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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Charlotte Birch makes a promising start to the Milltek Sport Civic Cup season

Enjoying many close battles throughout the weekend, Charlotte Birch was able to develop her racecraft and enjoyed a positive start to her Milltek Sport Civic Cup campaign at Brands Hatch, establishing herself as a strong midfield runner.

Charlotte Birch, 2024 Milltek Sport Civic Cup, Brands Hatch
Photo credits: JEP

Vinna Sport driver Charlotte Birch enjoyed a positive start to her Milltek Sport Civic Cup campaign at Brands Hatch. Competing in a highly-competitive field of drivers, Birch achieved a best result of 18th, coming in both race one and race three. Enjoying many close battles throughout the weekend, Charlotte established herself as a strong midfield runner and will be looking forward to a season of development in her Honda Civic EP3.

Charlotte arrived at Brands Hatch following an appearance at the circuit in the Track Action Series just two weeks ago. This served as ideal preparation for a full-season campaign in the Milltek Sport Civic Cup, with Birch aiming to build upon her brief introduction to the championship at the end of 2023. As a full-season support series to the TCR UK Championship, the Milltek Sport Civic Cup has attracted a high-quality entry list including touring car stars Josh Files and Lewis Kent.

Brands Hatch is Charlotte’s home circuit and thus has the largest amount of experience at this track in her Vinna Sport prepared Honda Civic. As a result, she was looking to use this knowledge to good effect ahead of qualifying on Saturday morning.

Despite an early red flag in the qualifying session, Birch was able to set a number of fast laps and made a late improvement to her time which saw her set the 17th fastest time in a competitive 25 car field.

Charlotte began the opening race of the Milltek Sport Civic Cup season from 17th and did a nice job to hold her position during a busy opening lap. The pace Birch displayed in the early stages was extremely competitive and this enabled her to hold her own in a talented grid of drivers. An action-packed middle portion of the race saw Birch lose out to both Owen Hillman and Wesley Swain, while also moving ahead of Jamie Petters and Josh Bromley.

Birch remained in 17th as the halfway mark of race one was approaching. A new personal best lap time then followed as Charlotte did well to remain close to the drivers ahead. After Trevor McConnell took 17th away, Birch again set a new fastest lap, almost matching her qualifying time, as she aimed to finish the race on a high note. Ending the race in 18th position, it was a solid debut for Charlotte who gained good experience ahead of two more races to come on Sunday.

Race two of the weekend began on Sunday morning with grid positions based on race one results, with a partial reversal at the front of the field. Due to penalties for drivers ahead, Birch lined up 17th and negotiated the faster drivers making their way through the field to end lap one in 20th.

On lap three, Charlotte moved ahead of Owen Hillman, before then being shuffled back to 23rd two laps later. Exchanging places with Aydan Hassan, a red flag was then displayed after Lewis Kent lost a wheel and therefore a lengthy recovery was required.

The restarted race was to take place over a duration of just five minutes, with Birch beginning part two of the contest from 21st. It was a chaotic restart with multiple incidents on the first restarted lap, leading to a second red flag as the cars of Sam Kirkpatrick and Harry England remained stranded on the track. With less than a lap completed on the second restart, the results were taken from the initial seven lap contest with Birch classified in 21st.

Charlotte Birch, 2024 Milltek Sport Civic Cup, Brands Hatch
Photo credits: BRSCC

Charlotte lined up 17th on the grid for the final race of the weekend with the drivers second fastest times in qualifying setting the grid. Birch drove a mature first lap and dropped to 18th, while keeping it clean and avoiding any early race damage. After dropping behind Mark Hughes, Charlotte settled into a great rhythm and was running in a very competitive train of cars.

By lap nine, Birch had set her fastest time of the entire event and this was a nice confidence boost as she hunted down a weekend-best result. Despite former Fiesta Junior Championship driver Wesley Swain overtaking Birch on lap 11, she set another personal best time to remain in touch.

Charlotte was now running in a train of cars with less than a second covering the four drivers ahead, with opportunities to move forward still possible. Overtaking Hughes in the closing stages, Birch ended the weekend with a solid 18th place result to round off an encouraging meeting at Brands Hatch.

The Milltek Sport Civic Cup has arguably seen its strongest lineup of drivers in 2024, with Charlotte competing admirably in her season debut. Solidly running in the midfield, Birch was able to develop her racecraft and finish all three races to bank valuable experience ahead of an exciting season to come.

Setting her fastest lap of the weekend in race three underlined her progress and she will be looking to build upon this in the second round of the championship which takes place at Snetterton on the weekend of 18th/19th May.



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