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Donington Park Derby Race Report

Updated: Aug 23

Thank you to Marcus Pye for putting together this race report of a very wet Donington Park, where just over two weeks ago, the club took 11 of its series for a weekend on the GP circuit.


Driech conditions - as Scots describe dreary days when sky, track, barriers and paddock meld into a cold dank grey and precipitation reigns - made the going heavy for the first half of the annual Donington Derby event. Despite the climate, the quality of racing, in what at times became a monsoon, was anything but gloomy. The weather pattern broke on Sunday, when, following an early morning sprinkling, the ambient temperature and car colour contrast were turned up dramatically and rain forecast for mid-afternoon held off until the action was concluded. A belated glimpse of summer, on a glorious warm afternoon, brought more fine sport to a weekend enjoyed by a strong turnout of 323 entries.

The wettest July since records began, on the heels of the hottest June, made predicting the climate for the club’s early August rendezvous more pot luck than ever in our islands, even for meteorologists apparently. But it’s uncontrollable of course, more noticeably so perhaps in these times of global warming. Nonetheless, members made the most of a change of scenery on the rarely-used 2.48-mile Grand Prix circuit, even when Saturday’s offering was at its least clement.

 

For those of you who missed it or fancy watching back the footage, the races were live- streamed. Saturday's action can be viewed by clicking the image on the left, whilst Sunday's action is on the right.

Our official photographer, David Stallard, braved the weather to snap a variety of photos of you all. Check out his galleries here to view and purchase his images.


Full results are available on the TSL website here, click on 'PDF Book' for a full breakdown of pit stops and lap times.


Race reports are written in time order, if you wish to skip to your relevant series, click on the series below:

 


Qualifying was a lottery. Started behind a safety car, the Mintex Classic K field was first out. Mike Gardiner threw down the gauntlet, working his Moore Racing Lotus Cortina down to a 2m10.937s before putting Josh Cook into bat. Snetterton winner Steve Osborne (Jaguar E-type) displaced him, before Michael Simpson went top in Peter Smith’s Cortina. Once into his stride, Cook - with 18 BTCC round wins to his name - earned pole with a 2:08.461 (69.70mph) shot. His subsequent lap was quicker, but disallowed for exceeding track limits at the chicane onto the Melbourne Loop.

Slightly bemused, for Josh wasn’t aware that he’d erred, he briefly discussed it with a headmaster, “just so I understand where I stepped over the line and don’t repeat it in the race. There’s nothing quite like racing a Lotus Cortina in the wet at Donington. It’s so much fun. The Craner Curves were fine one lap, but had a river running across them the next,” Ironically, that caught out fellow professional Simpson, the karting to Ginetta ace, whose session ended in the Old Hairpin gravel trap.


Thus Cortinas locked out the front row of the grid, ahead of the E-types of Maldon Salt boss Osborne and Ulsterman Mark Russell. Carl and Billy Nairn’s Mini Cooper S and Luke Wos’ gold Reliant Sabre Six - among three of the 2.5-litre Ford straight-six engined coupes, built barely 20 miles away in Tamworth, competing at the event - shared the third rank. Longtime historic racer Simon Ham (E-type FHC), the vivid red Austin-Healey 3000 of Will Linley/Rob Griffiths, Nathan Dod’s TVR Griffith and Allan Ross-Jones’ Triumph TR4 completed the top 10.

Deeper in the 31-car pack, David Thompson/Jon Wolfe’s TVR Grantura had Nigel Adams/Lyndon Griffin’s Lotus Elan S1 and the closely-matched MGBs of Russell Martin and Brian Lambert as cushions to Joe and Piers Ward’s ‘Grannie.’ Alex Elbrow manhandled his Plymouth Belvedere GTX to a stout 21st and the little Tornado Talisman of Classic Clubmans stalwarts Brian and Trish Hunter added variety. Destined to start from the back were Richard Parsons/Alistair Pugh, whose Cooper S’ bonnet opened, obscuring already compromised vision, as the field filed past the pits behind the BMW course car, fortunately at about 60kph!


Released from behind the course car at the rolling start, with the heavens still open, Gardiner made the best getaway, leading Osborne, Russell and Smith. Osborne led out of the Melbourne Hairpin, but the ever-determined Gardiner calmly out braked him into Goddards to cross TSL’s timing stripe first. The bronze roadster dived head into Redgate and Russell’s primrose one burbled past soon afterwards, thus Mike settled into his game plan, to keep the Jags within range for hotshoe Cook to tackle.

Early spinners included Linley’s Healey and Nairn’s Britax-Cooper-Downtonesque Mini - both from fourth place - the latter in the Craner Curves, promoting a gaggle comprising Ross-Jones, Smith, Ham, Wos and Mark Campbell (TR4), with Dod seeking grip in their wake. Further back, Richard Hall-Griffin’s ex-Neil Dangerfield Triumph SLR needed towing from the aggregate at Coppice, but continued incidentally.


