BritCar 2011 Monoposto Trophy/MSV F3 Cup Trophy Races
For the second year running Monoposto took part in the BritCar 24hrs meeting at Silverstone. This year’s event followed the same format as previously with qualifying and race 1 on Friday and race 2 on Saturday. However beyond that there were several differences this year. Possibly the most important was the weather; last year it was an awful Monsoon, this year a fantastic Indian Summer. Alongside this was the circuit, this time the new Arena GP circuit, albeit still using the “old” pits and start area – the F1 pits apparently don’t work very well for Club racers. The key consequence of the Arena circuit was the gridmax of 54 which held out the possibility of having the largest-ever single seater race in the UK. Research indicated that the circuit has the largest ever UK grid licence for single seaters and the previous largest on the circuit seems to have been an HSCC race which started 51. This year the event was shared with the F3 Cup, although this report focuses on the Monoposto runners.
One thing which hadn’t changed since last year was the slightly quirky organisation, with parc ferme suddenly appearing in the middle of the planned Monoposto paddock on the day before the event. Scrutineering was very helpfully available on the Thursday, which was just as well in view of the huge entry, but not Signing On for some reason. Then the organisers without warning prevented competitors actually getting into the paddock on the evening before the event – this needing rapid contact between the Monoposto Chairman and event promoter James Tucker, plus some fevered phone calls to resolve satisfactorily. On the upside there was a very energetic and helpful park up team in action, and the Monoposto paddock area was eventually well laid-out.
So on the Friday morning in lovely weather 54 cars went out to qualify, including a dozen F3 Cup cars. It would have been 55 but poor Nick Anstruther couldn’t get any oil pressure to show on the Dallara when he started up and his weekend was over before it had started. Learning the new circuit amid traffic was an issue for everyone, and it wasn’t long before spinners and other unfortunates were littering up the lap, bringing out the red flag with 7 minutes left of the session. After a short sweep-up the session restarted with most people getting 7 laps in all, and it was the 2 or 3 after the restart that really counted for most people.
Jeremy Timms in one Richard Purcell’s Mono 2000 Dallaras was almost right at the top of the sheets, 3rd overall for Grid 1 and 2nd overall for Grid 2, having moved up from 9th in those last two laps. It was the start of a very impressive weekend for Jeremy. He was using the same car that had been so effective at Spa, and he used all his substantial talent to demonstrate just how quick Mono 2000 is these days. Next up was Jim Blockley in the Ralt, having bested both the Dallara’s of Tony Bishop and Ray Rowan. Tony had elected to run his Mono 2000 car rather than the F3, and Ray was out in Tony Cotton’s smart green version. Lee Cunningham went well in the Edginton Racing Van Diemen to be 2nd in Mono Classic ahead of Chris Anstruther’s Bowman, who had just pipped Peter Venn’s Anson at the start of a difficult weekend for the Yale car which was in some strife stopping after just three laps minus a rear wheel after a hub failure. In Mono 1000 Jason Timms (Speads) learned the circuit first and took the class pole from Dan Clowes Jedi, with Tim Cameron an excellent third. Meanwhile Olly Thorpe – one of the few to have already driven the circuit was a long way ahead of John Whitbourne’s Zetec and Malcolm Cook’s FF2000 in the Mono 1800 class. Similarly the experienced Jim Timms had the FF1600 Lola clear of the Formula Vauxhalls of Prajesh Shah and Mat Jordan, Prajesh being run by Chris Dittmann Racing in the ex-Henry Fryer car.
Amazingly only one competitor was unfortunate enough to not get through qualifying and into the race – Darren Freeman had terminal engine problems in the Jedi – although Geoffrey Cowell had to change the clutch in his Cowell 003 after struggling round to just get onto the grid, and Douglas McLay and his crew did very well to split and rebuild the Mygale to fix a clutch seal problem. So in the afternoon no less than 53 cars took the start in what is claimed to be the largest ever single seater race to be held in the UK.
