Matt Luff ditched his Castle Combe blues to take a memorable maiden pole position in the Milltek Civic Cup. The Mazda MX-5 race winner will be favourite to win for the Area Motorsport squad after a strong debut saw him pick up fourth place at Cadwell Park in treacherous conditions, in a Civic he had little experience with. A damp Brands Hatch track had not made his run to the top easy, yet remained confident to set a 53.755 sec lap.
The former Ginetta Junior racer lead the early stages of the session, before Free Practice pacesetter Jamie Tonks became the first driver to drop below the 54 second mark, setting a 53.836. Just like in practice it had become clear that drivers were quickly finding the limit of their tyres performance, resulting in only a handful of changes after the halfway mark.
Luff would become the second driver to move into the 53’s, but in the second half of the session all eyes were on Dan Thackeray. The Type-R Champion had not completed a lap in practice, but was quick to get back up to speed, first moving to fourth, before demoting Alistair Camp with five minutes remaining.
Luff was not prepared to settle for second though, pulling out a 53.755 to leapfrog Tonks to pole position. His time was only 0.081 seconds better than the Cadwell Park podium finisher as even a purple speed trap was not enough for Tonks to reclaim his position.
Late improvements by Camp and George Alp-Williams saw them occupy the second row as the Welshman jumped five positions during a last gasp lap. Despite promises throughout, Cadwell polesitter Thackeray had to to settle for fifth as David Buky joined him on the third row. Buky’s time of 54.186 proved to be just one thousandth of a second quicker than Phil Wright who has his eyes on a second podium finish.
Behind them, Morgan Bailey will be eager to make headways in his 2021-built Civic EP3 as Ryan Bensley and Suspension Secrets’ Robert Butler completed the top ten.
It will be the same top four for race three, with Luff taking pole ahead of Tonks, Camp and Alp-Williams in second fastest lap times.
Speaking after qualifying, Luff said;
“That makes up for the qualifying at Cadwell! I’m happy to come away with pole, the pace when I found some clear track was amazing and I managed to bang in four or five clear laps and one was enough to put me on pole. It’ll be tricky for the race as this field is so competitive and starting on the inside doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll come away with a win, especially with the dip at the start of the lap. So I’ll just keep my nose clean, try to create a gap and put some quick laps in tomorrow.”
Mervyn Beckett had led the cars out of the pits, but it would be Peter Dell who continued where he left off from practice, setting the fastest Production Class time early on. The pair would trade blows throughout with Beckett eventually setting the class best, a 56.155.
It would only be 0.055 seconds ahead of Dell, but it was more than enough to displace the rookie, who will also have to start second in class for race three.
“I was expecting it to be Alfie Threlfall, but Pete(r Dell)’s been the surprise this weekend. I can really find out what the car is capable of this weekend and with Pete being new to Civics, hopefully I can keep him behind and potentially have a battle with a few of the Cup Class drivers and put a vehicle between himself and me to hold him off.”
Keep up to date with Milltek Civic Cup on our Social Media’s. The three races will be Live Streamed on our Facebook and YouTube channels. Opening race at 16:00 on Saturday 19th June 2021, with race two and three on Sunday.
Full Results can be found on TSL Timing.