More drivers confirmed for 2017 season
Another 14 drivers have today, Thursday, 16th March, been officially confirmed for the 2017 MRF Legends Cars National Championship – bringing the current entry list for the season-opening event at Brands Hatch to no fewer than 26 competitors.
Two time back-to-back Legends Cars National Champion John Mickel will return to defend his crown and the 46-year-old will undoubtedly be a major favourite in his quest to claim a third straight title in the spectacular all-action category, at the wheel of his Ford Coupe. Reigning Masters champion Paul Simmons is another welcome returnee and he will be aiming to not only lead the way again in his class, but to also try and break into the outright championship top three – having finished fourth overall in 2016. He will run as team-mate to Mickel.
Some European flair will be present on the grid once again in the form of Belgian duo Guy Fastres, a multiple Benelux Legends Cup Champion, and Jean-Michel Poncelet who was eighth in the Masters class last year and just outside the overall top 15. In addition to four back-to-back titles in Belgium, Fastres was also Vice-Champion in the French Legends Cup series in 2010 and 2011 and is also a race winner in the UK. The 31-year-old is also a competitor in Historic racing, piloting both a Jaguar E-Type and Ford Capri.
Another familiar face to the Legends Cars is that of Mick Mercer who has a wide range of experience and has raced the ‘pocket rockets’ in the UK and USA. In addition to his Legends exploits, where last year he was sixth in the Masters class and in the outright top 10, the 51-year-old has also raced in GT Cup UK where he was 2015 Vice-Champion in the GTA Class in a BMW E46 M3 GTR.
British Touring Car Championship mechanic Tom Grainger, who works for top team Motorbase, will be back and joined by new team-mate Rick Leggatt. Grainger, who was second in the Rookie class in 2015, is a former UK karting champion and MG Metro Champion in 2012 and 2013. Leggatt, seventh in the Masters class last year, started out in Sidecar Speedway and Drag Racing. Away from the track, he established his Margrasil UK Ltd business with six-time World Motorcycle Champion, and Isle of Man TT Winner, Jim Redman MBE.
Leading squad WTBS Motorsport will field no fewer than four drivers during the new Legends Cars National Championship season, with Nick Whitelegg returning alongside his previously announced father Steve, uncle Gary and full-season debutant Bill Read.
Former Northern and Midland Banger Racing Champion Zac Hughes will make his Legends Cars debut and will, therefore, be eligible for the Rookie class, as will fellow series newcomers Dan Budd and Paul Groves. Their entries bolster the Rookie Class to six, the trio will join the already confirmed Miles Rudman, Paul Simkiss and Marcus Pett.
In addition to the latest batch of full-season entries, Will Gibson is set to contest a part campaign this year with expected outings during the championship curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Snetterton, Rockingham and the season finale, back at Brands Hatch. Gibson, who took a best result of third overall in Legends Cars last year at Brands, will compete for his own TWG Automotive squad. Notably this year, Gibson will carry the #ForTim logo on his car in memory of his late brother and to also try and promote the need for people to sign the organ donor list – Tim had a heart transplant in 2001.
Legends Cars National Championship regulars Robin Webb and Glenn Burtenshaw will also contest selected rounds due to business commitments, and will team-up together in the Vegetarian Shoes/Viscom Design squad. Burtenshaw, a graphic designer away from the track, has enjoyed great success over the last few years in the Caterham Mega Championship and in Legends was runner-up in the World Semi-Pro series in 2007. Webb has also been racing in Caterhams in recent seasons, finishing third in the Classics Championship last year, and is now back at the wheel of his iconic yellow Legend.
With less than 10 days to go until the start of the eagerly awaited 2017 season over the weekend 25th/26th March at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, Legends Cars National Championship owner Phil Cooper is elated with how the bumper grid is shaping up for the first event of the campaign. “With 26 drivers now confirmed, and more expected over the coming days, we’re all very excited as we edge ever closer to the opening round at Brands Hatch” – said Cooper – “It’s wonderful to have our reigning champion John Mickel back to defend his crown, and the list of challengers is getting ever more impressive. We really are looking forward to a classic season of Legends Cars racing.”