The Gardiner-Cook and Smith-Simpson changeovers were made after 10 laps, as the pit window opened, but leader Osborne - with a 10 second advantage over Russell, but anxious to be able to expunge his extra 20 seconds for Snetterton’s victory - dropped his Jaguar over the rise approaching Coppice and was beached in the gravel. A large green four-wheel-drive vehicle was summoned to lug it out, under a full-course caution which (with Martin Richardson’s MGB already stopped awkwardly) lasted five laps. Steve resumed, his victory speech torn up.


Russell made his mandatory stop during the safety car interlude, which did not hinder Cook. With five cars between them, Josh pounced when the track went green, seizing the advantage decisively. Single syllable trio Wos, Dod and Ham led the chase, clear of Simpson, Ross-Jones and Griffiths in the sole Healey. Dod briefly usurped Wos before retiring, but as Cook left Russell behind - he finished 28 seconds clear - Simpson continued his rise, picking off the Sabre to net third, a lap behind Russell.

Ham, class winners Wos and Sam Smith, anchoring Mark Cousins’ Elan, completed the top six, pursued by Ross-Jones, Linley/Griffiths, Julian Shovlin (Cortina) and Campbell/Ben Ferguson (TR4). Martin beat Lambert by 0.615s for divisional honours. The Pugh/Parsons Mini was on their heels, two seconds ahead of recovering rivals the Nairns. Ward/Ward reversed the TVR Grantura practice order, while Elbrow commanded the big blue battleship Belvedere to the chequer 21st, where they started. Cook set fastest lap of 2m07.540s (70.20mph) two from home.

 

Lincolnshire’s Tom Barley sprang a surprise in Modern Classics qualifying, the second generation racer seizing pole in his BMW 328i E36 with 1:58.895 (75.31mph), the only combo inside two minutes. Supported by father Andrew - who, with his late brother Tony, was a keen Formula Fordster in the late 1970s - Barley outran Alex Taylor (TVR Tuscan Challenge) by more than two seconds in a treacherously slippery session. Charlie and Zak Fulk in the best of seven Porsche Boxster S's took third by a whisker from Tom Mensley (M3 E36 Evo), with Tony and Aston Blake fifth in their Tuscan Challenge car.

Ryan Charters (Boxster), Australian Dave Griffin (Diet Coke tribute M3 E36) and Adrian Clark (Porsche 928 GTS Cup) were next up, ahead of Tom Robinson’s Jaguar XK8. Aidan Farrell/David Whelan (Porsche 993 RSR Cup) sat 10th, with Alan Drain (Boxster, having survived a kiss from Mark Alexander-Williams’ Citroen Saxo, which came off considerably worse), David Sharp (Lotus Elise S1) and Miles Masaratis Porsche 964 Turbo within half a second.


Of particular interest in the 44-car field was motorsport engineering legend George Howard-Chappell’s Lotus Esprit Turbo - it's first race outing since 1994 and the first CSCC appearance for an Esprit Turbo since Nic Olson [its subsequent owner] ran his production version in 2017. Howard Chappell qualified 15th in the car, powered by a 2.2-litre Vauxhall-derived slant-four engine, which the architect of several major Lotus GT projects, including the V8-engined GT1 Elise, re-acquired and restored, during the 2020-’21 Covid pandemic.

Performing strongly in the preliminaries were the best of the rotary-engined Mazda RX-8s. Reveling in a lack of torque and plenty of weight to cut through the surface water, Daniel Barber gridded 16th, Phil Otley/Paul Thacker 18th, Jack Hordley 19th and Stuart Eardley 22nd in exalted company. Of the Puma Cup contenders, Gareth Cotgrove and James Clare similarly did well to grid 28th and 29th, 1.327s apart. Chris Boon’s supercharged Jaguar XK8 was a long way down, 38th, with better expected, come the 40 minute race.


Taylor was first to Redgate at the start, but Barley grabbed the lead back into the Old Hairpin. It was short-lived, for the five-litre Tuscans of Taylor and Blake grunted past and away, Tony setting fastest lap in 1:54.211 (78.40mph) on his first flyer. Charlie Fulk got ahead of Mensley for fourth on lap four, but Tom regained it next time round. Out early were Luke Johnson’s Puma and Nick Hamilton’s Ginetta G20 (electrical problems), while Hordley's Mazda visited the Coppice gravel, losing a lot of time.

First to pit were Taylor and Mensley - both with 20 second previous winners’ penalties to serve - and Masarati, before Blake Sr relayed his son, Taylor was back in with his left front wing bingled by contact during lappery. His crew taped the headlight in, but he was back to retire a couple of laps later with his screen fogged up. Robinson, running sixth, escaped the Old Hairpin gravel in his Jag and Clark spun the big red Porsche at the Melbourne Hairpin on his out-lap. Last to stop, Barley missed the window though - “entirely my fault” - and received a 30 second imposition.


