29th April 2006 - Silverstone National
Round two of the Dunlop Track and Race championship would be at Silverstone, organised by the Peterborough Motor Club. It is our only visit to the National circuit, and yet again we would be providing the biggest grid of the day. Several new cars and drivers joined in, most notably Greg Rose in the ex-Andy Rouse Mercedes 190 Evo 2 DTM car. After careful checks by the scrutineer and consultation amongst the BARC committee it was deemed that this car would fit into class B. Obviously its performance would be monitored, but the regs cannot be changed for this year.
Other newcomers included Nick Humphrey (Alfa Romeo), David Hughes and Guy Blumer (Ford Sierra Cosworths), Andy Woods-Dean (Renault Megane), Darren Bly (Opel Manta), Richard Asher from “Autosport” (ex-Luke Wood Ford Fiesta) and Martin Rutherford who has bought Chris Adams VW Vento. It was also welcome back to Richard Brent, Anthony Ahmed, Tim Dodwell and Ray Adams. Tim pointed out that his problems prior to Brands were a bit more than just an MOT.
Practice saw us out first again, but this time the track was a lot cleaner. However, we did have a couple of oil spillers, most notably Rob Compton (who blew a head gasket) and Andy Wickens (who blew a hole or two in his engine block). This can only get better for these two, as they have both had a rotten start to the year. Andy Pipe had a leaking rocker cover gasket, so all in all it was a very slippery track by the end of the 15 minute session.
Our driver got pole, but unlike the huge margin at Brands, this time the gap was a mere 0.074 seconds! Lining up second would be Greg Rose in the impressive Merc. David Oates annexed third from Nick Williamson. Peter Wilkinson had the inside of row three only 0.026 slower than Ray, but just 0.003 faster than Graham Bahr. Andy Mitchell was quickest class E runner, with Kerr Robertson quickest in class C. However, Kerr had “lost” third gear so was destined not to start. Class D was headed by Greg Pye from Darren Bly. The full set of times appear on the results page and show how competitive everything has become.
With both Compton and Wickens also non-starting we still had 35 cars line up for the first race. This being a “standing start”, all eyes were on the four wheel drive cars to see how they would launch off the grid. Sure enough, it was an Escort Cosworth that led the charge to the first corner, but not our black example. It was the white version of Nick Williamson followed by Rod, then Ray Barrow, Peter Wilkinson and David Oates. The Mercedes had bogged down a bit, but was hanging on in sixth. Out of Becketts, Rod pulled alongside Nick and drafted past into Brooklands. Greg Rose braked really late and also moved up a couple of places. By the second lap he was up to second, but Rod had made good his escape pulling out a four second lead whilst lapping in the low 62 second area. A lap later and the margin was nearly seven seconds, this was looking good. However, Rose’s lap times were now getting quicker and with back markers looming the chase was on.
Gradually the gap reduced until by the start of the last lap it was under three seconds. Rod had been watching the water temperature, having felt hot water around his feet. By the chequered flag our lead had reduced to 2.2 seconds which was comfortable enough. The battle for third was a lot closer, with Oates edging closer to Williamson. Down the straights the Escort was quicker, whilst through the corners the lightweight Tigra closed in. Their gap was just 0.30 seconds at the finish. Peter Wilkinson was pleased with his car’s performance and came in a further five seconds later. Peter also claimed the “best prepared car” award, his eye catching attention to detail is wonderful, particularly as his car’s sides now have maps of the circuits we are visiting this year.
Ray Barrow settled for a fairly lonely sixth from class B runner up Nick Humphrey. Peter Wilks had a much improved run to eighth, holding off a big gaggle of cars in the following order: Craig, Gane, Brent, Mitchell, Hargreaves and Weatherley. Only 3 seconds covered the lot and it looked superb! Les Beer headed the next gaggle from Bill Richard, Anthony Ahmed and Graham Richardson. Anthony’s antics in his VW Golf certainly earned him the accolade of “driver of the race”, his full on sideways through Woodcote curve left the pitwall watchers gasping. Martin Rutherford had a good tussle with the ever improving pensioner “uncle” Eric Falce, whilst Lee McNair felt his Mini was a bit breathless on the long straights although did hold off Andy Pipe’s non smokey escort. Gary Cole was pleased to beat the newer French car of Andy Woods-Dean, and it was great to see a smile back on Greg Pye’s face when he claimed class D honours. Adams, Hughes, Ribbens (with new valve spring fitted) and Asher completed the list of classified finishers.
