It's safe to say that we gambled on a February 26th start, but it paid off, with a cold but remarkably dry day, at the Silverstone Grand Prix track.
Now that he has safely returned from his travels, we have added David Stallard's photos throughout this report, Marc Peters video highlights, results, live-stream replays and a brilliant write up from Marcus Pye.
Results are here, on TSL Timing. Click on 'pdf book' for your race, to see a detailed breakdown, including pit-stops.
David Stallard's official club photographs can viewed and purchased here.
Every race was live-streamed and can be played back on our YouTube channel. Alpha Live have helpfully split the races up, so we've placed them within each write-up.
Marc Peters has produced an atmospheric highlights reel, to his usual high standards, enjoy.
On to the race reports, all words courtesy of Marcus Pye:
The CSCC Silverstone GP Winter Warm-Up title said it all, for the climate was inevitably going to be bitterly cold across the Northamptonshire/Buckinghamshire county lines at the end of February. Nonetheless, the novel prospect of competing on the rarely-available 3.66-mile Grand Prix circuit appealed to the more adventurous and race-hungry members. A splendid 171 entries (almost 50 double-driven in the four 40-minute pitstop races alone, giving 200-plus drivers a glimpse into Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton’s domain) were coaxed out of hibernation, with superb support from loyal marshals doubly-validating the club’s decision to start its 20th anniversary season three days before the start of meteorological spring.
With the sun low in the sky over the Becketts flick-flack and glinting down the Wellington straight, the Lanyon brothers’ Caterham Superlight R was first on track in qualifying, as the Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens brigade - preparing for twin 20-minute sprint races - combined with WOSP New Millennium and Verum Builders Open Series contenders for their preliminaries, put 50 cars out. Rupert Gollin was relieved to see son Josh’s Caterham running, having rebuilt its Vauxhall engine which was cooked in testing at Donington five days earlier. “It was in about 450 pieces at 10.30 last night,” said Gollin Sr. wearily, acknowledging Radtec’s efficiency in making a new radiator in double-quick time.
Following the four qualifying sessions, the 17 Sevens were first under starters’ orders with the forced induction CSRs of Jonny Pittard (2.5-litre supercharged) and Luke Stevens (in David Holroyd’s 1600cc turbo project) on the front row, a scant 0.352s apart. Pittard’s 2:14.889s pole shot represented an average of 97.67mph.
Alas there was drama from the rolling start as the field arrived at Copse and three drivers were eliminated on the spot, Tim Woodman’s car with a front corner savaged. A safety car was deployed for the clear-up, after which Pittard and Stevens traded the lead. Jonny aced it, taking the chequer 0.092s clear of past European champion Luke, whose best lap was 2:12.098s (99.75mph).
With Stevens’ steed being sold between races, Pittard could only race against the clock in the second stanza, which he won by almost 37 seconds. As in the morning race Richard Carter (2.0 R300) had to repass the faster-starting Jonathan Edwards (2.3 C400) to regain his practice advantage and claim class G, this time from second overall. Motorcycle racing convert Chris Mayhew (2.0 C400) dominated F and finished fifth in the afternoon, having improved his best lap by 1.4s in harassing Bruce Wilson (2.3 CSR Superlight) relentlessly to the flag. Pipped by Jolyon Kemp (2.0 420R) first time out, fellow double winner Gollin reversed their order later.
Dominic Malone’s ex-Andy Priaulx 3.2-litre BMW M3 E90 WTCC sat on pole for the WOSP New Millennium/ Verum Builders Open race, but David Harvey’s supercharged Lotus 340R and Malone’s Amspeed team mate Mark Smith (M3 E36 Evo) were lurking within 0.397s of his 2:16.253s (96.71mph) standard, which augured promisingly for later. The M3s of Chris Murphy (4.0 Woodrow E46 GTR V8), James Collins and pro Nigel Greensall (E46) and Dave Griffin (E90) were all inside 2:20, split by ‘SuperSerb’ Dylan Popovic’s seven-litre Chevrolet V8-powered Ginetta G50.
The anticipated scrap at the front did not happen, for the chronology of a Code 60 intervention gave Harvey’s sizzling sportscar a 34 second advantage in two laps, which stretched to 55s after three. The application of a 20 second infringement penalty cut Harvey’s winning margin to 32 seconds. The battle for second intensified as Murphy grunted his impressive-looking beast up to shadow Malone. However, Chris was spared the task of engineering a way past when Dominic’s engine cut-out at Abbey on the final lap. “Out of fuel,” he shrugged in the paddock afterwards, although Amspeed technicians suspected an electrical glitch.
