St Cross Electronics
Monoposto Championship Round 7 Oulton Park. 13 July2013
As teasurer as well as occassional reporter, I can't deny that last year's Oulton was a disappointment in terms of entries. With no racing on Sunday (Cheshire being renowned for its piety) we can only have one day meetings. So the next best thing to our normal twin header is a double header, one practice and two races. We all voted with our entry forms; over 50 entered compared with mid 30s last year. Add in the hottest day of the year, and as I drove through the lovely Shropshire and Cheshire countryside around breakfast time on Saturday morning I looked forward to a good day ahead.
Mono 2000/Mono Classic 2000 Qualification
Watching at Lodge, the first surprise was an off-song Vauxhall in Malcolm Scott's Dallara, which may explain his unusual 10th place. Robbie Watts backed off mid session to get some space, and it paid off with a 1.39.8 pole. We saw Tony Bishop pull into the pitlane a little early, and wondered if it was an F1 style "sit and wait until threatened" tactic. If it was (it wasn't - see below), it was superbly judged as Tony's 1.41.3 was good enough for second, but only by 0.08 from Kevan McLurg. Kevan was the highest placed of the entry to fall foul of the treacherous Lodge, bouncing along the edge of the grass on one lap as he ran wide. A lap earlier, Mark Smith had put the 395 into the tyres on the inside as he spun across the road after running wide. Fortunately, damage was confined to pride and a slight rearrangement of the adjustments, which his ever-hard working pit crew sorted out. Russ Giles was a little behind Ben Cateron a 1.44, in fifth, but looking smooth and controlled as always.
Jared Wood, who I think the commentator described as a London Underground Senior Manager, took the FVL round as if on rails for sixth. And it was good to see Terry Clark getting the Reynard further up the qualification sheet at 7th, 3rd Classic. Fighting Terry's and Peter Whitmore's Reynard for prettiest shape in the paddock, Richard Snuggs' Dallara 387 took next place, with Mike Hatton in 9th.
Another miscreant at Lodge was Neil Tomlinson in the Van Diemen FR which again did the classic"run wide and spin", finishing on the inside, no obvious harm but he didn't start.
A surprising absentee was Peter Whitmore, who failed the noise test and had to re-pack the silencer. This is particularly ironic as subjectively it's one of the quietest cars on drive-by. Adrian Holey was a non-starter due to a major blow-up in practice on Friday at Cascades. Always good for a quote, Adrian said "The oil's about the same colour as a 1970's Cortina - British Racing Beige. I'm glad I didn't buy any new tyres."
Robbie Watts: "I kept out of trouble and did the best I could. I hope I can do the same in the race. Good old Lola!"
Mark Smith: "B****r, I'm unfit."
Tony Bishop: "It's warm and getting warmer." "The car feels good, but towards the end of practice I couldn't change gear on the paddle shift. We think it's the battery."
Dave Gillett: "Those Pirelli girls are nice - can't we have some?"
