St Cross Electronics
Monoposto Championship Round 12
There is an argument for running 3 2-litre classes next year – 2000, Classic and Jim Blockley in an RT3. At least that's how qualifying looked on Saturday. I watched at the esses and could see him crest the Mountain, squirm around a bit and then attack the Esses very hard, keeping the powern a long time and washing out a little bit but not so as to lose control. Wonderful, and on 1.38.6, 4 seconds faster even than second man Adrian Holey who led the rest of the field by nearly 6 seconds.
It was treacherous on the circuit and I envied nobody. The fence was by far the best (and cheapest) vehicle to be driving as far as I was concerned, but the competitiveness of the field could fail to impress nobody. The next 4 cars were within little more than a second with nothing to choose. Interestingly, Steve Partania set his best lap on 3 and then (I believe, because all I saw was an orange wing and a white car going down the grass on the mountain) had an off, thereafter not going faster. Richard Snuggs, first of the 49ers, seemed happy to be in with the 2000's. I was interested, as a Dallara fan, to hear the commentator (the revered Ian Titchmarsh, I believe) explain that Richard's 387 was one of the first Dallaras to break the hold of the Ralts and Reynards. I think not, unless he refers to Italy, because in the UK I recall the latter chassis were dominant until 1992, and only in 1993 when Warren Hughes drove the Fiat engined 393 did the “noble rot” start.
So with that history diversion, next up was Richard Purcell, then Russ Giles. It's just a demonstration of the strength in depth of Mono 2000 that 2 talents like this were bringing up the rear. Russ lost a couple of laps by having to pull into the pits to allow Dianne to crank another 0.5degrees on the front wing and raise the rear ride height by 0.2mm. (Hmmm....the reason could have been more prosaic.) Adrian was a little concerned after qualifying to find a radiator hole, but this was soon fixed by the TopMarx team.
Chris Anstruther was just behind Russ on 1.50.1, leading Terry Clark who confirmed that he was getting happier and happier with the Reynard. Jim Timms followed in the Fireland, and then just a tad slower on 1.55.6 and 1.59 were the cryptodynamically-challenged* pair of Henry Fryer and Steve Griffin.
Strategy plays a big part in Grand Prix. In club racing I thought the idea was go as quick as you can and try not to stall on the grid or fly off the track. I fail in all 3, but Jim does play a strategic game. He intended to build a lead from pole and then keep the gap, like Schumacher in his heyday. So that's what he did. Afterwards he said “What can I say? I wasn't fast enough! I got 2nd ok, and kept pushing. I needed to throw the car about a bit.” So with a lights to flag win, and fastest lap of both classes, and a punch of the air as he crossed the line, Jim didn't put a foot wrong. In the first few laps he put in steady 1.27s, relaxed to 1.29's mid race, and then speeded up again as Richard Purcell started getting closer. The newly acquired DWP sponsorship must be doing some good.
Back to the start, and much was going on. Number two man Adrian Holey had a poor start, and his slow getaway caused a little bit of thought in the pack. It turned out that a drive shaft had gone but the wonders of modern diffs meant he had some drive, so he simply limped round to the exit at the mountain, parked the car and came to watch the race. This promoted Steve Patania to second, and he “bravely” kept team patron Richard Purcell behind him for a lap. Steve had a poor start with a bit of a bog down, and was passed by Richard at Park on lap 2. We'll return to Steve later, because meanwhile Richard looked to have the class sewn up. Once into the swing of things he started to match Jim's times, but the time lost on the first lap proved difficult to make up. There has to be the question as to whether the Dallara is a large car for Cadwell's sinuous bits, and whether, as was suggested by one driver, the tunnels of an RT3 work better in this environment.
With Jim looking out of reach, Richard had the flag almost in sight when on lap 10 of 11 the throttle cable broke at the Gooseneck. With a 27 second lead on Steve and Russ, it's difficult to imagine how frustrated Richard must have been. So I asked him, as I couldn't imagine, and he said he was “a bit miffed.” He then hit me with a jack handle to make the point. Steve was promoted to second, closely pursued by Russ. Russ had made a up a few places with a good start, and had shadowed Steve for the race. As he came by on lap 10, I confidently predicted to Patrick Huston that although Russ was right behind, (0.7s) he would never get past on this tight track. Shows how much I know because into Park on the last lap Russ outbraked Steve to take the class win. I asked him how he'd done it afterwards: “Dallara's are great cars. It feels so easy and comfortable to drive.” Believe me, the car might be good, but the pilot has a lot to do with it.
Back in the Classic class, Richard Snuggs began with the upper hand over Chris Anstruther but Chris took the lead on lap 3, which was the order at the finish. I didn't speak to Chris, but Richard pronounced himself "on the top side of ecstatic". Terry Clark spent most of the race just ahead of Jim Timms, pulling out a couple of seconds towards the end. Finally, Steve Griffin in another Formula Ireland (but redesignated FXF4) was a little behind Jim, giving away 200cc as the car has its engine in F4 spec. Henry Fryer parked up neatly at the bottom of the Mountain on lap 4 with a fault sufficiently terminal to put him out of Sunday too.
There were 11 starters and 8 finishers, so a bit disappointing, but there was no doubt it was a race where a lot happened and spectators were kept on the edge of their seats.
*cryptodynamic – hidden power according to the online thesaurus. No I hadn't heard it before either but I hope it means that they were hampered by having less power than the others.
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsoever. 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.