After the Lotuses of Howard-Chappell (whose Esprit sustained cosmetic damage having touched the outside kerb at McLeans and spun into the inside barrier on the exit having lapped Sharp’s Elise) and Sharp himself (embedded in the Melbourne trap) fell, Tony Blake floated to victory on the carpet of water. Despite his penalty, Barley kept second, chased by Farrell/Whelan and Mensley. Behind the top four, who won their respective classes, Ryan Charters (Boxster) and Griffin rounded out the top six.

Porsches of different flavours filled the next three places, the Fulks beating Masarati and Clark, with Robinson’s grey Jaguar, Rob Hardy’s VW Golf GTi and the Boxsters of Drain and William Curtler next home. Barber zoomed to 14th in the top Mazda, a lap ahead of the Jaguar XJSs of Anglo-South African Rodney Frost, Lawrence Coppock and Jamie Wall/Tom Lenthall. Michael Holt’s quick XJ6 succumbed to diff failure, and Cotgrove’s Puma fell by the wayside, thus Clare earned the other one-make gold from Jon Glover and Martin Smithson.

 

A splendid field of 41 set out for the Adams & Page Swinging Sixties Group 1 contest. Although conditions for qualifying - not least visibility - were far from ideal, they served as useful practice for the afternoon race on a still wet but appreciably friendlier surface. Front-wheel-drivers were in their element as Mini men Chris Watkinson, Marc Kniese and Vaughn Winter bagged the top three grid slots. Dutchman Kniese was the first to break 2m20s, but ultimately Watkinson scrabbled round 0.981s quicker to bag pole with a 2:12.006 (67.83mph) shot. Clive Tonge/Winter were in the 14s, almost a second up on Sam Polley (Mini Marcos).

The bravest of the rear-wheel-drive brigade were next, Connor Kay continuing the BMC A-series trend in his MG Midget and just 0.252s shy of Polley. Lawrence Claridge piloted his Broadspeed tribute Ford Anglia 105E - its rorty 1760cc built with dad James at Geoff Richardson’s emporium adjacent to Kimbolton kart track - to sixth, ahead of the Austin-Healey Sprites of Tim Cairns and Chris Winchester and the Midgets of Ian Staines and dad-and-lass Ian and Abigail Whitt, separated by Jack and Steve Smith’s 1900cc MGA. Mike Henney’s BMC-powered Alexander Turner and Brent Fowler’s Sprite were the last inside 2m20s. A second covered the next seven, with James Hughes an unusually lowly 17th.


A TV crew focused on every move of the Richard Hammond’s Workshop-built MGB GT, targeting its first finish in the hands of Anthony Greenhouse and the talented Abbie Eaton, who qualified it 15th. Also attracting attention was former international rally driver Nic Edmond’s ultra-rare Alfa Romeo Zagato Junior, with a 1570cc engine upgrade, in a creditable 21st, quickest of three Milanese marque reps, having shaded Gary Lyon’s 2000 GTV. Next of the larger-engined touring cars was Adrian Vincent’s BMW Alpina, 24th, pursued by father-and-daughter Charles Tippet/Claire Norman’s 2000 ti and Julian Shovlin’s toothpaste blue Lotus Cortina.

Watkinson got away from the lights best, while Polley squeezed past Kniese and Tonge as the pack accelerated away. Kay and Claridge were fourth and fifth by the end of the opening lap, having demoted Tonge. Steve Smith, Staines, Abbie Eaton - up an impressive eight places - and Abigail Whitt completed the top 10. Early spinners William Potter and Kym Bradshaw (Midgets) were quickly under way again.

Polley took a couple of laps to find his feet, then clawed back the two second deficit to Watkinson, who he out braked into Redgate on lap six. Next time round Polley made his mandatory stop as rain began to descend again. Watkinson thus returned to the lead before pitting routinely two circuits later, advancing Claridge, chased by Smith and Staines. Hughes progressed to fifth before his hiatus.


Watkinson and Polley's efficient 57 second turnarounds were eclipsed by Kniese's extraordinary 48.934s, thus the trio rose to the top when the pit sequence was complete. Kniese was being caught by Claridge when the latter spun at the Melbourne Hairpin. Up front, meanwhile, Polley was hounding Watkinson down. Both set their best times on lap 14, Chris’ 2:00.137 (74.53mph) a scant 0.054s swifter - and the race’s fastest - as he endeavoured to protect a 2.3s advantage.

