Holey & Woodhouse Star at Donington Season OpenerSt Cross Electronics Monoposto Championship Round 2 Donington Park 28 April 2013
Sunday Mono Moto/1800/Ztec/1600: Qualifying & Race
Sunday’s weather was more stable than on Saturday, and the Moto/1800/Ztec/1600 field emerged for qualifying onto a sunny and dry but cool circuit. The qualification session was electrifying as Chris Woodhouse took just three flying laps to get the red Speads down to a 1;07.555; well under the existing Moto record of 1;08.906 (Daniel Rowbottom)vand similarly better than the Mono 2000 benchmark of 1:08.653 (Tristan Cliffe). Un-phased by this Dan Clowes worked his Jedi through the traffic and dipped down to 1;07.566: er…11 thousandths of a second behind the new mark. Jason Timms then made his challenge, but right at the end of his hot lap the black Speads broke a drive shaft at the chicane, and he had to settle for third with a 1;08.642 – under the previous lap record, but still “only” good enough for third on the grid...competitive or what? Jason then needed to obtain one of the special length drive shafts his car uses, which seemed a hopeless quest until John Rawlings realised that he had one back at base, which was only an hour or so away – problem solved and thank you John!
Meanwhile a quite different drama was unfolding in the Mono 1800 class when Saturday winner Paul Britten could not get his car to fire up in the garage. The bizarre cause of this failure was quickly diagnosed – the car was full of diesel fuel which had been dispensed in error into Pauls fuel cans at a motorway service station on the way to the meeting. With Team Avit help the car was quickly drained and refilled with petrol, Paul then just getting out in time to do one lap before the flag – necessitating a start from the back of the grid. In Mono Ztec Matt Hayes again topped the charts, just over a second clear of Marcus Sheard (whose car has been very smartly rebuilt over the winter). Mono 1600 was definitely the preserve of Dave Parkinson who was 2.5 seconds clear of Adrian Heath, with a misfiring Matt Walters in third.
The race didn’t disappoint with Woodhouse and Clowes leaping into the leading places, although Clowes realised he had a problem when Woodhouse delivered a 1:07.276 on his first flying lap. Geoff Fern had leapt ahead of Jason Timms and Adrian Wright’s GEM at the start, and although Timms was soon past, Fern held off Wright for the whole race. At the front battle was joined between Woodhouse, Clowes and Timms who all produced an extremely fast and close contest, even with a short mid-race safety car period. One lap after the SC boards went in, Woodhouse emphasised his pace with a stunning 1;07.064 lap, and the other two eventually had to follow him home, despite both hitting the 1:07.5 mark. Nigel Davers was concerned about a drive coupling on his Jedi and elected to take it gently off the line, only for the shaft on the other side of the car to let him down late on in the race. Stephen Brooks had an early mishap, which eventually brought on a short outing for the Safety Car.
Paul Britten did well to climb through the entire non-Moto field, in a slightly rough-sounding ex-diesel Van Diemen, to head the Mono 1800s and the leading Ztec car of Matt Hayes. Marcus Sheard again bested Douglas McLay for the runner up spot in Mono Ztec. In Mono 1600 Dave Parkinson had the legs of Adrian Heath in the dry, but third place was the subject of a race-long dispute between Eddie Guest and Matt Walters, this only being resolved in favour of the blue Lola on the last lap. There was more entertainment still from a race-long dice between Joe Venor’s Lola and Peter Bassill’s Ray, this time the decision went against the Lola but both parties had clearly enjoyed themselves. Curiously, despite all the action, people tended to finish in grid order, but Len Turner gained enough places to pick up the Driver of the Day award in his smart lime-coloured Jedi (I like it Len!)
Sunday Mono 2000/Classic 2000: Qualifying & Race
There were a couple of new runners in Mono 2000 for Sunday. Amnon Needham took over Steve Patania’s Topmarx Dallara, and the team had used the Saturday afternoon rest period to sort the misfire on the car. They just couldn’t find the problem with the boss’s car though, and Richard Purcell withdrew the recalcitrant Dallara after qualifying. Richard Evans brought along a very pretty TOMS Toyota F3 car, and it will be very interesting to see how this goes as he gets it sorted during the season.
