An event of two halves took place two weeks ago. The modern cars received an absolute soaking on Saturday 6th May, whilst our classic series enjoyed dry weather throughout the Sunday. Whatever the weather, the drivers put on a great display, worthy of the occasion. Long live the King!
There was no live stream, but the intrepid Marc Peters has put together a brilliant, separate video for each day. The rain did affect his camera, even into the second day, hence no footage from our Mintex Classic K race this time.
Our official photographer, David Stallard continues to deliver a variety of shots for you, taken from different vantage points in qualifying and the race. Check out his galleries in time order here.
Full results, including the all important pit stop times (click on 'pdf book') are here. A common feature of the event was pit stop speeding. In almost every case it was drivers speeding up too soon, when they 'saw' the 60kph sign, rather than when they passed it. An extra word in the Clerks briefing mostly resolved this for Sunday.
We were once again fortunate to have Marcus Pye present, both as commentator and reporter. For your reading pleasure, here is an expanded race report, from those published in Motorsport News and Autosport.
Speed Kings Crowned At Thruxton
Run over HRH King Charles III’s coronation weekend, the club’s visit to the UK’s fastest circuit was a game of two halves. Such is the capricious nature of these islands’ weather that cold torrential rain - “wetter than an otter’s pocket” quoth one sage - for much of Saturday was followed by a glorious glimpse into summer, blue skies and 21 deg C bathing the Hampshire airfield circuit on Sunday. Ironically, inclement conditions generated the better racing, none finer than in the Verum Builders Open Series which kicked-off the 13-event programme with a surprise result.
Verum Builders Open Series
Bewinged TCR cars locked-out the front row for the Open race, Warren Tattersall delighted to qualify his Warehouse & Transport Solutions SEAT Leon Cupra on pole, his 1m36.058s (88.29mph) shot on Uniroyal tyres pipping Jamie Sturges - from whom he bought the Spanish-bodied machine - in his Yokohama-shod Ramair Filters VW Golf by 0.584s. Sturges, based on the fringes of the circuit, knew there was more to come in the lottery, for he was inadvertently baulked exiting the chicane on his final lap, which instinct, validated by data, told him was his quickest.
The turbocharged two-litre 340bhp front-wheel-drivers were four seconds swifter than the 3.2-litre BMW M3s of South Australian Dave Griffin (West Suffolk Racing E90) and Nathan Wells (Woodrow Motorsport E46 GTR). David Harvey’s supercharged Lotus 340R sat fifth, pursued by the class B-leading Honda Civic EP3 Type Rs of Ian Knight, Manoj Patel - who drove his car from Tom Gannon’s workshop in Fleet, about 40 miles east - and Dave Hutchins, separated by 1.5 seconds. Ross Irvine’s potent army green VW Golf GTi turbo was another class pacesetter, having shaded Michael Curtler /Ben Raincock in the swiftest of three immaculate Ashgood Porsche Boxster S's and Jonathan Strickland’s BMW E46 M3.
Tom Barley (BMW E30 328i) led class C from Nigel Stuckey’s 3-litre Morgan Roadster, the pair sandwiching series sponsor Rob Hardy in his recently-acquired Racetruck Golf GTi (Gordon the Golfer) and chased by Ryan Charters’ Ashgood Boxster. Class A was headed by David Bellamy (Peugeot 106 GTi), doubtless startled to find Dylan Popovic’s Ginetta-Chevrolet G50 in his mirrors. Intrigue further down came in the shapely form of Chris Boon’s supercharged Jaguar XK8 and the high-riding Ford Mustang notchback of Rupert West/Richard Hodson, while Matthew Potter/Terry Dolphin’s Ford Focus broke a driveshaft and needed extra laps out of session to get both drivers qualified.
The wet race started behind a safety car and Tattersall was leading the bold Knight and Sturges when Harvey, running fourth onto lap four, hit a puddle at Allard and gyrated to the inside of the track, damaging two corners of his Lotus against the barrier. A short full-course caution period saw most competitors - with the notable exception of Knight and Boon - duck into the pits for their mandatory stops, headed by Tattersall, Sturges and Raincock. Knight stayed out for 11 laps, whereupon Tattersall returned to the top.
But Sturges was on the warpath and as the circuit evolved, advantaging his tyre's increasingly, he prepared to pounce. Tattersall kept his cool, guarding the chicane’s first apex until the final lap when Sturges braked later as they crested Woodham Hill and inched up the outside. Tattersall turned in deeper to block him, caught a violent twitch which slowed them both and had just enough momentum to beat Sturges in the sprint to the chequered flag by 0.229s. “I had an advantage when it [the rain] was tipping down, but knew Jamie was closing. It was very sketchy out there, every corner I got a bit sideways. I had nothing more to give,” said the hurtling haulier.
