LEICESTERSHIRE, UK : Connor Mills (Upminster) was the absolute star performer at Donington Park National Circuit in Leicestershire over the weekend, 22nd/23rd August, with a hat-trick of remarkable race wins during the latest instalment of Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres action.
Rounds three and four of the 2020 season were jam-packed with entertainment throughout the field, but none more dramatic than at the front. Mills played a key part in each of the six races and after winning the opening day’s Final, he added victory in Heat One on day two and the Sunday Final.
On any other occasion, Will Gibson (Camberley) would have grabbed the headlines after taking a fantastic double victory – winning Heat Two each day. Daniel Clark (Darras Hall) was also a major threat throughout the event, and he took a richly deserved maiden win in race one of the weekend.
In terms of the championship, incredibly it’s all tied at the top after four rounds with multiple champion John Mickel (Horsham) and Clark both on 1880 points. Gibson is third with reigning champion Miles Rudman (Sutton Coldfield) fourth and Mills fifth.
All of the Donington Park action was streamed live online on YouTube and Facebook, through broadcaster 247.tv, and a special one-hour exclusive Legends Cars highlights programme will be screened in the next couple of weeks on the Freesports TV channel.
Clark, Gibson and Mills share the spoils in Round 3
Sy Harraway (Weston-super-Mare) was drawn on pole for Heat One and fended off a fast-starting Clark, quickest in qualifying, who surged through from row three. Race-long there was absolutely nothing between Harraway, Clark and Mickel and it all came down to the final chicane with Harraway and Mickel both trying to get ahead of Clark…but neither succeeding.
Judging it brilliantly, Clark wrapped-up a richly deserved first win by 0.3 seconds, with Gibson slicing through the drama at the chicane to pip Mickel. Rudman was only 0.028 seconds further back, Paul Simmons (Lingfield) was fifth and Harraway ended sixth after a last corner trip through the gravel.
Heat Two started with James Hall-Morton (Cleckheaton) on pole and Gibson alongside on the front row, and it was the latter who made the best launch to lead. Rudman, who moved into the top three on lap one at the Old Hairpin, hit the front on lap two and managed to keep Gibson behind before the Safety Car was deployed on lap five due to Jonty Norman (Wakefield) being stuck in the gravel.
Racing resumed on lap seven and Gibson successfully challenged for the lead straight away, but Rudman hit back into the Old Hairpin. With eight cars nose-to-tail at the front, the action was spectacular during the closing stages and Rudman and Gibson traded the lead multiple times. In the end, Gibson won from erstwhile points leader Jack Parker (Wolverhampton) and Mills, with Rudman elbowed to fourth.
Hall-Morton, who had a misfire in Heat Two, started the Final from pole but it didn’t take long for his troubles to surface again and force retirement. Norman grabbed the early lead from Steve Whitelegg (Bury) and Robin Fountain (Boston), before the latter leapt from third to first on lap two.
Nick Bridgeman (Baldock) had an excursion into the gravel at the end of the second tour, leading to the deployment of the Safety Car, and no sooner had the race resumed on lap five than the heavens opened. Fountain, Whitelegg and Rudman all took turns in the lead with the reigning champion pulling 1.5 seconds clear by lap eight.
As the conditions worsened, so Mills reveled and he decimated Rudman’s lead before moving ahead on the penultimate tour. In the space of just a lap and a half, Mills built an eventual winning margin of 6.2 seconds. Rudman held on to second, fending off a terrific recovery from Parker who was knocked into a spin at the end of lap five. Whitelegg finished a season-best fourth from Gibson.
Mills is the man in Round Four on Sunday
Sunday’s first Heat was an absolute barnstormer, classic Legends Cars racing at its very best, but a grandstand finish was prevented when the action had to be red flagged a couple of laps from the scheduled conclusion. Mills took his second win of the weekend from Rudman and Mickel.
Hall-Morton lined-up on pole position from Mills and the former did lead initially, before Parker went through to the lead at Coppice. He was then edged back by Mills and Rudman, who sliced past at the end of the lap into the chicane.
Working together brilliantly, Mills and Rudman pulled well clear of the chasing pack and took turns in the lead. Parker, in a lonely third, had nobody to bump-draft with and he started to be caught by Mickel, Clark and Fountain. As lap nine was about to begin, it was five for the lead but the red flags came out due to Hall-Morton and Bridgeman becoming stranded in the chicane gravel.
Heat Two was red flagged almost as soon as it had begun due to the car of Connor Hughes (Hullbridge) becoming stranded in the middle of the track just out of the chicane ahead of the rolling start, due to the left-front wheel becoming detached. At the fresh start, on a drying track following earlier rain, Simmons led from pole but it didn’t take long for Gibson to move into the lead.
Rudman was behind Gibson by the end of lap two, but he was then forced to retire at Starkey’s Bridge on lap five. Clark, who stormed through with another superb drive, assumed second and worked together with Gibson to break away. Trading the lead late-on, Gibson pipped Clark for the win by 0.037 seconds with Mickel third and Steve McGill (Bo’ness) a superb fourth.
Round four’s Final was, yet again, an outstanding encounter and in the space of just five laps Mills had gone from the back of the grid into the lead of the race. Into the second half of the contest, the lead train featured no fewer than 10 cars but the action was halted on lap eight when the Safety Car was deployed due to Elby Clark’s car becoming stranded in the middle of the track out of Redgate.
At the re-start on lap 10, Rudman pounced to take the lead from Mills but the latter returned the favour the next time around. Into the chicane on lap 11, Mickel made his move to lead and Clark took second. Clark then dived past Mickel into Redgate into the final lap but it was Mills who won in a three-wide dash to the line, with Clark pipping Mickel. Gibson was fourth from Rudman.
Connor Mills – Rd3 Final Winner, Rd4 Heat One Winner and Rd4 Final Winner:
“It was one of those weekends for once, it got better and better and not worse and worse! It’s been nice to have a weekend where it worked out that way, taking three wins is absolutely fantastic. After I won the Final on Saturday it was a good boost, and then Sunday was in a different league. We didn’t have the best rounds at Croft to start the season, but this weekend is how we need to go on.”
Will Gibson – Rd3 Heat Two Winner and Rd4 Heat Two Winner:
“We had a few issues with the car at Croft, so we totally rebuilt it again for Donington and it was fantastic. This weekend boosts our championship for sure, it was a pretty nuts weekend with wet, dry, wet, dry. I think everyone could see team-work is best when you’re at the front, it was classic Legends racing and even though Donington is a fast circuit it leads to the best Legends racing. The only problem is having to go to work on Monday morning!”
Daniel Clark – Rd3 Heat One Winner:
“It was fantastic to take the win in the first race, but we were in the wrong place at the wrong time for the rest of the weekend. We could easily have taken another couple of wins, it’s all about the racecraft you need in Legends to know when to make the right move. I’m happy even if I finish fifth or sixth though as you have to work for it in this championship, that gives you a real buzz.”
Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk will host the third Legends Cars National Championship with MRF Tyres event of the season over the weekend 19th/20th September.
UK Legends press release / Photos by George McNeill