Monoposto Championship Snetterton, Saturday 19 June 2010 All Classes
Predictably unpredictable was how Saturday's weather was described to me. With a strong, sometimes gale force north wind blowing from the North Sea, carrying rain squalls of all intensities, tyre choice was a favourite topic of conversation, and nearly all decisions were compromised, for as rapidly as the showers drenched the track, the strong wind dried it.
Saturday, Mono2000 & Classic Qualifying
It was fortunate that the weather generally improved as the day progress because it was vile for this session, with even pole sitter Jeremy Timms over ten seconds off his dry time. Jeremy set this time on his second lap, the weather deteriorated and the time was never challenged despite the best efforts of Tristan Cliffe who was 1.1s slower. Richard Purcell's motor racing week had started with an excellent test session at Mallory, but Friday's testing revealed a failing engine which was still good enough for third on the grid, ahead of Kevin Mason's similar F300 Dallara. Jeremy Goodman set the fastest Classic time, he was to dominate the Classic class throughout the weekend, mixing it with the Dallarae, on this occasion he headed Adrian Holey and Graham Read.
Terry Clark was second Classic in his FVL, followed by Francis Phillips (Reynard 923), Geoff Fern (Van Diemen), Lenny Coleman (Reynard 883), Mark Smith (Tatuus Renault), Ian Hughes (Van Diemen RF88), welcome variety for the spectators when compared with some of the other races on offer.
Given the conditions, it was no surprise that spectators were entertained
by a number of offs. I was spectating at the Esses, and going straight
on at the end of the Revett Straight was quite popular, as well as spinning
in the Esses, Kevin Otway, Andy Woolley and Richard Purcell were amongst
Mono2000 & Classic Race, Saturday
First Start. Jeremy Timms stalled on pole, everybody avoided him (well done chaps) but Lou Watts hit the pit wall. The race was red flagged. Ian Hughes was another instant retirement when a drive shaft sheared, the surprise was that the failure was not on the starting line.
Restart. A clean getaway on this occasion with Jeremy Goodman briefly getting his Ralt RT3 into the lead, but by Sear Tristan Cliffe was in front. Richard Purcell's engine had started in a cloud of white smoke and was not expected to last, but this did not deter him from contesting second place with Jeremy Goodman. Both of the leading Dallarae were short shifting, Richard to preserve his engine, and Tristan because he was driving round a misfire at high revs, they were vulnerable.
After consulting the Blue Book (one presumes), Jeremy's Dallara took the restart from the back of the grid. Jeremy responded to this challenge imposed by this handicap by overtaking eleven cars on the first lap, he chased through the field, and caught Tristan on the last lap of a race shortened to 10 minutes. On the last lap Tristan was doubly unfortunate, he had a lead of about 4s at the start of the lap and still had three seconds of this lead as he exited the Esses, but then he caught the backmarkers at Coram, where his misfire prevented him from overtaking incisively. Tristan and Jeremy were amongst the backmarkers as they drag raced out of Russell for the line, Jeremy's route was the quicker by 0.087s, he won, and naturally it was Jeremy who took the fastest lap with 1:08.740s.
Richard Purcell nursed his F300 home in third, and promptly packed it off back to his workshop. Jeremy Goodman, who had briefly overtaken Richard on the fourth lap took the Classis class and closed to within 1.7s of Richard's ailing Dallara by the finish. 17s further back Terry Clark's FVL lead a tight quintet composed of: Adrian Holey, Russ Giles, Geoff Fern, and Kevin Mason, who had fallen to the back of this group during the course of the race; Terry and Russ took second and third in the Classic class, Jeremy Goodman took fastest lap.
There was good racing throughout the field, Snetterton lends itself to close finishes as cars exit Russell and sprint for the line. The rather different Renault powered chassis of Mark Smith and Anthony Bishop, fifteenth and sixteenth, were separated by just 0.024s, while just behind Nick Catanzaro (FVL) and Chris Scott (Alpa Formula Renault) had the ten times greater gap of 0.211s.
Saturday, Mono1000/1400/1600/1800. Qualifying.
The weather wrong footed a number of competitors who went out for qualifying on wets, on what was effectively a dry track, a few cut qualifying short to preserve their wet tyres. Later in the day most were to be wrong footed, again as the weather reversed tyre requirements for the race.