“I made one attempt into the chicane and thought I might just be able to get Warren on the exit, but hit a wall of wheelspin,” said Sturges, who set fastest lap in 1:36.610 (87.79mph) a couple from the end, when Knight inexplicably made his pit stop stop a long way outside the window. Hutchins ended up third, with Popovic’s big Ginetta - from 17th on the grid - a fear-some sight on his tail. “I realised there weren’t enough metres left [between the chicane and the flag], the tyres didn’t have it,” smiled Dylan.
Barley and Hardy were fifth and sixth, chased by Wells, who charged from the back of the 27 car grid, having missed the paddock announcement that the opening race would - per tradition - be started 20 minutes early to build slack into the programme. Charters - one of three drivers to collect a 10 second penalty for failing to observe safety car protocols - Patel’s Honda and Irvine’s intriguing Golf turbo completed the top 10.
Lohen Turbo Tin Tops
BMW MINI's, Turbo Tin tops series sponsor Lohen’s speciality, comprised seven of the 17 cars, but in wet conditions Andrew Marson was head and shoulders above allcomers in the race. As at Snetterton, the Abarth Assetto Corse driver revelled in the rain. Driving with a Jacky Ickx-like quality, Marson shaded Andrew Thompson (SEAT Toledo) in qualifying, but finished more than 52s ahead of John Wyatt (turbocharged Cooper S R56) over the 40 minutes when it counted. James Joannou (Renault Clio) weathered a series of adventures before chasing Wyatt over the line, but a 37.2s short stop penalty had no effect as Thompson - the only other driver on the lead lap - was himself penalised 30 seconds for a pit infringement.
Marson’s practice best of 1:38.461 (86.14mph) shaded Thompson’s by 0.403s, with class D pacesetter Wyatt in the 40s, clear of class A leader Phil Briggs and Joannou in the 42s. John Hammersley (VW Scirocco R), Tom Oatley (Clio) and the smart Ford Focus ST225 of Ian and Colin Gunton - destined not to start - were tightly packed in the 43s, with Richard Marson (Abarth) and Kevin Fulbrook leading a line of five class C MINIs in his supercharged Sussex Road & Race-prepared R53. Stephen Warner/Martin Tyte and Matthew Shears (R53s) were next up, with Clive Seagers/Andrew Grimm (Cooper S JCW) and Alan Lee (R56) in touch. Snetterton winner Carl Chambers (Pugsport Peugeot 208 GTi) was unusually far adrift in 15th. Kevin Neville/Neil Tofts (MINI R53) and David Marson (Abarth 500) completed the qualifiers. The Marson cousins thus sandwiched the field and formed its central point!
When the safety car which led the pack round initially retreated to the pits, Marson shot away confidently, opening a 4.125s lead on the first flying lap in the 300bhp machine which tips the scales at 915kg. Thompson, Wyatt and Phil Briggs (SEAT Leon) led the chase before Joannou bustled into fourth, leaving Briggs to come under attack from Hammersley. Out front, Andrew Marson had stretched his advantage to beyond 23 seconds by the time he’d lapped inside 1m40s. He stopped after 12 laps, promoting Joannou who did likewise a circuit later, giving Thompson a lap of glory before Marson returned to the top, there to stay.
“That was so much fun, the back end was twitching everywhere,” said the victor. “I was annoyed with myself for getting jumped at the pit stop at Snetterton and that wasn’t going to happen again.” Marson’s fastest lap - 1:37.821 (86.70mph) - reflected his superiority. Runner-up Wyatt collected plenty of greenery when he visited the grass in what he described as “a very, very exciting” race, but praised Sussex Road and Race for fettling his gold machine. Joannou reckoned he needed “a little more power” to improve upon third. Thompson and the lapped Hammersley made it five marques in the top five places. Oatley chased John to the flag but was another docked time for a pit infringement without losing a place.
Shears, eighth overall, won class C from Fulbrook and Lee, with Richard and David Marson providing a buffer to his rivals. Chambers had a nightmare, spinning twice - at the chicane, then Campbell - en route to 16th place, to which his 30 second Snetterton victor’s penalty contributed. Every starter finished which was pleasing to see.
WOSP New Millennium
There was no shortage of Spotless H2O descending from a sullen sky when the WOSP Performance New Millennium contenders set out to qualify, but perhaps a prophecy that Nathan Wells’ superbly-presented BMW M3 E46 GTR carried the legend down its flanks and triumphed on a marginally less moist afternoon. Wells outran Golf maestro Jamie Sturges by 19.801s over 26 tough laps, with Dominic Malone a very solid third in his M3 E90 WTCC which boasts a triple World champion Andy Priaulx heritage. Michael Vitulli, in his narrow-bodied M3 E46, did well to beat earlier winner Warren Tattersall’s SEAT to fourth with the later M3s of Russell Humphrey/Mark Wyatt (E92) and Dave Griffin (E90) growling up behind.
