Pembrey Circuit is the most challenging track in the UK with high-speed corners and a reputation as a real drivers circuit at 1.46 miles per lap. There are two circuit layouts, The National Circuit and The Clubmans Circuit.
For the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship, it would be a chance to drive The Clubmans Circuit with a new S-bend section that adds a tight and technical element to the fast and fluid track. There is an opportunity at Pembrey for the drivers to push harder. If they can make use of the longer corners that follow the famous hairpin at the lap start. It is the first appearance for the championship at Pembrey for Rounds 4, 5 & 6 of the 2019 season and Matt was ready to take advantage of the new track which many drivers hadn’t seen before or for a very long time. It was a weekend full of potential!
Preparation for the Pembrey Circuit
One of the season’s race winners, Brian Trott, was not entered for the weekend in Pembrey. There was a chance that the top 10 standings could look a little different. Matt gave himself the best possible preparation for the race weekend. He booked two full test days before the weekend on Thursday and Friday before Easter. He was able to use the Thursday test day to learn the circuit. On Friday he focused on his timing and consistency. The weekend gave blue skies and bright sunshine as a greeting for arriving racing drivers.
On the Saturday of Easter weekend, Matt set out in the second qualifying group alongside Ollie Allwood and Will Hayden. He knew he could take his experience from the test days into a competitive session. He was ready to work for the best times available. The local favourite Jason Greatex took the top time in qualifying with Pembrey Circuit being one of his home circuits. A young Ginetta Junior graduate Matt Luff took second place. He is adapting well to the drive of the Mazda MX-5 Mk1. The rest of the group was made up of Jack Brewer in third, followed by Joe Wiggin in fourth. Tom Smith took fifth position. Ollie came in sixth quickest just ahead of Matt. Matt Pollard took seventh, followed by Adam Craig, William Hayden and Jack Moody.
The racing begins at Pembrey Circuit
The first race saw Matt finish in 14th. It wasn’t as high as he had hoped but he found the Pembrey Circuit a challenge with its successions of slow and tight corners. He found overtaking difficult and in the early stages of the race he was racing with teammate Oliver Allwood. They had worked together to get closer to the leading pack but Matt realised he was quicker and decided to make a move. At the inside of the first hairpin called ‘Hatchets Hairpin’, Matt came up alongside Ollie on the inside. Being AB Motorsport teammates there was no point in Ollie defending his position to lose them both time, so he didn’t make it hard for Matt to pass him.
Matt tried to take on the next driver Marcus Bailey and closed in many times but with no success. The race ended before he had found the right tactic to pass Marcus and he finished in 14th having dropped back a few places at the start. The second race was similar for Matt with another finish in 14th. This time he actually lost positions due to missing a gear off the start line but was able to work his way back up to the 14th position going into the second day of racing.
A good finish to the weekend for Matt
In the third and final race of the Pembrey Circuit, Matt was able to make good progress off the line. He gained two positions by moving to the outside of Hatchets Hairpin getting around cars stacking on the inside. He battled again with Marcus Bailey as in the first race but this time was able to pass him at the hairpin and then close up the gap to the drivers ahead of him. Martin Tolley and Dave Waters were in front and he was weighing up the options for making a move but ran out of time. Before he could take action Matt Luff – another AB Motorsport teammate – caught up ready to pass our Matt at the Brooklands Hairpin. Using Matt Luff’s tow to catch up again to Tolley and Waters, Matt was again in position for an overtake but he had to be confident. Marcus Bailey was just behind and any faltering could lead Matt to lose his gained position.
Watch the overtake in action
Halfway through the race, Matt saw an opportunity. Tolley and Waters were battling and slowing each other down so he was able to sneak up inside at the Esses and as they drifted slightly wide he could make his move. Great news! See Matt’s overtaking skills from Dave Waters #666 in-car camera during the race at Pembrey: https://youtu.be/gEYov-oHhoc?t=880
At the front of the group, Matt’s aim was now to create a gap and all was going to plan until with just two laps to go he locked up in the Esses chicane. Tolley passed Matt. On the very last lap luck was on Matt’s side as Tolley did the exact same on the Esses chicane and allowed Matt to creep forward once more finishing in 11th position. Matt was happy with the weekend overall, especially on a new track for the Mazda MX-5.
Car Magic & Matt Pollard
We’re excited to be following Matt in the second season of the BRSSC Mazda MX-5 Championship. At Car Magic and Non Fault Car Accident Repair we’ve got all the tools and expertise on hand to keep the car looking in top condition for the racing weekends. If there is any contact leading to body damage, we soon get a call from Matt. We talk about any repairs and how we will fit them in before the next race. With no damage taken in the Pembrey race weekend, it was on to Cadwell Park where (no pressure) Matt saw his first podium finish of last year’s season.
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