Kevin Mason (not racing, some feeble excuse about a hole in the block when it was torn out of the chassis at Spa.): "These things happen"
2000/Classic Race 1
There were a few surprises when the race was called 15 minutes early. The commentators were quite taken aback, but everybody seemed to be in their alloted slot for the start. And quite a start it was. Robbie Watts came through Old Hall a good few car lengths ahead but behind there was a lot of jostling for position. Spectators held their breath as Tony Bishop ended up on the grass and came off it at a sharp angle. A spin and carnage seemed inevitable but his car control was above that, he held it and emerged in third, behind Kevan McLurg. Ben Cater, pushing the magical spaceframe VD hard in fourth commented "I backed off when I saw Tony coming across - I thought some contact would happen somewhere, but we came out of it cleanly." Robbie would increase his lead and never be challenged for the race, eventually winning by 10 seconds
Behind Robbie, there was activity galore. Kevan McLurg looked to be well placed for second when he uncharacteristically lost it into Cascades and ended in the gravel. A respected race analyst commented (to Kevan ) "The problem was that Kevan's right foot is as big as his belly". Kevan himself quoted poetry to your reporter when asked for a commengt - the first line of Plaistow Patricia by Ian Dury. Which promoted Tony Bishop back to second, but he had a few problems. Thinking he could see a red light on Clay Hill, he slowed, which gave Ben Cater the chance to move up to second, where he finished, winning Classic. Tony's woes continued when the flappy paddle gearchange issue turned out to be a solenoid problem and not a battery problem. With only a partial gear choice, Tony was handicapped and finished fourth. Russ Giles had fought his way up from a difficult start, being around 10th at Old Hall, 7th by lap 1's end, and 4th by lap 3. On lap 6 he bettered Tony, but Tony's front wing and Russ's rear tyre touched. The tyre punctured, end of race for Russ. In all this excitement, Malcolm Scott's practice woes were behind him as he steadily moved through the field, at first shadowing Russ and then Jared Wood who kept him at bay until something went wrong and he neatly parked up at Cascades. After passing Tony on the final lap for that second in class, it could be said that this was one of Malcolm's canniest races.
Although some way down the road, David Gambling was just off the class podium in fourth, overall 5th, despite a grassy moment mid-race at Knickerbrook. Richard Snuggs in the Dallara 387 followed him in for second Classic, whilst the third Classic man, Nick Catanzaro, had a most peculiar race. Needing some welding just before the race, all seemd well and an excellent finish of overall 7th ensued. Unfortunately there was a very dramatic oil fire unknown to Nick until his neck got warm, and having crossed the line with flames everywhere (Andrew Cliffe has a superb shot of it), he slowed at Lakeside where a marshall put out the remains of the fire. The car only stopped because the distributor melted. Charles Adrian had led Nick for 6 laps, in one of the many excellent midfield battles. He finished 8th overall. Alistair Bell had begun the race as part of the same battle, but dropped as the race proceeded, eventually also succumbing to Mark Schofield in the only Ralt in the race. News is that Mark may soon be moving on to an even more exciting car with a noble pedigree.
Simon Gillett had a dreadful start, dropping to last, but worked his way through the troubles surrounding him to finish 11th, just ahead of Dave Gillett. Mark Smith was just behind in 13th, looking a little disappointed after his early season promise. Final finisher was Peter Whitmore, having had no practice and starting from the back. He felt the car distinctly down on power, though was still smiling.
There were an unusual number of retirements besides those mentioned. Saddest was that a cracking dice between Mat Jordan and Mick Kinghorn ended with a slight touch. Mick was pitched into the barriers and whilst he looked fine, the same couldn't be said for the popular Northumberlander's lovely Mygale Novis, with every corner and every piece of bodywork damaged. The incident was a tribute to the strength of the French spaceframe which protected Mick well, and an answer to the FIA who apparently regard carbon as the only answer.
Bryn Tootell also had a touch (other car unknown) on The Avenue and gave spectators quite a fright as he approached the barriers at high speed. The gravel did it's job well, arresting the Van Diemen only a very short distance from the wall. I gather that the run off was extended over the winter.Terry Clark, meanwhile, was pleased to be consistently moving up the order and now has the Reynard running at a faster pace than his FVL. Having spent some time harrassing champion Malcolm Scott, he went a little wide at Old Hall and bent a rear track rod.
Tim Tudor retired after 5 laps, the Tatuus had been showing more smoke than is usual, but the matter couldn't have been too serious as he was out in the afternoon. Neil Tomlinson didn't start, reason unknown to me.
Race 2 to follow...
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover. 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.
This daring picture of Mark Schofield resulted in your scribe being reprimanded for taking pictures. Rules is rules....
Peter Whitmore and Ollie get stuffing
Lap 1 Old Hall and Robbie Watts already has a big lead
Tony Bishop on the grass.....
...and sideways off it as Ben Cater takes evasive action
Kevan McLurg bales out
This was about all fellow competitors saw of Robbie Watts