issues with his car today but to do what he’s done this season and challenge me all the way is a credit to him.
“I’ve been racing for years and although I’ve been close, I’ve never won a championship before. Reliability and consistent scoring is the key to success in championships and that’s been my strategy today. It’s been such a close season and great fun. I’d love to come back and do it all again next year!”