It was the annual trip to Blyton Park for round three of this year's Pace Ward Mitsubishi Lancer Register Sprint Series and, once again it was a fight to the finish for the winners in all of the four classes. The fastest time of the day was claimed by Anthony Lidster, which meant he was the third different driver to have achieved the FTD accolade in as many events.
Whilst Lidster's outright victory also netted him top spot in Class D, Class C honours were upheld by the round two FTD claimant Paul Allin. Steve Peel repeated his round one victory in Class B, whereas Ian Fleming topped the time sheets in Class A.
When competitors arrived at Blyton Park on Saturday morning they were greeted by dry but overcast weather and a new track configuration, as they were the first to use the venue's Eastern Circuit for a sprint, which sported a very technical section mid-way through the course. Consequently, drivers were even more attentive than usual during their pre-start sighting lap.
Running with the usual slick precision that has become a hallmark of the MLR Sprint Series, organisers were able to offer competitors five practice runs in the morning, ahead of the seven competitive runs in the afternoon.
Quickest in the morning runs and setting a marker to the rest of the Class D field was Dave Rowe in his Pikes Peak conquering Evo IX, with Lidster a close second just 0.19-secs behind. And, whilst Gary Hayward was third fastest in practice, the three-way battle to be the best at Blyton never materialised, when a transfer box problem bought the AP Tuning Evo VII to a premature halt on run number four.
Fastest in Class C at this point was Barry Jordan in the MBTech Evo IX, with Alan Blood and his Evo VIII doing likewise in Class B and David Forbes and his Evo VI in Class A. However, in each case the second-placed driver was only a fraction of a second behind, which meant the scene was now set for a battle-royal in the afternoon's competitive runs.
Fastest out of the blocks was Rowe, but Lidster - who was delighted with the performance of his Evo VI having had the engine rebuilt following a crankshaft malfunction prior to round two - began to fight back on run three. It was now clear that these two would be locked in battle for the remainder of the day.
It all looked to be going in Rowe's direction until run six, when Lidster proceeded to knock a clear second off any of his previous times. In doing so, he sealed the deal to take his first outright FTD and Class D victory of the season by a margin of just 0.35-secs.
Behind these two rivals and setting times that were to reward him with the third-fastest time of the day overall was Allin, who was again showing that a Class C Evo V can be a match for the more modified Class D machinery. Similarly to Lidster and Rowe, Allin was also fighting for the category lead all afternoon and eventually stopped the clock just 0.13-secs ahead of Jordan, having also set his quickest time on run number six.
Also holding an overall position that belied the category for which he was entered was Steve Peel in his Evo VI, who's fastest time came on the seventh and final run, a performance that allowed him to pip Keith Bryan to the Class B post by a slender 0.27-secs.
In Class A, Fleming driving his familiar Evo II, carried on from where he had left off in the morning's practice sessions. However, he had to fight for his supremacy when the competitive half of the day commenced, as both Jamie Hollett and Andrew Barbour were right on the pace until retiring on run two and run five respectively. Even so, there was just 0.33-secs in it come the finish.
The outcome at Blyton Park again proved that the MLRSS is one of the most competitive sprint series' in the UK today and, with a total of 12 runs for each of the drivers last weekend, it also offers more seat time than any other in Britian.
Round four of the Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series takes place on the ultra-fast Lotus test track at Hethel, the configuration of the circuit providing yet another dimension for the drivers.
The 2014 Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series is sponsored by: Pace Ward performance insurance, SuperPro suspension parts, AP Tuning, Ross Sport and HKS Europe.
Round 3 Class Winners
Class leaders after round 3
Steven Moore Steve Peel
Evo VI Evo VI
Notes for editors
Classes The Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series features four classes: · Class A for standard road cars - sponsored by SuperPro · Class B for fast road cars - sponsored by AP Tuning · Class C for super-road/track day cars - sponsored by Ross Sport · Class D for cars with unlimited modifications - sponsored by HKS All cars must be road legal.