BRANDS HATCH, 03 JUNE 2006

VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY

New recruit to Ecurie Scalpel, Simon Diffey was entered for the Brands hatch Race of Champions in the 1971 Surtess TS08 5000 on the 3rd and 4th of June.

Previous experience had included testing the Ex - 1974 Ronnie Peterson F1 JPS Lotus 76, but his usual drive is a 1961 Formula Junior with 105bhp.

Simon Diffey:

I collected the Surtees from Ecurie Scalpel's secret hide out on a Turkey farm somewhere near Scarborough and on the long drive south I contemplated whether I had bitten off more than I could chew.

I therefore decided I ought to go testing on the Friday before the event and so set about welding up some Silencers. I used these in the first session and then realised none of the other F5000 had them and whipped them off for the second session and circulated at 1 min 40 seconds.

That night we were treated to supper by Kiwi - Irishman Big Stan Redman, who was over driving one of Hadfields Lola T330's. I told him my neck was killing me as I wasn't used to the acceleration and cornering forces, he said he had a cure and passed me a Guinness!!

The next morning, I got my head down and turned in a 1.32 and qualified 9th on the grid, finishing the first race in 6th place with a best of 1.30.

The second leg on Sunday was the same rolling start and I was ready for the Hadfield and Shryver trick of backing right off as the pace car left and then trying to rocket away leaving the rest of the pack dithering. This time I got close to Frank Lyons in the McLaren and Mark Dwyer in a March, hanging on to them for the first lap and as we exited the steep Surtees bend I had the drop on Dwyer who was on my left, so I positioned my self for a pass on the right hand side and kept my foot hard down.

To my utter surprise Dwyer just moved across in front of me as we thundered down Pilgrims Drop and I would have been on the grass at 150mph had I not backed off completely. This put the willies right up me and I took a while to get my act back together, by which time he was 10 cars lengths away and Alistair Morrison in the Lotus 72 was now breathing down my neck.

I spent the next 16 lap slowly closing the gap, but 2 laps from the end, the brake pedal went long and the braking was much reduced, I could see that Morrison was closing, but just held him off to the flag with a 5th place and a best of 1.29. 104MPH race average.

I was shattered and elated, it was without doubt the most exciting drive of my life and impossible to describe the shear power of a 450bhp V8 single seater on a long Grand Prix circuit in the company of one of my child hood hero's and F3 champion Tony Trimmer.

 

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