VTEC Challenge does Snetterton

Jonathan F

Nov 29, 2010
Snetterton: June 27th/28th 2015

(Rounds 5 and 6 of BRSCC Honda VTEC Challenge)

For rounds 5 & 6 of the 2015 Honda VTEC Challenge, everyone loaded up and headed to the fens of Norfolk and the well known circuit of Snetterton, where we would be running on their “200” layout.


04 – Luke Biel – EK4 Civic – Tuner

15 – Tony Markham – EP3 Civic Type R – Production

19 – James Tracey – DC2 Integra – Production

20 – Craig Smith – DC2 Integra - Production

31 – Phil Wright – Accord Type R – Production

36 – Chris Adams – DC5 Integra - Tuner

39 – Rob Burkinshaw – DC5 Integra – Tuner

45 – Mark Bennett – S2000 – Tuner

46 – Peter Dunmore - EP3 Civic Type R – Production

66 – Paula Webb - EP3 Civic Type R – Production

67 – Marc Kemp – EP3 Civic Type R – Super Tuner

68 – Martyn Kemp – EP3 Civic Type R – Super Tuner

73 – Stu King - DC2 Integra – Production

99 – Ryan Focht - DC2 Integra – Production

100 - Will Watkin – EP3 Civic Type R – Tuner

Continually building in numbers this season, it was great to welcome Pete Dunmore at his local circuit as well as Ryan Focht, Tony Markham, Chris Adams and James Tracey who where all taking part in their first ever VTEC Challenge event.

Pete has been busily developing his EP3 Civic from track car to race car over the past year, and successfully took part in his first event at Castle Combe a month prior to Snetterton. It was through a chance meeting with Phil Wright and Paula Webb at a track day, which led Pete into taking the next steps to become a racer. A great example of how the VTEC Challenge and its drivers help coach those looking to make the move into racing.

Ryan was taking his turn behind the wheel of the #99 Integra, which was driven by Matt Le last time out at Rockingham. Both drivers are sharing the driving duties this year. Ryan is stationed in the UK with the American government and with the support of the car’s owner (Matt) would be in his first competitive event at Snetterton.

Tony Markham’s foray into racing came through a chance encounter at Rockingham. His Civic was originally built for daughter Ella (a successful Mini racer in her own right) but a change in direction meant it was Tony who would be behind the wheel. Having seen the series race at Rockingham and being impressed with what he saw, he quickly signed up for the rest of the season.


Whilst new to the series, Chris is not new to racing and has a wealth of experience in other series and championships. Chris splits his time behind the wheel between his VW Golf and the DC5 Integra that he will be campaigning in the VTEC Challenge.

Having been a supporter from the very beginning, it was a momentous occasion to see James Tracey finally out racing, thanks largely to the generosity of Daz Smee. Daz was unable to attend the race at Snetterton due to prior work commitments, but was quick to offer up his DC2 to James.

Unable to compete without the required license etc, James sat and passed his ARD’s a couple of weeks prior and then set about pulling everything else together, including a quick service and clutch change on the Integra.

Having been patiently waiting for his car to be finished, Snetterton was also to be the debut event for Marc Kemps ex BTCC Civic. The Civic was last campaigned in 2008 and is back out following a comprehensive rebuild over the past 6 months. It was to be a late night on Friday ahead of the race weekend, as a broken selector fork meant the gearbox had to be removed, stripped, repaired and replaced in the hours leading up to it’s debut.

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Although not competing, Neil Holden from “TDi North” had made the long trip down and no sooner had he arrived on Friday night, along with Rob and Andrew Burkinshaw began setting up the geometry on Will’s Civic, finishing in the early hours of Saturday morning.


With qualifying taking place mid-morning and in glorious sunshine, all entrants left the garages (where we were located for the weekend) and headed for the assembly area. From here it was just a short wait for the previous session to finish before heading out on track.

With all 15 cars safely on track, each driver proceeded to set about warming their tyres and checking out the circuit ahead of pushing for some quick times.

With near perfect conditions, it wasn’t long before the pace began to pick up and lap times began to fall.

Unfortunately for Will Watkin, a newly fitted front splitter began to make a bid for freedom and he was forced to pit after only a couple of laps. Despite the combined efforts of Neil from “TDi North” and Andrew Burkinshaw, by the time the splitter had been removed the session was over, resulting in Will taking to the back row for race 1.

The Civic of Marc Kemp looked as though it meant business, but unfortunately an issue with gear selection meant its full potential could not be reached and it too was forced to pit after a handful of laps, placed in 7th.