Sturges qualified on pole with a 1:32.113 (92.07mph), 2.455s better than Richard Clarke in his late model Honda Civic Type R TCR, who had Vitulli, Tattersall, Wells and Mark Smith’s Amspeed M3 E36 - which refused to start in the assembly area - queueing up within 1.5s. Dave Griffin (M3 E90) was seventh, half a second quicker than Humphrey/Wyatt’s Interceptor Racing M3 E92, both certainly in the mix.
More than five seconds behind them sat Martin Johnston’s thundering seven-litre Chevrolet Corvette C6 Z06 - acquired from Frode Alhaug in Norway and making its club debut - which gave regular teamsters Andy Woods-Dean and Greg Rose a wild rodeo ride, exacerbated by savage engine mapping. Steve Williams’ 3.7-litre Ford V6-engined Ginetta GT Academy car, Ashley Muldoon’s M3 E36, Stephen Miller’s Porsche Boxster and the MINI R53 of Kevin Neville/Neil Tofts were next up in the company of Malone’s big Beemer, parked in the pits after four laps with a steamed-up screen. Jonathan Strickland (M3 E46), Stephen Reynolds/John Ridgeon’s ‘air-conditioned’ Honda Civic Type R and Ben Cater/Malcolm Scott 3.2-litre BMW E36 Compact, entered by St Pterodactyl’s School for the Poor, rounded out the 17-car field.
From the rolling start, Sturges bolted into the lead and confidently plumped a 2.1 second cushion to the fast starting Wells over the first lap. Vitulli, Humphrey - who made a flyer from eighth - and Tattersall all jostled past Clarke on the opening circuit as Malone advanced from 14th to 10th. Dominic was the first to make a routine stop, seven laps in, from seventh place. Muldoon was already out, having spun 180 degrees into the pit entrance, he continued, but his car returned on a flat bed.
Sturges set fastest lap in 1:28.907 (95.39mph) eighth time round on a drying track, then made his stop. Only Wells, Humphrey, Vitulli, Tatterrsall and Griffin remained on the same lap at that juncture. As Wells took up the lead, his three immediate pursuers stopped together, Humphrey installing current Castle Combe saloon championship leader Wyatt. Smith pitted after 10 circuits, but with electrical issues did not continue.
A short shower did nothing to deter Wells following his stop, three laps after Sturges, who was chasing as hard as he dared. “Nathan came past as I left the pit lane, but at 120mph [on my out lap] the back end broke away from me on Woodham Hill and I went to [have a closer] look at the aero planes. That left him almost 40 seconds behind. Nonetheless, Jamie halved his deficit in the closing stages, finishing 19.801s adrift of the jubilant Wells. “Every lap was a bit of an exploration,” said Nathan. “The grip was improving lap-by-lap [towards the end] but I’m pretty knackered.”
A lap down, Malone did a grand job finishing third on Yokohama tyres. “I didn’t have any Uniroyals, which would have suited the conditions, but the boys did a great job on the car.” Vitulli finished fourth and Tattersall fifth having hunted down Wyatt, who remained clear of Griffin. Two laps behind the top pair, Williams growled his MRM-run Ginetta to eighth, chased by all-in wrestlers Woods-Dean/Rose in the Corvette - penalised a minute for not stopping their engine in the pits - and Miller, who survived a rotation. Clarke, hobbled by a misfire, Reynolds/Ridgeon, Neville/Tofts and Scott/Cater also took the chequered flag.
“Podium ping-pong aplenty” coloured the Modern Classics result, penalties changing the overall winner and the class C result, which also impinged on the top three. From a safety car start on a wet track, onlookers saw David Burke’s glorious ’74 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR lookalike take the chequer 20 seconds before Dave Griffin’s BMW M3 E36, only to be penalised 30 seconds for stopping after the pit window closed. “Very frustrating, but all my fault. I should have looked at the timer on my dash and pitted the previous lap. By the time I’d realised, it was too late.” Griffin, promoted to P1, was magnanimous however. “It’s a fast car and he drove it very well. It was super-sketchy out there - I had a great car today, but I don’t think there was a single lap I didn’t have a mega-lose,” said Dave.
The Hamilton brothers, giant-killers in their 1800cc Ginetta G20s, finished third and fourth, on the winner’s lap. Nick crossed the line ahead - having ripped through the pack from 17th on the grid, reaching third on the opening lap - but a 10 second imposition for a safety car infringement (in common with Roger), then another minute as one of three competitors who exceeded the 60kph (37mph) pitlane speed limit, advantaged Roger. “There’s nobody you try harder to beat than your brother and I thought he’d won, but I’ll take it,” he grinned.
Burke mastered tricky wet conditions to qualify the Parr Motorsport-built Porsche on pole, his penultimate 1:37.640 (86.86mph) shot denying Antipodean rival Griffin by 0.101s. Class B pacemaker Tom Barley (M3 E36) cut 1:40.427 for third, ahead of Richard Hayes’ flame-belching Toyota Celica GT4 turbo on 1:41.329, but 12 of the 23-strong field was packed be-tween 1:43 and 1:47. Stuart Jefcoate’s 3.6-litre Chevron Alarms Porsche 993 outran the imposing Ashgood Porsche Specialists team’s 3.2-litre Boxster S's, the red examples of Mike Curtler/Ben Raincock and Andrew Duce/Richard Neall sandwiching Ryan Charters’ blue one with a second between them.
