7 November 2015
November Sunshine on a Rainy Day
When I worked for Deloittes in the 1970's they did the receivership of Dudley Zoo. The story went that the partner asked a student if he'd arranged for the zebras to be fed. “Yes”, he replied,”to the lions.” The Tiedeman Trophy sounds a bit like that, all the classes out together, poor little 1600s and 1800s being fed to the big cars. But of course, it isn't. There's a much better inter-class understanding in Tiedeman than in the main championship, for reasons I really don't understand. Perhaps it's because we want to live happily together. And maybe that's a lesson for all of us in life. I'm hoping to do Radio 4's Thought For the Day next week.
Global warming meant we had rain, but nice warm rain. The pits were welcome, and well arranged. Qualifying had a few offs, but none car damaging. Most people did their best laps early on, Jeremy Timms taking pole (and later having a big spin) with Shane Kelly (wearing the Northbrook fleece this week) not too surprisingly taking second in the Classic Renault. Jason Timms took third with Chris Lord popping the FVL into a creditable fourth, obtained on lap 7 while Neil Harrison got fifth by building up to a fastest last lap. Popular returnee (at least that's what he tells me) Ian Hughes was next up. He always goes well in the wet having that unfair advantage called “talent”, though was on 4 year old wet tyres. (“You were lucky, lad, mine were 7 years old” - 4 Monoposto drivers Monty Python Sketch). The other rainmeister, Terry Clark, was 7th in his old FVL which Steven Magill said we couldn't take the wotsit out of as it looked great (I agree) and it was all the same colour. You don't know Startline do you Steve? “Team Clark planned a lunchtime visit to Halfords at Coalville to get some random colour aerosols to make Terry feel at home.” Nigel Davers, in a Mygale which didn't wear traditional TFR colours, Ewen Sergison, and James Williams finished the top 10. Geoff Fern in 11 was top 1600.
BRSCC were a bit different in lining up the grid after the green flag lap. It worked well, and we set off safely, albeit with most people very reliant on the red lights in front to avoid problems. Jeremy kept the lead, but was challenged closely by Shane, who suffered a mild misfire. Shane did in fact get ahead for a short while, but fell away again. Mid race, Jeremy built up a 10 second lead but at the flag Shane was back to 2.6 seconds in arrears. Jason, in the similar Dallara to Jeremy, was the only other driver in contention, albeit a little bit slower. He spent the race in 3rd, but well behind Shane. If these 3 looked very rapid but not a matter for debate, the same wasn't true of the next group. One of the oldest cars in the race, Ian Hughes's RF88, was against Neil Harrison's immaculate and familiar Dallara F302, and the Vauxhall Loti of Terry Clark and Chris Lord (who finished in that order). But as they came through the field it was as a train, one after the other. Though it's a funny thing, they didn't intimidate us back markers, giving plenty of room while still racing frantically. Presumably they work on the principal that contact is bad for everybody.....Let Ian Hughes take up the story:
“I made a good start to get past Neil and settled in behind Chris Lord. I took it carefully to begin with as I was still wary about the age of my tyres. Then just as I was confident enough to have a go at him, Terry Clark came past me on the way into Redgate - where did he come from? I then watched as Chris and Terry battled all the while thinking that at any moment the 2 of them would come together and depart towards the kitty litter. It didn't take too long before Terry dived up the inside at the Esses and Chris outbraked himself and went straight on. I then set about re-taking my position back from Terry. I chased hard and was rewarded when he lost it on the exit of the old hairpin and was busy "pirouetting around" as I went past him. It was interesting being able to look at the whites of someone's eyes as I overtook. That turned out to be the last lap; I was elated to finish 2nd in class.”
5th in class seems odd for Nigel Davers, but he was in an unusual car, a Mygale FF2000 which wasn't TFR Black and Red. Initially followed by Il Patrone Geoff Fern, Geoff disappeared following an off on lap 2. James Williams took up the challenge on lap 2 , but was demoted by Neil Tomlinson in the ex-Peter Venn F398 Vauxhall on lap 3. Nigel then dropped back after an incident on lap 4, leaving Neil ahead of James. Nigel worked his way back ahead of James, and Neil had a penultimate lap disaster which dropped him to 14th, which meant 8th for Nigel and 9th for James.
