St Cross Electronics
Monoposto Championship Round 9
The comedian Rhod Gilbert has a line that being brought up in Wales he was 14 before he realised you could take off a cagoule. I've felt a bit like that this "summer" but as I write this in the garden, feet up against an apple tree, recalling a happy day spent looking at top quality racing in a beautiful setting, the horrors of the early summer are fast vanishing. Though that may be premature memory loss.
The meeting was running ahead of time so qualifying started before the timetable, everybody present, which is always a good sign for a smooth running day. Nothing personal to the organisers, but not seeing a safety car is good news too.
Standing at Lodge is always a good spot to see the different styles. 4th on the grid, Jim Blockley was just awesome. He showed a level of commitment worthy of the professional heyday of his nearly 30 year old mount. At 1.43.7 he lead the classics by 1.4 seconds, next up being the impressive Lee Cunningham driving the Edgington prepared, Cartek award winning Van Diemen, and giving away "some" power, I don't know how much. Lee was another who was a pleasure to watch, always smooth and committed.
I've ignored the top 3 because watching, there was so little to choose between them. Dallaras seem to respond well to smooth driving and that was evident at Lodge from all 3. It's been said that it's quite easy to go quite quickly in a modern F3 type car, but very difficult to go very quickly, and my own disastrous voyage last year and before confirmed this. Which made the results of Richard Purcell (1.39.4), Tony Bishop (1.40.2) and Malcolm Scott (in only 4 laps) (1.40.5) all the more impressive. Speaking to A Leading Team Engineer at lunchtime we agreed that we should be in for a good race because we had 3 very fast drivers with very different mental approaches - anything could happen.
Elsewhere in the field, I enjoyed seeing Richard Snuggs' early Dallara F387 again, Simon Emmerson's very pretty US FF2000 spec Edgington Mygale with 1800 Zetec, Mick Kinghorn returning to the championship in his Mygale Novis, and Jeremy Goodman who has, in a fit of malice, rebuilt his RT3 so that it looks shiny and nice, which means I can't take the **** like I usually do. Actually, it was good to see everybody, as without exception the cars were well driven, well prepared and were in the great variety that makes Mono what it is. Even better, the times throughout the field may have varied by nearly 20 seconds, but everybody had somebody else in their sights. The race should be good.
Well, it was good. Tony Bishop made a good start to get ahead of Richard Purcell, but it was a close run thing as they came into Cascades with only a couple of car lengths separating them. By the end of the first lap, Malcolm Scott had overhauled Richard for second and pulled out a 2 second lead on him, and was only a second behind Tony. Tony, meanwhile, settled into an almost professional racing driver regularity, knocking out a series of 1.40's until "relaxing" (?) to 1.41s in the final 2 laps to claim the top spot. But it was no foregone conclusion as Malcolm squeezed closer to Tony and Richard to Malcolm. Mid race, the 1-2 gap increased, while 2-3 decreased and it looked to be heading for a memorable dice when, on lap 7, Malcolm pitted. One of the cam pulleys had sheared, something I've not seen before. If Malcolm wrote the Book of Racing Bad Luck, it would be a 3 volume work.
So with only 4 cars starting the 2000 class, Richard took second and Adam Lippitt in the F3 engined 398 looked to be on for a podium. I wouldn't like to guess what the inside of his helmet heard when, on the last corner of the last lap, the engine gave up. Symptoms were of fuel pick up problems (polite for running out of petrol), so let's hope it's that and nothing serious.
Classic was no surprise for the top slot. Obviously, Jim Blockley who had an ambition to take the class record, which he did by around a second. Behind him, Lee Cunningham drove an undramatic but quick race for second classic. Jared Wood was challenging Lee at first, but despite consistent lappery couldn't quite keep up, whilst the rest of the field couldn't touch Jared.
The following group copied, and even perhaps bettered, the 1600/1800 scrap for excitement. Raltworld curator Jeremy Goodman took his prize exhibit into the lead at first with Mike Hatton (in the lo-line FVL, ex Richard Purcell) close in his wheel tracks. On more than one occasion Mike closed up behind Jeremy into Knickerbrook, only to be unable to pass. Eventually the strain told on Mike and he slightly overdid it, allowing a cunningly stalking Chris "The Fox" Anstruther to nip past on lap 5. On lap 7, Chris got the drop on Jeremy around (I believe) Old Hall. Jeremy obviously had an issue on that lap as it was a couple of seconds behind his regular pace, and Mike managed to slip back past, charging hard to come close to Chris. Jeremy wasn't out of the woods yet though, as behind him Mick Kinghorn put a spurt on to finish just 0.3 seconds behind. Goodness knows what it was like to be in one of those cars, I feel exhausted just typing the report.
Jim Timms had begun the race 11th on the grid. The unfortunate absence of Richard Snuggs promoted him a place, though as that could have given Mick Kinghorn a clear run from 12th, I suspect it's a benefit he would have done without. He began the race ahead of Chris Anstruther who had a bad first lap, dropping 4 places from his number 6 grid slot. The wily Jim kept Chris at bay for a couple of laps, and spent some time challenging Mike Hatton. Then Mick Kinghorn, who wasn't after all able to leap ahead at the start, began a challenge, passing Jim on the 4th lap. After that, the job in hand for Jim was to keep Terry Clark behind him. Terry is working hard on the 903 to get it to his liking, and it seems to be moving up the order all the time. As Russ Giles has proven, the 903 is an ideal stepping stone to a Dallara and as it happens, Terry, I know where you could get one of those... Anyway, away from the for sale section and back to the race. Terry got closer to Jim as the race progressed, but couldn't get level.
Behind Terry (though only a couple of seconds) another group had a fight, and the cars couldn't have been more different. Led by Mark Schofield's ally tubbed 1985 RT30, second in the string was Simon Emmerson's Mygale, space frame and slightly less power, but probably better aero with another 20 years, and at the back was Adam Lippitt in the carbon 398, sophisticated but with a restricted F3 engine. So they were well matched, and it was a good race between them, it being especially interesting to see Adam braking tightly into Knickerbrook. Mark kept Simon at bay and Adam, as previously related, had fuel problems at the last corner. The last finisher was Lou Watts, in a surprising last place in the ex Barry Smith "Real McLaren" coloured VDFX. Considering Lou's speed in the old FVL and the pace of the VDFX with Barry, it can only be a matter of time before the Driver of the Day Sponsor moves up the order.
As treasurer, 18 cars is a lot fewer than I would hope to see. Red's a lovely colour for a racing car, a lousy colour for a P&L. But as a spectator, when the quality of cars and driving is as high as it was and the racing as good, I'm unable to grumble. If the sun does this for a meeting, long may it carry on!
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover. We are unable to reproduce results due to copyright reasons but hope that a link here to TSL will not provoke the copywright lawyers.
The close field head through Cascades on lap 1
Mark Schofield was close behind Terry Clark
Adam Lippitt locks up behind Simon Emmerson
Mike Hatton gets close to Jeremy Goodman...
Chris Anstruther has passed Jeremy Goodman