Bang in the thick of the action, Ginetta G20 duo Roger Hamilton and Luke Plummer were interspersed with the Jaguar XJSs of Tom Lenthall/Jamie Wall and Lawrence Coppock, the latter’s with a six-litre V12 engine under its bonnet. Welshman James Harvey’s Shy Academy Boxster, Steve Thompson’s three-litre 944 S2 and David Sharp’s 1900cc Lotus Elise were on their heels. Chris Boon’s supercharged Jaguar XK8, Nick Hamilton’s Ginetta, the XJ40 of Andrew Maynard/Colin Porter, Andrew Harper’s XJ, Michael Blake’s TVR Griffith, Chris Myhill in John Milbank’s Morgan 4/4 and Gerry Simpson’s Boxster S completed the timed runners and riders. Michael Seabourne/Jonathan Gill (XJS) qualified out of session.
There was drama on the opening lap when Barley found himself without drive on the exit of Campbell, thus the majority of the field had to squeeze past the inert BMW mid-complex. When marshals could not move it a safety car was called and the race went green at the end of lap two. By then Griffin, who did not make the best getaway, was hounding the Hamiltons, but Nick demoted Hayes from second before the Diet Coke tribute BMW could progress. Griffin picked off Roger H, Hayes and Nick H on successive laps, but it took him 10 to wrest the lead from Burke after a feisty chase. Out early were the Boxster of Harvey - his first wet race - and Hayes, who abandoned his car at Noble.
Griffin made his mandatory stop 12 laps in, which returned Burke to the lead. So far ahead were they that the Hamilton siblings, who pitted two laps apart, each from P3, remained third and fourth when the stagger unwound. But for his stop timing issue, Burke appeared home and damp. As Griffin was hailed the victor, there was no argument over the penalties meted out to the next three drivers home. Wall took the chequer fifth, but a 60 second penalty for speeding in the pitlane dropped his grey Jaguar to 10th ahead of Jefcoate, who had survived a scrape with Roger Hamilton. The big winners were Coppock, Sharp and class B winner Thompson, who outfoxed Charters and Neall/Duce in their Boxsters. They were re-classified fifth to ninth respectively. Burke’s consolation was fastest lap in 1:33.370s (90.83mph).
Liqui Moly Slicks
The Liqui Moly Slicks Series - or 'Wets Series' as it might have been re-named prior to qualifying - attracted 20 competitors, four more than last year’s Thruxton race - but ultimately the result was the same, Sam Allpass riding out triumphant in his BMW-Chevrolet. The former Radical racer had not sat in the car - a French Solution F chassis clothed in M4 bodywork, with a six-litre V8 engine filling its stern - since Silverstone last October, but he ragged it regardless.
A forceful 1:28.777s (95.53mph) lap put the combo on pole, and a best race lap of 1:22.673 (102.59mph) underlined their superiority. For comparison, Sam clocked 1:18.248 (108.39mph) in last April’s dry race. On his third outing of the afternoon in the big BMW, Nathan Wells ran him closest, with the omnipresent Jamie Sturges’ VW Golf TCR third under pressure from Dominic Malone’s black BMW on the lead lap.
Apart from Allpass, only another UK-domiciled Australian, David Harrison, and compatriot Nathan Luckey (in the former’s Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup) bettered 1m30s in qualifying, chased by Sturges and Andrew Christopher (Ferrari 430 Challenge). Wells and Malone shared row three, ahead of Nigel Mustill’s Silverstone-winning seven-litre Volvo-Chevrolet S60 - destined not to start following an engine issue - and the GT3 Porsches of Simon Evans and Kevin and Charlie Bird, separated by Dylan Popovic’s seven-litre Ginetta-Chevrolet G50.
Warren Tattersall’s SEAT TCR, Ashley Muldoon’s BMW M3 E36, Patrick Charlton/Dan Webster (Lotus Motorsport Elise), Steve Griffiths intriguing Ligier JS2-R - a striking one-make series car powered by the 3.7-litre Ford Mustang V6 engine, making its club debut - Steve Cheetham’s bewinged Porsche Boxster, Ross Irvine’s mighty VW Golf Mk1 Turbo, Doug Watson’s Ferrari 488 Challenge [fresh from a maiden Castle Combe GT win], Peter Kennerley’s Ford Zetec-powered Marcos GT and David Harvey’s Lotus 340R completed the grid. Alas Harvey was a non-starter after his Open Series race incident. Chris Everill’s 6.3-litre Ginetta-Chevrolet G55 was also missing, having popped an oil filter endeavouring to get the engine running with the starter motor malfunctioning.
