Martin fends off National regulars in thrilling Scottish opener

Ross Martin was forced to work extremely hard for victory in Scottish FF1600’s first race of the Knockhill Reverse weekend, as several National guest drivers pushed him close.

Martin led away from pole position but was immediately under pressure from Dolan Engineering’s Matt Round-Garrido. Several laps went by with Round-Garrido glued to Martin’s gearbox, but his attempts to find a way past at the hairpin were repeatedly unsuccessful.

Hugo Bentley-Ellis had a dreadful start from third place, dropping down to sixth immediately. He would quickly catch Martin and Round-Garrido at the front by half-distance however, passing Rory Smith, Michael Eastwell and Sebastian Melrose at the hairpin on consecutive laps.

As a three way fight emerged Round-Garrido was forced to defend from Bentley-Ellis behind. Late in the race as Round-Garrido went to Martin’s outside into the hairpin Bentley-Ellis took advantage to slip down the inside, edging Round-Garrido wide on exit to take second place.

Though Bentley-Ellis was on a charge he ran out of laps to catch Martin, as the Graham Brunton Racing-affiliated driver took victory by only 0.550s.

Round-Garrido finished third, 1.963s behind Martin after losing momentum shortly after being passed by Bentley-Ellis. Eastwell stayed a safe distance behind the leading trio throughout, bringing his Kevin Mills Racing car home in fourth.

Smith made it four BRSCC National guests in the top five, 3.903s behind Martin in fifth place. He finished just ahead of Melrose in sixth, who had been in podium contention during the race’s first half.

Like Round-Garrido, Melrose was passed by Bentley-Ellis inside the opening hairpin, but dropped two wheels into the gravel on exit, losing momentum and dropping him behind Eastwell and Smith behind.

SMRC regular Jordan Gronkowski came home seventh, benefitting from all three Cliff Dempsey Racing cars voluntarily starting from pit-lane and Jack Wolfenden failing to start race one.

Gary Sykes finished eighth, leading a group of cars almost ten seconds behind Gronkowski. James Clarke brought the field’s lone Mygale home in ninth place, holding off Jamie Thorburn in tenth by only 0.044s.

Thorburn’s Cliff Dempsey Racing team-mate Nico Gruber recovered to 11th after his pit-lane start – a deliberate decision to avoid any potential first lap accident damage – ahead of Ross Howe in 12th and the final Cliff Dempsey car of Jonathan Browne in 13th.

Steven Barlow, Neil Broome and Matthew Chisholm in 14th, 15th and 16th completed race one’s finishers, as Wolfenden failed to start as a result of a broken sump picked up in qualifying.

Photo courtesy of Alasdair Lindsay

Race results

Pos Class Driver Car Gap
1 Ross Martin Ray 12 laps
2  G Hugo Bentley-Ellis Spectrum +0.550
3  G Matt Round-Garrido Medina Sport +1.963
4  G Michael Eastwell Spectrum +2.593
5  G Rory Smith Medina Sport +3.903
6 Sebastian Melrose Ray +4.293
7 Jordan Gronkowski Van Diemen +7.204
8 Gary Sykes Ray +16.823
9 James Clarke Mygale +18.867
10 Jamie Thorburn Ray +18.962
11  G Nico Gruber Ray +19.212
12 Ross Howe Van Diemen +22.122
13  G Jonathan Browne Ray +24.012
14 Steven Barlow Ray +25.258
15 Neil Broome Ray +26.172
16 Matthew Chisholm Van Diemen +43.200
DNS  G Jack Wolfenden Firman

Alasdair is Digital Manager for FF1600website and was previously Scottish FF1600 correspondent. When not busy with FF1600, his day job is with Mediatica, a motorsport PR firm.

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