Class win at Snetterton 2000
In 2000 I again competed in the Triumph Sports Six Club (TSSC) race championship which was held together with the TR Register. With the 1999 championship won, I was duty bound to defend the title and with some changes to the car, I was again hoping for a good season. As usual, the best 8 scores from all the rounds counted towards the championship.
|Snetterton, Norfolk||23rd April||Jaguar Car Club||1st, fastest lap|
|Mallory, Leics||28th/29th May||BARC||dnf, fastest lap, lap record|
|Pembrey, S. Wales||11th June||Jaguar Car Club||dnf|
|Brands Hatch, Kent||8th/9th July||Aston Martin OC||did not race|
|Cadwell Park, Lincs||30th July||Jaguar Car Club||dnf|
|Silverstone, Northants||5th August||Peterborough MC||6th|
|Croft, N. Yorks||19th/20th August||Aston Martin OC||5th|
|Oulton Park, Cheshire||2nd September||Jaguar Car Club||did not race|
|Donington Park, Derbys.||1st October||Aston Martin OC||2nd|
|Croft, N.Yorks||7th/8th October||Jaguar Car Club||3rd|
Testing 4th March. We, Stacky and I that is, arrived at Croft (Nr Darlington, North Yorkshire) at 10:30 pm on Thursday, ready for a full day's testing and development on Friday. It was extremely cold and the jobsworth on the gate wouldn't let us pitch our tents, so we were consigned to a night in the van. It was about 2 degrees C as we turned in, but must have dropped well below that overnight!
Generally the testing on Friday went OK but the track was fiercely cold and we just couldn't get the tyres up to anything like a decent temperature. As the very first car out on the day, I even managed to spin the car onto the grass after not even completing half a lap; a combination of tyre temperature and dust on the track being to blame. It took 3 to 4 laps to get the tyres even slightly warm but we pressed on and had learned quite a few things by the afternoon sessions.
Unfortunately during the second session after lunch, the hail came down, covering the track in a thin, white layer of icy cold water. I stayed out on the track as I can always use some extra wet weather experience, but coming through the chicane at the start of a lap the passenger side rear wheel sheared off, ending up jammed under the rear tub! It took nearly 30 minutes to get the car recovered to the paddock (by which time the hail had stopped and the sun had come out) where Stacky and I set ourselves to fitting another half-shaft. This took longer than anticipated at nearly 3 hours and we just finished before darkness fell with the air temperature now down to 4 degrees C. With a 25 mph (40 kph) wind it was bloody freezing. There's never any warning that these half-shafts are about to break and we were extremely lucky it failed at low speed and not on race day.
I had entered 2 races - The Croft Sportscar Challenge, with a combination of road type sports cars and kit cars and the Saloon and Sports Challenge. I qualified OK for both races, even if a little slower than I'd have liked. We just couldn't get the tyres working.
Race 1 - 10 laps
This was rather dominated by a number of race modified Porsches, the rapid TR6 of Richard Bull and a V8 Westfield, however I had a superb race with a Robin Hood kit car (Caterham 7 lookalike with a 2.0 litre Ford Pinto engine) for about 6 laps, with several swaps of position until his engine let go. I won the class and set a new class lap record. And no wheels fell off!
Race 2 - 10 laps
This comprised mostly of cars from race 1 but with a few hot hatches and saloon cars from the afternoon's saloon car race and I was evenly matched with a red 2.0 litre VW Golf GTi and a black Ford Fiesta XR2. The three of us had an excellent race for the whole distance.
The front group (Porsches, TR etc.) disappeared off into the distance leaving us to have some fun.
The XR2 got ahead on the 1st lap after a wild bit of driving from a Lotus Elan sent cars scattering to avoid him, but I caught up with him after about 2 laps and decided that rather than try to push past I'd wait for 5 or 6 laps in case he made a mistake and handed the position to me. The Golf had had a poor start and was some 50 metres or so behind at this stage. Duly, on lap 5 the XR2 tried too hard going into the complex and spun off harmlessly onto the grass letting me through to lead our group. I was pretty wound up and tried to calm down for a couple of laps, which was good for my nerves, but let the XR2 and the Golf catch right up behind me again.