Allpass was peerless from lights to chequered flag, and once Wells had de-posed the fast-starting Harrison/Luckey Porsche the top two places were settled. As the track came to Sturges he enjoyed “a nice little joust round the back of the circuit” with Malone. Luckey was fifth over the line, but a penalty for partner Harrison not switching the engine off in the pits dropped them to seventh, behind Christopher and Popovic. Four drivers exceeded the pit lane speed limit, one twice, thus collected a minute for each infringement. Tattersall retired with a “whirring noise” in the SEAT,
Bird Sr nosed into the Noble tyre wall on his ‘in’ lap, bringing out the safety car, and Watson retired with his Ferrari’s traction control cutting in and out.
Co-ordSport Tin Tops and Puma Cup
Honda Type-R aces Danny Cassar and Andrew Windmill arrived at Thruxton with 30 seconds of extra stoppage time to serve for victories at Silverstone and Snetterton respectively after two thrilling Co-ordSport Tin Tops races. While Cassar was on top form and won again in Nigel Ainge’s Hillwood Autos Integra, staving off Adam Brown (Ford Fiesta ST) to the dis-jointed race’s chequer. “I didn’t have a clue where I was,” he said.
Windmill (Civic Superleggera) had a difficult day. He qualified a lowly 17th but salvaged fourth following an uncharacteristic spin at the chicane. After a catalogue of mechanical issues this term, which continued in qualifying, it was heartening to see Manoj Patel’s perseverance rewarded with a fine second, once Brown had been docked a minute for exceeding the pit lane speed limit.
Chris Warburton had qualified his remarkable VW Golf GTi on pole, his 1:41.221 (83.79mph) effort on a wet circuit a stunning 1.195s better than Brown, joined in the 42s by Richard Field Jr (Proton Persona) and Cassar. Ian Knight (Civic), Jonathan and Tom Dee (Integra), Nick Mellor/Peter Hutton (Peugeot 205 GTi), Dean Clayton (MINI Cooper R50), James Wilson (Peugeot 206 GTi) and Stephen Reynolds/John Ridgeon (Civic) completed the top 10, chased by Mark Carey (Integra DC5) and Chris Dear (205 GTi). Luke Johnson’s Premier Car Transport Puma sat 13th, best of five Cup cars, his 1:54.922 more than three seconds up on rival James Clare. David Bellamy (205 GTi), Steve Papworth debuting his new late-model Civic, James Manning (Fiesta ST), Windmill and Dave Hutchings (Civic) were between them. Andy Millard’s Mazda RX-8 was the only rotary inside two minutes. Patel started 27th, with a lot of work to do.
The quick-starting 205 of Mellor had a brilliant start, but with the first corner being a natural pinch point and a number of cars overlapping, credit must be given to Richard Field, who backed out to avoid contact.
Brown made the best start but within a minute there was a hiatus when Warburton went off and hit an infield marshals’ post. Patel had made an astonishing start and was 15th in the safety car crocodile, only four places behind Windmill. The caution lasted for five laps, by which time Papworth was out. Everybody made their mandatory stops over two yellow laps, which helped Cassar and Windmill expunge their pre-existing ‘success ballast,’ Danny’s out lap three and a half seconds quicker than Andrew’s.
Once the last three (plus Gareth Knopp/Jamie Wickenden’s Fiesta for the second time) had stopped, Brown and Field the younger were back atop the charts, with Cassar rising fast. Danny grabbed the lead from Adam round the outside at Allard on lap 13, and spent the remaining time keeping him behind, despite Brown’s engine cutting out intermittently. Unfortunately Adam, like the Fields, exceeded the pit speed limit, incurring a 60 second penalty. This brought Patel pack to P2, with Brown third once Windmill had 30.4s added to his race time, the last four tenths being the time he stopped short! “I’ve no idea how I got to second,” grinned Patel.
Hutchins and Reynolds/Ridgeon were fifth and sixth, ahead of Wilson, Bellamy, Carey and Knight. Johnson, 12th overall and unlapped, claimed Puma Cup gold from Gareth Cotgrove and Clare, as John Boult surveyed his car which hit the tyre wall at the chicane. Lee Powell was best of the Mazdas, chased by Davie Man/Paul Raeburn and Millard. Davie Man was heading the Mazda's and perhaps had the first and best view of the safety car boards, reacting immediately, whilst those in hot pursuit overtook. In the Clerks view they were not able to slow at a point of the track where they were fully committed to a corner. The luck will come Davie's way at another meeting. The Fields were disqualified post-race for failure to comply with safety car regulations.
Sunday kicked-off with the first leg of the second 2023 Morgan Challenge double-header.
