Milltek Sport Civic Cup – Rounds 16 & 17
Brands Hatch Indy – 22nd October 2023
Max Edmundson is the new Milltek Sport Civic Cup champion after winning both races in the season finale at the world-renowned Brands Hatch circuit.
In doing so, Edmundson overhauled pre-weekend points leader Dan Thackeray who was dealt a cruel blow when he suffered an engine failure while leading the first race.
Edmundson will now receive the fantastic prize of two days in Italy with JAS Motorsport, the long-time partner of Honda Racing.
He will try out the organisation’s state-of-the-art race simulator and test its new-for-2023 Honda Civic Type R FL5 TCR touring car on track.
Going into the weekend, Motion Motorsport driver Dan Thackeray held a 15-point lead over Area Motorsport’s Max Edmundson, with Alistair Camp (Pro Alloys Racing Team) also still in the mix.
The three title contenders demonstrated why they topped the standings by going first, second and fourth fastest in Sunday morning’s qualifying session. It was Thackeray’s Honda Civic Type R EP3 that was quickest, despite a late excursion through a gravel trap, with a time just 0.05 seconds quicker than the similar car of Edmundson.
Not only did it secure Thackeray pole position, his third of the season, but it extended his points advantage by another tally too.
Edmundson’s team-mate Liam McGill, making his second appearance of the season ahead of a planned full campaign in 2024, was third quickest, another 0.15s back. The Scot outpaced Camp by 0.22s.
Dave Marshall’s FN2-shape car was fifth fastest, less than 0.5s slower than the pole time, ahead of privateer Harvey Caton and two-time TCR UK champion Lewis Kent (Area Motorsport). Ryan Bensley (Pro Alloys Racing) completed a top eight covered by just six tenths.
Round 16 – Race Report
Thackeray converted pole position into the race lead but had to fend off Edmundson’s challenge around the outside of the Druids hairpin on the first lap.
Behind them, Camp was facing a similar threat from Caton, who completed his move for third into the following Graham Hill Bend. A slower start from McGill dropped him to sixth behind Marshall.
While Camp got shuffled further back behind Marshall and McGill, the front two broke clear with a searing pace. But Thackeray was initially unable to shake off the attentions of Edmundson, who set the fastest lap, before Thackeray responded with his own scratch time.
By mid-race, as the new rubber started to lose its edge, Thackeray was able to eke out a led which had nudged past a second by lap 14 of 17. A minute later, the Londoner’s championship challenge lay in tatters. Thackeray’s engine began tightening up before it let go completely at the start of the penultimate lap.
Mathematically, Thackeray remained in the title race but realistically he would need Edmundson to suffer similar misfortune. It was a cruel twist for the driver who has won more races than any other this season.
With his chief rival watching on from the sidelines, Edmundson powered to a crushing 10s victory, his third win of the season.
Caton looked secure in what would become second place until a mistake at Clark Curve sent him through the gravel. It dropped the youngster behind Marshall and Camp, who had re-passed McGill with an imposing move into Clearways.
Camp managed to pass Marshall with a couple of laps remaining but the trio continued to scrap. As they delayed each other coming through Graham Hill Bend for the final time, Kent got a run and gave Marshall a bump to help both get past Camp and Caton. In a dramatic final few corners, Marshall secured second while Kent claimed a maiden Civic Cup podium on only his second weekend in the championship.
Caton had to settle for fourth while Camp would have been fifth but for a 5s track-limits penalty. It dropped him to seventh behind Pro Alloys team-mates Bensley and Alex Kite and spelt the end of his title hopes.
McGill suffered a similar fate, except that he was hit with 15s of penalties that dropped him to 13th. So Tommy Knight (Area Motorsport), privateer Sam Nicolaou and Owen Hillman (Pro Alloys) completed the top 10 and would therefore start from the front of the grid for the day’s second race.
Round 17 – Race Report
The final race of the season kicked off with Edmundson and Thackeray as the only remaining title contenders. The first race had turned the tables completely with Edmundson now holding a 23-point advantage and therefore needing only to finish in the top seven to be guaranteed of the title.
Among the front two rows, Knight made the best start. But contact with Hillman in the first corner sent the latter sideways and allowed Kite to opportunistically dive inside Camp and take the lead.
Knight and Hillman then got together again at Graham Hill Bend, with Knight spinning down the order. As Hillman recovered in second behind Kite, Edmundson was thankful to avoid the chaos and come out the other side in sixth.
Over the next few laps, Edmundson picked off Marshall, Bensley and then Camp to run third. Next the Durham youngster set about reeling in the leading pair of Pro Alloys cars. It didn’t take him long to eliminate the gap and then cut back inside Hillman to take second at Paddock Hill Bend on half-distance. A lap later he dived inside Kite to grab the lead at the same corner.
It was a stunning display of authority from Edmundson, who then cleared off to a 4s victory over Kite and Hillman who were each delighted to secure their maiden podium finishes.
The rare feat of a clean sweep of victories over the weekend secured Edmundson the title in style. It also meant that over the final 11 races of the season, only twice did he not finish first or second.
From 20th on the grid, Thackeray did enough to secure second in the championship. His Motion Motorsport team fitted a spare engine between races and Thackeray used it to good effect, setting the fastest lap as he charged to eighth position.
Former champion Camp would have to settle for third in the points as he finished fifth in the race behind team-mate Bensley. Marshall’s spectacularly driven FN2 was sixth, ahead of Caton. Behind Thackeray, McGill and Kent completed the top 10.
Edmundson’s double victory also earned him a twin success in the Paul Winfield Trophy for rookie drivers and those without podium finishes in the previous two seasons, as well as a dominant victory in the season-long points in that category.
In the Goodyear Diamond Award, for drivers over 40, Anthony Gannon twice took the laurels on the day, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Simon Welch winning the category overall in 2023.
Max Edmundson, Double race winner and 2023 Milltek Sport Civic Cup champion
“I went round Turn 1, just saw loads of smoke and saw no cars to the left so I picked up a few spots there. Came out of Turn 3 and saw a car sideways and thought, ‘This is not going to end well!’ I think I hit the back of someone, but I was just trying to avoid everything if possible.
“I can’t thank all my sponsors enough, all my friends, all my family, everyone who’s supported me all the way. I wouldn’t have been here without any of them.”
Next time – Brands Hatch – The 2024 Season Opener!
The Milltek Sport Civic Cup is back in action on 13th & 24th of April, 2024, with the new season getting underway at Brands Hatch in Kent, using the Indy layout
To find out more about the Milltek Sport Civic Cup, visit https://civic-cup.co.uk/ for more info and how to get involved.