The Golf made an attempt to pass me on the outside at Tower (sharp right-hand bend) on lap 7. We had run all the way down the straight door-to-door and there was no way he would be able to slow for the corner in time (and I knew it). With the best will in the world a Golf is not going to stop quicker than a Spitfire and I turned in late and hard to see him slide off the track and onto the grass run-off area.
The XR2 was back up with me again as we went into the start of lap 8, with the Golf not far behind him. Half way through this lap the XR2 made a superb passing move on the inside at Sunny In and I just couldn't keep up with him on the exit. I caught him again by the complex and managed to out-drag him down the start-finish straight and all 3 of us arrived more-or less together at corner! I just got through first and the Golf ran too wide again, kicking up dust and gravel as he went round the back of the tyre wall!
On this last lap I defended the line approaching Sunny In, braked more than I actually needed to force the XR2 to do likewise and dropped the car to 2nd gear to accelerate out. My Spitfire had marginally more grunt than the XR2 so it was then a dash through the complex, tight through the final hairpin and a sprint for the line. The three cars finished extremely close with me just in front of the XR2 and the Golf. It was a great race for us all. I won the class and broke my own lap record again too!
Roll on the TR/TSSC races!
Cadwell Park brought its usual mix of feelings. Kevin Ginger was out with his pristine Mk IV Spitfire having had a couple of unlucky results in the 750 Motor Club over the last few weeks. Also present were 6 other Spitfires as well as about 16 assorted TRs.
PracticeRain threatened all day but never really materialised other than a short hail shower mid afternoon, but that was well over before our race. Practice was not too good. The car suffered from a bad misfire (almost certainly fouled plugs) for the 1st two laps then I got stuck in traffic and just couldn't get past a very annoying TR6 which was quick on the straights but slow on the corners. I had one reasonable lap and qualified 2nd in class but nearly 2 seconds off Kevin. Steve Crane was a second or so slower with all the other Spitfires behind him.
Class C consisted of: Jon Wolfe, Kevin Ginger, Steve Crane, Martyn Adams, Andy Vowell, Andrew Winterton, rookie Ralph (Reg?) Jane (in the ex-Kevin Ginger, ex-Andy Jowett, ex-Russell Williams, ex-Andy Schultz car!) and Mark Field in his newly repainted MkIV...too shiny!
Well it all went wrong. The car jumped out of 1st gear on the line and then wouldn't go back in - I think I was about 18th and nearly last by the time I got going. Andy Winterton had broken down on the grid meaning we had spent 5 minutes waiting for the lights and the plugs fouled up again so no power for 2 laps. I just couldn't get it going properly.
At the end of lap 2 I squeezed past a TR6 (Dave Bailey) entering the wooded section and forced him to run wide. He tried to out brake me but just ploughed off into the tyre wall...oops. That was just the start of it. The engine cleared and I was off, chasing a group of Spitfires and TRs between me and Kevin. I passed the Spits OK but it took 3 laps to get past the TRs and I finally caught up with Steve Crane, who was 2nd in class C, on the 5th lap. Then total brain fade as I locked up the brakes going into the hairpin and walloped into the tyre wall. I managed to reverse out with relatively little damage but lost 5 places again! I got past a couple of cars that lap but was suffering from a severe vibration (later confirmed as a huge flat spot on the front left tyre).
A lap later a TR6 in front of me (Rowan Sherlock) did exactly the same thing at the hairpin, but didn't get away with it and ended up with a front wing badly bent. Rowan has moded his car's engine this winter and is considerably quicker than he was last year, so he was unlucky to be out.
On about lap 6 or 7, I caught Andy Vowell half way down Park Straight and I was half way past him when he pulled out to overtake a slower car! I tried to avoid a collision but we banged together at about 100 mph and both went off onto the grass. Andy's car got 'stuck', t-boned across the front of mine as we bumped over the rough surface heading straight for an earth retaining wall. Somehow we missed it as Andy's car mounted the edge of the earth bank and passed down my side of the car facing the opposite direction. Somehow either his front or rear right wing left a scuff mark on my roof just by the driver's window!
Somehow I hadn't totally lost control and was able to drive round the back of the marshall's point and regain the track. Andy lost time but did get going again. I suspected my car might be damaged so I slowed down and finished 3rd in class.