Amongst the six retirements was Graham Bahr, whose turbo oil return pipe had split, whilst Tim Dodwell had a missing engine mount bolt to add to his woes. These turbo cars do take some looking after along with plenty of T.L.C.
With Coleman and Blumer failing to start race two, 33 cars set off on the warm up lap. Rod moved first as the lights went out, only to miss selecting third gear. For some reason he chose fifth, which caused some heart stopping avoidance behind (well done Mr. Wilkinson). By now he was back in sixth, with Nick Williamson again leading the way down to Becketts. Greg Rose had made a better start this time and was in front of Rod which would make things interesting. As they completed lap one the order was Williamson, Rose, Birley, Barrow, Wilkinson, Oates. Missing was Nick Humphrey who had pirouetted at Luffield and was stuck in the gravel.
Peter Wilks’s good run in race one soon evaporated in race two as the gremlins struck and he slid down the order. Steve Weatherley, on the other hand, was moving in the opposite direction as he worked his way through the Peugeot 205 gang. Although he didn’t quite usurp Richard Brent, Steve did gain a creditable eighth overall and second in class B, along with the “driver of the race” award,which was judged by Tony Sugden (winner of 540 races in both cars and motorcycles). Another moving forward was Richard Gane, whilst Graham Bahr was in a hurry from the rear of the grid.
Meanwhile, back at the sharp end, Rod had emerged in the lead at the end of lap two with Rose in hot pursuit. All the passing had occurred on the run down Club straight and into Brooklands. Ray Barrow dropped out of the leading group at the end of lap six, which also saw the demise of Les Beer. Les again charged into the gravel at Brooklands (re-named Beer Bend), although this year the car thankfully did not roll. A couple of laps later Lee McNair retired, just after Darren Bly had pulled his Opel off.
The pace was still hot with Rod being the first to break the 62 second barrier with a lap of 61.609 (95.77 mph). This meant he was topping 150 mph in places, which is pretty awesome. As the laps rolled off he picked up a bit of understeer, whilst Greg’s Mercedes went better as the longer race wore on. In fact Greg set his fastest lap on lap 14, just 0.164 seconds slower than ours. The white Merc closed in for a last lap showdown, which looked likely as the gap was about one second. All eyes were on Woodcote for the final time, we could hear the wailing German car drowning out our turbo Ford, but the flame splitter appeared first, but only just. The gap was only 0.674 seconds, pretty close. Both drivers had big smiles and it was good to see the inter team camarardery. Nick Williamson held off Oates again for third, whilst Wilkinson slowed towards the end but still grabbed fifth as the last unlapped runner.
Gane took sixth and first in class C from class E victor Richard Brent. Hargreaves and Mitchell finished runners up in their respective classes. Craig re-passed Graham Bahr on the final lap, as Graham’s BMW expired in a sheet of flame as the turbo oil pipe failed again. Luckily the fire was quickly extinguished without any real damage. Bill Richards almost nipped past the “flaming” BMW as well, but settled for 13th overall and third in class. Ahmed found time to play with a different class E car this time, namely Graham Richardson’s Nova. Greg Pye again won class D, so he scored a good number of points plus an armful of trophies.
The championship now sees Rod in the lead, mainly due to Jason Watkins being absent in Denmark. Rod is the only driver with a 100% class win tally, but there are some interesting movements in the other classes. Richard Gane (B) is second overall, from Andy Mitchell (E), Nigel Craig (B) and Nick Williamson. Alex Ribbens tops class D, showing that persistence really does count.
Next stop is Snetterton, another fast circuit, where we will see the return of Mark Hoskins in the Audi TT amongst others. Our races are on Saturday May 13th only.