AR Morgan Challenge at Silverstone and Brands Hatch
The first two racing weekends of the AR Morgan Challenge have taken place, in which the University of Wolverhampton Racing team continues to run the Plus Four Clubsport cars of Tony Hirst and Craig Hamilton-Smith. 2018 saw Tony take a clean sweep of P1s in class, but anyone present at the season launch dinner will have heard Craig’s desire to take a win. Could this be his year?
Race 1 at Silverstone would demonstrate just how close these two drivers were, both in pace and ability. As the rest of the field spread, Hirst and Hamilton-Smith yoyo’d positions, passing each other multiple times across several high speed corners of the circuit. Sadly, on the last lap, Craig tried one passing manoeuvre too many and span into the grass, gifting P1 in class to Tony. However, Craig had played his role in some very entertaining racing, and was awarded the accolade of Driver of the Race for his troubles.
The second Race at Silverstone would prove to be every bit as tightly contested, with Craig continuing to push Tony hard for every second of the 20 minutes and 18 laps they were out on track. The sister cars were evenly matched for pace once again and despite keeping his car on the track for the whole race, Craig was once again beaten to P1 in class, Tony’s margin of victory an incredibly close 0.27 seconds.
This season, both cars are being overseen by student engineer Rich Woollard and his expanded group of motorsport and automotive engineering students. More than 30 young engineers from the School of Engineering are now a part of the Morgan team, and it’s great to have Rebecca Manton, a first year Motorsport Engineering student, and recipient of the FBC Manby Bowdler Women in Engineering Scholarship, as part of the group. You can read more about Rebecca at the end of this update.
s part of the relationship with the Morgan Motor Company, student Racing Wolves spend time at the Morgan Factory in Malvern to learn about, and participate in, the design, manufacture and production of classic motor cars and sports cars.
The Morgan Plus Four Club Sport was a brand new class of Morgan at the beginning of the 2018 season, with Tony, Craig and the Racing Wolves analysing race data and working closely with the factory to hone the cars as the season continued. Now, at the beginning of 2019, there are a total of 5 cars racing in Class S, with John Richards, Guy Grant and Richard Fearn all joining this growing class during the off season.
Races 3 and 4 would take place at Brands Hatch, and once again find Tony and Craig locked in a battle far ahead of their fellow Class S competitors. Qualification went smoothly, although Craig struggled a little with his racing form, more than a second separating the sister cars. Craig’s difficulties continued into Race 3, while Tony showed his class, taking P1 in class, and P8 overall. This time, Craig was more than 5 seconds adrift, some 4 places behind.
And the weekend’s frustrations continued into the fourth race as Craig was increasingly off the pace, while Tony, if anything, was even quicker than before. Taking P1 for the fourth time in four races, Tony was in imperious form at Brands Hatch, delighted with his continuing successes and with the help of the student team.
Craig was over 20 seconds and 6 places behind, but still held onto a comfortable P2 in class. With four races in the bag, the 2019 season is looking very much like a repeat of 2018, with UWR’s cars in P1 and P2 for the duration.
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