Whilst the weather could have been kinder, the foggy dawn and drizzle cleared and we were out racing again. The atmosphere in the paddock and the action on track more than made up for the climatic conditions, a last chance to have some fun before the lockdown.
As the Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens competitors lined up on the grid for the start of the first race it was still damp off line. Tim Davis had set pole in his Caterham C400 by over a second, but off the line Stephen Riley jumped both Davis and fellow front row starter Colin Watson from the row behind, as the pack ran into Gerard’s. Tim Davis repassed Riley on the second lap down the back straight into the Esses, but into the Hairpin Riley took the lead again, and Watson soon followed him through into second.
On lap four Watson passed Riley, just before the Safety Car was scrambled to enable a car to be recovered at the exit of the hairpin. With the pit window now open, Watson and Davis timed their pit stops to perfection, pitting on the final lap of the Safety Car period. Riley re-inherited the lead, but he pitted under green, one lap later, emerging behind the pair. Watson and Davis where tethered together, never more than a few tenths apart, working their way through the traffic lap after lap. When Group 1 leader Simon Griffiths pitted on lap 20 in his Caterham Supersport, the pair moved into 1-2 overall, still Watson just ahead.
The battle for Magnificent Sevens honours was an enthralling one, eventually going to Davis.
Across the line for the 22nd time, Davis was just 0.06 ahead as the pair passed a train of backmarkers down the start straight; marshal’s frantically waving blue flags. Two laps later, Watson was back in front after taking advantage of the Seven sized gap left to the inside of Gerrards, but with a handful of minutes left on the clock Davis retook the lead at the same place and in the same way. This time the team mates touched ever so lightly, in doing so Watson was edged out wide on the grass, but had enough of a cushion to hold on to second overall, with Davis taking the win. Behind Watson, Graham Charman took third and Class F honours, despite being boxed in during his pit stop and losing ten seconds as a result. Simon Griffiths and Samuel Wilson held on to take Group 1 success.
Mallory Park is the spiritual home of the CSCC Special Saloons & Modsports Series, and they put on two 15-minute sprints for the fans on the wind-swept spectator banks. The action in race 1 would certainly have warmed them up! It did feel like rally weather out there, and two iconic rally cars were on the front row, well their own unique interpretation of these models anyway! Wayne Crabtree had qualified his Ford RS200 on pole, with newcomer Matt Manderson second, in his Lancia Stratos Knightsports. At the start Manderson took the lead from the Ford, while Andy Southcott made his way into third, after a disappointing qualifying for the series frontrunner. The motorcycle-engined Lancia (in the new for 2020 modern-engined group) seemed to be pulling away into a dominant lead, as the first few laps played out but soon Crabtree and Southcott began to reel him in.
A Special Saloons and Modsports double header produced two different winners.
Southcott passed Crabtree on the fifth lap, and a series of fast laps through the traffic soon had him on the tail of the Lancia. The action had everyone in the paddock watching the trio racing down the back straight. As they approached the hairpin for the tenth time to lap the battling Fords of Neil Duke and Tony Paxman, Southcott pounced to pass the Lancia, to take a lead he would not relinquish. Manderson held onto second, in the process winning the race for modern-engined cars, with Crabtree third.
With Southcott missing for the second race of the day, Manderson made the most of the opportunity to do what he looked set to do in the opening laps of the first encounter, romping away at the front to take a first Special Saloons & Modsports victory. The race for second could have been won by any number of cars; such was the closeness of the battle; often 5 or 6 cars separated by just seconds. In the end Crabtree prevailed after initially falling back, his second place netting him the classic-engine group win.
Wayne Crabtree took two podiums in his RS200, but missed out on being first to the chequered flag.
The Adams & Page Swinging Sixties did what it has done throughout this truncated season, produce a capacity grid and some excellent racing. Oliver Reuben followed on from his success at Castle Combe the previous weekend to take another win, this time sharing the TVR Griffith with father Nigel. In the morning drizzle, Dave Roberts had put his Datsun 240Z on pole, but he was ambushed by the V8 TVR’s of Oliver Reuben and Jon Wolfe down the back straight into the Esses on the opening lap. Roberts is beginning to get a reputation for being a rain meister!
