The Club’s largest ever entry converged on the fabled Brands
GP circuit for the first time in almost quarter of a century – for
a weekend of huge grids, mixed fortunes and both new and old winners,
spiced with a very well supported social side.
No less than 42 Mono 1800/1600/1400/1000 cars emerged from the busy paddock to engage in the first qualifying session; creating a spectacularly long pit lane line-up in the morning sunshine. The on-track pace was immediately hot with Dax Ward initially holding pole from returnee Dave Connor (in the ex-Ben Andersen Jedi). Marc Fortune was in trouble with a gear shift problem and couldn’t get into the frame, but Jason Timms in the black JKS and Adrian Wright in the AW3 were right on it. The whole thing came to the boil on the last lap of qualifying when every car in this group of Mono 1000 front runners set their fastest lap, with Dave Connor coming out on the pole from Dax Ward, Jason Timms and Adrian Wright as the order on the timing screens flipped up and down. After this group came Steve Cave and Stuart Digby – Steve obviously now getting fully to grips with the yellow JKS – just ahead of Oliver Walker’s Aztec, an impressive run in his first ever race qualifying session.
Olly Thorpe’s Historic Royale FF2000 was quickest in Mono1800
initially from Malcolm Cook’s newer FF2000 and John Whitbourn’s
newly wide-tyred Zetec, but as the session matured Matt Hayes in his Zetec
came into second spot from Cook, with son Ryan Hayes claiming an excellent
fourth place (out of a 16-strong class) – another young driver in
his first ever qualifying session.
Geoff Fern’s sole Mono 1400 class entry also ran into trouble when the engine let go with terminal problems, Darren Freeman just managed enough running to get a grid place but Ian Hughes was in dire trouble with the Avit! Swift he was using to defend his Ray Dackombe Trophy, and didn’t get a lap in at all due it electrical gremlins. Scott Steven’s quick Jedi had an early coming together with an unidentified assailant, leaving the car minus a wheel and unfortunately prematurely ending what could have been a major challenge.
Although slightly less numerous (at 35) the combined ranks of F3/Mono 2000/Mono Classic looked impressive as they assembled for their session. Out of the box in Mono Classic Jim Blockley’s Ralt held the top slot at first, from a a charging Kevin Otway and a possibly wisely cautious Peter Venn. It didn’t take long for Peter to move the Anson onto the class pole with Jim Blockley coming under pressure from Chris Anstruther, who was starting a weekend campaign where he really showed that he is getting to be seriously quick in the family Bowman. Francis Phillips edged the white Reynard past Kevin Otway by a couple of tenths. Just behind this pair was an excellent Mono debut performance from James Cross in the Tatuus Formula Renault, just shading Nick Anstruther’s new Dallara which gave him a difficult time all weekend.
Meanwhile the Mono 2000 front runners were trading times with the leading F3 Cup cars as well as with each other. Tristan Cliffe initially headed the class, definitely wanting to put his Oulton disappointment behind him, but it was Robbie Watts new F3 Lola which moved onto the pole for most of the mid-session, with Ray Rowan masquerading as the Club Treasurer in Tony’s green Dallara holding down third spot, ahead of Malcolm Scott. It was all change in the last five minutes, Tristan dropped into a rhythm which netted him the class pole and a very strong 3rd overall on the combined grid including the F3s, with Malcolm Scott shifting up to oust Robbie from second. These two also looked good against the F3’s with Malcolm 5th overall and Robbie 8th (not forgetting Peter Venn who put the Anson into an amazing 10th in the overall standings). Major casualty at the unhappy end of the grid was Kevin Mason, whose Dallara split an injector line and burst into flames, causing considerable alarm and a very quick reaction from the marshals as he dived into the pits. The car was definitely not immediately fixable after that.
Saturday – Races
Mike Reed was a very unlucky non-starter when the yellow Jedi snapped a driveshaft as he was leaving the paddock. Mike’s son, Jonathan, vigorously set about a quick fix but only succeeded in acquiring a head wound when the hammer broke…(I can’t stop myself telling you that Jonathan’s email address is “email@example.com” – this is true) but his misfortune at least did allow Ian Hughes onto the back of the grid.