Of note on lap 8 (I think), a TR6 lost control right in front of me at the bottom of the gooseneck and I really thought he was going to roll over. The TR went about 30 metres off the track and right up the banking on the left of the track, nearly as far as the spectator banking! He was pretty lucky.
Back at the paddock Stacky and I were a bit disappointed by the result (we're too used to winning the class) but after some consideration were glad to have the 5 points - it could so easily have been none at all. On inspection the car looks OK after the various offs and as I have new bonnet to fit, it'll look as good as new again by Snetterton in 4 weeks time.
Others: Kevin Ginger strolled home to a class win and 3rd overall with Steve Crane some way behind with broken rear light after contact with Mike Hazlewood's TR4. Andy Vowell's rear wing was punted in after our coming together (the same one I did in at Pembrey last year so not too bad). Mark Field's rear left wing was bashed in, apparently by Ralph Jane. Martyn Adams was out with an engine failure (he had gasket and head problems in practice too) and Andy Winterton was out on the grid.
British Grand Prix day and a relatively low turn-out of cars for this Easter meeting at windy Snetterton Heath, the old W.W.II bomber base in Norfolk. The weather stayed dry all day with only a couple of spots of rain just as we did our warm up laps.
I had fitted my new Le Mans replica bonnet (from Jigsaw) and it was ready for it's first skirmish!
Practice I'm usually one of the 1st in the collecting area for practice, to ensure a relatively clear track for at least a couple of laps, however, this time I forgot what I was doing and arrived there last with only a minute or so to go. As it happened, that was quite good and I did not encounter much traffic at all during the session. Maybe that's the new tactic for getting track space! Notably, I was passed during practice by Colin Pendle (3.9 litre TR7 V8) and it really highlighted that Snetterton, above all else, is a power circuit. He must have been doing fully 40 mph more than me at the 3/4 stage of the Revett straight. He finished on pole with me on 8th, over 6 seconds a lap slower. Next Spitfire was Martyn Adams a couple of rows back and about 2.5 seconds off me, then Andy Vowell, Steve Adams and rookie, Stuart Eyres in Dave Thompson's Team FBR GT6.
Andy Vowell and I had a coming together at Cadwell (see round 1) and his driver's side rear wing had been quite badly damaged. Three weeks later (one week prior to Snetterton) his car had been severely damaged by his wife, Juliet, during an open test day at a local track. Andy, however, had spent long evenings bashing it straight again and it really didn't look too bad. Last year, Andy's car was one of the best presented and it's now slipping down to the level of everyone else's with crazed fibre glass and flat paint! Well done though for making such a a big effort.
The Race I had a bloody good start and didn't lose any places off the grid. There was a bit of typical TR bashing at the 1st two corners and a few were sent spinning off onto the grass, but I managed to slip through into 5th. On lap 2 (I think) I was passed by a blue TR4 on the Revett straight, but managed to go the long way round the outside at Coram and get in front again, only to be nerfed in the side by him as he barged passed at Russell. Next lap I went round the outside again, but even faster and made sure I was clear before turning into the Russell chicane again. I was clear but only just. By turn 1 on lap 3 he was right up behind me again, but I'm afraid he fell for the Spitfire 'trap'. He was a novice driver in a quick car, and there's no way he was going to get through turn 1 on my tail. He braked when I did and tried to follow me through, but he disappeared off into the cabbages, never to be seen (by me) again! Ha!
I was well clear of Martyn Adams in 2nd but could still see him in my mirrors until about lap 7 when he took an involuntary closer look at the scenery and let Andy Vowell slip through into class 2nd. Mike Hazlewood in the gold coloured TR5 passed me about lap 4 (he had been 7th on the grid, right next to me) and I had to let him go. I don't think I could have caught him anyway so I just kept it steady and came in 6th overall and 1st in class. Richard Bull (TR5) had broken down on the 1st lap with a split rotor arm and Jeffery Eatough (TR7 V8) had thrown away his position with a huge spin about half way through the race, leaving himself stranded in the wet mud and grass for a minute or so.
Of the other TSSC racers, Stuart Eyres' engine overheated and he was a DNF and Steve Adams was 4th having suffered a severe misfire, later traced to a detached high tension lead.
I was 1.5 seconds off my lap record for some reason, but was happy to win the class and pick up another 10 points. This puts me to the top of the TSSC table for the 1st time this year.
