Croft, Saturday 25 September 2010, Round 10
Thankfully it was dry when the competitors assembled at Croft because
the wind was from the Arctic and blowing with gusto. The forecasters of
the media were of the opinion that Autumn had arrived and that this was
the best that we could expect.
Representatives from the Cameron family made a welcome return after their family’s disastrous Mallory meeting, they dominated the timesheets, Arty setting a time of 1:24.794s, with Dave just 0.023s behind. They were trying hard, and Dave did an appreciable length of Sunny backwards, Arty slowing to wave a finger in admonishment. Third in class was Stephen Brooks, his JKS being 2.2s off pole.
The next three cars on the grid were Mono1800, the experienced Peter Bragg's Mygale was on 1.28.542s, followed by the impressive Martin Byford in his first Monoposto race only 0.15s behind. Martin was, of course, a National F3 (and other series) champion in the mid 1990's, so represents another celebrity coup for Mono. He was also racing a saloon, his cars tended by a team of keen students, would that we all had such backup. Third in class was Rupert Reader, but Rupert only did six laps before ending up in the kitty litter at Clervaux. The incident took the oil pump belt off as well as a sidepod, giving himself and his mechanic some work. Michael Dale was next up with the RF82 just ahead of Jim Timms who finished one lap by spinning out of the Hairpin. Philip Nicholson was a second further back, he had had a high speed off at Sunny in. Marcus Sheard was next up in his black Mygale.
Nigel Davers in the Team Fern RF89 headed the Mono1600s from the redoubtable David Parkinson, Henry Fryer had only managed 5 laps before pulling up with oil pressure problems, the delivery pipe to the oil pump had kinked. Whilst it's sad to see both Henry and Rupert in oil trouble, it's very impressive that both spotted the oil issue before any damage was done.
Seventh overall was Geoff Fern a second ahead of the other Mono1400 competitor, Peter Whitmore.
Mono2000/Mono Classic, Qualifying
Jeremy Timms was only out for five laps but his determined driving was enough to take Mono 2000 pole (1:21.597s) from Tristan Cliffe by 0.2s. Richard Purcell was 2.2s further back 0.046s ahead of Adrian Holey in the yellow Harrison Dallara. Confusingly, he was wearing one-time Mono regular John Roberts's crash helmet ("sponsorship" he said).
Richard Snuggs celebrated his return to the tracks after a two year absence by taking Classic pole, fifth overall in the Ralt RT30 (1:25.472s), another returnee, Nick Anstruther, was second Classic, 0.7s, slower. Championship leader Jeremy Goodman was third in class. Barry Smith's Van Diemen qualified just ahead of Oulton winner Russ Giles who was unexpectedly far back on the grid. A fellow reporter has suggested to me that Croft has got some vicious bumps (Sunny in and the chicane) and the Reynard is a fairly stiff car compared with the slightly earlier Ralts and Bowman. The FVLs were lead by Kevin Otway 0.35s ahead of Lou Watts but Terry Clark's example managed only one lap before the coil failed. Mick Kinghorn enjoyed his home circuit with a spin at Clervaux. But then, we've never seen Mick other than happy.
One would have expected Malcom Scott to have challenged the dallaratocracy but his Van Diemen remained in the paddock while its driver was taken first to the Medical Centre and then hospital with a dislocated shoulder and/or fracture, the result of a fall in the paddock while assisting in push starting one of Team Fern's cars. As the car 's engine kicked into life it jumped forward and Malcolm fell awkwardly on his shoulder, a most unfortunate accident that left him with his arm in a sling and a van without a driver. Thus the dallaratocracy remained unchallenged, the only remaining spaceframe car being that of Steve Griffin and this was a Van Diemen that was refusing to pick up cleanly in left hand corners.
Initially the lead of the race was a Cameron monopoly, Arty leading comfortably, but nearly threw it away at threequarters distance with a spin at Sunny out. The 360, followed by a significant delay in restarting the stalled engine let brother Dave into the lead and gifted second to a grateful Steven Brooks. Brooks had made a slow start, so the Camerons falling back to him was an unexpected bonus. It had taken Steve a lap to take third place overall from Peter Bragg. On the final lap Stephen made a bid for second place overall as he closed on Dave Cameron's slowing Jedi, second place was decided in Dave Cameron's favour by a sprint to the line. By this time Arty had re-established himself in the lead, but Dave set the fastest lap (1:22.991s). Dave suffered from overheating problems, having a boil in qualifying and just nursing a poorly car to the finish in the race.
