Silverstone, Saturday 16 October 2010, Round 12
Once again a wind blowing from the Arctic greeted Monoposto competitors, on this occasion it was cooling Silverstone. The track was very greasy for the first qualifying session, the prudent chose wet tyres. But it was a drying wind, and by the time the 2l and 1600 cars took to the track to qualify, the track was dry.
The size of the entry caused the 1600s to be moved onto the 2l grid, even so, with 28 cars on the Mono1000/1400/1800 grid, and 34 on the 2l/1600 grid, it was the largest entry of the year. It has also to be said that the quality and size of the racing entry was matched by a superb range of cakes in the Mono hospitality awning; with particularly notable contributions from the Hughes and the Bragg teams. Surprisingly, this being the last championship meeting of the season, several new faces and new cars were in the paddock, and one or two old hands were having their first race of the year.
Chris Woodhouse's pole time of 1:05.206s shows how treacherous track conditions were, Arty Cameron was 0.4 s behind followed by Geoff Fern (TFR) Adrian Wright (Gem AW2), and Paul Heavey (Leastone F5). After last season's experiences when racing with Monoposto, and a disastrously unlucky Thruxton when we last saw him, it was good to see Paul having a trouble free run, however, the Leastone's gearing was too short. Four (debatably 5) very different chassis in the first five positions, Monoposto provides variety.
John Rawlings Jedi went very well in the tricky conditions to take 6th on the grid ahead of the experienced and quick Dax Ward, followed by Gary Hill and Peter Whitmore in 1400s, OMS and Van Diemen respectively. Karl Davidson was another new face in a very smart KD Racing Jedi, also going well in the damp on his first visit to Silverstone.
Mono1800 pole was taken by Peter Bragg's slick shod Mygale on the last lap of qualification, he displaced the wet shod FVJ of Rupert Reader. Rupert, trying hard, started qualification by using the run off area at Copse on successive laps. James Chapman (RF03) was third in class ahead of Michael Dale in the familiar orange RF82. Jim Timms was next up having narrowly avoided being collected by Michael during an early indiscretion in the Complex.
A fit Bill Jansen returned to the fray, he has just completed a three month cycling tour of Europe, he was opting for the greater safety provided by motor racing. Also worthy of mention is the appearance of Tom Brown in the FVJ last seen slipping out of Yunus's hands. Tom was enjoying the car in spite of two spins and the combination being 50kg overweight.
The field seemed commendably reliable, and damaging incident free, with only Richard Reeve failing to complete at least ten laps during qualification.
Mono2000/Mono Classic/Mono1600, Qualifying
Inevitably traffic was very heavy, Jeremy Timms found a more or less clear space towards the end of qualifying and posted 57.727s for Mono 2000 pole. Tristan Cliffe was next up, nearly a second adrift, Richard Purcell was a fairly distant 2.4s further back. Naturally all were Dallara mounted.
The next three cars were all Classics and in the 61s bracket. Richard Snuggs again took Classic pole (Ralt RT30) and then opted for a change of gear ratios. Championship contenders Russ Giles (Reynard 913) and Jeremy Goodman (Ralt RT3) were closely matched. Nick Anstruther made it four Classics before Kevin Mason and Malcom Scott represented the Mono2000 class, good the see Malcom back in the cockpit after sustaining a shoulder injury at Croft. Kevin Otway (FVL) separated Malcom from his daughter Jennifer. Another family combination occurred further back on the grid Nick Catanzaro (FVL) being 14th while, Dane Catanzaro’s Mono1600 Formula Renault was 17th.
Another point of interest was Yunus Amiere with the Formula Renault last seen in Tom Brown's hands; he qualified 19th. He suffered a spin in the complex as did Terry Clark, the latter deranged something at the back of his car. Kevin Otway pulled off in the same area. Anthony Bishop and Francis Phillips were others who did fewer laps than one would expect.
Nigel Davers in the Team Fern RF89 took Mono1600 pole from Austin Kimberley's Van Diemen RF03. Austin was impressive in his first car race and possibly at age 16 is the youngest driver ever to have competed in Mono. David Parkinson was not far behind, followed by Dane Catanzaro and Henry Fryer who was back in the cockpit of the FVJ.