With only a bit of paint work needed, we should be ready for the Mallory T.I.M.E event very soon!
With five weeks to prepare for the Mallory TIME event, we were pretty confident of having a good chance of setting a new lap record and getting a good class win. It was not to be that simple though. The TIME event was supposed to be a big, two day celebration of the Triumph marque but to be honest it was a bit dull and the lousy weather on the Sunday made it a very damp affair.
The weather On Monday was a huge improvement, but the 20 mph parade of classic Triumphs on the Monday, just prior to the racing on Monday was possibly the dullest part of the day!
There was a huge TSSC turnout with more of us than TRs. Numbers were swelled by three new drivers: Jon Low, Nigel Gibbins and Alan Petit and one returnee, the 1989 TSSC champion, Chris Smith. See the Drivers page for more details of them and their cars.
Nigel Gibbins (A)
Ralph Jane (A)
Practice We have been suffering a few engine misfire problems this year. We're not totally sure why, but think it could be the super unleaded fuel (we used to use a 4-star and super unleaded mix). Anyway, just prior to practice the engine sounded rough so we swapped in a new set of spark plugs and all was fine. I was the quickest Class A car and 8th on the grid of 23 Triumph sports cars. Adam Bagnell (who incidentally is currently leading the HSCC sports car championship) was flying in his white GT6! He has made a few changes to his car over the winter and changed from a terrible old set of Yokohama HFRs to the latest A0032s. He was 3rd fastest C car with Steve Crane in between the two of us. He told us his latest setup was 9 seconds a lap quicker round Cadwell!
Right at then end of the session Steve Adams lost a rear wheel (see my first Croft 2000 report) at the hairpin and bounced to a halt just in front of me, resulting in the practice being red flagged. As is often the case, I was called upon to provide a spare half-shaft (I usually carry a huge number of spares) and luckily I had one with me. Other casualties included Chris Burberry (TR4) who failed scrutineering on a roll cage infrigement and Richard Bull (TR5) who was losing power. Richard's problem was diagnosed as a sheared retaining bolt on the cam sprocket, but his team of race engineers worked hard and managed to make a temporary fix for the race.
The Race The yellow TR7 V8 of Colin Pendle was on pole as usual, with Larry Jeram-Croft in his similar car alongside him. Larry only lasted 1 lap; he was black flagged for spilling petrol onto the track after his fuel cap fell off. I had a superb 6 lap dice with Jeffery Eatough in his TR7 V8, swapping places several times, when on lap 7 a huge misfire set in. It felt like a broken rocker and I had no choice but to call into the pits for a quick check. There were no visible problems so I rejoined, but was held at the pitlane exit for about 30 seconds for the track to clear. The misfire got worse and I pulled out of the race 2 laps later to be classified as a DNF. Incidentally, back at the workshop that night we blast cleaned the plugs and all was OK again, so I probably could have limped home to a 3rd place, but I just can't afford to lose the engine this early in the season. I did set a new class lap record however.
Steve "the luckiest racing driver the planet" Crane went on to win with Adam "someone's put a rocket up me bum" Bagnell in 2nd. Martyn "Doomed, doomed we're all doomed" Adams was third and Andy "oowwwwwwwarrrr m'dear" Vowell was fourth.
Full TSSC results
Class C: 1st Crane, 2nd Bagnell, 3rd M Adams, 4th Vowell, 5th S Adams, 6th Smith, 7th Petit, 8th Low, 9th Gimson, 10th Winterton. d.n.f. Wolfe (bugger!)
Class A: 1st Gibbins, 2nd Jane.
Driver of the day Adam Bagnell was deservedly given this honour. Good luck for the rest of the HSCC year. Adam hopes to do a couple more TR rounds later in the year.
Incident of the Day During an Historic Touring Car race one of the big V8 American things lost it's engine flywheel and it came right out of the car and got embedded into the spectator bridge! People in the pit lane were showered with bits of metal, but luckily no-one was hurt. We thought that only happened in drag racing!
If Mallory was bad, Pembrey was a bloody disaster. I committed a cardinal sin and crashed on the second lap of practice. The whys and wherefores of the incident are many, but I suspect I just went too fast on cold tyres on a slippery track.