Polley was having none of it, and scythed his deficit back to 0.3s in the course of two circuits. The last three laps were mesmerising as the contrasting but similarly-powered cars were each better at different points of the 2.48-mile track. Having already traded places on the final lap, Polley got the fiberglass sportscar’s retroussé nose just ahead of the steel-shelled Mini on the outside approaching the Melbourne Hairpin, but left his braking inches too late. “That was awesome. I just managed to nail the inside line and keep it tight, preventing the cutback,” said Watkinson, who found sufficient traction to stay ahead on the incline to Goddards, the final corner. His 1.015s margin of victory belied the intensity of their duel.


“The Marcos is really good changing direction in the Craner Curves, but the Mini pulled four lengths up the top from McLeans to Coppice. It was ebbing and flowing the whole way,” responded Polley. Kniese, almost a minute behind, was very satisfied with third. “It was very skiddy and a bit scary now and then,” he smiled, having been only eighth in the fastest lap rankings, the only frontrunner not to improve in the closing stages.

The Smiths’ MGA finished a solid fourth, clear of Tonge/Winter’s Mini, Kay and Hughes. Claridge, eighth, was the last competitor on the lead lap, Claire Norman - who set the third best time last time round in the Laranca Engineering-prepared BMW - having been lapped two from home while chasing down Staines who she beat to ninth by under two seconds. Shovlin climbed to 11th ahead of Simon Tinkler in the first MGB. Greenhouse spun out into the gravel at McLeans while running 11th on its final lap, deflating Team Hamster once again. The only other retirement was the Whitts’ Midget, two laps earlier.


The Group 2 field was the weekend’s smallest at 19 cars. Jon Wolfe, having transferred from his Classic K TVR Grantura to the rumbustious five-litre Tuscan, had a 3.7 second cushion to Harry Wyndham’s long-serving Jaguar E-type FHC (shared with novice Geoff Symonds) and Dave Roberts’ Rutpen Datsun 240Z in miserably wet and greasy conditions. The 4.7-litre Sunbeam Tigers of Simon James and Stephen Pickering (the only previous winner on the entry) were fourth and seventh, split by John Devlin’s Reliant Sabre Six and Dean Halsey in the second three-litre Datsun.

Graham Wilson (Triumph TR6), John Leslie (Sabre Six) and Mike Stephenson’s standard capacity 240Z completed the top 10. The Jaguar E-type of Martin Barrow/Craig Atkins non-started, but Neil Armstrong’s eye-catching golden yellow 1650cc Ginetta G4 went from the back.


Once the red light was extinguished at the rolling race start, Wolfe continued as the day began, in a class of his own. Having blasted clear, Jon built a 25 second lead over a train comprising Roberts, Wyndham, Halsey and Pickering before making his stop. “Glad I was able to keep it on the black stuff, mostly. I actually slowed down towards the end as it was a bit too dominant,” said Jon, who took the chequered flag 12.264s ahead of Halsey with Pickering a further 5.2 seconds adrift in third.

Next in were Wyndham/Symonds (Geoff having skirted the gravel when he spun at Redgate) and Roberts, hampered by a painfully long pit stop. Leslie and Devlin circulated together for a while, rattling their red Sabres en route to sixth and seventh. James, Chris Edwards (TR4) and Armstrong, after a good run, chased them. Pickering snatched fastest lap with a 2:03.345 (72.59mph) last gasp. Halsey’s final shot of 2:05.213 was six tenths inside Wolfe’s mid-race target.

 

Alex Taylor, now saddling his rapid Mazda RX-7 turbo, claimed his second pole position of the day in the Advantage Motorsport Future Classics, but as in the Modern Classics stanza, failed to convert his morning superiority into victory. For much of the qualifying session Taylor, renowned for his wet weather prowess, was quickest by about nine seconds, using the same set of MSUK listed Pirelli P7 Corsa asymmetric tyres he’d used to trounce allcomers - including a CanAm McLaren! - in a grizzly HSCC race at Spa a few years back. But then his ‘old friends and nemeses” the Blakes struck back, posting a late time 1.764s from his 1:55.110 (77.79mph) in the rotary rocket.

Races aren’t won in practice though, and with the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus' of dad ’n’ lad Martyn and Matthew Ellis third and Geoff Beale sixth, split by Keir Edmonds’ gorgeous Martini-liveried Porsche 911 Carrera and the humble BMW 323i E21 of Matthew Irons/Jake Severs, there was still a great battle in prospect now the Advantage Motorsport Future Classics were separated from the Group 2 ‘Swingers’ alongside which they qualified. Behind the top six, Mark and Sam Butterworth (Morgan +8), Jackson Goodrum (BMW 320i E30) and Graeme Smith (Mazda MX-5) were covered by 0.061s.


Taylor led initially on an improved track, but Tony Blake was ahead when a brief Code 60 was called on lap six with Goodrum off at the Esses. Beale stopped first, but with Taylor and equipe Ellis both required to remain stationary for another 20 seconds for previous wins, they were among the next to pit. With the sequence run, Aston Blake now led Taylor by almost that 20 seconds. Alex worked hard to erode his deficit but fell 10.715s short as the Tuscan team’s only unlapped rival.

