Alfa Romeo championship 2020 season review by Andy Robinson
In a season beset with restrictions and lockdowns because of the pandemic, the Alfa Romeo Championship was able to complete 8 of its scheduled 14 rounds at 4 meetings: at Snetterton 200, Brands Hatch Festival Italia, Snetterton 300 and Oulton Park.
With two mandatory dropped scores to be applied it meant the Championship was decided on fine margins over just six races.
The chief protagonists were defending champion Tom Hill, racing for the first time in the Power Trophy class in a Revs Italia-prepared Alfa GT V6, and 2017 Champion Andrew Bourke in his Alfa 156 Twin Spark Cup car prepared by Bianco. Both dominated their classes with a clean sweep of class wins at Snetterton (twice) and Oulton Park, so the events at the Festival Italia meeting at Brands in August were to determine in whose favour the Championship was decided. In the first race there, Tom Hill found himself behind George Osborne’s Alfa 75 from the start and was also under strong pressure from Dave Messenger’s 156 GTA behind him. In his efforts to overtake George and pull away from Dave he uncharacteristically outbraked himself at Paddock and went off into the barriers, the consequent damage to the car putting him out of both races.
Andrew Bourke won his class again at the first Brands race, but it was race 2 that provided the key to the Championship standings at the end of the season. An on-track indiscretion led to the Clerk of the Course giving him 2 points on his licence, and the deduction of those 2 points from his total together with not taking fastest lap in two other races created the 3-point gap that gave the championship to Tom Hill for the a record fourth time. Fine margins indeed! Both drivers were exceptional but Tom just had the edge.
Third in the Championship was Dave Messenger in his Power Trophy class 156 GTA. Although he was able to match Tom Hill’s pace at Brands he couldn’t do so elsewhere but it was still a fine consistent performance throughout the season. Dave has finished 3rd, 5th, 6th, 2nd and 3rd in the Championship in the last five years and although the top spot has just eluded him he is a strong competitor and particularly effective at defending a position. Fourth overall was George Osborne in his beautifully prepared 75, the highlight of his season being an outright race win at Brands. The irrepressible Andy Inman was also a strong performer in 156 GTA and we hope to see Jamie Thwaites’s gorgeous 155, the Peddie/Faithful MiTO and the Southgate Racing Abarths more often in 2021.
The Twin Spark Cup is always hotly contested and although Andrew Bourke dominated the class there was always close exciting racing just behind him. The chief protagonists were Simon Cresswell, Richard Ford, Gethin Llewellyn and James Ford, always in the thick of the action and they finished the season in that order, all in the top 10 of the Championship. Highlights were fastest laps by Richard at Snetterton and James at Oulton and all drove extremely well, taking points off each other in effect throughout the season, with Simon finishing 5th overall and 2nd in class behing Andrew despite having to miss the Oulton meeting while he awaited the results of a (negative) Covid-19 test. Richard was 6th overall, Gethin 8th and James 9th. Consistent performances were also posted by Steve O’Brien, Jon Billingsley and newcomer Luke Powell who had a fine first season.
The Modified class features the most spectacular cars in the Championship and 2020 was no exception. The most consistent beyond question was the experienced Graham Seager in his supercharged GTV who competed in all 4 meetings and won the class. He had to give best to Barry McMahon’s spectacular 156 Turbo in race 1 at Snetterton 200 and in a fabulous dice to Scott Austin’s 155 at Brands but otherwise the car performed strongly and reliably and Graham’s racecraft was exceptional as always. The long awaited appearance of the Alfa Workshop MiTO 404 was also a highlight. The last minute indisposition of driver Ted Pearson disrupted plans somewhat but Riccardo Losselli stepped into the breach and demonstrated the potential of the car at Snetterton and Brands. Mechanical problems sadly restricted the seasons of Scott Austin’s 155, Richard Thurbin’s mighty Integrale and Vincent Dubois’ 156 Turbo.
Despite the disruption to the calendar we are delighted with our first season racing with the 750 Motor Club.