MG Trophy Snetterton 2023

Race Report – Snetterton – 23rd/24th September

The Holden MG Trophy

The MG Trophy races at Snetterton, sponsored by Holden MG, featured a high-quality five-way battle at the front. Adam Jackson and Fred Burgess returned to the MG ZR 190 Class A contest to join habitual frontrunners Graham Ross and Doug Cole plus Cadwell Park’s in-form man, Sam Meagher.

At the start of the first race the front five quickly became three as poleman Meagher spun at the first turn and Jackson had to run off the track in avoidance.

Ross had taken the lead at the start and stayed ahead for the duration while Cole held off an attacking Burgess before Burgess dropped away late on with an exhaust breakage but still finished third. Jackson set fastest lap and recovered to fourth place before parking with a driveshaft failure. 

James Cole #88 was victorious in Class B in both races.

James Cole dominated Class B after establishing a clear early lead and he beat newly crowned overall champion, Tylor Ballard, by six seconds. Ballard, after claiming the title at Cadwell last time out, ran the number one and a special gold champion’s windscreen sunstrip (a surprise gift from Graham Ross) on his car at Snetterton.

Tylor Ballard, MG Trophy Champion,2023.

Ross said: “In qualifying I looked at the times, 1.2s behind, and I thought ‘this is going to be a struggle’. But I made a good start. I thought that was my only way if I was going to maybe win it or control it if I could get to the front. 

“And I’d made a couple of adjustments with set-up, because I’ve been twiddling all year with set-up, and it certainly wasn’t any worse, let’s put it that way. I just felt really good, felt comfortable, and just felt I could pull a gap. Chuffed there’s life in the old dog yet!”

Graham Ross #92, Doug Cole #99 & Sam Meagher #5 head the field at the start of Race 2.

At the start of race two Ross again led from Doug Cole while Jackson immediately vaulted from 10th on the grid – after traffic problems in qualifying – to run fourth behind Meagher, with Burgess completing the front quintet.

Ross looked good for a double win but spun at Murray’s. This let Meagher – who’d passed Cole early on – into the lead but with Cole on his tail. Cole got by to lead with a lap to go thanks to a fine move at Riches were he lined up on the outside line of the defending Meagher then cut back to out-accelerate him on the inside at the corner’s exit.

Doug Cole #99 took the win and Millers Oils NanoDrive Driver of the Race in race 2.

It meant Cole won his final race before retiring from full-time racing and, adding to the celebration his son James doubled up on Class B wins holding off Ballard and Scott Bugner. Cole Sr also got Millers Oils NanoDrive Driver of the Race. Jackson, meanwhile, pitted as his driveshaft broke , the other side this time, and the grease in the boot went onto the exhaust filling the car with smoke.

Cole said: “Just bided my time, tyres were coming in slowly, and when I saw Graham go off I started charging. 

“[Meagher] was struggling around Coram so I thought ‘I can get a run up here’. The lap before [at Riches] I went to the left a little bit and he covered the right. And I thought ‘I know what I’m going to do next lap’. [The next lap] exactly the same thing, he tried to get too tight and I did the old switch back: 25 years of racing teaches you something!

“So the last official MG Trophy race, and I win the race. And my son won as well, even better!”

Doug Cole with the Race 2 winner’s trophy and the
Millers Oils NanoDrive Driver of the Race award.

As always, the Trophy races featured fierce battles in both Class A and B and produced an excellent spectacle for the spectators and a fitting finale to the 18 years that it has been an MG Car Club championship. It’s ‘all change’ for 2024 and news of a new era for the Trophy will be announced shortly.

Words by Graham Keilloh. Photographs by Dickon Siddall.