Track and Race Cars Magazine Monoposto Championship Silverstone, 1 August 2009, 1000, 1400, 1800
In many ways damp tracks can be the most difficult for a club driver to handle, the strange alchemy between tyre and track can, for no apparent reason, produce very good or very poor grip. Usually a club driver will only carry one set of slicks, and one set of wet tyres, if the tyres don't work in prevailing conditions, it will be a slow day.
The club had the pleasure of welcoming several newcomers to the championship at Silverstone. They fell into two groups, the experienced, who had chosen to race with us at Silverstone, and a second group of newcomers getting their first race start, after suffering frustration at Donington. Both groups are welcome additions to the club.
Qualifying: Mono1000, Mono1400 and Mono1800.
I was not at the track for Race 2 qualifying. OK, I am lazy and did not get out of my pit early enough. A late start seemed an attractive proposition until becoming snarled up in mid-morning traffic. Reputedly, Race 2 qualifying was a bit of a lottery as it started to drizzle after the field had been out for a couple of laps, tough on the newcomers and anybody who was late.
For Mono1000/1400, the usual suspects were in the expected positions with Chris Woodhouse and Kat Impey heading the timesheet. They were followed by Adrian Wright in the home built Gem. Stephen Brooks and Geoff Fern were next up followed by the first 1800, John Whitbourn in a FF1800 Ray. ahead of Peter Whitmore. Tom Pope's RF 82s headed the first regular Mono1800, the Van Diemen of Jim Timms.
The standard Mono1800 running order was in disarray with Peter Bragg, Michael Dales and Jock Sergison having a poor, by their standards, day.Newcomers included Dave Rippin in a Speads last seen several years ago. Dave is new to car racing but in the modern way, has kart experience. Another newcomer to the Mono1000s was Caroline Webb in a Jedi 600. Carolyn was under the tutelage of Geoff Pashley, and the team motto is 'Speedy filly likes it firm'............
After burning much midnight oil Philip Nicholson’s team had replaced the Zetec engine cooked in Donington, in the best traditions of Monoposto the replacement engine came from ‘a scrappie’, and in this case was not rebuilt prior to installation. Another Swift having its first start was the pristine SC97Z of Chris Helliwell, this car reappearing after being seen briefly at the washed out Donington meeting. Mark Edwards with a Mygale was another newcomer.
The Race: Mono 1000, Mono1400, Mono1800.
In treacherous damp conditions Chris Woodhouse, Adrian Wright and Kat Impey put on a virtuoso display of motor racing. The trio circulated with rarely more than a second between them. The only slight regret was that deployment of the safety car on the first lap of the race resulted in a ten-minute motor race rather than the full quarter hour.
Kat's distinctive Jedi won the start, and she was still ahead when the leaders picked up the safety car, she also took the restart, and lead the first half of the race. On lap seven Chris, in the red JKS, took over at the front only to be displaced by Adrian’s Gem at Becketts on lap 9. But Chris Woodhouse had a 100% winning record to maintain, and he set the race’s fastest lap on the final lap to overtake Adrian who managed to hold on to second place by a scant 0.095s.
Darren Freeman was fourth in class half a second ahead of Dave Rippin who had moved through the field, an encouraging first outing with the Speads. The experienced Len Turner probably qualifies as one of those whose car was not working in the conditions, he headed: Brian Jones, Geoffrey Cowell and Carolyn Webb. Geoff Fern retired the JKS as the race restarted.
After the restart, the Mono1400 JKS of Stephen Brooks had made the leading trio a quartet for several laps, he then fell rapidly away from the leaders and was passed by the leading 1800 of Tom Pope as they rounded Copse. Eventually Stephen finished just 2s ahead of Peter Whitmore in the other Mono1400.
I must be careful how I word this, but there is no other way of saying it, several of the experienced drivers who chose to race with us at Silverstone, reset ideas as to how rapidly an 1800 should go, a situation made more obvious by Peter Bragg, our traditional pacesetter, having an 'off’ day. Other dependably rapid drivers, namely Michael Dale and Jock Sergison were similarly afflicted. Undoubtedly Jock Sergison had the worst day. Jock could not fit wets because he had rounded off the some rear wheel nuts on his Swift. Prior to settling for slicks he was seen employing some extreme techniques on the offending nuts. Jock started on slicks and got away well, but weaving through the traffic took him onto a wetter section of track, he lost the car and it turned into the wall. Jock's crashed Swift required the safety car for its removal from the start finish straight. Expecting something exotic or at least fast, your scribe found the safety car, ‘a bit of a disappointment’.
The 1800 class was dominate by an impressive drive from Tom Pope, RF82, it took him to an excellent 4th place overall, with John Whitbourn 7th in a FF Ray GRS02. This pair were separated by 25s, and sandwiched the Mono1400 class. Lance Prichard was 5s further back in his RF82, 20s ahead of the first Mono regular, Jim Timms. Jim was the last car not to be lapped.
Doug McLay's Mygale was 5th in class, a position occupied by Rupert Reader until half way through the race, these two cars were separated by 1s at the finish as Rupert closed in again. They were followed at decent intervals by: Peter Bragg, Bill Janson and Philip Nicholson. Philip, who probably took the award for greatest use of the Copse run off area, being very pleased to bring the ex-editorial SC97Z to a finish 0.5s ahead of Mark Edward's Mygale.
Jonathan Baggott had a good run in the green Van Diemen to finish a couple of seconds ahead of Michael Dale who was just 0.2s ahead of Chris Anstruther, this trio had been in competition for much of the race. Eight seconds further back Chris Helliwell was another young driver pleased to bring a Swift SC97Z to his first race finish, he won a personal race with Len Turner's Jedi by 0.75s. Yunus Amiere was the final finisher in the class.
Fastest laps went to: Chris Woodhouse (just 0.056s faster than Kat}, Tom Pope and Stephen Brooks.
With his exemplary record of wins Chris Woodhouse became the first Monoposto champion of 2009.Patrick Huston. Startline offers hearty congratulations on an outstanding performance.
Pictures: Nigel Bland, Andrew Cliffe, Patrick Huston