Monoposto Championship Snetterton 20 March 2010, 2000 and ClassicWelcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends
Snetterton has become a traditional starter for the Monoposto club in the last few seasons, but the new “300” circuit caused some apprehension – would it be a “Tilkedrome” with slow corners breaking the flow? Would it be the desecration of a well loved old friend? As it happened, praise was almost universal for the new JP-designed circuit, with perhaps a little minor weeping for the loss of Russells. Even the weather smiled benevolently (if a little coldly) on the new venue.
Entries were a little down on expectations, but still pretty solid at 16 taking qualifying. Qualifying raised a few eyebrows as MSVF3 competitor Matt Draper chose to run the same car in Mono as well, with all the mods that entails. He stunned us all by pipping reigning champ Tristan Cliffe to pole by a second (1:52.948). Richard Purcell was, as expected, just behind Tristan, but another surprise was Robbie Watts, in his self-built “US FF2000” bewinged Van Diemen. Beautiful cars as these are, and we have become used to Malcolm Scott wringing wonders out of his similar model, it seemed almost miraculous to put the spaceframe car in with carbon Dallaras and 1.5 seconds ahead of the similar car of Malcolm. Interestingly, our 2 “surprise” drivers had both competed at the first round last year but we did not see them again – we hope that Matt and Robbie will become Mono regulars. Anthony Bishop, in the Omicron-run ex-Jeremy Timms Dallara 397 was 5th and told us that he was enjoying his new mount, feeling as though he and it were capable of more speed, and pleased to have a team-mate with whom to share data.
I never tire of seeing Peter Venn's Anson, and as first classic he was sandwiched between Anthony and Malcolm. Graham Read was the final 2000 car, in a very smart new red and white livery. Kevin Otway was second classic in his FVL, showing a fine turn of speed with a time only just over 2 minutes (2:01.08). Doubtless the adoring Lotus fans, present for the Elise racing, urged him on as “one of theirs”. (For the benefit of younger readers, GM used to own Lotus and liked using the badge to remind people.) I hope the rest of the grid will allow me to skip to the back row, where we had 2 new cars, with Henry Fryer appearing in the tube frame FR Tatuus debuted at the Ray Dackombe Trophy and Lou Watts in a Mk2 Vauxhall Lotus instead of the more familiar Mk1. Sadly I was unable to ask whether it's a new car or a rebodying.
I asked Tristan if I could have a “Bernie Button” to give
him a problem at the start of a race as watching him recover is always
good spectating. He replied that one wasn't needed, he was quite capable
of doing it himself.... In this case, after a fairly undramatic start,
Tristan was putting the pressure on Matt Draper and put a wheel onto the
mud at Hamilton. Around he went, at fairly high speed, fortunately with
no damage. He rejoined, just missing Jim Timms. There then began an almighty
catch up which was wondrous to watch. Tristan's described it for us, but
if we posted that you wouldn't read my waffle so we're holding his prose
back a day or two. 10th at the end of lap 1, 8th at 2, 5 at 3, 3rd at
4, including a superb pass at Riches to claim a place over Graham Read,
the hard work now began. It took 2 more laps to reel in Richard Purcell,
and then the extreme fun started. Would he catch a rapid Matt Draper?
With Matt having sped up a little (whilst developing a slight audible
miss) Tristan was still around a couple of seconds a lap faster, and eventually
took Matt on the final lap. Body language after the line was joyful to
say the least.
The VD F4 pair of Malcolm Scott and Robbie Watts were initially separated by various fighting Dallaras but after 4 laps battle royal was joined. At first it looked as though Robbie easily had the legs over Malcolm but he gradually drew closer until they crossed the line less than 4 hundredths of a second apart. Bet Malcolm wished he'd had an extra coat of paint.....
With Peter Venn wrapping up Classic, the second place fell to Kevin Otway who spent the race in Graham Read's company, though generally not so close that people might talk. Whilst I'm sure Francis Phillips was pleased with 3rd in class, he didn't seem to have the most exciting of races, circulating almost in a high speed sprint. Steven Griffin initially had a close race with Jim Timms, but in the last couple of laps Jim slowed quite dramatically, reason unknown. Jim was, of course, re-entering 2000, as his VDFI initially competed with a 2 litre before conversion to 1800 spec. Lou Watts at first ran just outside the top 10, but slipped back a bit and suffered mid race from a deranged front wing. He was racing fairly closely with Lenny Coleman who failed to finish, being parked up at Murray's covered in dust on lap 7. The lap chart shows Lou having a very slow last lap, and he was last recorded finisher, just behind Henry Fryer, who was consistent and drove well, showing his customary courtesy to the leaders, and probably with a fair bit less power than most of the grid.
After the race, Graham Read and Matt Draper were disqualified. I do not know why, but have heard that both had rear wings slightly above regulation height. Since both had ride height adjustments, this may not be unconnected.
With no material damage, no red flags, a good finishing percentage, a warm welcome for a new circuit and a cracking recovery drive this race was a good start to the season.
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view and opinions of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover.All pictures by kind permission of Norwich Photo
Tony Bishop leads Malcolm Scott
Lou Watts, Lenny Coleman and Steven Griffin
Peter Venn and Robbie Watts
Graham Read's smart new livery
Matt Draper. Don't know who the mechanical flag is for