There was excitement in their wake though, for Matt Ellis hacked back more than 10 seconds to catch and pass Beale on the final lap for a class-winning third overall. “Geoff locked-up at the [Melbourne] hairpin and had to wait for me to go through the gap. I could see the pain in his eyes,” said Ellis Jr. Edmonds finished a solid fifth, but David Newnes (BMW 325i E30) chased down Michael and Liam Wright’s Porsche 944 Turbo and coolly out braked it to nick sixth into the final corner. The Butterworths’ Moggie was the last car to go 19 laps.

 

A bumper 42-strong Co-ordSport Tin-Top entry augured well for the sixth event of the season, into which Danny Cassar rode with 90 seconds of extra stoppage time to serve for victories at Silverstone, Thruxton and Brands Hatch in the ‘Turquoise Terror,’ Nigel Ainge’s Hillwood Motors Honda Integra Type-R. With Snetterton winner - in a photo finish over Cassar - Andrew Windmill (Civic EP3 Type R), but Anglesey’s Trac Mon 24 Hours marathon conqueror Manoj Patel absent, which of Cassar’s rivals would take advantage? Nobody in fact, for as a convoluted race unraveled, the cards fell in hard-charging Danny’s favour. He emerged triumphant by 6.374 seconds, thus takes a whopping two minutes of penalties into the next event at Mallory Park on August Bank Holiday Monday.

Cassar claimed pole in the wet qualifying session, giving himself the potential advantage of a clear track for the race start. Danny circulated more than a second quicker than Shaun Ely (Peugeot 205 GTi), buoyed by second overall at Anglesey, and Windmill, aiming to negate a 30 second imposition at his local venue. Steve Papworth, getting to grips with his younger generation Honda Civic, was well in touch in fourth. James Slater (Civic) gridded next, ahead of class leaders Richard Bethell - first time out in a Renault Clio 172 - James Wilson (Peugeot 206 GTi) and the Fields, Richard and Richard Jr, in their venerable Proton Persona GTi. Adam Brown (Ford Fiesta ST150) was only 11th, but still atop his class.

The older 1600cc Fiesta of Alan Wilshire and Alan Churchyard led the E combatants, hotly pursued by David Bellamy (Peugeot 106 GTi). Honda men Mark Carey (Integra) and Blair Roebuck (Civic) had work to do. Historic Jowett Jupiter racer Harry Naerger (Fiesta ST) appreciated having a roof over his head for a change in the rain. In the Coupe des Dames contest, Kathryne Henderson (Fiesta ST) led Kelly Bonsor/Lorraine Berry (MG ZR).


The track was slippery but beginning to dry as the field was released for the race, which got under way just after 17:00. Windmill made a great getaway from fourth, forging ahead on the outside before Redgate, where a “love tap” from Bethell destabilised the Honda’s tail, sending it briefly through the gravel on the exit of the corner. Cassar thus took up the cudgels, finishing the lap ahead of Bethell, Brown - an astonishing start from row 6 - and the recovering Windmill. Ely, Slater, Bull, Papworth, Wilson and Richard Field led the chase.

Cassar, on a mission, built a lead of almost 20 seconds over Brown in the course of the first six laps, with Windmill back to third having out braked Bethell into Goddards second time round. With a Clio beached at the Old Hairpin and Nick Mellor’s 205 and Gareth Knopp’s Fiesta entangled at Goddards on lap 5, a safety car was deployed, fortuitously for Cassar, just after the pit window opened. Danny led the top four in and couldn’t believe his luck when the incidents took seven laps to accomplish as the slow caution laps almost enabled him to wipe out the 60 second difference between his penalty and Windmill’s.


When racing resumed, with seven and three-quarter minutes of the 40 remaining, Brown - clutchless since lap five - and Bethell led from Ely, Dave Hutchins (Civic), Slater, Bull, Windmill, Wilson, Field and Cassar - barely 10 seconds adrift of the leader. Third within a lap of the green flag, Danny demoted Bethell into Goddards and shot past Brown with two laps remaining, then rubbed his superiority in by setting fastest lap of 1:51.764s (80.11mph) next time round.

“My only realistic chance was a safety car, but Nigel bought a fresh set of Yokohamas and it was full attack all the way,” said the jubilant Cassar. “I knew Adam was up the road, but again I got quite lucky. He got boxed on the inside at McLeans and I went outside.” Brown was “pretty pleased to get to the end,” let alone as runner-up, with Bethell third, delighted with his new car’s performance. Windmill, Slater and Hutchins rounded out the top six. Pugs filled three of the next four places, Ely, Wilson and Miles Moseley (306 Rallye) split by the chastened Richard Jason Field whose red Proton gyrated hairily through the Craner Curves on the final lap.



