After the disappointing time for Ecurie Scalpel at Donington where the miserable weather was only matched by the frustrating problems with the Crossle F2 car, better things were hoped for at the HSCC meeting at Silverstone. Incidentally, since Donington the gearbox ills on the Crossle have been fixed (bent selector) and new shock absorbers have been fitted so hopes are restored for this pretty car.

With the Surtees and Elva-BMW safely back from Australia it was decided to bring the Elva – as the banker car- and the Lotus FJ to the HSCC meeting on the National Circuit. The Lotus had not been out since Snetterton last year and was due a run (armed with e new battery) while the Elva is always worth an entry.

Three races were on the card with the Lotus taking part in the Classic Racing Cars event as well as the Formula Junior race while the Elva would appear in the Classic Sportscar race. A busy day was on the cards with the CRC and CSC events being back to back and we did not have a very encouraging start!

Qualifying for the Classic Race Cars was first. The Lotus was soon into its stride and seemed to be going faster until the engine just died as I changed into top gear passing the pits – just dead. Towed back to the paddock I just had time to jump into the Elva and set off late for qualifying while the team tried to fix the orange machine.

The Elva ran faultlessly as usual and I was comfortable with the speed – in fact I was on pole by over half a second. However the Lotus was still dead until the wonderful Alan Baille came to the rescue and found the problem. Thankfully it was nothing expensive and fatal – just a broken rotor arm - and a few minutes later the engine burst into healthy life again.

FJ qualifying was the last morning event and that went well with fourth position being quite reasonable looking at the times – only a second off pole and in a group covered by lass than half that amount.

What about the races themselves? Well the CRC event was first and started with a few cars spinning off at the first corner – the very fast Copse. I managed to avoid this but ended up on the grass which lost me some time. Never mind, head down and off again we managed a trouble free race coming first in class and the first Junior home.

Dumping the car in the pit lane I then had to sprint (stagger) over to the assembly area and jump into the Elva for the next race. Beside me on the grid was the rather menacing Brabham BT8 of Brendan Roberts armed with the powerful Coventry Climax 2.7 litre engine – he would clearly be the problem. At the lights I managed to lead into the first corner and after three fast laps had a healthy lead and was starting to lap the stragglers. Then disaster – yellow flags at Copse with a bunch or backmarkers up ahead. Suddenly all my lead was gone and the mirrors were full of the white Brabham. I took a few chances lapping cars and thankfully managed to hold Brendan off to win the race – the first of the year.

Last up was the Junior race and although there was no win in store the race itself was hectic to say the least. Making a good start from fourth place I managed to be sixth going onto the back straight – I am still not sure how really. The first three guys went off slightly up the road and I set about the cars beside me. Two down and I now had young lion Andrew Hibberd to deal with. Son of ace racer Mike, Andrew is getting worryingly quick the days and gave me all the trouble I could deal with. In thirteen hectic laps we swapped positions at least 10 times. However I had spotted that I could brake later at the end of the back straight – I had gone past him there before on the inside. Last lap heroics were called for so I flung it down the inside and slipped past – somewhat broadside – and managed to hold it to the flag by just 0.3 secs. Started fourth, finished fourth!

So overall this was a very good day, competitive all day, no disasters and an overall win. Next up is Croft in two weeks. The Crossle gets a second chance and the Huffaker returns to the fray for its first event since starring in Monaco – watch this space!


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