2011 Monoposto Championship Mid Season Review
Amazing – We’re halfway through already!
It does seem incredible, but with an early start to the season we are already halfway through this year’s Monoposto Championship. As every girds their loins (however that’s done…) for a packed Spa Summer Classic non-Championship event, now is a good time to take stock of the first half of 2011.
First some numbers: 80 drivers have so far scored points, including 9 Monoposto SUNBAC Nova competitors. Busiest Class is Mono Classic 2000 with 22, followed by Mono 1000 with 16 and Mono 1800 with 15.
The Mono 2000 points table is headed by Tristan Cliffe in one of two Omicron Dallaras, and he’s got an apparently comfortable cushion back to Malcolm Scott in his new Dallara. It hasn’t been plain sailing and Tristan has had some tricky races: grabbing a last – gasp win at Snetterton, winning the class in the wet on three cylinders at Donington, and coming through from a poor grid position at Cadwell – no mean feat on a track which is only just wide enough for two of these very quick cars. However his lead may not be as comfortable as all that. Malcolm has got to grips with his new car very quickly indeed, culminating in a very close second place and fastest lap at Cadwell. He’s a very determined racer and with the second half of the season visiting circuits which are generally bigger and faster than in the first half and it could get very tight at the front. Behind this pair there is a close points grouping of Toni Impieri in the Formula Renault, and Graham Read and Richard Purcell in two more Dallaras. Toni has been impressively consistent as he gets to grips with the car, and was really going well at Cadwell. Likewise Graham has looked very solid but had to miss the first Cadwell race costing him third in the placings at mid year. Richard Purcell is in danger of having another “hard luck” season as he hasn’t yet been able to combine his undoubted speed with enough reliability. It must be some consolation that Steve Patania has got the second Topmarx Dallara going extremely well taking a couple of excellent podium finishes at Cadwell. Similarly Tony Bishop in the second Omicron Dallara has been very impressive, but also unlucky with minor incidents spoiling Donington and then getting edged off at Cadwell followed by a massive blow-up. Just ahead of him on points Tony Cotton went really well at Donington – hopefully laying the wet track ghosts from Silverstone GP last year – but confined himself to scribing at Cadwell.
In the very busy and competitive Mono Classic 2000 class Peter Venn in the lovely David Dudley tended Anson SA4 (I think I mean the car is lovely…) leads the field, challenged by Kevin Otway’s Formula Vauxhall Lotus which has certainly shown that last year’s pace wasn’t a flash in the pan. Peter knows his stuff and is hard to beat, although the wily (and quick) Jim Blockley did just that at Cadwell and Barry Smith took an absolutely brilliant wet track win at Donington – also winning the race overall. Lee Cunningham’s smart Edginton Racing Van Diemen was super quick at Brands, but various problems got between him and a win there. Kevin’s fortunes where slightly dented by having to tackle Cadwell for the first time ever, and without any testing; not an exercise for the faint hearted. It’s such a big class that we can’t mention all the challengers: Francis Phillips is in a solid third place in the points standings and is always a major factor to be reckoned with in the Reynard, Mick Kinghorn went very well at Cadwell, after a late start to the year Jeremy Goodman is getting his newly painted RT3 up to speed, and Richard Snuggs could become a real force to be reckoned with in his pretty 387 Dallara.
Peter Bragg has what looks like a run-away points lead in Mono 1800, helped by the fact that as well as being fast, this year he’s been consistent from the get go with a 100% finishing record, something only shared with 5 others out of 80 points scorers…He was beaten in the wet by Rainmeister Malcolm Cook at Donington, and by the effervescent Ewen Sergison at Cadwell (who also took an excellent lap record). Well behind Peter on points is a very tight group of Malcolm Cook in his quick Van Diemen RF82 FF2000, Marcus Sheard in a “standard” FF Zetec and James Chapman in his aero-developed Zetec. Malcolm is always up there although he missed Cadwell; hopefully he will take in more rounds in the second half of the season. Marcus Sheard is the current leader of the Mono SUNBAC Nova awards, and has moved up the Mono 1800 leader board impressively as well into third place in the standings. James Chapman’s aero-developed Van Diemen looks both smart and business-like, and is certainly quick, but work commitments may hamper his challenge. Further down the points table fortunes have varied. Jock Sergison had a good consistent run to 5th place in the standings, but then had a start-line mishap at Cadwell leaving the car short of the necessary wheels. Jonathan Baggott had been going very well in the familiar green Zetec Van Diemen VD95 whereas Michael Dale has had an unhappy time with his smart Van Diemen FF2000; the car emerging from a winter rebuild with a catalogue of bugs hampering it. Matt Hayes has taken in several rounds claiming a good second at Donington and looking very quick through the Mountain at Cadwell. He hopes to be joined by son Ryan in the second half of the year. Ryan has just enjoyed his 16th birthday and plans to be out in a Jamun T25. Another young driver who joined the Mono SUNBAC Nova trail at Cadwell was Prajesh Shah in the Meyer Motorsport Formula Vauxhall Junior. Prajesh put in a very solid pair of drives on his debut to move into 6th in the SUNBAC standings.