Popovic completed the Open podium in third, ahead of ‘New Mil’ duellists Smith and Griffin, who were caught on the last lap by NM2 class pole time setter Greensall, flying in Collins’ bottle-green Beemer. Fastest lap in 2:16.283s (96.69mph) was some consolation for Malone, although Murphy and Greensall closed to within a couple of tenths. New Millennium winner Smith and Collins/Greensall won their classes. The top 10 was rounded out by the M3 E36s of Alex Haynes and Ashley Muldoon and class victors Mark Lee (Ginetta G55) and Adam Brown/Danny Cassar in Nigel Ainge’s 2.4-litre Honda Integra Type R. Warren Allen (Porsche Cayman S) also finished on the lead lap.
Warren Tattersall recovered from an early excursion to finish in his SEAT Leon Cupra TCR. Among the fancied runners to fall were the Petch brothers’ Ginetta G50 - which didn’t look happy before qualifying, with steam issuing from its engine bay, but cut the best lap in it's division - Manoj Patel’s feisty Honda Civic Type R and the imposing Bismarck grey M3 E46 of Bryan Bransom/Jasver Sapra.
A whopping 52-car Co-OrdSport Tin Tops, Lohen Turbo Tin Tops and Puma Cup field set out into qualifying, of which 46 survived and started the race. Danny Cassar jumped ship from finishing the bigger-engined red and white Hillwood Motors Honda Integra to the turquoise-detailed two-litre version which he’d planted on pole with a stellar 2m:20.919s (93.51mph) lap. An advantage of 5.547s over Patel gave rivals plenty to ponder, but with Manoj’s silver Civic ailing, Lohen Turbo Tin Tops pacemaker Phiroze Bilimoria (VW Scirocco) and last year’s Donington star Russell Hird (Integra), thrust themselves into the attack, in the company of James Slater (Civic).
With Cassar in control from the green - but for a huge moment avoiding tailender Ray Kershberg’s Computervision MG Metro at the end of the Vale - Hird led the initial chase with Adam Brown (Ford Fiesta ST) filling his mirrors before fading. Slater, Bilimoria and Carl Chambers (up from ninth in his familiar Peugeot 208 GTi) ganged up behind. Their chase was in vain, for once Cassar was up to speed he screamed into the distance. “It took a while for the tyres to come in, then I decided to crack on,” he said, having set his best lap fourth time round. A minute and 10 seconds adrift at the chequer, Slater was penalised 34.64s for re-joining too soon after his pitstop (the standard 30s plus the shortfall), which dropped him to fourth behind Turbo winner Bilimoria and Hird, who he passed after the stops.
Brown still won his TT set in fifth, having improved his Q-time by 1.3s, ahead of Hatton Garden jeweller John Wyatt, whose iridescent gold MINI Cooper S R56 - quicker than Chambers by 0.3s having gone sub-2m30s in practice - went back to the top of the class when the PugSport man hit trouble and retired after 13 laps. Mark Carey’s pretty Integra DC5 also covered the full 17 lap distance, finishing seventh overall.
A circuit behind, Lee Briscall (Renault Clio 182) and David Marson in the quickest of three family Fiat Abarth 500s claimed their classes, the former having suppressed James Wilson (Peugeot 206 GTi) who outran him in qualifying. Cade Banks (Clio 172) and David Bellamy (Peugeot 106 GTi) also scored wins from P2 starts, the latter when John and Chris Warburton’s astonishingly quick VW Golf GTI Mk1 retired from seventh overall.
Best of the four Puma Cup pilots who started was Luke Johnson, pursued at a distance by Jon Glover and Gareth Cotgrove. Of the Mazda RX-8 trio, Daniel Barber and Jack Hordley were separated by 0.006s in qualifying. Hordley improved to 2:40.247s in the race, before retiring, leaving Barber to take the spoils.
Interesting cars in a pack spanning 12 marques included the Volvo C30 of Adrian Matthews, which finished 15th after a frantic early scrap, and the spectacularly turned-out Ford Focus ST225 of former Historic Imp racers Colin and Ian Gunton, which unfortunately didn’t finish. Robert Chittock chased the field initially in his Polizia-liveried Alfa Romeo 147, but his mission was over in four laps.
Modern Classics and Advantage Motorsport Future Classics racers provided a rorty 41-strong field, from which regular Future frontrunner Ryan Mone (Porsche 944 S2) fell in qualifying following contact with a pal. Alex Taylor put his five-litre TVR Tuscan Challenge on pole, despite a brush with second qualifier Matt Spark’s Porsche 911 GT3.
Tony Blake (TVR) and Patrick Scharfegger (in the quickest of eight Porsche Boxster Ss - by 4.5 seconds!) occupied row two ahead of Richard Harman (Porsche 944 Turbo) and regular giant-slayer Roger Hamilton (Ginetta G20). Hugh Gurney (BMW 325i E30), Darren Clayden (944 S2), Graeme Smith (Mazda MX-5) and James Palmer/Simon Horrobin (BMW 2002ti) were among the other class leaders.