First of the five sets which joined the fray on Sunday was the Verum Builders Open Series, which put the usual multi-marque mix under the spotlight. Another sprinkling of rain had anointed the track overnight, but it was drying and the ambient temperature was noticeably higher as 21 subscribers came out for qualifying. As times dropped it looked likely that final laps would be the best, thus it proved for Lucky Khera, whose 1:43.791 (86.27mph) in Jasver Sapra’s BMW M3 E36 held sway.

Closest to them were Harry and Chris Petch in their 3.5-litre Ford V6-powered Ginetta G50 - not the green car damaged at Brands, but a white one added to their stable for expediency - a tenth ahead of Stephen Scott-Dunwoodie (Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500) - with Dylan Popovic (7.0 Ginetta-Chevrolet G50), David Harvey (supercharged Lotus 340R) and Klaus Kooiker’s class-leading M3 E36 also inside 1:50. Martin Reynolds’ Ford Mustang Mach 1 wasn’t ready for its Assen shakedown, thus he substituted his 2.5 Ford Escort-Millington Mk2, dried out from its Oulton Park Special Saloon & Modsports glory a week previously. Martin gridded eighth, behind Ross Irvine’s VW Golf GTi turbo and ahead of the four-litre Jaguars of Chris Boon (XK8) and Michael Holt (XJ6 X300).


The race got under way under sunny skies, Sapra’s Beemer - sans rear bumper and with a different wing following Khera’s off in New Millennium qualifying - and Popovic out dragging at the rolling start. Popovic growled ahead when Sapra had a moment at Goddards on lap four, crossing the timing line fifth behind Scott-Dunwoodie, Petch and Harvey. Boon was beached after five laps, two before Reynolds with fuel pump failure on the GP loop, and three before Irvine’s Golf was bunkered.

Popovic was the last of the leaders to pit, but resumed ahead of Scott-Dunwoodie - whose subsequent penalty for a short stop was irrelevant when he retired - and Harvey, who parked his exoskeletal blue Lotus on the Wheatcroft Straight with broken steering. As Popovic sped to victory, clear of Tommy Grout (M3 E36 Evo) who had out-braked the Petch Ginetta into the Melbourne Hairpin. Khera responded to a meatball flag, pitting for a wheel arch to be levered out, but returned to finish fourth after Kooiker rotated into the gravel at the Esses onto the loop. Mark Carey’s Honda Integra was a lapped fifth, ahead of Holt who won a super duel with David Newnes (BMW 325i E30). Steve Thompson got the better of series sponsor Rob Hardy in his similar Porsche 944 S2.

 

Twenty takers arrived for the WOSP New Millennium race, qualifying for which was interrupted by a Code 60 intervention. Tommy Grout, Lewis Alexander-Williams, Dominic Malone and Brands Hatch winner Michael Vitulli were disqualified from the session for speeding under the caution, but would start the race from the pit lane. Nathan Wells and Mark Smith locked out the front row in their BMW M3s, Wells recording a 1:39.247 (90.22mph) in his bewinged E46 GTR for pole.


The Petch Ginetta, now with Harry and Max up, Luke Yeomans’ M3 E46, the red-detailed Honda Integra of Saturday’s Tin Tops 1-2 finishers Danny Cassar/Adam Brown and the Sapra/Khera BMW completed the top six on the grid. Khera suffered brake failure late in the session, careering off at the Melbourne Hairpin where a rearward impact with the barrier thwacked the battleship grey M3’s rump and bent its wing skyward. Astonishingly, Sapra’s crew resolved to get the car out, re-scrutineered sans valance and with a different wing minus side fences, for the race.

Alas it was curtains for Stephen Kirton’s Vauxhall VX220 after two laps, but Wells and Smith led until Wells was forced to make an unscheduled stop with a punctured left rear tyre. Yeomans was thus promoted to second ahead of Sapra and Russell Humphrey in Mark Wyatt’s M3 E92. When Code 60 lights flashed again, with Grout stuck in the kitty litter at the Melbourne Hairpin, three of the top four pitted, only Yeomans going an extra lap, freeing Petch.


The M3s of Malone (E90 WTCC) and Vitulli (E46) were among the first to make their stops at the hiatus, Michael waiting the extra 20 seconds for his previous win, then rapidly back into his stride, slotting in behind Petch. When Petch stopped, Vitulli stormed ahead, with Smith hungrily knuckling into the task of closing him down. Alas, the Amspeed team had turned Smith and Malone around too quickly, the resultant penalties leaving them third and fifth, split by double stopper Wells, whose consolation was fastest lap of 1:38.596s (90.82mph) on his first flier.