Mono 1600 has been set alight this season by the return to the class of Jeremy and Jason Timms, in their trusty steeds: Van Diemen RF87 and Lola T640 respectively – a real blast from the past. They’ve joined a mighty battle with the two previous years’ class champions Dave Parkinson and Nigel Davers, although the latter has been hampered by a reliability problem at Snetterton and the need to miss out on Cadwell. Jason Timms just edged into the class points lead at Cadwell from David Parkinson, after himself missing the first round, and then getting squeezed off at Donington in a last corner show-down,. Parkie lost his class points lead in Race 1 at Cadwell when he ran out of petrol with two corners to go…Meanwhile Jeremy Timms showed us all at a wet Donington why he is regarded as one of the best single seater drivers in the UK with a Senna-esq display of wet-track driving. Unfortunately (and almost unbelievably) he crashed out at Brands when the steering wheel came off in his hands – he’d been leading for several laps while holding the wheel in place with his thumbs. Then at Cadwell a broken drive joint in the qualifying assembly area ruled him out of Race 1 – this certainly a legacy of the Brands shunt – despite frantic but unsuccessful efforts to locate a replacement. On Sunday having acquired a Sergison-sourced component Jeremy duly won the class. Amid all this excitement third place in the standings is the domain of steady-Eddie Guest in his very pretty Lola T640 – Eddie being one of the aforementioned 6 drivers who have finished every round to date.
The bike-engined Mono 1000 class has seen a substantial increase in numbers this year, with a group of very serious established competitors joined by some intriguing newcomers. Marc Fortune just leads the points standings in his Jedi from the home-designed AW2 of Adrian Wright. Marc’s team-mate Dax Ward is a little way back in third in the St Cross Electronics Jedi. All these three have been the victim of different misfortunes. Marc was one of several cars controversially excluded at Brands for non-working reverse gear, after what was a tremendously exciting race and an excellent on-the-track win. Dax had a very nasty engine failure at Brands, and Adrian had a coming together with John Rawlings at Cadwell. Adrian has promised that he will bring out the new AW3 for Oulton, and his season will rest on how quickly he can get the new design onto the pace. As if all this wasn’t enough two very quick new-to-Mono drivers have also taken wins. Daniel Rowbottom was impressively quick at Donington to win the first race, but terminal engine problems then intervened to stop his smart AZ1000 taking part on the Sunday. At Cadwell, 250 Kart Champion James O’Reilly made an extremely impressive race debut in a Speads. He had to settle for second in Race 1 after a gearchange failure, but took the second race while slick-shod on a wet track from the very determined Ward/Fortune combo, who were on intermediates. James is a SUNBAC competitor and will be a formidable player in this if he decides to do more. Meanwhile Len Turner has continued to produce consistent runs and lies fourth in the half-time standings from Dan Levy who forms the third part of the Fortune/Ward ensemble. Dan started well with a second place at Brands, but has been hampered by engine niggles since. Just behind him is John Rawlings Speads, run by the very experienced Woodhouse team, and John has set about making his mark in this very competitive class in no uncertain terms, despite having to miss out on an entry at Brands.
Mono 1400 has been light on numbers this year, but the two core entries: Geoff Fern’s JKS and Gary/Chris Hills OMS are both very quick cars in any company. Geoff has comfortable lead in the standings, with Gary having beaten him only at a wet Donington. Given that Gary and Chris share the same cars, and hence have limited points potential, its difficult to see how the experience of Team Fern Racing is going to be beaten here – unless Geoff gets distracted by one of his other cars…
In the Monoposto SUNBAC Nova Awards, the field is lead by Marcus Sheard, who had benefited from both speed and consistency. Behind him Chris Hill, James O’Reilly and John Rawlings are all close to each other, and one of these may catch Marcus if they can match his finishing ability. However 13 drivers are registered and most are only just getting into their stride, so it’s quite possible that new players such as James O’Reilly and Prajesh Shah could start to make inroads into the points table position.
So once everyone’s back from Spa, it’s going to be “Seconds Out – Round Eight”…
And here come the leaders....
Tristan Cliffe at Snetterton
Gary Anderson's finest*, as piloted by Peter Venn.
Peter Bragg and his evergreen MygaleSJ00
Jason Timms in the well used family car, a Lola T640
Marc Fortune Jedi VI
Geoff Fern, JKS
*OK, so Gary Anderson did the Jordan 191 too.And that was quite good and quite pretty.