The final three on the grid only raked up 14 laps between them, Sara Hughes pulled into the pits after three laps with the Ray Dackombe trophy winning Agent, the sidepod was deranged after a coming together with Yunis’s half spun Renault. Joe Venor had to join late from the pit lane when the engine of his Lola was a reluctant starter, and Jonathan Baggott pulled off at Brooklands with the AW1, which was exchanged for the Zetec car for Sunday.
A steady light rain ensured that this race was full of incident and
surprise. Entertaining for spectators, but a trial for drivers whose tyres
were not working effectively in the prevailing conditions.
Adrian Wright made the race for the lead a three way affair in the early laps. He was another who had a spin at Brooklands this dropped him, back to the Leastone, he must then have had another moment and reappeared well down, but driving hard he moved through the field, and eventually caught Dax Ward to take third place by a margin of 0.8s on the last lap.
The early laps of the race had been enlivened by a midfield dice involving: Dax Ward (Jedi), Jonathan Reed (Jedi), Gary Hill (OMS), Peter Bragg (Mygale), Tim Cameron (Jedi), and Paul Heavey (Leastone). Track conditions ensured much place changing. With the exception of Paul they finished in that order but were well spread out by the end of the race, the Leastone retired with a trivial problem, a blown fuse.
Stephen Brooks had qualified fourteenth, so finishing ninth was an improvement, but his Speads still disliked the conditions, the same could be said for Darren Freeman's Jedi.
The Mono1400 class was well spread out Gary Hill taking the win by finishing ninth overall, Peter Whitmore had a lonely run (quite an achievement on such a busy track) to second in class, ninth overall. Geoff Fern had a spin on the green flag lap and followed it with another two during the race, as Simon Davey said at the prize giving "three spins merited third in class". Gary Hill set Mono1400 fastest lap (69.652s).
As far as the Mono1800s were concerned Peter Bragg was in a class of his own, he came round fifth overall on the first lap and finished seventh overall, lapping half the 1800 field in the process. The speed and apparent stability of his car as it rounded Brooklands was impressive. Naturally, being 1800s there was a good race for second position in class, the surprise was that initially Tom Brown in his first outing in the FVJ held second, but another quick spin at Brooklands handed second to Rupert Reader also FVJ mounted. Rupert was under intense pressure from Michael Dale (RF82) with second place in class changing up to twice a lap, but it was not until the penultimate lap that Michael headed Rupert into Brooklands, he held on to take second in class from Rupert with James Chapman (RF03) fourth followed by Tom Brown. Tom admitted to enjoying his outing despite being nowhere near the class minimum weight. He did however pick up the Magic Motorsport Driver of the Day Award for his efforts. Doug McLay lost his place in this group on the first lap, another to have a quick spin exiting Brooklands.
Jim Timms was the next 1800, another to spin on the green flag lap, and start at the back, he moved slowly through field in the company of Geoff Fern. Jock Sergison, Douglas McLay. Bill Janson followed on. Bill (Jamun) had entertained spectators at Brooklands with an outbraking off and a few laps later in the race quick a spin.
Naturally, Peter Bragg set fastest Mono1800 lap with 69.78s.
The challenging track conditions experienced by the Mono/1000/1400/1800 race misled some in the paddock. Prior to the 2l race was a 20 minute race for a large field of Lotus Elise, they effectively cleared moisture from the circuit. The 2l field took to the grid on a mixture of tyres. Those who chose wets were okay at first, and then it became clear they were on the wrong tyre.
The leading protagonists got it right, the Dallarae of Jeremy Timms, Tristan Cliffe and Richard Purcell were on slicks. At the start they disappeared into the distance, lead by Jeremy. Richard could not quite maintain the pace, but once his tyres were up to temperature, Tristan was faster, he closed down Jeremy, and was through to the lead by lap four. From this point on the race became a pursuit, and given the density of traffic the winner would be determined by any mistakes made when lapping. The leaders have little if any more power than those that were being lapped, so any delay that caused a loss of corner speed could be expensive. Mid race Tristan had a comfortable lead, but this nearly completely disappeared as he worked his way through the two large gaggles of Classic cars, the leading Classics were not lapped until the final lap so there was always the possibility that Jeremy would be able to take advantage. However, Tristan was up to the task and although Jeremy closed the gap to about half a second with a few laps to go Tristan had opened it up to nearly 2s by the chequered flag. Having won and taken fastest lap (57.304s), he had one hand on the championship. Richard Purcell finished third 16s adrift. Kevin Mason was another to have a busy race, he came through the field of Classics to finish fourth overall, the last unlapped car.