Without Snetterton victors Will Pratt and Tony Kiss, new winners were guaranteed. The vastly experienced Shane Kelly won the opener from pole in the University of Wolverhampton CX Plus 4, the only closed car, but Chris Myhill’s pace in John Milbank’s 4/4 tested him, leading before pulling off after Segrave when “the engine note went flat.” John Emberson kept Kelly focused and when Shane’s clutch failed exiting the chicane in the sequel, John charged his Plus 4 Babydoll on to the chequered flag with Louis Ruff’s 4/4 0.422s adrift, having shadowed the seasoned international historic racer for several laps.
F3 Cup stalwart and recent Praga racer Kelly bagged pole with 1:30.419 (93.80mph), pursed by Chris Myhill, Ruff and Emberson in the 31s. Alexander Lees in father Tony’s yellow Plus 8 and class leader Simon Orebi Gann’s ARV6 (with a 3.7-litre Ford ‘Mustang’ engine) completed the top six. Jim Mountain (4/4) and Nigel Stuckey (Lightweight Roadster) led the other divisions, based on power-to-weight ratios.
Used to high-downforce cars, Kelly admitted to be “struggling in the fast stuff. It’s a
completely different mindset from F3,” he said, having set a scintillating 1:28.868 (95.44mph) fastest lap. Emberson spent most of the race atoning for being swallowed at the start. “I missed a gear and they disappeared,” he said. Ruff learned a lot fighting off Lees for the final podium step. Orebi Gann, Kelvin Laidlaw and Dr Kathy Sherry won their classes.
Kelly built a lead of 11 seconds over Emberson in race two before the latter started to erode it. When Kelly’s car broke, Ruff, who again duelled with Lees initially, turned his attention to Emberson who had passed them both on lap two. Milbank climbed to fifth behind Lees. Stuckey, Orebi Gann - following a spin - and first race Complex twizzler John Richards (Plus 4 Clubsport) took class honours.
JMC Racing Special Saloons & Modsports
Andy Southcott has the best batting average of the JMC Racing Special Saloons and
Modsports competitors at Thruxton, his local temple of speed, thus it was no surprise than the Southampton house builder dominated. Southcott’s season to date has been troubled, so with his frontline Vauxhall-engined Lenham Midget back in Northern Ireland being fixed following its Snetterton issues and builder Mike Johnston in the wars, Andy dusted down his 2.7-litre Millington-powered version, disconnected its paddle shift system [outlawed by series regulations] and returned to a more conventional gearshift. His staggering 1:18.332s (108.27mph) pole time was almost five seconds quicker than sprightly veteran Ian Hall’s best in the Darrian-Wildcat T98 GTR, and presaged a comprehensive double.
I have loved these extraordinary cars since my teenage years, spectating and marshalling at Thruxton and beyond, thus appreciate the challenges owners face keeping them running, exacerbated these days by parts supply delays. The herculean effort involved in getting 16 cars to the circuit was appreciated by spectators, wowed by some remarkable hybrids (in the original engine-transplanted sense) on track. Not least the eagerly awaited return of the mighty ex-works/Pete Stevens Vauxhall Carlton TS6000 which proud new owner Neil Duke and preparer Steve Mole have coaxed out of a six-year hibernation.
Danny Morris’ Spirit of RPM Peugeot-Cosworth 309 turbocar was closest to Southcott’s
target for most of the session, his 1:23.240 the fruit of only three laps. Very sadly the YB engine failed before Welshman Karl Jones - second in British Saloon Car Championship rounds here in 1988 and ’89 in a similarly-motivated Ford Sierra RS500 - could see what it would yield in anger, having tested it at Brands Hatch four years ago. Gloomy faces in the paddock reflected news that the oil pump had seized and the Holmes Racing/27 Site Services team packed up. Hall pipped Morris’ time on his final lap.
Rod Birley (BMW M3 E36) was fourth quickest, from the Honda CRX clone of Tom Carey - still running his stopgap 1760cc BDA engine - and Martin Reynolds’ latest Sierra, all in the 25s. Reynolds caused quite a stir when he unloaded the ex-Piers Grange/Neil Argrave car, for the #27 was an attractive duck egg blue below its waist rather than MRC’s yellow. Martin experienced some balance issues, put down to tyres, with the 5.7-litre V8-engined monster, and endured a lurid spin out of the chicane on what would have been his best lap, but kept on smiling.
Mike Chittenden hadn’t visited Thruxton for a few years, but appeared with John Devereaux’s
BMW E36 M3, now turbocharged. He worked down to 1:26.791, good enough for seventh. Craig Percy’s awesome 6.2-litre Morris Minor-Chevrolet, Duke’s magnificent Carlton - the 1988 Thundersaloon title-winner with John Cleland/Vince Woodman up - and Jeremy Burgoyne’s ex-Charles Barter Davrian-based Stiletto are next up, Neil having entered after a short acclimatisation run at Brands.
