St Cross Electronics Monoposto Championship Round 11 Silverstone GP. 14 August 2013
L. P. Hartley wrote: "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there". Had he been at Silverstone on Saturday he would have written "Monoposto Classes are different countries; they do things differently", because with all the classes out together and a capacity grid, even a dead novelist would see that each class gets lap times in different ways - slippiness, downforce, braking, power, lightness - they're all in the mix.
Let's start with Friday Practice. James McLaughlin in his Speads had some engine woes and was a non-starter. Steve Patania was rammed from behind by a Formula 4, and even the magicians of TopMarx were unable to fix a broken gearbox overnight. We heard the F4 man's dad simply bought a new car...
So to Saturday. Personally I had a real treat as Paul Dibden was running an RT1 in F3 trim.Chassis number 21, which I think makes it a 1976 car, running the radius rods attached to the outside of the tub rather than inboard as on the later ones. Not that I'm an RT1/Ron Tauranac anorak or anything....It was lovely. Other seasonal Mono debutantes were Daniel Hands, and Damon Bland, both in 750MC F4 type cars, and WIlliam Howe in a Reynard (1800). Welcome all.
"Get your teams (if you've got the capacity) to take wets, jacks and spanners to the assembly area" said the CoC at the briefing, or words to that effect, because she was expecting rain. She wasn't wrong, although I did hear Mark Smith asking Robert to carry 4 wheels, a jack and a spanner to the assembly area and I think Mark did really well to get the jack handle out from where Robert put it in time for practice. And to patch his race suit.
Troubles began as the cars assembled. Lou Watts, Peter Venn, and Russ Giles all had noise issues. Russ solved his, Peter's were solved by his pit crew (which included Mono Legend David Dudley), but he got out with just 3 laps to run, and it took a while to fix Lou's. At this point I think Simon Davey deserves a bit of praise for the shepherding and pushing he did in the assembly area throughout the weekend to make sure everything went smoothly.
Then it showered and a few went back for wets, most stayed on slicks. Doug McLay made the point that we seem to be getting more of these sudden showers of late, to which another replied that perhaps the climate experts are right and the Oaf Clarkson is wrong, and there really is climate disruption.
In the drying but still very damp conditions the ideal car had to be something with suspension movement, not too stiff, with a smooth, torquey engine and a bit of downforce. So it was no surprise that initially the Classics led on times in the mid 2.30's. Of particular interest were Daniel Hands in a VD RF01 in F4 spec, racing with us for the first time, and Daryl Jones who still has "novice" status, both of whom were initially near or on pole.
By the end of qualifying it had dried sufficiently to go 20 seconds faster, and pole fell to Kevan McLurg in his attractive 2000 class F397 once the traction was sufficient. Daniel Hands was second with Peter Venn in red mist mode in 3rd. Russ Giles was second in the 2000's, doing what he does best - smooth and sensible. Next up (6th) was the first Moto, Adrian Wright. Silverstone is good for Adrian because of the aero package, and as Adrian's a master in the wet, perhaps this was no real surprise. His nemesis Jeremy Timms was down in eleventh, while the stalking horse of the class, Geoff Fern, qualified 8th overall to separate the two.
The first 1800 was Paul Britten, again not too surprisingly as effectively he's a Classic with less power, though also lacking an LSD, diffuser, trick exhaust etc. The impressive bit was that he was 17th overall. But the 1800 surprise was that Paul's big rival, John Whitbourn, was 2nd in class, but down at 27th, a full ten places behind Paul. Ryan Hayes is obviously a GP circuit specialist. He last raced with Mono at Brands Gp, and took ZTec pole here, ahead of Marcus Sheard.
Last but by no means least, Luke Rosewell took the ever-competitive 1600 pole from always-there-or-thereabouts David Parkinson.
There were qualifying woes. In Team O'Farc, Dax Ward had an internal nut unwind which hobbled him after a lap - Jon Reed provided major support in getting Dax to the track. Marc Fortune recorded no time.
Kevin Mason: "I got the block Thursday and built the engine. Then on Tuesday we found a diff problem so the gearbox had to come off. I've found it's easier to put back if you use spanners rather than a concrete wall to take it off."
Nick Catanzaro: "The car's got no power"
Daniel Hands: " I'm over the moon! I've not been out after an accident at Cadwell last year, and I'm a bit shocked, especially as this is an 1800." His team manager said "I can't believe it."
David Parkinson: "It cut out twice on Wellington Straight."