After the start stampede, the tail of Taylor’s TVR took another whack from the apologetic Blake - “the bumper must have pheromones on it,” shrugged Alex - Blake headed forlornly back to the pits with frontal damage. Spark, with an audible misfire through Woodcote, couldn’t live with Taylor who was almost 50 seconds clear at the finish. Unbeknown to him, Spark had been docked a minute for speeding in the pit lane. Despite only five cylinders chiming in, the former Caterham racer took until the final lap to expunge the penalty, leaving Harman third, 6.8s clear of Hamilton. The top four all won their classes.
David Whelan/Aidan Farrell (Porsche 993 RSR Cup) wound up fifth, with Geoff Beale’s Talbot Sunbeam Lotus filling its mirrors having charged up from 15th on the grid. He earned class gold, as did Purdue Tom Barley (BMW M3 E36), another to overhaul the Scharfegger Porsche, now in Steve Cunniffe’s hands. Clayden and Richard Hayes completed the top 10. Hayes’ flame-belching Toyota Celica GT4’s front bumper was scuffed following a contretemps with the rump of James Neal’s Porsche 964 at The Loop, during a heady duel, which forced his retirement.
Already out was Martin Reynolds’ Ford Mustang Mach 1 with electrical issues. Palmer/Horrobin and Joshua Smith (BMW 320i E30) won multi-car Future classes.
Did you hear the one about the Volvo which blew off a Lamborghini Huracan? OK, there wasn’t much (if any) of the Swedish base car involved, and it had a seven-litre Chevrolet engine mounted amidships, driving through a stout transaxle, but it prevailed over one of the Italian V10 Super Trofeo cars in the Liqui Moly Slicks Series race which concluded the afternoon’s sport.
As the day panned out beautifully, sunshine sinking in the western sky caused more problems for most than the ice-cold track. Even before the tyre-warming green flag lap began on the Woodcote timing line, 17th qualifier Harry Petch [of the surviving 22] misjudged the available grip and spun his 3.7-litre Ford-powered Ginetta G55 exiting the assembly area. Chris Everill’s Ginetta-Chevrolet, had a new (troublesome) ABS system, causing two spins on the green flag lap before wisely retiring to the pits. Race control therefore ordered a second lap behind the safety car, starting the 40 minutes as they passed the start line.
Craig Dolby had established Nigel Mustill’s Volvo S60 silhouette racer on pole, his 2:02.660s target 3.833s beyond Kevin Clarke in Matty Evans’ ex-Webb brothers 5.2-litre Lambo. Australian David Harrison maximised his run to grid third, best of the Porsches, five places clear of the similar 991 GT3 Cup of Kevin Bird [the reigning Castle Combe GT champion] and his son Charles Hyde-Andrews-Bird which both had to qualify. The BMW M3s of Mark Smith/Arran Moulton-Smith (E36 Evo) and Chris Murphy (E46 GTR), David Harvey’s blown Lotus 340R and Dylan Popovic’s Ginetta-Chevrolet split them. Gone after practice, incidentally, were the BMW M3 E36s of Tommy Grout and Klaas Kookier, and Mark Lee’s G55.
Just a second spanned fifth-placed Murphy to the E46 M3 of Jasver Sapra/Bryan Bransom in 12th, with William Ashmore’s Sunvit Ferrari F430 Challenge and Dominic Malone’s E90 M3 WTCC tight up behind the Birds. James Collins/Nigel Greensall (E46 M3) and Andre and Jake Severs (Ginetta G50) were the other class pacesetters.
From the get go, Mustill did not endeavour to keep Clarke behind, seeking only to enjoy his opening stint and keep the V10 Lambo in sight until his scheduled stop to relay Dolby after six laps. Bird Sr and Harrison were at it hammer and tongs for third, with Ashmore’s yellow and blue Ferrari on their heels. Gone from the back were Malone’s BMW with electrical strife and Sapra who, having made great progress, pitted his M3 minus fifth gear.
Leader Clarke made his mandatory stop after 10 laps, but the window was closed and a 30 second penalty applied. Dolby’s devastating series of laps - culminating in a day’s best 2:01.606 (108.36mph) - had already put the race win beyond doubt, but Evans [by his own admission not experienced enough to match his team mate’s vitesse yet] remained six seconds clear of Smith/Moulton-Smith, on a promising debut for the Lamborghini. Harrison just bested CHAB in the joust for fourth. Griffin’s short-stop penalty dropped his M3 E46 from sixth to eighth, behind Popovic and Murphy.
Young Petch made amends for his pre-race misdemeanour by snatching class B honours from Warren Tattersall (TCR Seat) by a scant 0.628s, with Simon Evans’ Porsche 996 GT3 Cup only 1.404s behind. Early leader Jake Severs’ Ginetta retired after he handed it over to Andre.
With everybody off track by 17:30 after an enjoyable and efficiently-run event, and early race competitors homeward bound, clear skies presaged a glorious sunset. For some there was even the extraordinary sight of the Aurora Borealis phenomenon, the northern lights rarely seen so far south. Next stop for us is Snetterton 300 in less than 3 weeks. Here’s to more great racing in Norfolk - from the sociable CSCC family.