Oliver Reuben was impeccable throughout his stint, gapping Wolfe and the chasing pack for third with ease. His father inherited a half-minute lead over Wolfe when Oliver pitted, and brought the Griffith home to the chequered flag. Dave Roberts got the better of the Wolfe/David Thompson Tuscan to take the runner-up spot, with Chris Watkinson fifth in the Mini, taking Group 1 Swinging Sixties success.
Oliver Reuben starred once again in the Adams & Page Swinging Sixties race.
With the limitations of light hours and a single day it was always intended to merge the CSCC’s other popular series, into one combined '70s to Modern' grid for the final meeting of the season. Two of the most popular cars from the Advantage Motorsport Future Classics Series occupied the front row, Mark Chilton’s Nissan Skyline GTR R32 in pole with Alex Taylor’s Mazda RX-7 alongside, two of the best loved touring car racers of the 1970/80s. Row 2 had the fastest Liqui Moly New Millennium and Co-ordSport Tin Top competitors, Paul Bolton and Castle Combe Tin Tops winner Tom Mensley respectively, with Lee Campbell the fastest Turbo Tin Tops competitor at series sponsor 'The Motorsports School' home circuit.
With such an eclectic grid the race would have been exciting enough, though a sprinkle of rain as the pack headed out on their green flag lap heightened the tension. When the red lights were extinguished the Mazda got the better of the 4WD Godzilla, round the outside into Gerard’s. Tom Mensley gave chase, but the opening part of the race was all about the rorty-sounding rotary Mazda being chased by the whistling twin turbo’s of Chilton’s Nissan.
The combined 1970s to the present race produced a grid full of variety.
An early safety car failed to pick up the leaders, after the Woolfe/Anderton RX-8 became lodged in the barriers after a low speed, first lap off.
Once underway the pace was hot, with 5th place and below released behind the safety car. Sadly we were denied a battle up front between the two Future Classic stars. Mark Chilton suffered a spectacular retirement when the studs on the left-rear wheel hub failed at the Esses, launching the Skyline high into the air as the wheel parted company, prompting a second safety car after the pit stops were completed. Taylor would drop back from the lead with an inlet pipe failure on the Mazda RX-7, allowing Hugh Peart in his Porsche 924 to win the 1970s Future Classics class, with Taylor behind, classified as the final finisher. This is the first time a 2 litre 924 was won a Future Classics 70's race overall, well done Hugh. CSCC Chairman, John Hammersley won the 1980's group in his Astra GTE and finished 3rd overall on the road, not bad at all considering the combined age of car and driver!
That left the way clear for Tom Mensley to take the overall and Tin Tops class honours, with Matthew Sanders taking the New Millennium class victory with second overall. Dan Ludlow and Stuart Emmett repeated their Donington success in their Honda Civic, to win the Turbo Tin Tops class, with Tony Harman (Ginetta G20) winning in Modern Classics despite a worryingly loud exhaust breakage and Mark Jackson in the Cartek Motorsport Puma Cup.
And so the 2020 CSCC season came to an end, with a final 30 minute dash into the sunset. The final race of the season was open to all as long as they had some lights and treaded tyres, allowing Tim Davis to take his second victory of the day from fellow Magnificent Sevens competitors Richard Carter and Sam Smith as darkness well and truly descended. Andrew Rath was the first non-seven home in fourth in his Lotus Europa having soaked up the pressure from a chasing Matthew Sanders.
Full results are available on the TSL website: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/204364 As a hint, when you find your series, click on 'PDF book' for a detailed analysis, including the all important pit stop times.
A beautifully filmed and edited video from the event is here, courtesy of Marc Peters: https://youtu.be/5ZDdMKHvd30
Professional, high resolution photos from the best angles are as always courtesy of CSCC legend, David Stallard, please view and buy his photos now: Click Here