Britcar F3/Monoposto Trophy 21 September 2012
This is the third year the Monoposto Racing Club has had an outing on the Grand Prix circuit for a non-championship race, sharing the grid with the ultra-competitive and ever growing F3 Cup. This year not only were we the biggest UK single seater grid, but we were by far the biggest grid in the Britcar meeting.
James Maclachlan, normally a Formula Jedi racer, took pole with a time of 2.07.3ahead of some seasoned F3 competitors. Having apparently disposed of his own car to Dermot, Amnon Needham, running in the TopMarx car usually piloted by Steve Patania, took 2000 pole. Amnon was just in front of Dan Clowes who was in front of the amazing Jim Blockley, who was being team managed by both Mrs B and President David Cox. Elsewhere in the grid there were few surprises save perhaps Tony Bishop a little further down than expected.
Hard luck stories included Joe Venor with a coil wire off, but allowed to qualify on the back row in a separate session. Doug McLay suffered gear selection issues, and Peter Whitmore fuelling problems.
Driver Qualifying Quotes:
Silverstone looked to be just on the border between 2 weather systems on Thursday's weather forecast, and rain not only threatened during the day but the clouds were black as the preceding Mazda race was running. Fortunately the weather held out – cool but dry and as the lights went out 51 cars set off. Commentator Brian Jones counted 45 and announced it to the world, but the results do indeed show 51.
Kourosh Khani took a first lap lead on Omicron's Jay Bridger and simply built on it to the end of the race, triumphing by 12 seconds. More significantly for the F3 Championship, Gino Ussi was 4th, and Chris Dittman won the class for older cars which put both of them ahead of long time F3 leader Tristan Cliffe, reigning Mono champion. Tristan had the worst thing possible – a misfire for reasons unknown, which slowed him considerably.
As this is a Monoposto report, and F3 is professionally reported anyway, from now on I'll only mention F3 drivers who had an effect on the Mono classes. Which is straight away. Because as the lights went out, Malcolm Scott found himself moving forward in the pack and passed a couple of F3 cars, pulling alongside Jonathan Weston-Taylor as they approached Copse. Sadly there was contact, reason unknown, and Matt Payne who, like Malcolm, seems to have an excess of bad luck also got involved. A witnessing Steve Griffin told me that one car got launched dramatically skywards. All three were out of the race. Naturally, this caused problems for the following cars, and I was told around 20 cars took to the Copse run-off in avoidance. After the race, Malcolm commented that unlike this race last year, at least the car was in one piece, and (thanks to Simon Davey volunteering to do some overnight metalwork) should be running on Saturday.
The first Mono car through Luffield where I was watching was Dan Clowes. Dan was third in qualifying, but fellow Jedi-ist poleman James McLachlan pulled off on the out lap at Brooklands with clutch problems. and Dan passed Mono 2000 poleman Amnon Needham on lap 1. Thereafter he was never headed, keeping up the honour of local Northamptonshire marque Jedi by mixing with the F3 Dallaras. Dan seems to be one of those drivers who keeps out of trouble and goes unspectacularly but obscenely quickly. He said afterwards “I had a rubbish start but ran with the F3's from the beginning of the race which helped to give me a bit of a tow. There was an odd noise half way through so I backed off a bit. It turned out to be a cracked exhaust header.” Which became another patient for Dr Davey's Racecar A&E dept. Back in the paddock, a cracked hub was discovered, which interestingly was what caused Jon Packer to enter the aggregate at Luffield on lap 1 after passing around 20 cars on lap 1, 10 on Hangar Straight.
The battle for 2000 honours, and next Mono home, formed a superb race. Richard Purcell was unsure whether to start as his dash was acting up and he had no information despite the best efforts, up to the cars being called, of Malcolm Scott. Encouraged (?) by the advice of a well wisher who informed him that he never had any instruments at all on his Cooper 500 lookalike, Richard took the chance. At first, Russ Giles led the class but after 5 laps Richard got the upper hand. He drew away a little, only for Russ to fight back at the end. It certainly wasn't an easy class victory. Richard was delighted with how the car behaved. “You have to say say in your report how hard Mick and Dave worked to get the car right for the race. They adjusted quite a lot, and it was all successful.” A great winj by Richard, and Russ was delighted with second, except for mourning his decision to stick with his existing set of tyres. “It's ever so odd – when you're at home a new set of tyres sound quite expensive. When you're staring at Richard's rear wing, they seem ridiculously cheap.” To say Russ is loving the 398 is probably this years biggest understatement.
