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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship continues to showcase innovation and longevity

A mainstay of the British club racing scene, Clubmans Sports Prototype has seen female drivers claiming class victory in 64 races, achieving over 100 podium finishes since 2014. In 2023 alone, Michelle Hayward, Samantha Evans, Pippa Tanner-Wood and Trish Hunter have continued to showcase their talent racking up four class victories and 18 podium finishes to their name.


Clubmans Sports Prototype, Pippa Tanner-Wood
Photo credits: Joy Richings / Clubmans Sports Prototype

The Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship has been a mainstay of the British club racing scene since its inauguration in the 1960s. Offering a low-cost slicks and wings formula across four classes, the success of Clubmans as a concept can be shown by its longevity with the series still thriving today. Since 2014, female drivers have claimed class victory in 64 races, achieving over 100 podium finishes in the process.


Four championships have also been won in that time, with Michelle Hayward claiming the 2018, 2021 and 2022 CSPB titles, while Pippa Tanner-Wood took the CSP3 crown in 2018. Across the 2023 season, four female drivers competed in the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship racking up a total of 435 points, with four class victories and 18 podium finishes to their name. Michelle Hayward, Samantha Evans, Pippa Tanner-Wood and Trish Hunter have continued to showcase their talent in one of Britain’s leading club racing championships.


The root of the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship can be traced back to 1965, but the formula remains relevant today and has been boosted by the resurgence of prototype racing across the globe. Healthy grids of over 20 cars are commonplace, with 47 drivers scoring points in 2023, showcasing the close competition despite the variety in chassis.


Although some limitations remain in place, the attraction of the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship lays in the freedom offered to design and engineer the more modern machines. The speed of the cars in the top CSP1 class can be highlighted by the fact the fastest lap time set by CSP1 machine at the Brands Hatch Indy circuit last year was just one second slower than that of a British F4 car.


The variety of machines competing in the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship adds to the value of the series, with chassis such as Mallock, Phantom, Vision, Ardmore and GEM all represented, with Mallock machines often making up the bulk of the entry. The greatest diversity is often seen in the top class CSP1 machines, with Michelle Hayward claiming her first victory in the class at Donington in July.


Michelle Hayward
Photo credits: Joy Richings / Clubmans Sports Prototype

CSP1 cars are fitted with a two-litre, four-cylinder engine. Their appearance can share similarities to that of a Radical, with their lap times regularly matching Radical SR3 machinery. Therefore, the CSP1 class of the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship is a perfect category in which to enjoy a fast-paced introduction into prototype competition.


Sitting just below the top-class CSP1 machines are those in the CSP2 category. As piloted by Samantha Evans in the 2023 season, CSP2 Clubmans feature a controlled MG1600 engine which ensures close contests throughout. Both the CSPA and CSPB classes are for historic Clubmans built prior to 1981, with the CSPA machines featuring 1700 cc Ford Kent engines. The ever-popular CSPB class, featuring machines of choice for both Pippa Tanner-Wood and Trish Hunter, utilise the long-lasting Formula Ford 1600 cc engine.


The Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship calendar and race format reflects the cost-effective nature of the series, while remaining attractive to drivers and sponsors alike. Race coverage can be found on YouTube and Clubmans regularly shares an MSVR package with some of the best club racing Britain has to offer.


The 2023 season featured 18 races across six weekends, with races of fifteen-minutes in length. A similar calendar has been drawn up for 2024 with 17 races across seven rounds, visiting tracks such as Silverstone and Donington, with June’s event on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit set to be a particular highlight. Female participation in Clubmans has been a regular feature of the championship in recent years, with four drivers consistently fighting for class honours.


Michelle Hayward
Photo credits: Joy Richings / Clubmans Sports Prototype

Michelle Hayward

Michelle Hayward is the most successful female driver in Clubmans Sports Prototype history with three titles to her name, all coming in the ultra-competitive CSP2 class. Since 2014, Hayward has racked up an incredible 43 class victories despite only racing the full-season in just over half those campaigns. Michelle came within one point of claiming the Sports 1600 title in 2014 with two victories to her name, elevating herself into the club racing spotlight. This achievement was even more impressive considering she missed the first round of the season, therefore scoring more points per round than the eventual champion.


As the Sports 1600 category evolved in the Clubmans organisation, Michelle remained extremely competitive. Claiming victories in 2015 and 2016, she took a break in 2017 before moving to the CSP2 class in 2018. Her return to the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship was nothing short of spectacular as she was crowned champion with a dominant season which saw Hayward score 15 class victories and set the fastest lap in all but one of the races. Returning to CSP2 in 2020, Michelle finished second in the championship while stepping on top of the podium another five times.


Continuing in the CSP2 class in both 2021 and 2022, Michelle claimed the championship in both seasons with 18 race victories across the two years. Hayward had established herself as a leading driver within the Clubmans set up and came into 2023 seeking a new challenge. As a result, she moved into the CSP1 class for the most powerful machines driving a Phantom P79. Scoring a best result of fifth during the opening round of the season at Silverstone, it was an encouraging start. She followed this up with a sixth-place result at the challenging Anglesey Circuit.