Coming through Honda, (the final turn onto the start-finish straight) I put my left wheels just on the grass. I've done this many times in the past and you simply back off slightly and steer into the resulting oversteer situation. However I didn't correct the imbalance very well and came out too fast. I was heading for the pit lane at about 80 mph and just couldn't steer or stop. In an attempt to avoid an accident I went up the pit lane road and piled into the end of the pit lane wall, coming to a very hard, dead stop against the tyres. I was bit winded and it took a minute or so to get out of the car, by which time I was surrounded by marshalls and one of the doctors.
I was pronounced OK by the doc' after about 10 minutes in the medical truck and apart from a bruised shoulder was OK. (NB: very stiff neck the next day). Stacky got the car recovered to the paddock where it was impounded by the scrutineers for an hour or so for a post-accident investigation. Once we got the car back we just had to have a go at fixing it for the race!
The front chassis outriders were mashed and the water pump had gone throught the radiator core. The new Le Mans bonnet was very badly damaged and the chin was in at least six pieces! Luckily the bonnet had taken nearly all the impact and the chassis/tub/cage structure was unaffected. We hammered the outriders back into shape and 'repaired' the radiator with chemical metal, a bottle of rad-weld and an egg. We got the water leak down from a gushing torrent to a very slow drip, provided we left the radiator cap off! We swapped the oil cap and radiator cap over (a neat trick if you want to run zero water pressure), fixed the oil cooler back in with bits of alloy strip and cable ties (zip straps) and taped the bonnet on, ready for action. I was on the back of the grid, but, amazingly, only just slower than the car in front!
The race To be brief, 5 laps dicing with Steve Crane and Andy Vowell until I hit Andy Vowell at the hairpin. A relatively small speed difference as I wasn't even trying to overtake, just bad driving! It was enough to dislodge the bonnet and I was out. Fortunately Andy was able to continue. I've scored two d.n.f.s in a row now.
Colin Pendle in the TR7V8 won again. Steve Crane won the tiny TSSC class C entry with Andy Vowell in second. Ralph Jane was the only Class A starter and finisher despite losing a rear wheel in practice. These rear wheels coming off is bad news and seems to be getting worse! Don't forget guys, get your Jon Wolfe Racing aircraft-steel halfshafts for ఠeach and save yourselves a lot of hassle!
I am not racing at Brands Hatch so Cadwell Park in seven weeks will be the next outing.
If any of you ever considers starting to do some club racing, I suggest you forget all about it. When things are going badly they just get worse!
I was well in the class lead at Cadwell (admittedly Paul Lucas was flying in his 1300cc Mk I Spitfire and may well have caught me by the end of the race) but on the 4th lap the car just misfired and stopped running. It felt as though it had run out of petrol although that was not the problem and we've yet to discover the cause.
Practice Dry, very w arm and loads of Triumph everywhere. The session was red flagged after only 5 laps as Mike Hazlewood had put his TR4 into the tyre wall at the hairpin after a bolt came out of an oil gallery and sprayed oil onto his tyres. We were kept waiting on the grid for about 10 minutes while his car was recovered and my car just did not run properly from that point on. It broke down almost immediately there was a restart but the session was red flagged again anyway as Martyn Adams lost a rear wheel (the normal Spitf ire problem) and blocked the track up in the wooded section.
We fitted new spark plugs for the race and all was well. I was fastest of the Spitfires with the normally very rapid Paul Lucas quite a way back having not managed to get a decent practice lap in. I supplied Martyn with a replacement half-shaft (4th this year) and with a good effort from various assistants (mostly Andy Jowett and John Thomason) he was able to get his car back together for the race.
The Race I lined up right alongside Steve Crane but he got the better start. I had far too much wheel spin and he was ahead by the 1st corner and it took me 2 laps to settle down and pass him under power down Park Straight.
Paul had a terrible start after much confusion on the grid as one of the fron t row cars stalled; the lights surprised him! He lost about 8 places off the grid and it was looking good for me. After 3 laps Steve was about 50 metres behind and there was no sign of Paul at all in my mirrors, however, I was being held up by Justin Maer s in a TR3 and Chris Burberry in his TR4, but I was looking for way past. On lap 4 the engine just cut out on the way up the hill towards Charlies and I rolled to halt on the grass as far from the track as I could get. It wasn't long before Paul came up through the field and took the class lead from Steve Crane and proceeded to pull out quite a lead. After the race had completed the car started up OK and I was able to drive back to the paddock and onto the trailer.
