Monoposto Championship Thruxton 8 May 2010: 2000, Classic, 1000 and 1400
It would be wrong to start the report without saying that the whole meeting was marred by a serious accident in the GT race to front runner Jeff Leadley. Jeff sadly passed away in Salisbury Hospital on the morning of 11 May. The GT Cup website states: "Jeff was a front running competitor in the GT Cup Championship and had been with the series from its first full year in 2008. Jeff was enormously well liked and highly regarded by all those who knew him and competed with him. Jeff will be sorely missed." To this, we would like to add that the sympathies of the Monoposto Club go to his family and friends.
The weather couldn't have been more difficult. The air was wet, and there were tiny spots on visors, but no standing water. So the choice between slicks and wets was difficult and there was no consensus. The track was greasy and the times were 15-20 seconds off a dry pace. The greasy track might have been responsible for some of the incidents which led to the deployment of the safety car. I did feel that the procedure behind the safety car is one where the club could tighten up its act a bit. Nothing dangerous, but I for one intend to read the course car instructions closely before Anglesey. I heard complaints that the errant cars weren't moved under the safety car and whilst this is a reasonable comment, in fairness it could be that Thruxton is such a long circuit that marshalls are sparse and at least while the course car was circulating the statutory 3 qualifying laps were being built up. This was helpful because several drivers managed only 3 or fewer laps so could be reliant on the green flag laps to qualify.
One victim of the problem was Peter Venn, returning to Mono after a long gap (Spa 2002?) in the Anson previously run by his Uncle, David Dudley who was a very welcome face back in the paddock. Peter was a disappointing 23, 3 places behind another disappointed 3-lap driver, Chris Woodhouse. But if there were shocks in who wasn't at the front, there were a few shocks with the front of the grid. Nobody was surprised to see Tristan on pole, but by 7.2 seconds? He complained of aero understeer and a rev limiter misfire, but there is the possibility he was winding up your reporter. Noise was also a problem for him, but that was resolved.
There was no surprise that Jeremy Timms was next up, hoping that his 2009 run of bad luck had been ended by winter rebuild work. But in third we had Ian Hughes in the Vauxhall-engined RF88, sporting a smart and stylish paint scheme. Yes, you read that bit about the paint correctly. Ian was ahead of some formidable opponents and machinery, so was justifiably delighted. In the wet/grease/slime, Ian's superb car control comes to the fore. Another delighted driver was Arty Cameron, putting a Jedi 4th and looking very incongruous amongst the heavy metal (or should that be heavy carbon?). Also pleased was Mark Schofield, in sixth, a good reward for this arch enthusiast.
There were also 2 very lucky young men who must be thanking their guardian angels. Thruxton isn't a place where you want a sticking throttle, but Chris Anstruther had one in the SF2000 Reynard. He was fortunately going slowly in the safety queue, so was able to kill the engine with not too much drama. Jeremy Goodman lost a left front wheel. Again, Thruxton is not where you would want this to happen and the wheel ended up (according to one report) 2 fields away from the track. Damage was, amazingly, confined to a wing tube and a bit of mud in the sidepod, and whilst Jeremy had to leave before the race, the car was lined up ready to run had the race been called earlier. Tough cars, these RT3s.
Amongst the bike engines, it was great to see Peter Collier back after last year's Mallory shunt, the OMS looking as good as new. Not too surprising because I guess lots of it is new. Super-fast Thruxton may be regarded as an interesting choice for a return debut - but as Peter said it's relatively local and he was looking on it as a test session. Definitely not local, Paul Heavey was over from Ireland again, but an oil pressure sensor gave way and deposited his finest Total oil. "If I didn't have bad luck, I'd have none at all." he said with justification as he packed away. Let's hope he's back at his "local" track, Anglesey.
There was a 3 hour wait in the assembly area as the poor CoC tried to balance the requirements of the meeting with those of the police, who needed to attend due to the seriousness of the GT accident. There was much uncertainty, and the race was called at 1.30, having been delayed by an hour, to finally start at 4.30. That the 2 litres got a full race, and races were run for the 16/18 Monos and 3 other categories says much for the organisational skills of the officials, and I think they all have our thanks for achieving what they did in difficult circumstances.
After Tristan's dominant qualifying most of us were ready for a lights-to-flag run for the Norfolk man. But Mono doesn't often do boring, and poor Tristan stalled as the lights went out and, thank goodness, despite there being less flag waving than might have been hoped, the ever alert Monoposto drivers managed to miss him. This meant that Jeremy Timms went into the lead and, with an oil pressure problem, Ian Hughes slipped back to allow Arty Cameron to pursue the blue and white Dallara with his self-prepared Jedi. The sweeps of Thruxton suited Jeremy and his car better than Arty, and Jeremy initially pulled 4seconds a lap out of Arty but then slowed a little. Meanwhile Tristan had sliced through the field from a dead last start and by lap 7 had passed Arty. He now set off in pursuit of Jeremy, regularly raising a puff of dirt on the outside as he just clipped the edge of the circuit after the chicane. By lap 11 he was just a 1.5 seconds behind Stroud's MOT king, and on the last lap took the lead into section 1 of the chicane, to lose it coming out leaving Jeremy with a hard fought win, with Arty following them in. Phew!