Simon Davey stayed aloof from all this fighting and had a thinking mans rapid run to 10th. Kevin Couling kept Simon in his sights, but wasn't a threat, whilst in 13th Ewen Sergison, with a hand operated clutch because his leg was damaged in Jim Blockley's Brabham, was following Jackie Stewart's maxim of winning with maximum reserves. Fitting between them, Mono newcomer Peter Lague had an eventful race, with a disappointing start (he was behind me on lap one), a spin on lap 3, and then a fight through the field to end up 12th.
Mark Smith and Tony Cotton have raced together before, when Mark had his FR and Tony was in the inevitable FVJ, and also when both had Dallaras. But this was a truly surreal race. Tony led Mark – just – for 8 laps, with Mark just edging ahead into Redgate on a couple of occasions. On lap 9 he deservedly made it stick. Between them, the two demonstrated that there is a distinct advantage in brand new sticky wets.
The “Avit 1800 Backing Group”, consisting of proper Team Avit member Richard Greening with involuntary members Philip Davis and a welcome returning Jonathan Baggott, had some close battles until Philip went off on lap 5 (“I didn't realise it was possible to have so little grip”), leaving Richard and JB to fight away until JB had a moment on the last lap. Philip pounced, to leave the order Richard, Philip, Jonathan.
Nick Catanzaro pulled off after 2 laps, but was in a good state to rejoin the afternoon's activities which he might not have been if he hadn't pulled off.
Various strategies were adopted in the pits as the track dried. Would it be dry enough for slicks? Some boldly went for it and relaxed, looking cool.
Others had the car wheel-less, awaiting a decision. Others had a mix on, ready to change whichever end needed it. Others stuck with wets and had a last minute decision to change. We all went to the grid – based on Race 1 finishing order – on slicks, and it was the right decision, the track was fully dry.
Drama immediately as James Williams's clutch went on the grid. I know from the back that there was a blockage on the grid, so that was presumably James, though it seemed a much more colourful car at the time. More evidence that the last person to ever believe is an eye witness..... Some people were a bit glad that they were delayed because coming into McLeans, Kevin Couling had a moment which led him to hit Simon Davey. Simon spun round and poor Peter Lague had nowhere to go. There was no major damage, but the track was 50% blocked, so a good call was made for a red flag. I suspect that Shane Kelly may have been pleased to restart, as his misfire appeared to have recurred on the first start, as several back markers passed him. The re-gridding was fairly slow because being racing drivers we find it difficult to remember where we were 5 minutes previously. At least I do. The ever patient marshalls sorted us, and after another green flag lap we were away again, this time cleanly, for a race whose intended length I can't work out as Jeremy Timms, who won untroubled from pole. Power and aero meant a bit more on a dry track so unsurprisingly, Neil Harrison moved up from a grid slot of 5th to 3rd on lap 1, behind Jason, who pulled off around Starkey's Bridge, which moved Neil to second.
After a slight delay on lap 1, Nigel Davers took the battle to Shane. The latter led at the start finish line on all laps except the one that mattered. Still, it was enough for 4th in the championship and also the STEM trophy. However, it wasn't quite as straightforward as the results sheet show. For the first 5 laps, Ian Hughes led the class from Chris Lord. It was only on lap 5 when Chris slowed a little that Shane passed him and then Nigel put in his stunning last lap to pass both Chris and Shane. As for Ian, he suffered a major blowup – see the sidebar for his race 2 story. Another rapid Classic stopped by fate was Terry Clark, a broken suspension on lap two leaving him on the outside of the final chicane, causing yellows which might have affected the odd cunning plan.
Mark Smith had tyres worthy of his talent in race 2 and as a result had a cracking race with Neil Tomlinson. Neil was a bit slow away from the start but edged ahead of Mark on lap 2. He never had it easy as Mark filled his mirrors. I did wonder whether somebody had put a big magnet in the front of Mark's car, so close had he been to the bloke in front in 2 races. Nick Catanzaro was 8th, with Ewen Sergison last unlapped runner, winning 1800 after a bit of a fight with Geoff Fern who won the 1600 class. Tony Cotton, Philip Davis, Jonathan Baggott and Richard Greening completed the field, circulating in that order.
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