It was to be “Tuner” class cars locking out the top 3 positions for race 1, with the DC5 of Burkinshaw taking pole from Mark Bennett’s S2000 and first timer Chris Adams in the 2nd DC5 in 3rd.

Taking the last spot on row 2 was the “Production” class DC2 of Stu King, who pipped Phil Wright by the smallest of margins (1000th of a second!)

With the rest of the grid completing the session without incident, everyone returned safely to their garages.

Pole: Rob Burkinshaw

2nd: Mark Bennett

3rd: Chris Adams

Race 1:

Running nearly 30 minutes ahead of schedule meant it was a bit of a dash to get everyone into position, but even with this unexpected early call, all drivers lined up in the assembly area.

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The drivers headed out onto the circuit where the marshals directed them into their respective grid slots.

With Rob leading the grid on the green flag lap, everyone set about preparing themselves and their cars for the off.

Back at the start and in position, the 5 second board was hung out and the red lights turned on.

With the red lights out it was race time and everyone set off hard for “Riches”.

On the inside for turn 1, Burkinshaw had position, however it was Mark Bennett who took the lead, but had to concede as the pair turned in.

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Hard on Rob’s rear bumper was Stu King in the DC2, accompanied closely by Adams and Wright.

Starting several rows back, both Kemp Snr and Jnr benefited from their additional power to make up several places before slowing to take the first corner, with the remainder of the grid all jockeying for position and for the best line.

Starting from the back of the grid, Watkins in his ”Tuner” class EP3 got a good start and made up 3 places by turn one as he passed the “Production” cars of Webb, Smith and Markham.

Although continuing to climb his way through traffic as the race unfolded, on a hot lap into “Riches” a mistake saw the Civic leave the circuit in spectacular fashion and head deep off track and into the adjoining corn field! Although able to re-join, a flat near side front tyre brought out the “mechanical warning” flag and Watkins was brought into the pits and taken out of the race.

Although managing to pull out a lead from Bennett and to maintain it for several laps, a hard charging Marc Kemp in the Civic took the lead from Burkinshaw around Coram.

As the pair entered Murrays, both cars came into contact, with Burkinshaw coming off worse. Although continuing to race, and maintaining 2nd place overall, Rob was forced to retire after being shown the second black and orange flag of the day.

A rare dnf for the racer from Sheffield and from here on in an untroubled win for Kemp.

The “Production” class battle ensued with King driving the wheels off of his DC2 to remain ahead of the Accord of Wright. Two very different cars, playing to their strengths at different points around the circuit and barely a gap between them throughout the whole race.

The trio of EP3’s belonging to Markham, Webb and Dunmore had a great race long battle, with the Leicestershire builder (Markham) leading the charge over the line at the time of the chequered flag. A great result for his first ever event.

Adams in the second DC5 had a trouble free race, but was unable to hold on to 3rd place overall as the Super Tuner Civic of Martyn Kemp came through from 6th to take the final podium position.

A great battle unfolded between two novice racers in similar spec’d DC2’s. Both Ryan and James in the JDM Integra’s were racing for the first time, but both put on a show that many an old hand would be envious of.

With barely anything to separate them for the full 15 minutes, it was real seat of the pants stuff as each driver fought for the advantage, but it was to be Ryan who took the final class position.

Following a DNF last time out with brake failure, Luke Biel and his K20 engine EK Civic had a much improved race to take 3rd place in “Tuner” class.

It was an unfortunate end to the race for Craig Smith in his DC2 as despite a great start, the engine developed a miss-fire towards the end, which dropped him down the order.

1st Marc Kemp

2nd Mark Bennett

3rd Martyn Kemp

Class wins were awarded to:

(P) – Stu King

(T) – Mark Bennett

(ST) – Marc Kemp

Fastest lap: Marc Kemp 1:23.067on lap 5 of 11

With all cars back in the paddock, it was time to look into what was needed to get everyone back out for race 2.

With the front end of the Integra stripped down, the Burkinshaw’s set about straightening out the front wing, inner wing and gluing the headlight back together. Although beyond repair after having done several laps of the circuit, the front splitter was reshaped to help retain some strength to the bumper.

After reassembling the panel work (which you’d be hard pressed to notice the previous damage) the alignment was checked and adjusted as much as time and equipment allowed. Only time would tell if there was any unseen damage when Rob took to the track the following day and started from the back of the grid.

Will’s Civic required a check of the alignment following its trip into the scenery and a change in tyres to replace the badly damaged flat.