Returning to the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship at Donington Park in July, Hayward was aiming to build upon her strong introduction into top class Clubmans racing. Qualifying eighth and retiring from race one was a challenging start, however Michelle’s weekend quickly turned around. An excellent fourth place result in race two saw her miss out on a maiden CSP1 class podium by just two seconds, but the best was yet to come.


An excellent drive from Hayward saw her claim her first ever CSP1 class victory in race three, improving on her best lap time in qualifying by almost two seconds. This victory was even more emotional following Michelle being re-diagnosed with cancer just weeks prior to the event. Hayward has continued to battle adversity throughout her racing career and serves as an inspiration to others looking to compete in motorsport.


Samantha Evans
Photo credits: Joy Richings / Clubmans Sports Prototype

Samantha Evans

Beginning her Clubmans career in 2019, Samantha Evans has quickly established herself as a leading contender in the CSP2 category. Driving a Mallock MK27, Evans competed in a partial schedule in both 2019 and 2020, before embarking on a full-season effort in 2021. Immediately finishing inside the top-5 of the CSP2 championship standings in 2021, Samantha was a regular podium contender and continued this progress into 2022.


To date, the 2022 season was Samantha’s most successful yet as she scored 162 points and finished third in the CSP2 standings. Evans finished every one of the 19 races and this consistency has been a hallmark of her racing since she debuted in Clubmans, while also highlighting the reliability of her Mallock MK27. Scoring four podiums in the final six races of the year, including two runner-up finishes, a maiden victory was within reach heading into 2023.


The CSP2 class of the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship was extremely competitive in 2023 and this saw Samantha finish a credible fourth in the overall standings, despite missing the final three races of the season at Brands Hatch. Evans racked up a further three podium finishes during the campaign, including a brilliant pair of runner-up results at the challenging Oulton Park Circuit in Cheshire. The speed and consistency shown by Samantha has seen her progress considerably in a short space of time which is credit to both her ability and the Clubmans family.


Pippa Tanner-Wood
Photo credits: Joy Richings / Clubmans Sports Prototype

Pippa Tanner-Wood

Pippa Tanner-Wood has been one of the drivers to beat in the CSPB category since her Clubmans debut in 2017. Starting out in the CSP3 class, a pre-cursor to its current identity of CSPB, Pippa claimed the title in her first full season of competition in 2018. Standing on the top step of the podium an incredible 11 times, it was a dominant display for the Clubmans rookie who has continued to fight for class championships ever since.


Tanner-Wood’s title defence in 2019 was spirited as she finished second in the CSP3 class with two victories and a phenomenal 13 fastest laps to her name. A partial campaign in 2020 saw the talented driver finish third in the championship, before a return to full-season competition in 2021 yielded a fourth-place championship finish in what was now the CSPB category. The increase in competition motivated Pippa to return to the top step of the podium in 2022 and despite only racing in 11 out of the 19 races, she secured one victory, two pole positions and five fastest laps.


As a result of her excellent form, Pippa was once again ready to mount an assault on the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship CSPB title in 2023. Although it was set to be a tough battle against reigning champion Tom Muirhead, Tanner-Wood began the year by claiming pole position at Silverstone. A hat-trick of podiums at the home of British motorsport was followed by a victory at the second round of the season at Anglesey, at a meeting where Tanner-Wood would claim all three fastest laps in CSPB.


After missing the mid-season round at Snetterton, Pippa showed her talent in the closing rounds of the season to end the campaign with five straight podium finishes, with a pair of victories in the season finale at Brands Hatch a particular highlight. Pippa’s Mallock MK20B has been a consistent CSPB challenger in recent years, with her podium strike-rate among the best that Clubmans has ever seen.


Trish Hunter
Photo credits: Joy Richings / Clubmans Sports Prototype

Trish Hunter

A stalwart of the Clubmans paddock for well over a decade, Trish Hunter has racked up four wins over the past ten seasons, with a significant number of other podium finishes to her name. The 2016 season was a notable season for Hunter who finished second in the Classic Clubman B standings, scoring three victories during the year. Driving a Mallock MK16 at Snetterton in 2018, she claimed all three fastest laps to underline her speed and was able to finish within the top-5 of the final championship standings despite driving a partial campaign.


In recent years, Trish has taken turns with relation Brian to drive in the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship, further showing how the series has a family appeal. As a result, Hunter has driven partial campaigns, with a best CSP3 championship finish of fifth, coming in both 2020 and 2021. During the 2023 season, Trish competed in the final three rounds of the season which saw her achieve a best result of fourth, coming in both races one and three at Donington Park.

Hunter has been a credit to the longevity of the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship and further showcases the diversity in one of Britain’s premier club racing championship.


The presence of female drivers within the Clubmans Sports Prototype Championship extends beyond the racers covered, with Patrycja Zabawska, Monika Arvidsson and Liz Kennedy all enjoying spells in the championship over the past decade.


The diversity in machinery is a hallmark of Clubmans racing and is a leading contributor to its appeals to novice and veteran racers alike. The 2024 Clubmans Sports Prototype season gets underway on the weekend of 13th/14th April at Silverstone, with the expectation of continued success for the series’ female racers.


Pippa Tanner-Wood
Photo credits: Joy Richings / Clubmans Sports Prototype

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