Wet Wet Wet
It would be nice to think that the park and ride signs and the masses of temporary grandstands (it being not cost effective to have permanent grandstands) were to cater for the massive crowds coming to see Monoposto on the Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit. But I think it was something to do with an insignificant little clubbie on 5 July. Nevertheless, the paddock was packed to capacity with the entry, including what must be Mono's 2 most distant members, Wayne Wilson and Tim Kuchel, a couple of vets from Australia in 2 lovely Brabham Twin Cams (BT21c and 18 respectively). It makes Damon Bland from Switzerland seem a positive local.
There was a light drizzle in the air first thing - it even encouraged debate about whether slicks mght be on. By scrutineering rain was set in and by qualifying it was moderately heavy. Those of us with glasses who didn't apply Rain-X or similar drove virtually blind (for which apologies to those trying to drive round me).
After a lap, qualifying was red flagged for 20 minutes. Marcus Sheard had been going slowly in his beautiful Marlboro liveried ex-Tristan Cliffe/Lenny Coleman 883 on its first outing, having identified a vibration. An unsighted Andrew Colebrook, side by side with Alistair Bell and Adrian Wright on Hangar Straight, hit him at near full chat, lifting the F3 car in the air which slammed down on the Speads. Poor Andrew had to be cut out of his overalls to insert a back splint while still in the car, and had a hospital trip due to the painful back while Marcus's gearbox was snapped away at the bell housing and moved through 30 degrees. Frankly, it could have happened between any 2 cars and the club's sympathy goes to both. Andrew was back in the paddock on Sunday and when asked for a quote said "Ow".
At the front, Tony Bishop put up a stunning time of 2.51 to lead Robbie Watts by 2.4 seconds, and Ben Cater by 3.1 seconds. Jim Blockley was 4th on a 2.58, showing that in these conditions the RT3 hasn't passed it's sell-by. At least, not if driven by Jim. Jeremy Timms put the innovative Dallara Moto on class pole, just over a second behind Jim, while returnee Robin Dawe (in the FVL rather than the much anticipated Toms) was on a 3 minute lap to be second Classic. Daryl Jones, Mark Harrison and Malcolm Scott made up 7-9 while Terry Clark, always a threat in the wet, completed the top ten. Shane Kelly in the Wolverhampton University Renault lined up 11th, so obviously stood no chance. Everybody forgot to tell him that, though. Jason Timms, in his Speads, which is as different an answer from his cousin's to the Moto class chassis question as you can get, was second Moto.
True to recent form, Matt Walters led in the 1800's while Geoff Fern in his latest acqusition, the ex David Parkinson Reynard FF84, led the1600's. We didn't have time to find out what tyres he was on, but (a) they looked very different and quite big for a 1600 (b) they were very effective. Stalwart Eddie Guest picked up second 1600. Second Mono 1800 was William Thorling, who first appeared at Brands. John Whitbourn's Duratec led Doug McLay in this elite class.
There were a few raised eyebrows when the last 6 cars got best times of over 34 minutes, which made the timesheet look silly. It obviously complies with MSA rules, it just defies logic, common sense and maths.
More than one competitor went out with a Lauda/Fuji 1976 frame of mind - do a lap (behind the safety car) and go ahead if it seems ok,. It was better than Qualifying, so most went ahead. Some decided to not go to the grid, and in view of the weather, nobody could criticise them.
I think most were glad for a rolling start. It went cleanly, some taking advantage of it more than others. By the end of lap 1 Tony Bishop had been passed by Robbie Watts and in attempting to regain the place pushed too hard at the Loop, found a puddle, and spun, dropping himself down to 11th by the end of the lap. He fought back to 4th. Robbie held the lead for about a lap but then, 11th-on-the-grid man Shane Kelly showed his love of the wet. Having got the car set up for the conditions on Friday, he had gained a couple of positions at the start, more at Maggotts, Becketts and Stowe, and was second at the end of lap one. He took the lead on the second lap and built an increasing lead to win by 58 seconds. "The set up allowed me to carry the corner speed" he told us, and he also thought he might have been taking different lines in the wet to other quick drivers.