Brands’ track licence mandates a 1x1 grid so it was a very lllllloooonnnngggg one, and drivers from the midfield back quickly discovered a problem which stayed with us all weekend – they couldn’t see the start lights. This was especially unfortunate because MSV had gone to considerable effort to rewire these to facilitate the split start for the F3/Mono race. However everyone did manage to avoid Chris Scott’s Speads which didn’t get away – also a driveshaft failure – and as the field came round on lap 1 it was Dax Ward with Jason Timms in close attendance. It started to spot with rain and Jason took a lead which he held to the end, clearing the pursuing Dax Ward by a couple of seconds to secure his first Mono win in the JKS – a brilliant result with more to come. Behind them Steve Cave was going very well, but disaster struck when the crank let go ending Steve’s weekend, letting Adrian Wright through to third and dropping a significant amount of oil. Marc Fortune had fixed his gear change problem and climbed from 21st on the grid to 4th but he ran out of time to do more because as the rain came down harder and the oil-slick sluck (is this a word?) there were too many spinners for the Clerk of the Course’s comfort zone and the red flags came out.
In Mono 1800 Olly Thorpe headed into the lead and didn’t look like being caught, although Matt Hayes kept trying, Olly doing well to finish ahead of several quick Mono 1000s. Behind these two John Whitbourn and Malcolm Cook had a discussion about third and fourth place which continued for much of the weekend. As the red flag came out Malcolm fell foul of the oil and had what looked like a fairly innocuous spin into the barriers. However the medical staff deemed it sensible for him to take a precautionary visit to hospital, but unfortunately a message about this didn’t get back to the paddock; causing quite a bit of worry when Malcolm didn’t return with the wrecker. While Malcolm was away Mono Guest driver Steve Connor and his team laid hands on his car and fixed it – a very kind action which was widely appreciated in the paddock.
Meanwhile, back to the ontrack action with Nigel Davers just holding off the attentions of David Parkinson for Mono 1600 honours for much of the race. Eventually Nigel dropped it gently on the oil (to the screams of the watching Team Fern crew) but got away with it because it was the red flag lap so he kept the win on count back. The TFR crowd then got further cheer from Mat Jordan bringing their second M1600 car into an excellent class 3rd place – Mat’s first podium.
Away from the podium places, Oliver Walker brought the Aztec into a
very strong 5th overall in his first ever race, and Ryan Hayes took 4th
in Mono 1800 again first time out. Both these young drivers showing real
potential right from the start of their car racing careers. Ian Hughes
took the Aztec Driver of the Day Award as he rose, sphinx-like, from 42nd
Last but by no means least, when the results of this race were analysed it was realised that Olly Thorpe was the very worthy winner of the Ray Dackombe Memorial Trophy, as even if his (maximum) points total was equalled in the 2 litre race he would win it on the basis of greatest number of starters in class. In the event both Tristan Cliffe and Peter Venn did reach an equal number of points, but nevertheless the Trophy deservedly still went to the young Thorpe.
By the time the massed ranks of the F3/M20/MCl grid came out to race, the weather had taken a real upward swing for the rest of the weekend. Many of the F3 cars are somewhat truculent when it comes to moving around the paddock and quite a few competitors had to be careful with their clutches as they made their way through the congested paddock into the assemble area. Once assembled everyone started to really contemplate the split start grid which was used to separate the F3’s from the Monoposto Championship contenders, at least at the start. Actually it went as planned – right up to the moment when Toni Impieri’s Renault engine stalled and the car was consequently abandoned on the grid after first the F3 and then the Mono field had departed. Out came the Safety Car for a couple of laps during which time the two grids largely joined up in the middle. When the restart came Tristan Cliffe wasn’t going to be caught and he drove away from Malcolm Scott to take a very well measured win. Malcolm in turn was clear of the third placed Mono car which was Peter Venn in the Mono Classic Anson, after he engaged in a race-long duel with Robbie Watts’ Lola who accordingly took third place in Mono 2000. It was very interesting to see the different vehicle dynamics of these two F3 cars, each from very different design eras. The Lola seemed to be able to get into corners much more quickly (giving Robbie a couple of frights under braking as the gap to the Anson vanished in a heartbeat) but the Anson’s underbody aero really came into play on the exits. Behind these two Ray Rowan was clear of Jim Blockley, but Blockers only just held off Chris Anstruther, these two taking 2nd and 3rd respectively in Mono Classic. Jennifer Scott shook off qualifying problems to take the Magic Motorsport Driver of the Day award, finishing just ahead of Russ Giles, who clearly enjoyed his weekend but did confess to feeling a little rusty (or did he say crusty?).
So everyone headed off to bind their wounds in readiness for Sunday (which is reported separately), and to look forward to the BBQ and Baking Grand Prix (which will be reported separately).
We are fortunate that Rodney Tietjen,
We have also received pictures from Tristan Cliffe:
Tony Bishop (pic: Snappyracers.com, John Bryant)
Tristan Cliffe (pic:Andrew Cliffe, Norwich Photo)