The combined Cartek Motorsport Modern Classics Series and Motorsports School Turbo Tin Tops Series grid at Snetterton was one of the most varied and packed of the entire weekend. Cartek Motorsport Modern Classics Series driver representative, John Baker, was on hand to describe all the goings on.......
Just like at the season opener at Thruxton, it was heartening to see such a full grid once again. A real eclectic mix of 1990s Moderns Classics, contemporary Turbo Tin Tops, Mazda RX-8's and our friends from the Cartek Motorsport Puma Cup, all together as part of a combined capacity grid. Whilst both main series would usually race apart the Covid shortened calendar has required a little condensing and sharing here and there.
After the high speed thrill of Thruxton- sorry the flotilla (it rained a lot Thuxton, a theme is starting to develop this season I think!)- it was Snetterton’s varied 300 circuit this time, with its tight twisty infield section contrasting with long straights.
The Modern Classics/Turbo Tin Tops qualifying session was the first of the day and didn’t disappoint. The Porsche 911 RSR of Tony and Aston Blake set the fastest lap in Modern Classics; 1.25 seconds ahead of Dave Griffin in his Australian Supertouring inspired Diet Coke liveried BMW E36, followed by Carl Cattliff in another E36. Thruxton winner Alan Thompson had overheating problems, limiting him to 11th on the grid.
In Turbo Tin Tops, it was Charlie Newton-Darby quickest in his supercharged BMW MINI Cooper S R53, his first pole for the series with the RX-8 Trophy contingent headed by Simon Hands and Joseph Roche, quickest by just 0.24 seconds over Jon & Christian Walker. All in all 41 cars posted qualifying times and it was great to see such diversity mixing it out on track.
As the race approached all eyes were focused skywards as we awaited the forecast rain. When the red lights were extinguished the pack roared over the start line with the Blake’s Porsche leading into the first corner, but Dave Griffin would take the lead by the completion of the lap. Karl Catliff was third with Alan Thompson up to 8th after starting 11th. Unfortunately Rob Hardy fell fowl of an alternator problem on the first lap in his Porsche Boxster S. That Porsche is a heavy thing to push up pit lane! Dave Griffin, with a clear track, opened up a 13 second lead over the Blakes by the time they pitted, with Karl Cattliff only 1 second behind the Porsche at this stage.
The Turbo Tin Tops race within a race started with Charlie Newton-Darby leading the way in his R53 MINI, mixing it with the leading Modern Classics competitors. Bob Hosier was second in his Seat Leon, with the Supercharged MINI of Lee Campbell third. Whilst in the RX-8 Trophy it was the Roche/Hands example out in front, followed by Bill & Alexander Gray. The usually front running Jon and Christian Walker were out with an unusual misfire following qualifying, sensibly retiring before any damage was done.
The 2 minute pit stops feel like an eternity when sitting in the car, but for both Alan Thompson and Jake Severs in his VW Beetle RSi Cup who pitted at the same time, it would be even longer as both were serving success penalties. Who would emerge first? Severs had a 20 second penalty whilst Thompson had 15 seconds to add to the compulsory minimum two minute stop. Both headed out back onto the track one behind the other. Unfortunately the VW would a spin at Murrays which put pay to any late charge. At the front, once the pit stops had been completed, Griffin extended his lead to 24 seconds over the Blakes, Cattliff a further 15 seconds behind.
Things seemed to settle into a rhythm until the rain decided to come down on lap 12, making a dry surface slowly resemble that of a skid pan. Grip was becoming a luxury and after two off road excursions and cars stuck in dangerous locations, the red flags waved with 33 minutes of the 40 run. Dave Griffin therefore took the Cartek Motorsport Modern Classics win, 23 seconds ahead of the Blakes and 44 seconds ahead of Cattliff. 4th went to Richard Ellis in his orange Porsche 993 with Alan Thompson in 5th.
In Motorsports School Turbo Tin Tops, Charles Newton-Darby took honours following a dominant drive, ahead of Hosier, with Campbell third. Joseph Roche and Simon Hands converted their pole position, taking their first ever RX-8 Trophy win from the Grays, with James Fordham and Patrick Young taking the third in class trophy home. Unluckiest team of the day were James Brodie and Miles Masarati, who having broken their clutch in testing drove for 5 hours to track down a replacement on Saturday. RX-8 Trophy Rivals Fordham and Young lent a hand and helped the team fit the clutch, not a quick job on axle stands in the paddock. Sadly it was to no avail after it let go in spectacular fashion near the pit entry, leaving parts of the cover plate, clutch, bell housing and the starter motor on the track! Still, great spirit shown and they will be back.
It was a great race to watch, but unfortunately the only one on Sunday, as the heavens opened for the rest of the day. The club had no choice but to abandon the rest of the meeting as the circuit flooded, offering a 50% refund to the affected racers who qualified but didn’t get the chance to race. Thank you all for adhering to the Covid pit stop rules, here’s to Donington, our penultimate UK race in a few weeks time. And the hope of Le Mans is still shimmering in October, like a low sun.
Photos courtesy of David Stallard. To purchase and view even more images from Snetterton click here: https://www.davidstallardphotography.com/ClassicSportsCarClubCSCC/CSCC-2020
Full race results are available on the TSL website: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/203364
Entry forms for Donington Park, Le Mans and Mallory Park are available on the CSCC booking page: https://www.classicsportscarclub.co.uk/race-calendar