Craig set about rebuilding the ignition system of his Integra in an attempt to cure the miss-fire. A set of plug leads, distributor cap, rotor arm and a complete distributor assembly couldn’t remove the fault completely, but it was not going to stop Craig from getting back out.

Race 2:

With the day’s timetable running to plan, the drivers readied themselves for race two. However after great weather the previous day, today was a damp squib as the rain fell leaving the circuit slick.

There were last minute dramas for Paula Webb’s Civic as the car began to cut out in the assembly area. Just when it looked like she would be unable to compete, Andrew Burkinshaw pulled out all the stops and rewired the starter button which allowed Paula to start the race, albeit from the pit lane.

With Paula still being repaired, the rest of the grid completed their green flag lap and assembled on the grid as the rain continued to fall.

With tricky conditions, getting away cleanly proved problematic for some and Bennett took an early lead as Kemp’s Civic struggled for traction. The RWD of the S2000 gave the best drive off the line and Mark managed to maintain the lead until Kemp caught up as the pair turned through the "Bomb Hole" for the first time.

The greasy track continued to claim scalps as Martyn Kemp dropped down the field following an off track excursion, with others taking avoiding action. Regaining composure, Kemp was able to rejoin and ended the race in 5th place having driven back up though the field.

Chris Adams found himself sideways around Coram, but mashing the throttle pedal into the footwell, brought the car back into line and back to chasing the S2000. Chris was soon up to 2nd place behind Marc, but was unable to hold off Burkinshaw on his charge.

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Having a storming drive from the back of the grid, Burkinshaw carved his way through the pack and within a handful of laps was into 2nd place and charging hard after race leader Kemp. Although never one to give up, the gap was just to great to overcome, but a 2nd place overall, a first in class and the fastest lap of the race was a great reward.

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Luke Biel found his Civic revelled in race two, and he put in some great lap times as well as taking 3rd in class. Where Luke benefited, Mark in the S2K suffered as the only RWD car on track and traction problems dropping him down the order.

It was another great race for the first and second placed “Production” class drivers from race 1, with King and Wright again battling hard for class honours. Although boxed in on the start, King settled down to the task in hand and locked onto the bumper of the Accord, but try as he might Stu was unable to take the position, and the result was a reversal of the previous day’s event. 2nd in class for Stu and 1st in class for Phil.

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In another reversal of fortune, James Tracey and Ryan Focht picked up where race 1 ended, with both drivers getting to grips with the lack of “grip”! It was a race long battle with Ryan which saw James close up on Bennett, but Mark was able to hold off the DC2 despite James setting the faster lap time.

Running 3rd in “Production” class, James was determined to maintain position to the flag, but a missed gear change on the last corner of the race nearly gave the position to Ryan, but quick thinking saved the day and James managed to out drag Ryan to cross the line by .3 of a second!

Having started from the pit lane, Paula pulled out a storming performance to catch up to the pack and to make up a number of positions. Local racer Pete Dunmore also showed improved pace in the wet and finished in an improved position from race 1.

Following a problem early on in the race, Tony Markham fought his way back into contention and back onto the train of Civics, to sandwich Will between himself and Paula.

Unfortunately for Smith, the repairs to the Integra didn’t rectify the issue and the miss-fire returned, resulting in a very poorly sounding DC2 at the end of the race.

1st Marc Kemp

2nd Rob Burkinshaw

3rd Chris Adams

Class wins were awarded to:

(P) – Phil Wright

(T) – Rob Burkinshaw

(ST) – Marc Kemp

Fastest lap: Rob Burkinshaw 1.30.957 on lap 8 of 10


With a mixed bag of weather, each race provided something for everyone and the change in conditions showed how different cars can react.

A huge show of thanks goes out to everyone that attended, no matter what their capacity. From driver, to crew to spectators alike, each and every one of you helps make this series what it is today.

Thanks to the series sponsors: Toyo Tires, Competition Clutch, Ultra Racing, Performance Autoworks, Eurospec, Honda’s On Track, 6TWO1, Honda Tuner and MOTORV8 MEDIA for their support.

In recognition of his selfless conduct and allowing one man to achieve a lifelong dream, Daz Smee was awarded the “Spirit of the VTC” award in his absence.

The Honda VTEC Challenge now heads to a favourite circuit of many, Castle Combe on the 18th/19th July. We hope to see you there.

Words: Jonathan Fletcher

Pictures: Lindsey Fletcher & Jonathan Fletcher