SNETTERTON, 01 JUNE 2008

The Fourth Estate – wellalmost.

 

HSCC Autosport 3 Hours Race Meeting, Snetterton, May31st – June 1st.

 

Some time ago the HSCC revived the wonderful tradition ofthe Autosport 3 Hours race for sports racing cars held for many years duringthe 1960’s.  It is now the longesthistoric race in the UK and an obvious race for the Lola Mk1, which iseventually getting its act together. I decided the obvious person to share the driving duties was Rick Hall(of Hall and Hall fame) as he is a sensible man who drives more or less at myspeed.  Also entered was theever-faithful Crossle 19F and the Lola T332 F5000 car – both have two raceseach making for a busy weekend.

 

After practice both Rick and I found some things wrong withthe Lola – heavy steering, too much roll and too much oversteer – but otherwiseit was fine.  While they were beingsorted (a bit) I qualified the other pair.

 

The F5000 Lola was misfiring last time out at Silverstone(in October) and despite having some injectors changed it is still doing thesame.  This is very bad news atSnetterton which has two long straights where the car loses time getting on thepower.  After that excuse it was 9thon the grid.  The Crossle however,was only troubled by a too low top gear, so that I was hitting the rev limiterat just over 9000rpm half way down the back straight.  Otherwise it was all systems go and 4th place onthe grid.

 

Derek Bell Race No 1

 

Being 9th on the grid I had a good view of therolling start with Mick Lyons and Mark Dwyer on the front row in matching LolaT400s.  Surprisingly, they made itthrough the first corner and were away. I then settled in to a pretty lonely race to be honest with the misfirepreventing me keeping up with the front guys and nobody giving me a hard timefrom behind.  After a few carbreakages I soon realised that things had improved and I ended up 4thoverall.

 

Autosport 3 Hours.

 

The plan was for Rick to take the start and we aimed for asimple 50:50 split of driving duties – 90 minutes each.  We also knew that being one of theslower cars we would have to play the tortoise to the many hares outthere.  34 cars started the raceand gradually Rick climbed up the field by steady and sensible pace – havingstarted 28th he was 20th after one hour.  During one of the several pace carsessions used to collect broken cars we swapped over after the mandatory3-minute stop and refuelling.  OffI went and by 2 hours we were up to 14th and going strong.  Then it happened!

 

Just after the start/finish point the car coughed and splutteredand two corners later it died – stone dead.  Exiting the car a marshal eventually appeared and asked it Ineed returning to the pits for repairs. This required the pace car and after MANY laps I was towed into the pitarea.  The Hall & Hall crew fellon the car and soon discovered the problem.  The battery frame had broken, the battery fell over and thebrake cable had worn through the electrical lead.  With a new battery and lots of strange strapping I was offagain and in a bad mood.  Twentyminutes later the flag fell – I turned in my fastest lap in the very lastcircuit!   The damage had beendone though and after 96 laps we were back where we started 28th!!  It was fun though and can only getbetter.

 

SUNDAY

 

First up it was the Lola and the second DBT race.  This time I was starting 4thand at the rolling start held that position and off we went.  After three laps though the red flagswere out to recover two cars. After the few minutes we had a restart and this time I got the jump onNeil Glover into the first corner – quite comfortably actually.  Then disaster struck – due to a seriouslack of talent I managed to spin exiting the second corner and ended up flatlast!  Ten laps of red mist laterthe flag fell and I was 4th – again!

 

The Crossle 19F has always served me well and on thisoccasion I had ideas of improving on the 4th place startingposition.  What actually happenedwas a huge battle with Californian John Delane in his very powerful BrabhamBT18.  Twice we went side by sidethrough the Esses and twice I gave him just enough room to back off!  We finished half a second apart withboth of us shaving more than a second off our best qualifying time.

 

The final race provided a battle of a different type.  John Delane had his own problems behindme and I managed to slip into third at the start. Soon though I was battlingwith Anthony Ross and his Lotus 59/69 for third and fourth.  First he spun off and I though it wassettled.  Slowly but surely thoughhe grew bigger and bigger in the mirrors and eventually was climbing all overthe gearbox – and then he did it again by spinning exiting Sear.  So after all that is was a podium 3rdin the last race of the day.  Abouttime after all those P4”s!!

 

Next up it is Brands GP Circuit in a month

 

STOP PRESS – Diffey strikes again!  No – not a crash but a well earned second place for theHuffaker against much stronger Ford engined cars at the VSCC “See Red” meetingat Donington.  Full story tofollow.

 

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