Vitulli, who played his cards coolly, took the chequered flag to the delight of father Flaviano, brought up in the city of Pescara on Italy’s Adriatic coast where in August 1957 Stirling Moss won the Vanwall team’s second World Championship Grand Prix, having triumphed at Aintree the previous month. Twenty six seconds behind the red BMW, Cassar/Brown were a surprised second. Steve Williams pipped the Petch family to sixth, best of the Ginettas. Andrew Windmill (Honda Civic) and William and Frederick Lynch (M3 E46) also went the full distance.


Khera’s charge in the M3 ended abruptly when, defending fourth on the road from Malone, the BMW’s entered Goddards abreast on the penultimate lap, Dominic on the inside line. Both drivers hit the anchors as late as they dared, and there was no contact, but Lucky’s car did not slow significantly and walloped the wall, driver’s side first. To everybody’s relief and after a delay, he climbed out unaided, but following assessment in the medical centre, was transferred to hospital. Happily, he was released on Monday afternoon and is OK, more than can be said for the car.

Among the retirements, poor Carey’s Honda expired after 16 laps, its engine having dropped a valve.


 

The first of two Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens races saw a novelty, with top qualifier Christian Pittard, a non-finisher last time out at Brands Hatch, he kept pole! In the absence of outright winner Tim Davis, only Group 2 victor Jeremy Adams took a 10-place grid drop.

Pittard and brother Jonny in his supercharged CSR thus shared the front row, Christian’s 1m33.122s (96.15mph) mark 1.571s quicker than his sibling’s. In another turn-up for the books RLM Engines’ Rich Webb was third quickest, 0.013s behind the black and gold JPS [Jonny Pittard Special] in one of nine Atomic Racing MK Cup 200s built to date, motivated by one of his company’s zippy 1340cc Suzuki Hayabusa engines.


Fourth quickest, Andrew Grant, led Class H rival Tim Bishop by three tenths, with BOSS Racing’s Colin Watson - running like the Pittard's as an invitee - sixth. Class B battlers Stephen James and Richard Carter were eighth and ninth, ahead of David Watson in the second MK Cup 200, with F and C pacesetters Adams and Luke Tzourou next up. The other class leaders were Ashley Haigh-Boyles/Stephen Boyles (D), Stephen Collins (E) and Philip Andrews (B), 13th, 16th and 25th respectively in the 29-strong pack.

Webb screamed out of the blocks to lead the opening race while the Pittard's built tyre temperatures in their rampant machines. Webb's glory lasted almost five minutes before Christian Pittard charged his orange Team Leos-run bolide ahead into Redgate on lap four. The new leader set fastest lap at 1:34.087s (95.17mph) next time round, and his brother claimed second on lap nine, after which Webb’s car began to slow. Grant and Carter eventually bagged third and fourth after Colin Watson was penalised.


Adams progressed well to an excellent division-winning sixth, the last driver to cover the full distance. Haigh-Boyles, Collins, Tzourou and Andrews won the multi-car classes, Stephen Trinder having been the sole A runner in his 1600cc Caterham Academy car.

Christian Pittard was back to his familiar P11 for the second stanza, but in his haste to make up ground in traffic, buried his right foot in the throttle exiting Goddards and rotated on cold tyres. Having sat patiently until everybody, bar tail-ender James Melady had gone through, and it was safe to re-join, he blasted back to second, 12.499s adrift of Jonny. “I knew Christian would be coming so I didn’t hang about,” grinned the victor who set fastest lap of 1:34.371 (94.88mph) on the third tour, 0.330 better than Christian’s mid-race effort.


Following contact between class leaders Adams and Carter, disputing third place at the Melbourne Hairpin on lap 3, both cars sustained damage and were retired. Colin Watson charged through to take bronze ahead of Class H victor Robert Forsdike and David Watson, a first race casualty. Bruce Wilson stepped up to win G, and sixth place, a couple of lengths ahead of Grant, pursued by F victor William Redman, Collins and Tzourou, who both notched doubles. Boyles completed his family odyssey in D, while Pete Basterfield landed B, outrunning Jack Andrews by five seconds.

 

A sensational entry for the Liqui Moly Slicks double-header - the pre-qualifying video I posted on my [Marcus Pye] Facebook page has been viewed more than 1100 times at the time of writing - showcased a wide spectrum of superlative GT cars, although Silverstone winners Nigel Mustill/Craig Dolby withdrew the pole time-setting Solution F-based tubeframe Volvo-Chevrolet S60, which Dolby had whirled round in 1m32.225s (97.09mph).