Daryl Jones: "It was ok when it was wet, but then it dried. I'm sure I can go quicker, but I thought it's probably best to try to make sure I get the two signatures. The ECU got wet coming up here and we had to get the map transferred to a different ECU - Advanced Motor Sport were very helpful doing that."
Kevin Mason again: "The clutch went."
Simon Lonnergan: "I really enjoyed that. I haven't raced since Donington because of 2 big operations, but they've said I can come back." Good to have you back Simon!
Malcolm Scott (languishing in 37th, 9th 2000) "I ran out of fuel as it was drying out. I have nobody to blame but myself."
Robbie Watts: "Electrical problems" Robbie was 32nd, 7th 2000.
What a surprise - as the cars lined up it started raining. Fortunately it was very slight and had no real effect, but it must have fluttered a few nerves.
With one or two drivers suffering from a dodgy clutch there could have been problems, but the getaway was very clean. Adrian Wright made a superb start and from 6th on the grid was soon alongside, and then ahead of, poleman Kevan McLurg. He continued in this spirit with what can only be described as a masterful drive, building an 8 second lead in 3 laps, but it was all for nought as on lap 8 of 9 he ran out of fuel. Surely the ultimate cruel hand of fate. This left Kevan McLurg to run a canny race. He and Adrian immediatley broke away from the pack, but as he later said "With Adrian and myself both fighting for a championship, there was no point in inter-class fighting so I concentrated on keeping Russ behind me." This he did successfully, despite the intervention on lap 4 of a safety car, brought out due to Marc Fortune being stranded after a mighty first lap, making up about 23 places. Disappointingly and surprisingly the safety car drove to the pitlane exit, waited until Adrian appeared and then neatly picked up Kevan, which of course wasn't entirely the idea. It looked as though the field were perfectly behaved and efficiently sorted out the problem, but when racing resumed on lap 7, Russ had closed up on Kevan. The Brighton man kept his cool and did enough to keep the lead to the flag - a win, fastest lap and the head of the 2000 table. ("It was fun" - he told me). Russ came in second in 2000, third overall, with his usual smooth, thoughtful drive. Russ had initially got the drop on Classic poleman Daniel Hands, who disproved my theory that the damp flatters the Classics by being supremely fast in the dry. He had lost out to Lee Cunningham at the start, but regained the place on lap 1 and shadowed Russ until it mattered on the final lap when he took second overall. I asked David for a comment - "I'm very pleased - it was unexpected. I struggled at the start and lost places but I think I was able to catch up with Russ in the twisty bits. The people are good to race with - it was fun", he said.
Fourth overall and third 2000 was Kevin Mason. It isn't often I write "Kevin drove a sensible race, kept mostly out of trouble and finished with a worthy trophy.", but that's what happened. In fact he had a bit of contact with Geoff Fern, but nothing major. Kevin was delighted and it was a rightful reward for producing a beautiful car from a skip full of bits after Spa, not to mention sorting the clutch and having starting problems. Pre-race 2000 class championship leader Robbie Watts made up a total of 26 places from the grid. 16 of those were on lap 1, which involved a lot of surgical scything, if that isn't a contradiction, so that when the safety car intervened he was 4th 2000 behind Kevin. He passed Kevin after the restart but unfortunately got tangled with another spinning car on the last lap, resulting in some damage to the Lola and a drop back to 4th 2000, 8th overall. He was followed in by Malcom Scott who had an even bigger mountain to climb from 32nd - it was good for spectators to watch the two of them fighting through the field.
With Adrian gone, Jason Timms found himself in the lead of the Mono Moto class, having passed Geoff Fern on lap 2 when Geoff was a little delayed, and this was the order in which they finished. Peter Vennn formed part of the group and swapped places, eventually finishing 7th overall, 2nd Classic. Peter explained afterwards: "I was using some Dunlops I discarded in 2011, and you'll be amazed that the back of the truck didn't improve them. I dropped from 3rd on the grid to 6th, but then they came in and I had a good race with Dan and Lee - both were quick and better in braking, but I think I was faster on the straights and in the corners. It's the first time I've been in a single seater since Spa.".
The FVL men Daryl "Now Mr Sensible" Jones and Kevin Otway raced with Bryn Tootell's VDF4, with the order swapping round during the race, but always close. These 3 were followed in by practice casualty Dax Ward who qualified 53rd and, as he says on the forum, passed 82 cars in 2 days. 6th in 2000, and behind Dax was Tony Bishop, and circumstance played a big part in this. Because he was also in the F3 car he was running from the pits, as a result of which he missed the call to the assembly area and started dead last from the pit lane.
