Essex & Kent Motorsport i30 N TCR driver Lewis Kent secured the 2021 TCR UK title with a set of mature drives in the finale weekend of the season at Donington Park.
Entering the final weekend with a 21-point lead Kent, the defending series champion, had the advantage. However, his final raceday was complicated by a poor qualifying – falling foul of strict track limits – that put him on the back row of the grid for both the first and third races of the meeting.
Nonetheless he was able to move up the order in Race 1, crossing the line seventh. Points for fifth from the partially reversed grid in Race 2 helped keep him ahead of the drivers still aiming to take his crown, now led by his teammate – and younger brother – Bradley Kent.
Bradley, in his first season with the i30 N TCR after joining the TCR UK ranks over the winter, looked capable of snatching the title, or at least giving the family-run team a 1-2 in the final standings, early in Race 3. Unfortunately, as the leaders tangled ahead of him he picked up damage from contact that forced him into retirement. He would ultimately finish the season fifth in the points, one place behind Maximum Motorsport i30 N TCR driver Max Hart. The Irishman was part of the championship battle throughout the season, eventually matching the champion’s tally of seven podium finishes.
The incident gave vital points to Lewis, allowing him to control his pace on the final laps. From 16th on the grid he finished sixth – more than enough to become the first driver to successfully defend the TCR UK title.
The points’ margin that proved so crucial to his championship run on the final day was the result of strong performances throughout the season. He ended the season with three wins – tied with Bradley for the most during the season.
His first win came on the opening weekend of the campaign at Silverstone, where Hyundai customers dominated the opening exchanges. On their first competitive weekends with the car Hart and Bradley Kent locked out the front row in qualifying before Hart and Lewis Kent – who had completed a Hyundai 1-2-3 in qualifying – split the two victories on offer between them.
Bradley Kent would join them as a race winner at the following event at Castle Combe – taking victory in only his second racing weekend in TCR machinery. A pair of second places, meanwhile, had allowed Lewis Kent to begin to build the all-important championship lead.
His advantage only increased during the series’ first three-race meeting of the year on the tight Brands Hatch Indy Circuit. While many of his title rivals – sadly including his younger brother and Hart – were caught out in incidents Lewis was able to avoid trouble and bank strong results in all three encounters, including a Race 2 win and third in the finale behind Bradley and Hart as the trio finished together on the podium for the third time in the first half of the campaign.
The Brands Hatch weekend also saw some of the closest racing of the season, not only between the Hyundai customers, but amongst a growing field of cars in the series.
Lewis Kent added a third win of the season at Oulton Park to again extend his lead at the top of the standings. The value of his early season form pace and consistency began to show at the Welsh Anglesey circuit. Foreshadowing the season finale a poor result from qualifying left him fighting his way through the field to score points. Though he missed out on a trip to the podium for the first time in the year he maintained his spot at the top of the standings.
The second race at Anglesey gave Bradley Kent his third win of the season to make sure he, as well as Hart and two other drivers, were in contention until the final date on the calendar. The weekend in Wales also saw the best qualifying of his partial season for Motus One driver Danny Krywyj, who was an impressive third fastest.
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Andrew Johns said: “Defending a championship title is never easy, and always comes with extra pressure. Lewis Kent, and the Essex & Kent Motorsport team, should be very proud of what they have achieved – even more so as this season they expanded to run a second Hyundai i30 N TCR for Bradley Kent, who showed excellent pace himself against more experienced drivers in the category. For the brothers, as well as Max Hart and Maximum Motorsport, it has been very successful season – taking a total of seven wins from the 14-race season. Of course, even down to the last day there are stories of how results could been better, but all our customers in the series should be able to take huge positives from a very competitive year.”
2021 TCR UK Drivers’ Standings
After 14 races