The newcomers meant that Sunday’s field was every bit as full as the first day, and it was again going to be a very busy competition for many of the drivers; starting from the get go with qualifying. Amnon Needham showed that his testing form was not a flash in the pan when he set a pole mark just below Tristan Cliffe’s record, and behind him there was a blizzard of times in the 1;10.5 bracket from the Dallaras of Tony Bishop, Malcolm Scott, Adrian Holey and Russ Giles. Ben Cater continued to demonstrate his pace in the Classic class Van Diemen; out-running all the Dallaras except Needham, and also ending 1.5 seconds up on Lee Cunningham, who was only 8 hundredths ahead of Daryl Jones’ Vauxhall.
Daryl had retired the day before when a metal oil pipe fractured – inadvertently spreading quite a bit of oil about. However the Vauxhall survived this misadventure well and the pipe was duly replaced overnight with a niftily welded new component. Malcolm Scott was also lucky to be in there pitching after the car stopped out on the circuit on the first lap. Malcolm realised it was a problem with the master switch, got out and fixed it, and returned to the pits to be properly strapped in before seriously joining the fray.
Tony Bishop blasted into the race lead from 3rd slot on the grid, as poleman Amnon Needham fumbled his start, letting Adrian Holey, Malcolm Scott, Russ Giles and Kevin Mason past. Mason must have also had a rocket launch getaway from 9th on the grid. It all went wrong as they headed into the chicane at the end of the first lap. With a clear 100 metre lead Bishop decided on caution, lost his rhythm, and immediately also lost the tail of the car. The resultant spin ended his race and brought out the Safety Car. Meanwhile Ben Cater had been distracted at the start and also badly fumbled his getaway, ending the first lap in 17th position. Thus the Classic 2000 class was headed by Lee Cunningham, Daryl Jones and Mike Hatton, with the on-form Mark Smith as an interloper. Within a lap of the Safety Car going in the lead pattern took an unexpected turn when Kevin Mason passed Amnon Needham – they were very close side-by-side into Redgate - and it took the Topmarx driver a further lap to regain his composure, re-pass the blue and yellow Mason Dallara, and set off after the leaders.
Meanwhile Ben Cater was making his way through the packed midfield and by lap 8 he was onto the leading Classic trio of Cunningham, Jones and Hatton, who had been separated by just around 1.5 seconds for much of the race. This was a barrier that couldn’t be breached in the two remaining laps and Cater had settle for fourth in Class, after a frustrating weekend. Bryn Tootell took a good 5th and Mick Kinghorn did well to get up to 6th picking up the Driver of the Day Award as some consolation. Elsewhere the Classic field contained a whole range of closely contested separate contests, a couple of which eventually got a bit too close and ended with contact. The blushes and blood pressure of those involved will be spared by lack of space and time to go into the details.
While all this was happening, back at the front Needham had got past Giles, got past Scott (this was a pretty tough ladder to climb…) and closed on Topmarx team mate Holey. On the pitwall team boss Richard Purcell was contemplating hanging out the “Multi 21 sign” (or whatever it is these days), when a thoroughly over-excited circuit commentator gabbled that the two cars had touched and both had gone off on their last lap… Back in the real world it wasn’t clear what had actually happened, or even who was really involved, but the outcome was that Needham was relatively harmlessly out of it, after a very determined and fast drive which deserved a better return; and Adrian Holey took his second and equally well deserved win of the weekend. Behind him Malcolm Scott took a good second place after a character-building weekend, and Russ Giles turned in another solid performance to gain third.
Wooof, that was quite a weekend of racing to kick off the year. The major challenge of Brands Hatch GP circuit looms, and our entry list for that is even bigger…
Different day, same pictures. We haven't got any others because Andrew was at the F3 and asst ed was otherwise engaged. Please email some to us.
Len Turner smart new paint scheme
Main in the middle of it
Marcus Sheard's rebuilt Ztec
Mick Kinghorn with Cartek trophy