I've already commented on John Whitbourn being 10 places behind his rival Paul Britten, and he did well to pass 8 cars to get within a couple of places of Paul, but Paul made sure he did more than enough to keep ahead and win the class by 17 seconds.William Howe was 3rd 1800, having spent much of the race bonded to Luke Rosewell who retired on lap 7. The Ztec class was won by Ryan Hayes, his misfire of the past having gone, mysteriously transferred without any other components to his Dad's car. He finished the race Schumacher style, taking the chequered flag from the pitlane (according to TSL), resulting in a drop down the order, but a class win's a class win. The normally reliable Marcus Sheard dropped out with a damaged engine leaving Douglas McLay to collect second.
As for the 1600 class, I know Adrian Heath won, and after a bit of puzzling I worked out that the returning Jim Timms was second. He's lost nothing of the old talent by racing in historic F3. The problem was that the flag was being readied for Kevan, but was seen by 3 cars (Geoff Cowell, Peter Bassill and Eddie Guest., 3rd in 1600) who pulled into the pits before "officially" taking the flag. They were later reinstated by some algebraic formula that's beyond a mere FCA with a degree in Stats. It also didn't help that the results initially showed Jim as a Classic, and the final results showed him as 18th 1600 out of 4. As they also earlier showed Prajesh Shah as competing (he wasn't) and Paul Dibden as driving more than one car at the same time I suspect Simon did a supreme job in sorting out reality.
Several cars failed to finish due to mysterious yet surprisingly readily resolved fuel system issues. In other words they ran out of petrol, but I'm far too charitable to say who they were.
An interesting race was run by Lou Watts who started from the back due to noise issues, made up 15 places - including 6 on the restart lap - and then dropped back to the tail of the field. He was last seen having a coaching session with Sunday pilot Wil Arif and commented after a fraught day "Now I can enjoy myself!".
Race Quotes which I can't shoehorn in above
Dane Catanzaro: "I had a big spin going into Luffield and ended up close to the wall, but I was able to carry on."
Jim Timms: "That was very enjoyable. I had to work hard for 2nd [David Parkinson had been just ahead of him for most of the race] but I'm very satisfied. I didn't expect second."
Adrian Heath had a scratch across the front of his FVJ "I was parked by teh FIA garage and a grizzly bear came out and savaged it." (Sarah Harvey Fern saw through this tissue of lies immediatley and said "Don't be silly. There isn't an FIA garage.") He continued "I'm very happy with fastest lap and a race win. I had oversteer in Copse (gulp - ed)"
Peter Whitmore, having had a good qualification and race after a long development period with the Reynard Toyota: "It works!! It's fixed! I passed some cars! After 2 years in the wilderness!"
Geoff Cowell "It only rained a bit. Please can Mono have special facilities for racing pensioners - slots close to scrutineering and the toilets?"
If I didn't mention you, apologies, and if I didn't ask how you did, again, generally nothing personal, I tried not to bother people who looked very busy, or grumpy. If I'm reporting on Snetterton please feel free to approach me with any stories. And as the GP circuit is huge, and I can only be at one point, if I've missed something vital or misrepresented you, feel free to email email@example.com. I wasn't there on Sunday, so don't email me asking why I haven't written the report.
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.
Apologies that being non-media I have to photograph at Stalag Silverstone through the barbed wire and sentry posts, and I've been thrown out of Parc Ferme so no "candid" shots.
2 pictures of Paul Dibden's RT1. Nice. At 37 years of age, it carries its years well.
Daryl Jones impressed in practice
Kevin Mason's 399 brought back from the Spa and restored to its customary glory
Good to see Richard Evans back out in the Toms
Jim Timms was to have a good day, Robbie Watts less so
Kevin working on his clutch
Adrian Wright dominated until fate struck a cruel blow
Tony Bishop making up places, here passing the Edgington-prepared Mygale of Simon Emmerson. Pretty car.
Geoff Cowell and Jonathan Baggott
Lousy photograph but Daniel Hands and Lee Cunningham provided close racing at the front
Robbie Watts passes Kevin Otway
Damon Bland and Simon Emmerson
Ollie and Peter Whitmore - probably as happy as anybody on Saturday
Grizzly bear claw marks on Adie's FVJ.