St Cross Electronics
We are nearly at the mid-season point of the Championship, with many competitors heading off for a non-Championship event this week to sample the breathtaking delights of Spa Francorchamps.
The Championship picture couldn’t look more different, compared
to the same point last year. We have a new title sponsor – St Cross
Electronics –every single class has a different leader from this
time in 2011, and none of them look like a done deal.
Behind this leading threesome lurks Peter Venn, who is clearly getting well onto the pace but is being frustrated by all the niggles which seem to afflict most newly-built Dallara’s, and which prevented any points score at all at Silverstone. Further down the list Russ Giles has had a similar experience with the nicely turned out Magic Motorsport Dallara, which demonstrated a petulant tendency to burst into flame at Silverstone. It’s obviously been watching Kevin Mason too much, although Kevin has been thwarted by other problems so far this year, including an early set back at Brands with an off at Clearways.
Young driver Anton Spires is the first non-Dallara, in a BARC-spec Formula
Renault run by Kingdom Motorsport. The19 year old ran impressively at
Donington and Silverstone, pulling a fine second place in the wet at Donington
as well as a class podium at Silverstone in a car that doesn’t have
the ultimate straight line grunt of the front running Dallara’s.
Behind him in the points table Richard Purcell is unlucky to not be in
the top three at this juncture, having had zero scores due to spins while
in strong positions at both Brands and Silverstone, the latter incident
definitely not being his fault. Both he and Topmarx team mate Steve Patania
got some compensation though by running right at the front of a super-fast
televised non-championship meeting at Mallory, with Richard coming away
with two fine wins.
Behind the leading trio come two real revelations – both Jared Wood and Simon Lonnergan have been going really quickly this season in their respective Vauxhall Loti, with Jared taking a couple of excellent wins, although Simon was frustrated at Silverstone by a strange and terminal wiring problem. Terry Clark has acquired an F3 Reynard and is rapidly coming to grips with it, although like a number of other Mono Classic runners he was involved in a very nasty multi-car shunt at the end of the first lap of one of the races at Silverstone. The major casualty here was probably Henry Fryer who ended up having to get through a gap which just wasn’t wide enough…Although this accident took out 8 cars, no less than 6 of them were able start the rerun of the race the following day, thanks in great part to a tremendous effort by fellow competitors to supply spares and fix cars. For example having realised he couldn’t fix his own Reynard, Lenny Coleman very kindly cannibalised the front suspension to get Terry’s similar car into the race. And while we are on hard luck stories, Lou Watts has acquired “Big Man” Barry Smiths winning Van Diemen, started to go well In it, but then broke his foot while pushing the car in the paddock…Even this is small beer compared to Kevin Otway, who got ready for the new season only to have a serious back problem waylay him completely. Kevin’s just had an operation which looks to have been successful, and we all wish him a speedy recovery and return.
There were two notable new faces in Mono Classic; the experienced Adam Lippitt took on Lou Watts previous Vauxhall, but enjoyed himself to the extent that he’s now going to Spa in an ex Ray Rowan Dallara. The other newcomer has burst onto the UK club racing scene; Falco Wauer is just 16 but has already won several F4 races, and went extremely quickly in an F4 spec Van Diemen at Silverstone – he is definitely a driver to watch as his career progresses.
Mono 1800 has equalled Mono Classic in terms of popularity this season with 16 drivers entering races so far. Amazingly this is the third class in which only one driver has scored in all the rounds, and it’s the reliable – and quick in the wet - Marcus Sheard, 2011 SUNBAC Nova Champion. However this hasn’t been enough to secure the points lead, which has gone to new face Paul Britten. Paul had a dream debut at a very wet and cold Donington, winning both races and also taking the newly established Cartek Trophy for Best Prepared Car with his very nice Van Diemen RF00, complete with a slick wingset. He continued the form at Silverstone with another win, only being beaten in the second race by a rampant Ewen Sergison.
Right at the start of the year it looked like this class was going to be a duel between Ewen and Jeremy Timms, in one of Peter Bragg's cars, but it hasn’t quite worked out like that. There was an intense competition between the two at Brands, which came to a head in the first race at Donington when they both got taken off while lapping a slower car. Then in the first race at Silverstone there was another coming together, first time into Becketts after which Ewen was able to fix the car and win in the second race; but Jeremy didn’t appear again, the car sitting forlornly in the garage minus a corner while Jeremy put in a couple of storming drives in the F3 Cup, in preparation for a Spa outing. All of this leaves Ewen third in the points table, needing some consistency to match his undoubted speed. Meanwhile John Whitbourn, despite having to miss Snetterton, has established a strong presence in his “standard” Zetec with three podiums in four starts, and the rumour is that the car will return for the second half with a major aero-upgrade. Much less fortunate has been Ollie Thorpe, who had an engine let go in testing for Brands, and then was one of several drivers to aquaplane off in treacherous conditions at Donington, having been stunningly quick in the wet up to that point in the historic Royale.
A fleet of black and orange Team Fern Racing cars have sailed forth
in Mono 1600, with Nigel Davers going more than quickly
enough to lead the title chase, but he has seen a couple of major problems.
The car seriously caught fire at Brands, and it was a minor miracle than
the melted remains were mobile enough to win in the second race. He dominated
in the wet at Donington, but then the engine let go bigtime at Silverstone.
As a result, just behind him in the points is impressive newcomer Luke
Rosewell in a completely standard Ray FF1600. 18 year old Luke is another
young driver starting his career in Mono, who definitely bears watching
in future. He survived a very difficult debut at Brands when the car gave
trouble, coming away with a podium and valuable points, and since then
he’s made the podium at both Donington and Silverstone, finishing
every race to hold second in Mono 1600 and the lead in the SUNAC Nova
Awards at the half way mark. Behind him are the TFR duo of Matt Jordan
and Adrian Heath, both coming onto the pace in Formula Vauxhall Juniors,
with Matt’s extra experience taking him to an excellent Silverstone
win ahead of his team-mate Adrian, who is also standing second in the
SUNBAC Nova table. Dave Parkinson started the year well, with a straight
run of three second places, but then it started to go wrong, culminating
in the engine letting go at Silverstone. He’s had the engine rebuilt
and will be wanting to show the whippersnappers how to do it in the second
Len Turner has been his usual consistent self, and holds a good 5th
in the point standings. Dave Connor came out for Brands Hatch, was extremely
quick, but had nothing but bad luck. However he put it together again
with a very strong and enjoyable performance at the Live TV Mallory run,
gaining a deserved award for the best TV performance in the process of
giving all the Dallara a very hard time.
So with Snetterton fast approaching at the end of June, frankly it’s
all pretty wide open. Will Malcolm Scott hold off arch-rival Robbie Watts?
Will Tony Bishop, Peter Venn and Richard Purcell find the last few tenths
they need to get fully on terms at the front. Jim Blockley looks like
he could overtake Jim Timms in Classic, but the upcoming circuits are
going to favour the handling of the Bowman, if only it’s reliable.
Be part of it – get your Snetterton entries in now!
I can’t wait…
Malcolm Scott: Dallara
Robbie Watts :Lola
Jim Timms: Van Diemen
Paul Britten: Van Diemen RF00
Marcus Sheard: Mygale SJ00
Nigel Davers: Van Diemen
Adrian Wright: Gem
Marc Fortune: Jedi