It was a surprise that Neil Harrison was a few seconds behind Arty, but he had an apparently untroubled run to fourth (3rd in class), followed by Richard Purcell into fifth. Richard put in some impressive laps and constantly kept the pressure on Neil. Clearly, he has got to grips very early on with the injected Graham Read-built F300 and resolved the initial noise issues. With his own new Dallara not quite race-ready, Chris Woodhouse chose to run the trusty Speads and the Kidderminster ace did well to rise from 20th in qualifying to an overall 6th, never having seen the circuit before his 3 laps of qualifying. Chris's speed events DNA must have helped his start, because he was 7th at the end of lap 1, an exceptional achievement. Also coming through the field was 1980's Mono stalwart Peter Venn in the legendary Anson. From a lowly 23rd he was 11th by lap 1 and gradually attacked Malcom Scott until lap 7 when he passed. Peter won Mono Classic. Malcolm had a fairly traumatic start to the race when he needed a push to get away from the collecting area, but in the end all was well.
Geoff Fern (Van Diemen FF2000 based TFR07 - described by the roving commenatator as one of the best presented cars on the grid) rose from 14th to 9th at the finish, just edging out the oil pressure afflicted Lotus 79 look-alike Van Diemen of Ian Hughes for second and third respectively in Mono Classic.Geoff was, despite the official results crediting him with 1400 fastest lap, in a 2-litre car and not the 1400 JKS/TFR09 as billed in the programme. Ian was the last unlapped runner and was just ahead of the Reynard pairing of Francis Phillips and Russ Giles. Russ finished 15 seconds ahead of fellow director David Cox in another, but previous generation, F3 car, his RT3. David was suffering from Mallory 125mph gearing, so lost time in the high speed sections.
From a director in his 30th season of Mono to a current year joiner giving a very strong account, Kevin Otway was 14th. ahead of Lenny Coleman who had the Reynard 883 working well, managing to defeat his long-standing rival from FVL days, the ever-enthusiastic Lou Watts. The next 7 cars were Renaults in various permutations, with interlopers. Chris Scott's (unique in British competition?) Alpa FR led the seven, just ahead of Tom Brown's Tatuus version. Tom was, I would guess, suffering from a horsepower deficit, running in BARC trim in the beautiful carbon chassis. (Thinks: how would that car go with a 200+hp injected 3SGE?). Interloper Pete Bragg kept up the honour of the hard-trying 1800 class in the 2-litres with his Nemesis Mygale, whilst everybody was delighted to see Terry Clark triumph over the adversity of a clutch seal failure in the assembly area to start from the pitlane and finish. Of the last three finishers. Mark "Renault" Smith put Mark Schofield, whose race result was sadly behind his outstanding qualifying, into a Renault sandwich between himself and Anthony "Stig" Bishop (ie he had white overalls) in a BARC Tatuus.
Of the non-finshers, Peter Collier coasted to a halt as he passed the pit lane and Graham Read pitted after 3 laps. It's good to report that as far as I know there was no accident damage responsible for the non-finishes.
Ian Hughes "There was no oil pressure. After qualifying 3rd I'm gutted."
Sara Hughes "Ian says he's gutted. I've got to sit by a gutted driver all the way home. I'm not looking forward to it."
Arty Cameron "It was flat all the way from the first chicane to the second. That was seriously hard work."
Peter Whitmore "It just stopped - I'm not sure why at the moment." (At least he got the real 1400 fastest lap).
David Cox "Having given a talk at the last technical seminar about clutchless gearchanges, I had clutch failure and so put it into practice."
Chris Woodhouse "I was undergeared - the engine was doing 12,000."
Super Clutch Driver of the Day
No action pics yet.
Amazingly light damage to Jeremy Goodman's RT3 after losing a wheel
Richard Purcell's Toyota has its fair share of wiring.
Tristan Cliffe has Martin, Emma and Andrew well trained
Total may sponsor Paul Heavey, but he would be happier to see their product just at oil changes.
Shiny Ian Hughes RF88. It does say Just Plain Sexy.
David Cox and Marcus Pye
How come Peter Venn doesn't look much different from when I knew him at Deloittes in 1983??
The Anson doesn't get to look older either.
Graham Read's 399 next to Geoff Fern's TFR07 / Van Diemen RF99More of the assembly area