JMT Mono Championship Rounds 1 and 2
"Easter Family Fun Day" was the title given to this event by MSVR. Most Oulton clubbies are attended by friends of the drivers, a few die hard spectators and people looking for Tatton Park but who've got a very cheap satnav. This was different. there were attractions which were little to do with racing, rides around the track, even a circus. MSVR gave away a very simple but very helpful mini-programme so that the punters knew what was happening even if they didn't care about who was driving. As I queued to get in (unheard of at a clubbie) I thought that this is not a bad thing as it could draw a few more into racing. Well done MSVR.
Most of the casual spectators had gone by 17.55hrs when the second 1600/1800/Moto race was due to start. As the other race was cancelled, few got to see this grid in action, which was a pity. The problems had started in qualifying.
Graham Read really started something when he built a Hayabusa Dallara just for himself a couple of years ago. We now have (effectively) a class for them and there were 5 out, though in fact one was a non-Reader, the Orange Kevin Mason -masterminded car of Anthony Gauntlett. Unlike the GR car, this uses machined ally plates to support the engine longitudinally. The 'Busa drives a layshaft which then drives the standard Dallara cased Hewland box. Interesting. Tony Gauntlett said "It was amazing, the faster I went the more I could feel it sitting down and gripping". As I said to another Tony (Bishop) at Cadwell last year "How would you like it if your car had the same grip but 100kg less mass?". I suspect we can expect more of these, especially as the conventional wisdom is that nobody wants a pre-302 car because it's got a sticky stick gear change. Though for some reason Chris Davison in the F 3 class didn't seem to be aware of that ..... Sadly, an errant chain put Tony out.
No suprise that a Timms was on pole. Variable (from cold and greasy to cold and wet) weather made qualifying difficult. Very difficult. Even The Master Jeremy Timms fell victim to the wet and put the 301 into the litter tray after 5 laps, leaving cousin Jason to take pole. Equally, there was no surprise that Richard Gittings put his Jedi in 3rd, barely 0.4 of a second behind pole, and M1000 pole. There was then a 4 second gap to Timothy Grey, the first time Mono has had a character from Downton Abbey racing with us, who was second in M1000 in the new DSE PR3 first seen at Mallory last year, and a whisker ahead of Jon Reed. Wet is always a great equaliser and Richard Fores (another name new to me) was just behind for the 1800 pole in his RF97. 1600 pole meanwhile went to Martin Short, who usually races with us when we're at Oulton. He's the 1600 Martin Short, not the Rollcentre man. Geoff Fern was 1.8 seconds behind Martin for 1600 second, while Phil Davis took second 1800.
Now, remember catastrophe theory? When a butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo causes an earthquake in Dudley? Well that sort of happened here. Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke had an off which caused a red flag and then a spin at Fosters which put him out. As a result he started 7th on the grid, and then had a bad start which put him amongst the 1600s. With Jeremy Timms taking the lead on the first start but Jason dropping back a bit, an interesting race looked to be on the cards but in trying to move forward, Andrew thinks he touched touched Il Patrone Geoff Fern. This gave rise to a red flag, fortunately all was well enough for all to restart.
At start 2, Jeremy again took the lead with Richard Gittings in second and Jason side by side with Jon Reed. Back on the grid, Phil Davies made a great start, moving up about 4 places. Then it all went awry. He said something may have broken, but Andrew Gordon Colebrook thinks they may have brushed. The outcome was that Phil pitched into the wall, quite strongly. He was fine, but the previously immaculate RF98 wasn't and there was little option but a second red.
Another red flag. This time it was Andrew off at Old Hall, accompanied this time by Martin Wright in the Marc Fortune Dallara and David Jones (possibly - my picture's a bit unclear).
Finally, around 18.15 the race started and of course Jeremy took the lead. Oh hang on.....no he didn't. Not on the one that counted. For the first time in 4 starts, he didn't. Richard Gittings did. Through Fosters you could have put Formula One's credibility between them, they were that close. This carried on for 5 laps, absolutely mesmerising and if the punters stayed they were rewarded with great racing. Jeremy finally got by on lap 6 and built up a lead of nearly 4 seconds over the M1000 winner. Jason suffered again at the start. From pole he slipped to 5th at the end of lap 1and in a very competitive group with Jon Reed and Timothy Grey he crowbarred himself up to 3rd on lap 4, which is where he finished. A lap later Timothy pitted, not to return, which left Jon lonely but in a strong M1000 second.
Craig Hurran made no mistakes in qualifying because he didn't do it. He started the race from the back so had a lot of work to do. 7 places of it was done in lap 1, thereafter it was a bit harder, an initial 10 second gap to Jon ending at 6 at the flag for the final M1000 podium. Richard Moorcroft (Jedi VI) slipped back at the start but got into his stride in the second half of the race, moving up to 6th on track. This rather neatly divided the results between bike and car engines. Richard Fores led in the car group, staying a fairly constant 2 seconds ahead of a dueling Martin Short and Geoff Fern for the 1800 win. Geoff obvioulsy wasn't happy having been deposed as ruler of the class and led the first 6 laps. Martin took the lead mid race, always nose to tail as far as traffic would allow, and Geoff edged it back on the final lap - 0.17s after 10 minutes. F1, watch and learn. Slightly slower than these 2 were David Jones (1800) and Eddie Guest (1600), but again racing closely. They were rarely far apart, and were so closley matched that according to TSL their lap times on lap 6 were identical to the 1/1000th.
The race finsished after 10 minutes due to the curfew and the need to allow time for the slowing down lap.
As well as Timothy Grey, Doug McLay pulled out with engine issues, Martin Wright with a dangly front wing (hopefully just the ally mountings and not the carbon) and Kyle Cutts parked up on lap 1. Andrew Gordon-Colebrook, Phil Davies and John Hare were non-starters.
3rd onwards, start 1, race 1
Tony Cotton Good pics by Andrew Cliffe/Norwich Photo, blurry ones TC. Also Google.
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Happier times with Phil and John on the out lap
Damaged rear wing on A G-C's car
Richard Fores and Geoff Fern were close, as Martin Short and Craig Hurran respectively make plans.