WEST KINGSDOWN, KENT, ENGLAND : Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield) made Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres history at a rain-hit and very windy Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on Saturday, 2nd November, by wrapping-up the 2019 title with three races to spare in the category’s landmark 25th anniversary season.
Going into the last weekend of the campaign 560 points clear of his closest challenger, second place for Rudman in Heat One, fifth position in Heat Two and then victory in the Final ensured the West Midlander took an unassailable points advantage into day two on Sunday, 3rd November.
During the last race of the season on Sunday afternoon, Rudman secured his eighth win of a memorable campaign to cap his year perfectly. In taking the outright title, the 2017 Rookie Champion ends the phenomenal reign of John Mickel (Horsham) who won the previous four crowns back-to-back.
“Obviously I had a big lead coming into Brands, so I was comfortable, but it’s not done until it’s done is it?”, said new champion Rudman, “It was nice to win the title in style as well with victory in the Final on Saturday, from the back – the perfect way to do it. Then to win the last race of the year on Sunday, that’s the perfect way to end the season.
“If you’d asked me at the start of the year if I’d win the title, I wouldn’t have said so as I had so much going on with a baby, new house – my head wasn’t fully in it. When I got into the points lead at Donington, I didn’t really feel I should have done as I felt I hadn’t earned it, it was more down to bad luck for others – although I had some bad luck as well. After that, I knew it was mine to lose.”
In addition to Rudman’s two victories, Jack Parker (Wolverhampton), Connor Mills (Upminster), Paul Simmons (Lingfield) and Mickel – who won the Masters title – also celebrated wins. Mike Bourner (Bishop Middleham) and Dave Ward (Braintree), meanwhile, are 2019 ‘Team Car’ Champions.
Rudman revels in the wet to seal richly deserved Legends Cars title
In Saturday’s qualifying session Rudman was fastest from Mills and Nathan Anthony (Horley), and all three went on to perform very strongly in the first of the day’s races which also took place on a very wet track in persistent rain.
Parker started Heat One on pole position but Rudman, who lined-up alongside, managed to beat his rival on the run into Paddock Hill Bend and the pairing pulled away from the rest. Working together for the first few laps, Parker then made his move at the start of the fifth tour to lead into Paddock and he went on to claim victory by 0.4 seconds at the finish on lap 10.
Second for Rudman delivered yet another significant haul of points, with Will Gibson (Camberley) rounding out the podium with a good drive – just 0.3 seconds shy of Rudman at the flag. Sy Harraway (Weston-super-Mare) just saw off Anthony’s Se-Van for fourth with Mills taking sixth.
Ahead of Heat Two on Saturday afternoon the rain had ceased and a drying track awaited the competitors. Mills started on pole and after heading the field through Paddock, he dominated the first half of the race. Rocketing into a 1.5 second lead on lap one alone, Mills’ advantage stood at an unheard of 5.4 seconds prior to the appearance of the Safety Car for lap seven due to a stranded car.
With his hard-earned lead eroded as a result, Mills looked set to face a sterner test at the re-start but due to the time taken to clear the stricken car of Jonty Norman (Wakefield), the contest ended on lap 10 behind the Safety Car.
Simmons held second place for the first couple of laps, before a minor moment on lap three dropped him down the order. Gibson and Parker then battled it out for the other podium spots, small errors for both only enhancing the entertainment and Parker ultimately winning out. Pett took fourth position, Rudman was fifth and Simmons sixth.
Rain returned for the Final and Gibson starred at the beginning, storming from 14th on the grid and boldly taking the outside line into, and around, Paddock Hill Bend to then move into the lead on the run up to Druids. Rudman, who ended lap one in second, assumed the lead on the second tour prior to the Safety Car being deployed with a re-start not coming until lap seven.
Despite pressure from Gibson during the second half of the race, Rudman ultimately pulled 1.7 seconds clear to take his most important win in Legends and seal the 2019 crown in perfect style. Gibson wrapped-up a great day with second, 1.5 seconds clear of Parker who ended up with Saturday’s biggest points tally. Mills was in the podium battle until retirement with three laps left.
Fantastic conclusion to 25th Anniversary Legends Cars season
At a bright and cold Brands Hatch on Sunday morning, Harraway lapped quickest in qualifying from Mickel and Simmons and the latter then started Heat One on pole after the grid draw. Fellow front row starter Mills got the lead on lap one and he headed Simmons and Nick Bridgeman (Baldock) over the first three laps before the Safety Car was required due to a car in the gravel.
Racing resumed on lap seven and Mills made a great re-start, but Simmons soon closed back in and he moved into the lead on the eighth tour. During the latter stages of the 10 lapper Mills had to pay more attention to the advancing Sean Smith (Marlow), and the former just fended his rival off by a mere 0.082 seconds with Harraway fourth, Rickie Leggatt (Worthing) fifth and Gibson sixth.
Parker started Heat Two from pole and saw off early pressure from Anthony, before succumbing to a challenge from Harraway at the start of lap two. Parker was then bundled back to sixth as Anthony, Rudman, Smith and Mickel all moved through. Rudman hit the front on lap four and as the race progressed he and Smith worked together well using the bump-drafting technique perfectly.
With just 0.7 seconds covering the top four with two laps to go, the battle for victory was settled two corners from the finish when Smith – who moved into the lead at the start of the final lap – was inadvertently baulked by a backmarker and Mickel seized his chance to sweep around the outside for the win. Smith took second, Rudman third and Parker fourth – only 0.3 seconds splitting all four.
Rain arrived once again ahead of the last race of the 25th anniversary season and Rudman ensured it was the perfect ending with a fantastic 3.6 second victory. The new champion moved to the head of the pack at the start of lap four, after early contender Parker spun off at Graham Hill Bend, and Rudman then became embroiled in a tight battle with Mills.
On lap seven, Mills managed to make the best of threading through backmarker traffic and he took the lead but Rudman quickly hit back into Druids on lap eight. When Mills had a minor slide at Surtees, it gave Rudman the breathing space he needed and he duly pulled away to win. Mills held off a late challenge from Gibson for second with Anthony heading the next group home in fourth.
Jack Parker – Saturday Heat One Winner:
“It’s obviously great to start a weekend with a win, and it was a good battle with Miles up at the front. Everything is always so close in this championship so I’m happy to have taken another win in tricky conditions.”
Connor Mills – Saturday Heat Two Winner:
“I like it here in the wet, it’s such a technical track when it’s dry and when it’s wet you have to think about it even more. Luckily, I got a good gap at the start and everything went well, but then the Safety Car came out. I wasn’t worried about going again, but it was a relief for it to finish that way.”
Paul Simmons – Sunday Heat One Winner:
“I was really happy with that. I was a little bit asleep at the re-start, we [Connor Mills] worked together first of all and I knew the car had the pace, it’s great to get another win. We’re really happy with the year, thanks to the team as the car has performed well all season.”
John Mickel – Sunday Heat Two Winner:
“We definitely weren’t the fastest car in that race, the No.21 [Sean Smith] got baulked by a slower backmarker so I took advantage and passed both around the outside – it’s nice to be back on the top step. There are a lot of people at the front who can win, 10 or 15 drivers in this championship.”
All of the action from the final weekend of the Legends Cars season, filmed by Digitex Television and sponsored by 24hr Solutions, will be broadcast at a future date on Amazon Prime, BARC TV and the Front Runner television channel.
Final Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres Points:
Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres ‘Masters’ Class:
CHAMPION: John Mickel
Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres ‘Team Car’ Class:
CHAMPIONS: Mike Bourner & Dave Ward
UK Legends press release / Photos by George McNeill