DONINGTON PARK, 05 MAY 2002

CLOTH CAP 1 HOUR ENDURO RACE

They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. I certainly hope so after the events following the Top Hat Racing 1 hour Cloth Cap enduro race. A beautiful day greeted the competitors for this special event run by Top Hat Racing. Our race was for “interesting British Sports Cars” of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s and was for one hour with two drivers changing half way.

The week before had been very traumatic with mechanical guru Don Haldenby having suffered a small stroke and ending up in hospital. Car preparation had therefore been rather fragmented with minds turned to more important things. Nonetheless Don had managed to design a secondary petrol tank system to cover the extra race distance and his second in command Michael had it all installed by Saturday morning. It was approved by Don who had discharged himself from hospital and insisted on checking things out. Otherwise the car was as raced in Silverstone and still wearing Avon rubber.

Scrutineering successfully passed Simon Ham started the qualifying session and soon appeared very quick despite never having driven the car before. I then took over for seven laps and we ended up firmly on pole position – over 4 seconds faster than the second placed TVR Griffin and third placed AC Cobra.

The race went according to plan with Simon (who is a bit wider then me) starting and doing the first half hour. Simon proceeded to disappear into the distance for two laps before the safety car came out for 3 laps thus taking away his lead. However he soon re-established this and handed the car over in a very healthy position. A bit of fumbling with seat belts later I was off and running working my way through traffic. By mainly staying out of trouble (plenty of yellow flags) we came home comfortable winners by 35 seconds from the second placed Marcos 1800GT. Congratulations all round, photos and interviews were held and we returned to Parc Ferme. Then the trouble started! We were running illegal tyres!!! Embarrassed discussions with the Clerk of the Course followed and we were ignominiously excluded from the results!

Overall a real shame especially for Don Haldenby who had been delighted by the performance. However it was our fault and we will learn for the future. We also have to explain ourselves to Stirling which might be more difficult as this is not the sort of mistake he would have made. I think we would have won either way and to prove this point I have already asked for an entry into the similar season ending event in October at Snetterton. The only good point was the considerable exposure received by the sponsors during the race and the post event controversy.

 

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