John Thomason was out of the with a suspected blown engine after a promising start. He also encountered his first experience of being rubbed by another car; his pristine silver Mk III was marked down the drivers side after a minor altercation with a TR7V8. John Davies (Vitesse Coupe) was out too , also with engine problems.
Class C results: 1st Paul Lucas, 2nd Steve Crane, 3rd Martyn Adams.
Back home the car felt fine and With Silverstone only 6 days away there's work to do.
Our closest venue so an early start on Saturday to reach the circuit in good time for 8 o'clock signing on. There were 13 Spitfires entered (the highest number ever so far as I can recall) and an equal number of TRs from a solitary TR3 to small gaggle of TR7V8s.
John Thomason had fitted his bog standard, road spec. 1500cc motor to his car having disintegrated a piston at Cadwell and was rather less than confident of a good grid position. His pessimism was correct and he posted a very slow practice time suggesting that some (all?) of the class A cars may not be as sta ndard as one might expect!
Practice Dry and warm and loads of cars out at the same time which made it difficult to post a decent flying lap. Kevin Ginger and Paul Lucas were there and the post session results showed all 3 of us were mighty close on lap ti mes with Paul just 0.2 seconds quicker and Kevin 0.5 seconds slower. We were all slower than my 1999 class lap record by over a second. Kevin started the session badly with a 2nd lap spin into the gravel at Copse necessitating a shove from the marshalls to get him going again and Nigel Gibbins put himself into the gravel at the hairpin about half way through and was beached. From his vantagepoint, Nigel was witness to a Wolfe/Ginger coming together during practice and he\rquote ll learn more about this type of occurrence as he gets faster.
The left-hand side of the grid read like a Spitfire-only race. Paul Lucas, me, Kevin Ginger, Steve Crane, Martyn Adams and Andy "I've got a new camshaft" Vowell all line astern. Other Spitfires were John Thomason, Steve Adams, Nigel "any old colour will do" Gibbins, Chris Smith, Alan Petit, Ralph Jane and rookie, Russell Munns.
The Race I got a quite good start and went wide into turn 1, which allowed Kevin Ginger through on the inside. I was nicely positioned behind Paul and Kevin for a lap or so when my dreaded high-rev misfire set in and it wasn't long before I was back in class 5th with Steve Crane, Martin Adams and Andy Vowell getting past me. I just couldn't get going properly, so decided that rather than come in (which I would normally do) I would try to diagnose the problem out on the track. I found I could use half throttle with no problems at all; it was only full throttle that caused the problem. Having tried various combinations of slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, I reckon it's probably a fuel delivery problem. By using part throttle, being very hard on the brakes and by charging through corners without hardly lifting, I was able to keep 5th in class despite a couple of wild tank-slappers (big slides) and couple of trips over the gravel traps.
I had a nice time so came away pretty optimistic.
Our second trip to croft for the year and we were greeted on our night-time arrival by the sight of several TRs and Spitfires waiting in the paddock. There was also a Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane parked on the grass strip behind the pad dock area, a delight indeed!
Practice (Saturday) Mostly uneventful and it was evident that we had managed to cure the misfire problems from Silverstone and before that too. It was simply a defective distributor cap which we traced by doing a systematic fuel and ignition test from end-to-end.
The Race (Sunday) Well, the rain came down as we formed up and by the first lap the track was soaked. I had an excellent start and was up to 4th overall by Tower. However, either over eagerness on my part or a slight nudge from behind (not sure which and accounts vary!) sent me spinning off onto the grass at that corner. I was thus relegated to last in class and last overall. I then spent the next 8 laps retaking slower cars and with a couple more spins to boot, I finished about 13th overall and 5th in class. A pretty poor showing really but at least the car went well!
Class C result: 1st Elstrop, 2nd Crane, 3rd M. Adams, 4th Vowell, 5th Wolfe
I did not race
Our second ever trip to this hugely enjoyable circuit just 15 miles to the west of Amsterdam. This year we booked chalet accommodation about 1 mile from the circuit, which was immeasurably preferable to last year\rquote s shambolic arrangements (see last year's report).
