DONINGTON PARK, 04 MAY 2003

MORE UPS AND DOWNS!!

Once again a beautiful day greeted packed and enthusiastic crowds for the first of two full days of racing. This racing weekend was unusual in seeing the Gentlemen’s Drivers series coming to town providing some wonderful grids with magnificent old cars. The paddock contained several C-Type Jaguars along with an Alfa TZ1, Ford GT40 and more than a couple of stunning Ferrari’s and Cobras.

Our race was the Sportsmans Challenge with 60 minutes of hard fought racing led by several well known drivers. Ex-British Touring Car champion Frank Sytner and Simon Hadfield were in very rapid cars in a class stacked with serious competition. For our small venture the first problem was that the co-driver pulled out at the last minute. Sir Stirling Moss had planned to drive but sadly due to a most unfortunate accident Lady Susie Moss was confined to barracks – we wish her well. At no notice whatsoever Formula Junior friend Neil Daws snapped up the chance of a race and we were off.

Practice went well in the dry and new brakes were bedded in at the start. I thought that was what testing was for?? Neil dialled himself in cautiously and we were 8th on the grid. The race itself also went well with times gradually coming down. Yours truly started and managed to make up a couple of places in the first lap and opened a gap to the car behind. With another gap to the one in front it was quite a lonely stint but with the pit stop mixing things up Neil had more company and was able to come home 5th overall and 2nd in class – to the overall winner Frank Sytner (see results sheet). Thanks to Neil for a great job at such short notice – he had never even sat in the car before qualifying!!

Once again the Formula Junior was less happy. This was a round of the FIA Lurani European Championship and saw no less than 47 cars entered. Practice therefore had to whittle things down to a better level of numbers. I managed a very disappointing 13th on the grid with a seriously down on power engine – no bite and lots of misfire. We changed the timing and re-set the tappets before the race but when the flag dropped things were actually worse. Teenage sensation Edwin Jowsey once again featured strongly in the race in a titanic battle with old hands Denis Welch and Mike Hibberd. Experience counts in these things sometimes and eventually it was Hibberd in his rare and beautiful Lotus 27 who took the flag victorious. I retired after 4 laps in case of doing further damage as the car was just too slow to make it worthwhile. The latest engine report suggests that the ignition spark pack has broken and has not been providing sufficient “bang” for the engine. Let’s hope so as we definitely want a better show for the next outing – Mallory Park on May 25th.

 

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