Fifth and sixth places in the Mono2000s were occupied by Formula Renault cars. Anthony Bishop's black example spent most of the race immersed in the monumental battle for the classic lead from which he emerged seventh overall, while Yunus Amiere in an equally smart blue and white version had a more staid race with Mark Smith in the earlier Tatuus model, unfortunately Yunus and Mark were in different classes. Malcolm Scott retired on lap 4, and Jennifer was a DNS, one of the Scott familie’s least successful outings.
And so to the monumental dust up that was the race for Classic victory. Undoubtedly tyres paid a major part in the final position as those on wets faded as they eked out diminishing grip. For most of the race the classic group looked as if they were on the first lap when they arrived at Luffield in a bunch, and there was usually something going on within the bunch, I was impressed that most of them were still on the track at the end of the race. Fifth on the first lap, Richard Snuggs, was punted into the gravel with three laps to go, Nick Anstruther had retired three laps before that, reason unknown to your scribe. (Nick explained on Sunday that he had a gearchange problem.) Given the size of the field this left plenty of cars out there nose to tail, and the FVLs were going well, Louise Watts (FVL) eventually took victory from Kevin Otway’s version, with Russ Giles (Reynard 913) third in class. Terry Clark, nose nearly detached, was a second behind Russ. Louis also set fastest Classic lap, 60.997s, the only Classic below 61s.
The next group of Classics was lead by Graham Probyn (Reynard 863),a couple of seconds ahead of Jeremy Goodman (RT3). Jeremy had been fourth overall on the first lap, but had gone backwards rapidly, he scrapped home just ahead of Francis Phillips (Reynard 923). Francis was struggling with a serious misfire which constrained the revs to below 5500 for most of the race.
Christopher Anstruther had a better run, now driving a Ralt RT32B. His run netted him the first of two Super Clutch Driver of the Day awards over the weekend. He headed another FVL pair Nick Catanzaro and Simon Lonnergan. Phillip Carter out for the first time in four years with his smart Renault, was the final finisher in the class. Less happy was Lenny Coleman who toured in, finishing in the latter half of the 1600 field. Lenny was regretting making "My worst tyre choice ever", he had destroyed a set of wets to the point where he was anticipating an on-track failure.
The Mono1600 results were sub judice for a while after the race; the result of a collision between Nigel Davers and Austin Kimberley as they contested the lead on the last lap of the race. Sixteen year old Austin was driving in his first car race, using a RF03 shod with ACB10s, he had caught Nigel Davers (RF89) rapidly during the final third of the race as Nigel’s wets decayed away to molten rubber. During an overtaking manouvre on the approach to Brooklands the cars collided, the contact broke the RF03's rear suspension, and it was fortunate that the spinning car did not clatter into the Armco. A most unfortunate end to Austin's first race, it could have been a result for the record books. He did have the satisfaction of setting the fastest Mono1600 lap (67.594s) and knowing that he had delivered an excellent debut drive.
Officials decided that Nigel Davers won the class, Henry Fryer took a strong second, back in the FVJ, presumably for championship reasons. He had tracked Austin for much of the race, and therefore gained second on Austin's retirement. This was by no means a gift as his fastest lap was within .07 of Nigel Davers’ best effort. Richard Evans (Swift Formula Renault) was third. David Parkinson, complaining of lack of grip was demoted to fourth as the race progressed, he finished half a second ahead of newcomer Dane Catanzaro who bought the Formula Renault home 45s behind father Nick’s FVL. Dane was another new young driver to impress over the weekend, all of which bodes well for next season. Michael Wilkinson was just behind in a Swift RF94. The Milton Keynes College team were pleased to be there, having had to miss a couple of rounds recently, and were talking of an interesting new car from the College which will appear in Mono 1600 for 2011.
Eddie Guest (Lola T640) was last 1600 home. The other Lola, that of
Joe Venor, pulled off to check on contact damage after the first lap.
He did however get further than the lady that makes such delicious cakes.
In her half lap Sara Hughes had the throttle stick wide open, this was
followed by failure of a rear upright, the latter was presumably the consequence
of the collision during qualifying; it must have been an exciting half
lap, but having made the cakes Sara deserved better (PS I hope that the
bruised elbow is not on the stirring arm!)
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