The monstrous V8 fake snakes of Robert Frost (8.3 Dax Tojeiro-Chevrolet) and Andy Lambert/Cheng Lim (7.0 RAM-Ford) headed the rest, 0.059s apart. Jim Seward’s Triumph TR7 V8, the misfiring 1600cc Honda-powered Ginetta of Eurocar regular Steve Fray - whose knowledge of it spanned 12 shakedown laps at Lydden - David Claxton’s troubled Triumph Dolomite Sprint and Robert Knox’s Mike Johnston-built Midget completed the colourful posse.
Southcott had the first race under control when a full-course caution was implemented to facilitate the recovery of Reynolds’ Sierra, conked-out on Woodham Hill. There was confusion over the protocol, but when racing resumed Carey caught and passed the slowing Hall for second, setting an excellent 1:21.312 personal best lap. On seeing a flash of blue in his mirrors, Southcott missed the chequer, but was 4.340s ahead at the line. Fears that Carey’s gearbox was broken when the Honda refused to be pushed post-race turned out to be a brake calliper jammed against its wheel rim (due to a broken mounting bolt), while Hall backed off due to oil surge.
Birley - watched by family from Australia - Chittenden and Duke completed the top six, followed by Frost, Percy, Seward and Fray. Knox’s Midget (with its boot lid standing vertical in air brake mode), Lambert’s snake (its carburettor flooded following the safety car crawl) and Burgoyne (blown engine) joined Reynolds in retirement.
A dozen cars formed the second grid, minus the Carlton which Duke returned to the pits with a [new] prop-shaft bearing failure. With Southcott starting in P11 having taken the winner’s 10 place drop, Hall led from the start, but Andy was second inside a lap and annexed the lead into the chicane next time round. He tore away thereafter, finishing way clear of the black BMWs of Kentishmen Birley and Chittenden, the latter’s blowing hot water onto his screen, forcing some wiper action, Frost, Lim - happy to have found four seconds since qualifying by stiffening the car’s suspension - Seward, Knox and Fray completed the finishers.
The pit lane was busy, Hall (thrown water pump belt) and Percy (lack of brakes) retiring after two laps, followed by Carey (“no gears”) a tour later. Poor Claxton, who missed the earlier race having replaced a blown turbo gasket, pulled off on the opening lap when the Dolly’s ECU died.
Adams & Page Swinging 60s
A fabulous 45-car field (including reserves) spanning 15 marques for the Adams & Page Swinging Sixties fest was as much a social history as a motor race. It promised action galore and delivered, albeit nobody could live with the speed and consistency of father and son Anthony and Ollie Hancock in their Lotus Elan over the 40 minutes. Jon Wolfe/Calum Lockie gave it their best shot in the pole-sitting TVR Tuscan V8 - which Ollie beat away, having jumped the start, collecting an inconsequential 10 second penalty - before it swapped ends abruptly at Segrave and Lockie dropped back. Dave Roberts fired his Datsun 240Z from 15th on the grid to a memorable second, with Connor Kay (MG Midget) a fine third from P9.
Wolfe/Lockie, the Hancocks and Steve Hodges (Lotus 7 S2) broke 1:30 in qualifying, Lockie’s 1:28.895 (95.41mph) netting the prime inside view of Allard corner. James Hughes’ frogeye Sprite - with a new diff since its Snetterton failure - Hampshireman Alex Thistlethwayte’s Ford Mustang and Nick King’s Aston Martin DB4 completed the top six. The Elans of Jonathan Crayston (S4) and Bill Watt (S2) were a tenth apart in seventh and eighth, pursued by Kay, Martin Reynolds (Ford Mustang Mach 1), Clive Tonge/Vaughan Winter (Mini Cooper S) and father-and-daughter Charles Tippet/Claire Norman (BMW 2002Ti). The earlier Mustang notch-back of Rupert West/Richard Hodson and long-time Castle Combe com-mentator John Moon (Austin-Healey Lenham GT) also posted meritorious 34s, with Roberts’ Z-car just behind.
Further down, third generation racer Lawrence Claridge showed form in his Broadspeed Anglia tribute, spannered by dad James, the well-matched Sebring Sprites of Simon Page and Mark Cloutman, Ben Brain’s Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV, dad-and-lass Rob and Francesca Roodhouse’s Mini ‘Kermit’ - with Snetterton hub issues solved - Glenn Canning’s ever-present NSU TTS with its propped engine cover and Alex Elbrow’s vast ‘Richard Petty’ Plymouth Belvedere caught the eye.
Unfortunately there was a shemozzle at the standing start when Watt’s Elan turned broadside across the grid, with Tippet and Roodhouse Sr darting left, scraping the barriers to avoid the melee. Red flags inevitably flew, bringing a crumb of comfort to Simon Benoy, who had to qualify his Hillman Imp out of session following a mechanical failure, thus became reserve for the capacity grid. Having driven over 300 miles from the north east the former HSCC champion was in!