However that number was pretty short lived because as the lights went out (assuming you could see them in the first place from the tail of the massive 2x2 grid) Henry Fryer, Lenny Coleman and Dan Levy all failed to clear the grid. The most frightening was Dan Levy’s Jedi, which broke a drive shaft. At 24th on the grid Dan had a lot of people behind him and he was very narrowly missed by numerous competitors. Lenny eventually got his Reynard started and into the race, but Henry Fryer had a battery fail on the smart Formula Renault. The Arena circuit has a long lap, but as the field blasted back into view for the first time it was Aaron Steele and Chris Needham in F3’s with Jeremy Timms white Dallara right there with them. Next up was a storming Jim Blockley followed by Tony Bishop's Omicron Dallara and Dan Clowes in the first of the Mono 1000s. Both he and Andrew Dunn were already past Jason Timms’ Speads, with Jason finding the car a bit short of straight line clout compared to the quickest Jedi’s. Andrew is an established Jedi front-runner and had made the long trip down from Scotland to sample the new Silverstone layout. Ollie Thorpe was ahead in Mono 1800, as was Jim Timms in Mono 1600 with Prajesh Shah and Mat Jordan having a close run together. But just as the race started to get into its stride out came the Safety Car. Tim Cameron’s Jedi had spun on its own oil and been clipped by Malcolm Scott’s Dallara, putting both out for the rest of the weekend. Once the Safety Car came in Jeremy moved ahead of Chris Needham into an outstanding 2nd overall, with the Clowes/Dunn squabble moving up to be the next Mono runners in 10th and 11th overall. It was very tight with Dan just shading the win by 8/100 second. These two were 3 seconds clear of Mono Classic victor Jim Blockley, who has just kept ahead of Tony Bishops 2nd placed Mono 2000 car. Lee Cunningham was next up to take a good 2nd in Mono Classic just clear of Ray Rowan. Peter Venn got the Anson into 3rd Mono Classic, The Mono 1800 result was as the form book suggested, Olly Thorpe well clear of a much closer Whitbourn/Cook dispute. Jim Timms took the Mono 1600 win, but Prajesh Shah bested Mat Jordan on the last lap to gain 2nd place, his first ever podium, and an excellent result.
As well as the unfortunate Malcolm Scott and Tim Cameron, other casualties who couldn’t make Saturday’s race were Steven Griffin whose FX4 pulled out the main oil feed from the dry sump tank, with catastrophic results for the bearings, and Dane Catanzaro who had another major engine problem on his smart Formula Renault.
For some reason the organisers had insisted on scheduling the Monoposto/F3 race first on Saturday, so the large crowd of 14,000 which turned up by mid-morning for the BritCar missed an exciting 50-strong single seater race and were instead treated to 17 Alfa Romeo saloons tooling round for 25 minutes.
It was at least a lovely morning to go racing, and this time the entire grid launched successfully. Jeremy Timms starting second on the grid wasn’t going to be headed by a Mono car and in fact after lap 1 he again only had the very quick Aaron Steele’s F3 car ahead of him. In the Mono 1000s Dan Clowes was initially well ahead of Andrew Dunn, but the latter climbed up the order like a meteor to be on right on Dan’s tail by lap 4, the pair then having another excellent race with Andrew taking it by less than half a second. Jason Timms again took third but even with the wing trimmed flat he didn’t have the straight line speed he wanted, and the car was somewhat challenging through the GP circuits fast corners. Dan Levy made up for his Friday fright by taking a good fourth.
It was all change in Mono Classic. Early on Ray Rowan in the Mono 2000 Dallara and Jim Blockley in the Ralt had tried to occupy the same bit of track, with Jim coming off worst and out. Ray was delayed but recovered to still take second in the class, taking the place away from Tony Bishop with a couple of laps to go. These two were followed in class by Kevin Mason, who had nicely repaired the Brands Hatch scorch marks on the Dallara, and overcome a misfire on Friday. Peter Venn was in serious trouble as the Anson’s rear wheel again let go, and he was lucky really to be able to pull off in relatively good order. All this would have left Lee Cunningham with the class lead, but he tripped up on a lapped car and took a rear corner off the Van
Diemen. Hence Simon Lonnergan claimed the premier Classic place, which was well deserved really as he had been going very well all weekend. Terry Clark moved into second slot and it was nice to see another persistent hard-trier, Jennifer Scott, claim the third Classic podium slot after a difficult weekend for her team. In Mono 1800 it was the mix as before with Olly Thorpe comfortably taking it again from John Whitbourn’s Zetec and Malcolm Cook’s FF2000. It would be very interesting to see the young Thorpe in a quick Dallara. However Mono 1600 took an intriguing turn when early leader Jim Timms lost a lot of time, and the early lead, after going off avoiding someone else. Prajesh Shah climbed past Mat Jordan and went quicker and quicker, eventually taking the class win with a fastest lap some three seconds quicker than anything else his rivals could produce; a very well deserved first win.
The race ran uninterrupted for its full length, so it was a pretty intense fast competition, which also generated some 12 DNF’s, but fortunately no major shunts. Jeremy Timms outstanding performance in both races certainly caused a lot of interested comment: all in all it was quite an experience for everyone, competitors and observers…
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover. Subheadlines and captions are not originated from the named author. We are unable to reproduce results due to copyright reasons. If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please email us.
Pictures by Simon Davey (Paddock) and Andrew Cliffe (Track):
Comedy shorts competition
Tony Bishop's spanner man for the weekend
Look no burn marks at all
Geoffrey Cowell gives the clutch a good kicking
Jeremy Timms, Dallara 301
Simon Lonnergan, Vivid Soda Burlesque Revue Insurance Schübel Formula Vauxhall Lotus
Simon etc etc, Mat Jordan (FVJ)., James Ledamun TOMS 036F. All in a row.