Jeremy Timms was the closest challenger for 7 of the 8 laps and then, flag almost in sight, the throttle stuck open at the end of the Wellington Straight (or "Club Straight" as some of us refer to it.) Jeremy was out. Ben Cater shadowed Robbie Watts for a couple of laps, passed him on lap 4 and then they had a close, and from where I sat as they lapped me, frantic and brave battle up to the flag to grab the 2nd and 3rd podium spots. Daryl Jones joined in, and passed Robbie on lap 6, had a bit of a wobble at Luffield on lap7 to drop down, and then, with an engine described by our pit wall correspondent as "sounding a bit off", he spun at Luffield on the last lap. Fifth place man Mark Harrison drove with his customary precision to bring the car home safely in 5th. He had done a lap behind Jim Blockley who retired with a wet ECU and huge disappointment.
With Jim indisposed there was a strong candidate for first Classic and sure enough Terry Clark ("Excellent Weather" he japed before being hit by your reporter and a long queue of competitors) not only bagged the Classic win but a worthy 6th overall. James Rimmer in an F302 followed Terry in, and in turn was followed by Malcolm Scott and Alistair Bell, who was of course second Classic.. Malcolm obviously suffered an issue towards the end as his lap time increased while his rivals' decreased. Kevan McLurg was 8th in class, and commented that the best approach was just to be sensible and drive to finish in the conditions.
The demise of Jeremy's Dallara meant that Adrian Wright had a well deserved Moto victory in his AW3. Richard Gittings hovered behind Adrian for much of the race, in his own Yamaha 04 powered white Jedi instead of his more usual black one, to take 2nd in class. Craig Hurran had begun the race behind Dan Levy, Marc Fortune and former club sponsor Dax Ward, but all fell by the wayside and he became third place man in Moto. Wingnut Racing Technical Director Jon Reed brought his Jedi into 4th in class, with rapidly developing Speads-mounted class newcomers Kyle Cutts and Martin Wright showing great car control in the conditions to finish 5th and 6th while the evergreen Geoff Cowell completed the bike engined class.
Robin Dawe in his FVL Classic was not far behind Adrian Wright, but in achieving 4th in class he was the first of the lapped cars. He went backwards from qualifying, he believed due to carburation issues. The same would apply on Sunday. Bryn Tootell had been pushing Robin for the first 3 laps until falling back on lap 4. He brought the Noslen RF99 into 5th in Classic. Kevin Couling, always a good bet in the wet, took 5th in the large class, while Matthew Tighe and Damon Bland finished off the class. Sadly, Mat Jordan didn't even manage a lap, spinning on the entry to Hangar Straight and hitting the wall (been there, done that...). There was limited damage, but unfortunately some of it was to the Dallara nose on the Van Diemen and paddock repairs weren't practical.
A good setup and some brisk laps gave this year's 1800 man-to-beat Matt Walters the 1800 prize, leading to a dramatic fist pumping over the line, ahead of William Thorling in his smart, unwinged Mygale.
The 1600 class was dominated by Geoff Fern in the ex-David Parkinson Reynard, now looking Reynard-ish rather than Parky-ish. He finished in an overall 16th, ahead of many more powerful cars. Eddie Guest did his usual Mr Smooth for second in class, coming in in front of John Whitbourn who had a troublesome last lap but still managed to take DTec from Douglas McLay. Tony Cotton and Jock Sergison in the unique Highlander3 completed the 1600 class and finishers.
I've written this report after watching the race from inside a small aluminium bath with fitted shower (aka Vauxhall Junior) and a few conversations. So if I've missed your demon overtaking manouvre or heroic save of a spin, sorry. Please email me with any stories and I'll update the report.
John Hare was allegedley heard speaking on the mobile to his solicitor: "Tony Cotton told me at Snetterton last year that this Monoposto Racing is really good fun. Can I sue him?" But he was smiling....and even more so the next day, of which more anon.
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.
Proper pictures to follow. Here is a wet shed with blue paint on it, which describes the reporter's car