THE opening round of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship took place at Thruxton in Hampshire last weekend where the mixed weather and a series of incidents made for a challenging meeting for the organisers.

Two local competitors made the long trip south including Max Coates from Scorton and Hartlepool’s Dominic Wheatley, and both drivers gave a good account of themselves.

Coates was guesting in the Ginetta G5 Challenge for Breakell Racing and things were looking good when he qualified in second place on the grid for the opening race. Max was in with a shout of victory when he suffered a 120mph spin late in the race but recovered to finish fourth. In race two, he was again battling for a podium when he suffered a problem on the very last lap which relegated him to 11th place at the flag.

Wheatley, meanwhile, the son of former top rallycrosser Des, was continuing his career on the tarmac in the Mini Challenge Trophy where he was competing for PerformanceTek Racing. An uncharacteristic 14th place on the grid during a wet qualifying session meant Dominic had work to do but he responded well in all three races and came away with a pair of second places and a third in the three races to hold second place in the championship.

Another long trip south was the order of the day for the opening round of the BTRDA Clubman’s Rallycross Championship which saw a handful of local drivers make the journey to Lydden Hill near Dover as part of an 80-car entry.

Despite the wet conditions, former BTCC driver Harry Vaulkhard from Newcastle proved his class by winning the Production ‘A’ Final in his Citroen Saxo with Harrogate’s Steve Gaunt bringing his Renault Clio 172 home in seventh place in the same race.

Stockton driver Andrew Hawkes made it into the ‘B’ Final in the Super Modified class in his BMW Mini and claimed a fifth-place finish whilst Bishop Auckland’s Andrew Grimstone took third place in the ‘C’ Final in his BMW Mini on his return to the sport.

At long last, motorsport returns to Croft Circuit this weekend when the North Yorkshire track hosts its first race meeting of the season although sadly, no spectators are allowed.

The British Racing & Sports Car Club hosts a two-day meeting but until government restrictions on sporting events are due to be lifted on Monday, it has to be run behind closed doors. However, the 750 Motor Club meeting later in the month (May 29/30) will be allowed a limited number of spectators and tickets are on sale now with adult admission priced at £15 per day with accompanied children aged 15 and under admitted free. Further details at or by calling 01325 721815.