Jim Blockley won the Classic class and said afterwards that he wasn't fast enough. If there were was anything besides Combe left this year, I would have that sentence put onto one of the “F” keys on my computer. He was boxed in at the start when Amnon Needham, who was just in front of him, missed a gear on the line. As a result he lost about 4 places which in the circumstances he resigned himself to not getting back. Nonetheless Jim had a good race with Dax Ward who was next past the flag. Initially separated by an F3 car they got together on lap 5 and ran about a quarter of a second apart.. Typical Mono, close racing with hugely varying styles of car. Dax enjoyed it too, and had little more to add as that summed it up perfectly! Jim felt he had less grip than in the morning but (typically) wanted the race to have carried on so he could run after those in front.
Amnon Needham had a pretty flawless practice, but had 2 misfortunes in the race. He had a poor start and then did what he claims is mandatory for any TopMarx driver on pole – he spun on lap 2, in this case in the infield section after the pits that everybody seems to not like.Having dropped 15 places and lost 10 seconds, it was a big wall to climb. He made up 4 places on lap 3, another on lap 4, another on lap 5. another on lap 6, and thereafter circulated in the company of F3 driver Frank Thomas to gain a delighted third slot on the 2000 podium. Next, in overall 23rd and second Classic was Ben Cater with the Van Diemen Zetec with the F1-style vertical fin. Ben started off fighting with F3 cars, but had a disaster on lap 4. Unfortunately I failed to ask him what and where, but the car got slower as the race progressed, which I believe was diagnosed as an electrical fault. Third in Classic was Mike Hatton in the ex TopMarx Batmobile (thanks to Dave Brady for that description). Mike seems to have taken to this well developed car.
Another ill-matched pair (from a car point of view) are Ireland's Paul Heavey and John Whitbourn, respectively mounted in self produced Leastone and winged VD Zetec but this didn't stop them having a long running and mighty battle. John had a fraught first lap, taking to the escape area to avoid the incident at Copse, but was delighted to not only take the 1800 class, but take the record by no less than 1.8 seconds. Paul's car seems to have got all its problems out of the way a couple of years ago, and from being an uncertain finisher seems now to be an examplar of reliability.
John was followed by 6 Classics. Terry Clark is getting ever closer to that podium, but after a good qualification he had a dreadful first lap and dropped 10 places. Wil Arif, meanwhile, in Lou Watts VDFX, started by having a ding-dong with Simon Lonnergan, which he won, and then Simon tussled with Terry. Terry came out on top on lap 6. and then went after Wil. Just getting the upper hand on the very last lap. Exciting stuff.
Matt Jordan took the obligatory TFR Academy Graduation Award of a 2 litre drive in the classic Van Diemen and acquitted himself well. He got faster through the race and must be a candidate for this plum drive next year. Matt was kept on his toes by a challenging Steve Griffin, whose Mum and Dad turned up to give him advice. Fortunately, we didn't see the Mono equivalent of The Karting Dad (see any issue of MSA News) and Steve took the advice offered and commented that he had “got his a**e into gear”.
First 1600 was Geoff Fern ahead of Jim Timms and Eddie Guest. When congratulated on his class win in the FVJ8V he said “I am an idiot”. I think he knew I was going to quote him. He put the JKS tyres on the FVJ in the hope of better grip. Rather like F1 quallies of old, they were terrific for a couple of laps and then fell apart.
Between Geoff and Jim/Eddie were 2 finishers with mechanical maladies. Doug MacLay's 3rd gear kept jumping out and Peter Whitmore's lovely Reynard 913/Toyota 3SGE on bike carbs suffered fueling problems. But at least they finished. Others were less fortunate.
Nigel Davers didn't start due to fuel pump problems, resolved by Dax Ward for TFR. Jeremy Goodman lost drive due to clutch failure. Richard Snuggs suffered from an electrical gremlin (I think). Tony Bishop broke a drive shaft and limped round to the pits. Mark Smith was typical Mark. Hearing a clatter on the warming up lap, he pulled in and believes the engine should be saveable. But, looking on the bright side, he said “at least there weren't any flames this time”. Mike Reed commented that “the chief mechanic could do better” (but he was joking) – the rear wheel bearing failed 4 laps in. Jo Venor had a harmless spin but couldn't restart. Naturally, when the race finished it started straight away and he drove back to the pits. Kevin Mason struggled into the pits with only a couple of laps to go, reason a loose fuel relay. Which made the smarta**e who accused him of running out of fuel look rather silly.
Unluckiest man of the day was undoubtedly Adam Lippitt who suffered a dreadful freak accident in his Dallara 398, having driven for 3 laps and then went off with no apparent damage. On being towed in the car flipped with Adam inside. Adam seemed ok but had a medical centre trip.
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