Once the TVR challenge had wilted and the pressure was off the Hancocks, “Fantastic, I’ve
not had such fun in a race car for a very long time", said Ollie. Thistlethwayte kept his dad honest in his “nicely slidable” Alan Mann Racing-prepared Mustang, but a safety car infringement - after John Davies’ Triumph Vitesse head-butted the barrier on the exit of the chicane - saw Alex excluded. Behind Roberts and Kay, promoted to second and third, Tom Pead (BMW 1600Ti), King’s silver Aston and Claridge were next home. Surrey-domiciled Dutchman Marc Kniese’s orange-topped Mini was only a couple of seconds behind the Anglebox, with the Sprite of John Faux/Ian Burgin in tow. Hughes and Hodges - both with 30 second pit penalties - and Reynolds also remained unlapped.
Advantage Motorsport Future Classics
The teams which brought the excitement to the Advantage Motorsport Future Classics race started at opposite ends of the 24-car grid. Matthew and Martyn Ellis’ Talbot Sunbeam Lotus went from pole - Matt’s phenomenal 1:23.324 (101.79mph) charge four seconds clear of a potent pack - while Alex Taylor’s Mazda RX-7 turbo burned from the stern, its engine bay undertray having dropped before a time could be set.
Hugh Gurney’s BMW 325i E30, the Porsches of David Burke (911 RSR) and Darren Clayden (944 S2), Matthew Lewis (Marcos Mantula) all lapped inside 90 seconds, chased gamely by the Nick Mellor/Paul Anderton Peugeot 205 GTi and Jamie Sturges’ BMW E28 535. Cristiano and Luca Nardone’s 325i E30, Rob Hardy’s familiar 944 S2, the E30 320i's of Thomas Hendrie and Jackson Goodrum, plus Steve Thompson’s 944 S2 completed the top dozen.
Matthew Ellis scorched away in the Phil Seaman-built “weapon,” cutting the absolute best lap of 1:24.494 (100.38mph!) third time round, by which time Taylor had the Rassler Racing Mazda up to fourth! Second a lap later, soloist Taylor was the first frontrunner to stop, while Ellis ran five more before relaying dad Martyn. Gurney, yet to stop, duly took over at the top, having tussled with Lewis and kept Burke’s Porsche behind.
Once the pit stagger had unwound, Ellis Sr enjoyed a lead of around 35 seconds over Taylor, who recorded a 1:27.173 lap before reducing his pace with temperatures rising. Disappointingly for the Ellis equipe, a 60 second penalty for exceeding the pit lane speed limit saw them reclassified second post-race. With only Taylor on the same lap, they fell to second, gifting Alex victory. “An exceedingly pleasant surprise” which rewarded his crew who spent hours under the car after qualifying.
Gurney beat Burke to third by 2.261s, with Clayton, Lewis - who gyrated at Cobb mid-race - and Sturges next home. Hardy and the Nardones also covered 26 laps. A raft of pit infringement penalties should command more attention, but only Ray Barrow’s Chevrolet Camaro, a Thruxton winner in previous years, failed to reach the finish.
Mintex Classic K
Run over an hour, the traditional Mintex Classic K finale brought 20 FIA Appendix K-compliant GT and Touring cars to the track. As in Swinging Sixties, the Hancocks’ Tom Ebbs-prepared Elan - its set-up evolved with former McLaren F1 designer Steve Nichols - was too fleet for the opposition. Ollie Hancock put it on pole with a 1:28.523 (95.81mph) shot, but gastropub guru Anthony, this time took first turn at the wheel in the race.
Last year’s winners Allen Tice/Chris Conoley returned with their red bullet Marcos-Volvo ‘RB211’ - the combined age of the drivers and the car - and qualified second, but come the afternoon the chase was taken up initially by second row men Paul Tooms (Elan) and Alex Thistlethwayte (Mustang), and sometime F3 racer and double National Supersports champion Stephen Shanly in his recently-acquired Elan.
The surprise package was sometime Group C2 racer ‘Fabio Randaccio’ who qualified his TVR Griffith - built by Willie Green in 2007, but hitherto un-raced - fifth but stalled on the grid. This triggered a sensational recovery, the Ford V8-powered machine howling back to second, albeit 39 seconds behind the Hancocks’ Elan. Randaccio’s task was eased by Tooms’ engine being 1000rpm down after he’s spun in front of the TVR at the chicane. Paul continued to finish third.
Thistlethwayte hustled his American steed to fourth, ahead of Tice/Conoley. Two laps down in sixth, Dominic Mooney did a splendid job to be first of the five MGBs, but Brian Lambert drove a blinder in his screaming 1000cc Ginetta G4 to finish just five seconds behind, clear of classic motorcycle aces Gordon and Michael Russell (MGB) and David Thompson/Jon Wolfe’s TVR Grantura.
Huge thanks to Alison Tyrell, for swapping from Marshal to Safety Car observer at short notice on Sunday. Our thoughts are with Joyce George and to a speedy recovery.
Next stop on the CSCC tour is Brands Hatch, on June 3/4.