Andrew Christopher (Ferrari 488 Challenge), Aussie David Harrison (Porsche 991.1 Cup), Rob Fenn (Lotus Motorsport Elise) and Dominic Malone/Chris Boardman (BMW M3 WTCC E90) had run the seven-litre monster closest. The top 10 qualifiers were rounded out by Steve Osborne’s stunning but transponderless Porsche 991.2 Cup, on its maiden voyage in his hands, Nathan Wells’ M3 E46 GTR, the Glebe Engineering Ginetta G55 of period TVR Tuscan Challenge racer Nick Cresswell and son Tom, Luke Sargeant’s Hyundai 130N TCR and the M3 E36 Evo of Mark Smith/Arron Moulton-Smith.


From the start, Christopher led Fenn, Harrison, Osborne, Wells, with Nigel Jenkins howling his Ferrari 458 Challenge up to sixth, before being ousted by Jonny Heynes’ Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo. At the pitstops, Harrison, Heynes, Dylan Popovic (Ginetta-Chevrolet G50) and Wells were penalised 30 seconds plus their shortfalls for leaving too soon. Christopher and Osborne picked up 30 seconds each for exceeding track limits.

Thus what onlookers saw was a false picture, beyond knowing that Fenn in the 2.3-litre featherweight Lotus, prepared by John Danby Racing, was ahead when the chequer fell, having completed 20 laps in almost 36 minutes, albeit with a 10 second track limit penalty. Christopher, Moulton-Smith, Harrison and Osborne - after a drive through, albeit still minus a timing trigger - were next over the stripe but once the regulation penalties had been applied, Harrison (with only 30.6s of demerits) was promoted to second above Smith/Moulton-Smith and Christopher. Wells and Heynes were fifth and sixth ahead of James Card (M3 E46) whose slate was clean. Christopher’s consolation was fastest lap in 1:33.310 (95.96mph).


Christopher led the sequel to the pitstops - pursuer Fenn having retired from second when his gearbox started to make worrying noises - and afterwards most of the way to the flag. When Christopher's restart was adjudged to be 0.3s premature, a 30.3s penalty hit hard, particularly after Moulton-Smith, which father Mark had pitted with a puncture, trumped him on the final lap. Joy in the Amspeed camp was short-lived, for Osborne - running ‘invisibly’ on the screens as no transponder signal was evident, so the car was not officially timed - was reinstated post-race, when his team politely approached the Clerks. The Porsche had been 0.862s ahead of the BMW at the finish.

Once three penalties had been factored in, including a minute for the Lynch team for not turning their BMW’s engine off at the stop, Christopher was reclassified third, ahead of Heynes, Wells and Malone/Boardman. Card, John Saunders (Ferrari 458 Challenge), Mark Lee (Ginetta G55) were next past the post, with the sister cars of the Cresswells' and Tim Davies on Lee’s tail. Fenn was credited with fastest lap in 1:33.558 (95.71mph).

 

Last on track this time were the Lohen Turbo Tin Tops, topped in qualifying and the race by Phiroze Bilimoria (VW Scirocco) and Carl Chambers (Peugeot 208 GTi). They both overcame 30 second previous winners’ penalties, although wet Thruxton victor Andrew Marson retired his Abarth Assetto Corse, having fallen back behind cousin David after the stops. Kevin Stirling (Renault Clio R5) was third in the preliminaries but withdrew, leaving a 20-car grid, still with five marques represented in the top 10.

The race itself was a corker behind the leader. After early incumbent Matthew Jackson’s Ford Fiesta slowed suddenly out of the chicane, John Hammersley (Scirocco), Keith Issatt (MINI Clubman), John Wyatt (MINI Cooper S R56) and the Marsons squabbled over third. Later in the race, Chris Earle jostled his Peugeot 208 GTi to the head of the chase pack before his engine gave way.


Chasing David Marson - out of place having stopped 6.4s short of the 90 seconds minimum, which attracted a 36.4s penalty and dropped him from second to sixth - Hammersley, directly behind Earle, had [Chris’ Pugsport team mate] Chambers, Issatt and Wyatt ganging-up on his tail when the drama occurred. As Chambers wriggled back to second, thrilled to have refound his car’s reliability after several recent tantrums, there was a minor brush between Hammersley and Issatt as they exited Goddards. It dropped Issatt to fifth behind Wyatt, but Hammersley, third, and Issatt shook hands afterwards having had a thoroughly enjoyable joust.

The Clios of Tom Oatley and James Joannou finished seventh and eighth, a second apart, followed by the third Abarth-mounted Marson cousin, Richard, and Lisa Selby/Toby Harris’ Ford Fiesta ST150. For Bilimoria, whose preparers had put a lot of work into the green Scirocco to get it to Donington, a repeat of last year’s win here, came with the added cherry of a sub-pole fastest lap in 1:45.883 (84.56mph) on top.

 

Race reports written by Marcus Pye


Next up for the CSCC is a double header on Bank Holiday Monday 28th August where the Adams & Page Swinging Sixties will be battling it out at the club's local circuit, Castle Combe, whilst seven other CSCC series visit Mallory Park.





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