A warm and sunny day greeted a very full paddock in Donington Park for the opening meeting of the Historic Sport Car Club (HSCC) 2002 calendar. Full grids all round was the order of the day and a very long queue for scrutineering resulted with many cars out for the first time this year.

With the 300 Junior still out of action awaiting a new driveshaft for Monaco, the MK7S was making its return to the tracks after almost 10 years in hibernation. The pre-race test had revealed some brake worries and this was to prove somewhat correct. New master cylinder seals had arrived but were the wrong size so we were back to the original items and praying for good luck.

The Classic Sports Car Race series is a full grid of mostly 60’s British cars usually led by a group of very rapid Marcos 1800 GT’s running with the much modified Volvo engine of period. The Elva was in the invitation class up against two very quick Merlyn sports racers – one driven by Jason Williams and the other by John Bladon. Bladon currently races in Historic Formula One internationally and can be guaranteed to be very quick indeed. On a small technical point, these two cars were both running on Avon tyres – worth 3 seconds a lap over the period Dunlops but illegal for FIA sanctioned events. The Elva was on the Dunlops as we plan to race in some FIA events (2 sets of tyres being a bit pricey in this business).

Qualifying was a frantic and busy affair with lots of traffic and very spongy brakes. Nonetheless we were happy enough with fifth place on the grid behind the two Merlyns and 2 Marcos Coupes. New Carbotech brake pads were fitted for the race in a hope to improve matters although we knew we would have to wait for the new master cylinder before things will be seriously better.

Come race time the track was very dusty from some oil spilled in a pervious race. Starting from the inside of the third row the plan was to move between the cars in front and take the lead! Sadly it was not to be. A good start saw the Elva move for the gap which suddenly closed with the leader “doing a Schumacher”. This allowed the Merlyn on the second row to shoot up the outside into the lead – he was never seen again. Being somewhat asleep going down Craner Curves for the first time another Marcos went by on the inside and I was now in sixth – not as intended.

The race soon settled with all attempts to get by the Marcos proving fruitless especially with the attentions of a fast approaching E-Type behind. However one good move and one piece of luck improved matters. The gravel trap at the old hairpin collected the fastest of the Marcos cars and a late braking lunge into the chicane saw me safely past another. Another lap would have dealt with the final Marcos but the flag fell with us lying in a pleasing third place. A podium spot first time out was very encouraging and with better brakes to come (I hope) we might be able to match this result next time in Silverstone (even with the Dunlops).


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