Practice Very wet although the rain had stopped and with only a handful of Class C cars making it across it wasn\rquote t too difficult to be quickest of the class. In addition, my race-long companion of 1999 was there too, Harold Hummel in his blue 1500 Spitfire and he was alongside me on the grid.
The Class C entry consisted of Me, Andy Vowell, Steve Adams and Dave Thompson.
The Race I had a good start and led the class for the 1st half of the 1st lap until Andy Vowell went flying past me...only to spin off and throw away the class le ad at the following corner! I never saw him again although he did catch up and got fastest lap.
I then spent the whole race fending off Harold! He just beat me last year and I wasn't going to let him by this year, so I drove the whole race on my mirrors and, while I could stay in front and stop him getting by, I just couldn't get away. I just beat him to the line. One race all.
During the race, Richard Bull (TR6) was most unfortunate to be black flagged for making excessive noise whist 15 seconds in the lead. We all felt this was rather harsh as most UK circuits noise test prior to the race. This let Malcolm Turnbull into the lead but his hopes were dashed on the last lap as he crashed an let Colin Pendle through to a very lucky overall win.
Class C result: 1st Wolfe, 2nd Vowell, 3rd Steve Adams,4th Thompson
Not my favourite circuit as I feel I have never really done too well here. Paul Lucas was also racing and I know I' m in for a battle when he's there.
Practice I had a very clear section of track but still only got one flying lap in and gridded one row behind Paul. \par \par I had a most unfortunate incident in the pit lane after practice when I inadvertently ran into the back of John Thomason\rquote s newly rebuilt Spitfire. He was justifiably unimpressed and all I can do is unreservedly apologise. \par \par
The Race I had an excellent start and was up alongside Paul Lucas for Redgate and kept in touch for the lap. Running through the chicane there was a great confusion of tyres and brakes and several of us unfortunately took to t he grass. This gave Paul a lead, which he was never to lose, and allowed Steve Crane and Andy Vowell to catch me up. Steve got in front for a lap or so, but I managed to take him going down the Craner Curves flat-out. John Davies parked his Vitesse in the gravel again - all by himself...oops.
On lap 7 my dodgy 2nd gear finally broke and it became impossible to select that gear from that point onwards. This is not as bad at Donington as at other circuits, but it did mean a gearbox rebuild was required in the following week, prior to the final round at Croft.
Steve Crane needed to finish 4th or better to be certain of winning the TSSC title however he got into a determined 3rd/4th place battle with Andy Vowell. Andy was never shy of a bit of hip-and-shoulders and Steve was shoved off the track and into retirement with a smashed front wheel and tyre. He was not happy. Andy relegated himself to 4th as Martyn Adams sneaked by during the commotion.
Class C Result: 1st Lucas, 2nd Wolfe, 3rd M. Adams, 4th Vowell
Last race of the year and due to my 1st at Zandvoort and 2nd at Donington, and the fact that Paul Lucas had decided not to race, I just had to beat Andy Vowell and come at least 3rd to come second in the TSSC championship. A potentially good ending to a pretty terrible year.
Practice Uneventful and the 'new' gearbox (built by Martin and me during the week from a box of bits from Rimmer Bros.) was holding up well with a clean change and no notchiness at all. I was the quickest Class C car, but only just in front of Colin Elstrop who is an experienced Croft race instructor.
TheRace Colin Elstrop got in front of me off the start and he managed to open up quite a gap just on the 1st lapdue to cars spinning everywhere. Unfortunately for Colin, but good for me, the race was red flagged when Richard Bull and Malcolm Turnbull tangled up at the hairpin.
I had a much better re-start and by lap 3 was up into the class lead. The 3rd gear up-change was getting slow though and on the fifth lap, 3rd gear totally stripped. This is very bad as 3rd gear is used extensively at Croft and slowed me by about 4 seconds a lap allowing both Colin Elstrop and Steve Crane past into 1st and 2nd places. I kept it going to finish 3rd and made second overall in the TSSC championship, very pleasing.
Andy Vowell was out on lap 2 with a total loss of power so didn't really threaten and Clive Gimson was also out early in the race.
Class C result: 1st Elstrop, 2nd Crane, 3rd Wolfe.