The eight strong Mono1000 contingent were headed by Arty Cameron who set a time 0.9s faster than welcome returnee, the new Mono1000 representative, Darren Freeman, both Jedi mounted. 2.3 s further back, Stephen Brooks was having his first race of the year in the familiar red Speads.
Peter Bragg was fourth fastest, so we will take the 9 Mono1800s next. The field was composed of what I regard as Monoposto regulars. It was no surprise to see Phil Nicholson second fastest with Jim Timms, and championship leader Michael Dale next up.
Peter Whitmore has had a few teething troubles with his Van Diemen Hayabusa, but, they now seem sorted, he took class pole from Geoff Fern's similarly engined JKS (entered as a TFR09?). Geoff was complaining about dangerous snap oversteer on high speed corners. The team was about to minutely examine the rear suspension of the JKS when Stephen Brooks pointed out the rear wing was installed the wrong way round; I presume that correcting this at least partially alleviated the problem.
Richard Evans put his smart Swift Formula Renault onto Mono1600 pole. He was followed by the redoubtable David Parkinson, and Equipe Fern protégé Nigel Davers.
Those with problems included Chris Helliwell, whose very shiny rebuilt front suspension units seemed to have changed length, effectively giving his immaculate Swift a solid front end, and making it more or less undriveable. Henry Fryer had a wishbone fail for no obvious reason, his team spent the next few hours assembling a replacement unit from several sources; if you are going to have this sort of job, Saturday at Snetterton is a reasonable place to source the necessary spares and skills.
Saturday, Mono1000/1400/1600/1800. Race.
The perceived wisdom was that slicks were appropriate wear because the strong wind was drying the track rapidly between the showers. Unfortunately, this race took place in one long shower so most of the field struggled on their slicks.
Arty Cameron displayed more confidence than most in the conditions and came through Esses with a 4s lead and a rooster of spray. He was followed by Stephen Brooks, Darren Freeman, Geoff Fern, Peter Bragg (who had briefly occupied second place), Peter Whitmore and Phil Nicholson.
Sara Hughes entered the Esses in something like seventeenth place, but going backwards. After sampling the grass on both sides of the track, with a couple of spins, Sara rejoined the track, well last, as they say. (Sara and Ian, the video came out surprisingly well, I am still open to offers.- Ed)
At the front of the field Arty Cameron was in command, his main opponent was the weather, his fastest lap being about 20s slower than a dry time, this gives some measure of the difficult conditions. Second was a different matter, Peter Whitmore, sixth on the first lap, had moved steadily forward to take second in the race, and the Mono1400 class win, with fastest lap. Stephen Brooks eventually fell back to fourth overall, as Darren Freeman caught him on the last lap and won the drag race to the line by 0.027s, they were second and third in class; Arty Cameron had the fastest Mono1000 lap.
Rupert Reader took the Mono1800 class, congratulations, it was his first win. Rupert had enlisted the assistance of Tristan Cliffe (that man was everywhere at Snetterton) as his pit crew, and he was one of the few on wet tyres because they changed the Van Diemen's tyres in the assembly area. Rupert made rapid progress through the field to finish fifth overall with the fastest Mono1800 lap. Phil Nicholson drove well on slicks, he chased hard to finish just 2.6s behind, Phil was closing on Rupert, but never got close enough to challenge. Michael Dale was a few seconds behind this pair, third Mono1800 ahead of Peter Bragg and Jim Timms, who both had disappointing races for various reasons.
David Parkinson was ninth overall, he took a good win in the Mono1600s, but Nigel Davers was closing and set fastest 1600 lap. After his dismal qualifying, Henry Fryer's repaired 8v Formula Vauxhall had a good run from the back of the grid to third in class, sixteenth overall.
Both of the cars previously mentioned with handling problems managed to spin off when being driven in a straight line. Chris Helliwell scared spectators on the pit wall when he lost his Swift, fortunately he did not hit anything that was too solid and continued to finish a lucky twenty-first. Geoff Fern had fewer spectators when he spun off the Revett Straight. The JKS went up an earth bank, but not over it, remember the famous picture of Graham Hill flying over a Snetterton earth bank and a Daily Mirror photographer, who had the presence of mind to photograph the incident, in a P261 BRM. Geoff got out, and used the Fern charm to enlist the assistance of a sceptical marshal as he turned the JKS round and restarted it, he continued to finish last, without his front wing and nose cone.
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