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MSVR Mono 300 9 November 2013, Snetterton

A Winter Challenge

I debated whether to refer to the 34 entries - more, as Andrew Cliffe pointed out, than the rest of the meeting combined - as "hardy souls" or "daft b*ggers". In temperatures reminiscent of the much missed Mallory Boxing Day meeting, MSVR put on a superbly organised event, which of course featured the F4 Winter Series. An F4 man told us that the temperature on Friday for testing was 11C, and times were near normal. At Saturday's 4C, they were around 15 seconds away. The lack of grip was apparent, but it was a challenge that the Mono club and some very welcome guests rose to.

A few entries deserve a special mention. Jim Timms was entered in his beautiful RT1, bought to allow him to do Monaco, but it just wouldn't run, so we were deprived of the sight of 2 real Classics.Two which we did see were Simon Davey and Jonathan Lewis. Simon had no official role, so was allowed to enter. He managed to run his own car, weld up a Jedi, give assistance to several competitors, run the hospitality awning and sort out the prizegiving. We should have tank taped a brush to his back and he could have swept the paddock too. Jonathan was out in the same VD US FF2000 he ran 10 years ago, recently repurchased to be run for (according to Facebook) a customer in 2014. Rebuilt in a week, mainly by his long time helper whose name I don't know but should, it was a fantastic achievement, and the weekend kept getting better for him.

Qualifying was treacherous. The paddock looked dry, so the track must be as well, right? Er, no. There are few cannier drivers than Simon Davey and I nearly fell over in surprise when he came around to Murrays and spun. He later said "It was like F1 - the tyres fell off the cliff. And trhen they got worse." Simon was followed during the course of the session by other spinners Damon Bland, Joe Venor, Tom White, and several others. Elsewhere on the circuit Jonathan Reed lost a front wing. The only consistently quick and apparently glued to the road driver was Jack Lang (a young F Jedi regular), who got pole, despite a misfire. Tony Bishop was behind him, with James Rimmer relishing the difficult conditions, Jeremy Timms on slicks in 4th and Ray Rowan, foresaking his usual green F300 for a newer F306, in 5th.

Jonathan Lewis and the Bailey Caravans RF00 Arty Cameron retired to the disappointment of many Tom White in the unusual Crossle 33

Arty Cameron was a very welcome returnee, the commentators relishing the prospect of the spectacular style of the the UK's most interesting bank manager (so what's the competition? - ed). Sadly, the new engine in the Jedi failed to run. Also without power were Nick Catanzaro, Terry Clark and Jonathan Lewis.In Terry's case an errant stone resulted in a burnt out clutch, hence retirement, whilst JL was bemused as the car restarted on return.


Jack Lang had a faultless run Jonathan Reed in a car your reporter hasn't seen before withdrew after 3 laps Dan Clowes, pursued by Tony Bishop
Tony, in turn, pursued by Ray Rowan... ..who uncharacteristically in the conditions went off.... ....but the king of Montreal Offs was Kevin Otway in Lou Watts's FIreland.

Of the top 6, only Jeremy Timms was brave/daft enough to run slicks, and it seemed to work when he took the lead from the start. Jack Lang soon retook it, but then there was activity down the field. Front runner James Rimmer spun at Agostini, getting going again, and Nigel Davers spun at Palmer, bringing out the safety car. Full marks to MSV for a rapid clear up as the safety car was in after a lap and racing resumed. Jack Lang built a solid lead, Dan Clowes an equally solid 2nd without threatening the dominant youngster.

Jason Timms was 4th.... one stage just ahead of Graham Read's developing Dallarabusa Justin Taylor and Alan Fincham swapped places
Mary Whittaker had heavy understeer... ...resulting in an off. Simon Davey kept ahead of Jonathan Lewis .
Jeremy Timms on the way to 3rd Chris Lord was passed by James Rimmer Nick Catanzaro chased by Jonathan Lewis
Dane Catanzaro and Kevin Otway Mary gives Jason plenty of room Damon Bland and Tom White

Third was more of an issue. Tony Bishop and Jason Timms fought for second for a while until Tony dropped it on lap 6, while Ray Rowan was chasing Jeremy and Jason, but spun when he dropped a gear a bit quickly, such was the lack of grip. At the flag the consistent Timms Cousins took third and fourth while the Dallara Twins of Ray Rowan and Tony Bishop recovered from there spins to finish a close 5th and 6th. Chris Lord brought his FF2000 Van Diemen in for the 1800 class win, while Andrew Colebrooke just shaded out Simon Davey for 1600.

Simon Davey and Alan Fincham Dave King and Kevin Otway Jason Timms, Ray Rowan and Tony Bishop were close on the last lap
In sight of the line, Jonathan Lewis had a last lap spin Jack Lang Team Timms try to get the best looking car of all going


Once again Jack Lang lost out at the start to Tony Bishop. Jeremy Timms went off at the hairpin, then Jason Timms and Graham Read had offs. With rain having fallen but the track temperature unchanged, it was very, very slippy. As a result, there were 4 laps of mayhem, ending in a red flag when Justin Taylor went off at Montreal. The general belief, voiced over the PA,was that somebody dropped oil, making a slippy surface even worse.. After recovery, the race was restarted, with Andrew Dunn withdrawing on the grid with problems and others withdrawing due to conditions. After another start when Tony Bishop led, Jack Lang took over, followed by Dan Clowes. Tony finished third, despite an off, while Chris Lord was 4th and first 1800. Unluckiest driver had to be Tom White (an U18 according to the entry list) in 6th, who was delighted with his result and mortified to have dropped it on the slowing down lap. Sportingly, Steven Connor gave up his Sunday ride for Tom.

Surprisingly in these conditions, which can suit Classics well, the first Classic was 7th. James Rimmer took a well deserved Classic class win, ahead of a happy Nick Catanzaro.Simon Davey won the 1600 class ahead of Joe Venor whose ex-Mark Blundell Lola is now for sale.

Lined up, covered by umbrellas and ready   Tony Bishop gets the lead   Nick Catanzaro and Jonathan Reed battle
An off at Oggies for Graham Read   Richard Evans spins his TOM'S while Dane Catanzaro passes   Jack Lang proceeds, apparently unconcerned by the troubles around him
Tony Bishop   Jonathan Lewis and Chris Lord   Simon Davey and Andrew Colebrooke
Andrew Dunn and Nigel Davers   The Lewis and Lord show continues....   ....until Jonathan leaves the double act.
Damon Bland was another Oggies victim.   Now it's Jonathan Lewis and Nigel Davers   Tony Bishop passes Richard Evans
Justin Taylor's very neat Lola T644E returns with damage   Tony leads again from Jack and Dan Clowes   Tony and Dan, lap 1 of the restart
Tony goes off at Oggies   Tom White and Geoff Fern followed by James Rimmer   Chris Lord


Sorry that there are so many involving Tony Bishop, but he did seem to get involved a lot

And so as the Startline private helicopter departs (alright, it's Jonathan Palmer's company Agusta 109S, but we can dream) we come to the end of a season of reports. Thank you to all of the drivers and their teams for providing great racing and great company and thanks for giving me the odd quote when I pester you as you're just about to do something important. Thanks also to the organisers, who seem to manage to be efficient, helpful and friendly all at the same time, to the officials and of course the marshalls without whom it just couldn't happen. Have a good off season, see you next year.

Tony Cotton



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