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END OF SEASON REVIEW
Yet again the Drayton Manor Metros have provided exciting and close racing in what was a slightly shortened season due to the loss of a round at Croft and the cancellation of the meeting on September 6th. The championship positions would be decided on the best eight from ten rounds. Average grids were seventeen cars with the obviously big meetings attracting the most and the long haul ones again less well supported. Five new drivers joined the pack and Class B was the most hotly contended class.
Class A - Standard MG Metros
Johnathon Agar looked as if experience would bring reward, having finished third in class in 1996 and with Glenn Bowker (Class A winner in 1996) having moved up to Class B, John took three straight wins at the start of year. Paul Streets and Mark Bellamy, both newcomers were not far behind however and looking and learning from afar soon brought results and these two shared the wins until September when another new boy John Retchless arrived and outraced the lot of them. Bellamy, Streets and Retchless have been on the fringes of the Championship for the last year or so, turning up to watch, look and talk with the drivers until they could get their own package together to come out and race and this softly softly approach has paid dividends. The class would be decided at the final round and Streets was supreme taking honours and the class title, from Johnathon Agar and Mark Bellamy. Paul Streets from Cardiff has driven his car to all the rounds (not always home again however!) and will be awarded the MG Car Club Front Wheel Drive Register Trophy.
Class B - Modified MG Metro and Standard MG Metro Turbo
Seasoned campaigners Malcolm Wiggins and Bob Welch were to dictate the pace in Class B in a needle match that would last the whole season through. Wiggins took the first blood at Cadwell, Welch the Second at Oulton. Wiggins was back to winning ways at Lydden before the Snetterton meeting and the first corner crash between Hughes and Ellis from Class C also took him out. The car was jigged and rebuilt in time for the Silverstone round less that two weeks away and Wiggins reigned supreme, also taking the next round at Pembrey leaving Welch struggling after missing two rounds and failing to capitilise on Wiggins non finishes. In the Autumn rounds the wins were shared again: Welch at Cadwell twice and Wiggins at Knockhill. In a charge from the back of the grid Wiggins broke the lap record held by James Slack from last season and finished on the bumper of Welch in what was probably one of the best rounds of the year. And so as the curtain closed on the season it was all to be decide at the final rounds of the year. And so as the curtain closed on the season it was all to be decided at the final round and Wiggins went into the weekend with a points lead enough that by staying in touch and finishing he could take the class win and the overall title, a DNF and he would loose both. Despite a driveshaft failure in practice and again starting from the back of the grid, the charge to fourth place in class was enough. The supporting role in all of this drama was taken by Glenn Bowker who had modified his Class A winning car from 1996. he achieved consistant results throughout the year but this wasn't reflected in on track action, where he did qualify well he lost out by grassy excursions and gave away places. His high point was fastest lap and second to Wiggins at Pembrey and all were disappointed that he didn't get a class win this year. However this has been a sharp learning curve in the newly modified car and he will be a major force in 1998 I have no doubt. The MG Enthusiast Magazine Trophy for Class B and the Bourne Contract Support Services Trophy for Overall Champion are taken by Malcolm Wiggins from Robert Welch and Glenn Bowker.
Class C - Metro Turbos
Chris Hughes and Paul Ellis shared the wins for the first half of the season, Ellis always blistering quick in practice and yet often slow of the line. The first corner accident at Snetterton thankfully saw them unhurt but with very damaged cars, levelled the battle a little. Ellis laid down the gauntlet by arriving at Silverstone less thatn two weeks later with a shiny new reshelled car courtesy of Dad having spent hours on the thing and promptly took the win. Hughes whose car could not be repaired so quickly was there to spectate and his reply to the young Ellis was to take the next two rounds, class wins and fastest laps. Hughes, racing for his fourth year in a Metro Turbo established new lap records at Pembrey and Cadwell. The heat was on as the circus drew into Brands Hatch for the final round. Pushing as hard as they dare Hughes went into the gravel in practice but worst Ellis did it in the race and a third in class for Hughes was enough to move ahead of the young Lincolnshire lad to take the class honours by one point. Robert Croft had become turbo powered for 1997 and was on a training exercise all year but as lessons sunk in he was able to take the flight to Brian Goodliffe and usurp him for third in class. Rupert Lloyd made a couple of appearances and took two class wins and a new lap record at Lydden. The Rover Sport/BRDC Trophy goes to Chris Hughes from Paul Ellis and Robert Croft.