Peter Bragg made an excellent case for the Mono1800 class by running third initially and finishing fourth overall, he was pushed very hard in the early laps by Martin Byford's Van Diemen which was very impressive when braking to challenge at Sunny 1, Bragg did very well to stave off extreme pressure. The way Byford slid his Van Diemen out of Sunny 2 was a joy to watch. From half distance Martin fell away, eventually he finished ten seconds adrift, a good win for Peter. The midfield 1800s were shaping up for one of their typical battles, initially the order being: Rupert Reader, Jim Timms and Michael Dale, but it all fell apart on lap six when Rupert spun into retirement at Tower, Jim spun in avoidance which left Michael Dale with an unopposed lonely run to third in class, comfortably ahead of Jim. Phil Nicholson's Swift seemed off colour, and Phil continued his penchant for incidents at Sunny adding a quick 360 to his off during qualifying. He finished fifth in class followed in short order by Jock Sergison (entered as a Formula Renault!) ,and Marcus Sheard's black Mygale. Marcus had spent much of the race in the company of Henry Fryer.
The Mono1400s had a match race between Geoff Fern's TFR (Geoff regretted that he had run out of the time necessary to repair Mono2000), and Peter Whitmore's Van Diemen. An early spin from Geoff gave the class lead to Peter, Geoff gave chase and eventually caught and passed Peter, setting fastest lap in the process (1:26.912s). The pair finished sixth and seventh overall.
Team Fern's Nigel Davers continued his successful run in the Mono1600s, but he made things interesting with a spin at the Complex which briefly handed the class lead to David Parkinson, but Nigel was capable of lapping over a second a lap faster than David, he caught David, and retook the position in doing so he set the fastest 1600 lap 1:33.033s. Henry Fryer bought the red Vauxhall Junior home in third in class, its oil pressure problems cured, an example of the advantages of being prudent, switching off before the engine is damaged.
With three of the four class winners spinning away their initial lead and fighting back to retake the lead this was a fascinating race with much for the informed spectator to enjoy.
Deja vu, once again the Dallara of Jeremy Timms did not occupy it rightful pole position on the grid, this time the reason was a suspension problem that manifested itself on the out lap. At the prizegiving, Simon explained that a suspension bolt had come adrift. Tristan Cliffe was thus gifted ‘pole’ he made good use of it to lead the race from start to finish. Tristan had qualified 2.2s faster than Richard Purcell, and, in Jeremy’s absence could have expected an easy run, but Richard chased him all the way and closed up as the race progressed, but a late race challenge was prevented when the safety car (a dinky little Fiat 500 Abarth that proved capable of identifying a bright red car with 2 on its nose) came out for the race's final laps. Thus the race finished behind the safety car. Richard finished second, Adrian Holey was third, Graham Read fourth, and Tony Cotton fifth in class. On the second lap Tony had appeared well behind the field following a spin at Tower, he spent the active part of the race picking off tailenders and having a good time. He probably had one of the more hectic 2000 races, because as well as his own spin he stopped on lap1 for a spinning Russ Giles on the turn into the complex and was following Steven Griffin when his stub axle let go, leaving a wheel to overtake the Van Diemen. All Mono2000 finishers were Dallarae as Steven Griffin had retired the recalcitrant Van Diemen. As it was lacking a wheel and parked on the track on lap 6, it was this incident that bought out the safety car. Tristan Cliffe set fastest lap 1:21.141s.
Classics: Richard Snuggs had started well, initially occupying third overall and leading the classics, but he retired on lap 3 with an infuriating problem, a broken throttle cable. This left Nick Anstruther's Bowman in command of the classics, he set fastest Classic lap (1:25.657s). Jeremy Goodman, RT3 was second in class while local man Barry Smith took the distinctively and beautifully liveried Van Diemen to third, followed by Lou Watts (FVL), Russ Giles (Reynard 913), and Terry Clark (FVL), a good recovery from Terry after his single qualifying lap. Kevin Otway lost several positions on the final lap of racing by taking the wide green route round Sunny in and out in his FVL and then losing it out of the chicane which ended with him parked in the grass with a flash of flame which quickly disappeared.
Arty and Dave Cameron exchange glances....
..as only brothers can
Nigel Davers spins while MArtin Byfiord and Dave Parkinson...
...leave him to get on with it.
DP races with Nigel...
...and with Len Turner
All pics by Haydn Huston.