Snetterton – 8 June 2014
I watched the weather forecast for the Snetterton area in the days leading up to the race and decided to stick with the Thursday forecast of rain on Saturday and Monday but fine, warm weather on Sunday. Bingo! It worked out just right and factor fifteen sunscreen was the order of the day.
A few withdrawals meant that only 20 cars practiced and very quickly it was Neil Brown and Tim Davies at the head of the field with Neil claiming pole before being sidelined with transmission problems, later diagnosed as a broken halfshaft on the Mustang. Mike Gardiner and Graham Pattle were next up in their Lotus Cortinas ahead of Robyn Slater’s Anglia and Colin Gunton’s Imp. The Minis of Roger Godfrey and, new boy, Justin Cooper and the Imps of Simon Benoy and Adrian Oliver rounded out the top ten. Other newcomers to the series were Tom Westley Senior and Junior whilst Richard Conway reappeared with his Volvo P544 as did Celia Stevens with her Ford Anglia and Colin McKay had his first outing with us for a couple of years with his Jaguar ‘S’ Type.
Colin Gunton’s Imp was still over-pressurising it’s oil system and sadly didn’t make the start of race 1. Tim Davies led the field at the end of lap 1 just ahead of Neil’s Mustang and they pulled away from Mike Gardiner’s slightly off-song Cortina by 3 seconds a lap until the Mustang’s halfshaft finally called it a day after 4 laps. A lap later Mike Gardiner pulled his Cortina off track with ignition troubles and Tim eased off the pace but still increased his lead over Graham Pattle’s second place Cortina to over 45 seconds by the end of the race.
The race had already lost Robyn Slater’s Anglia when his propshaft let go in a big way at the end of the straight on the first lap causing substantial damage to the diff and gearbox and punching a hole in the transmission tunnel not too far behind the drivers seat. Also out by half distance were Jonathan Townsend’s Cortina with a faulty distributor and Colin McKay’s ‘S’ type Jag with brake problems (like, NO BRAKES – a necessity for such a heavy car on this circuit). David Lloyd retired his Mustang with one lap to go and the race clock ran down with Simon Benoy taking a fabulous third podium place in his Hillman Imp ahead of a subdued Roger Godfrey in his Mini ahead of the similar cars of Justin Cooper (of course he drives a Mini with a surname like his) and Tim Brook. Shaun Hazlewood’s Imp, Dave Cabena’s Alfa Romeo and Richard Cross’s Triumph 2000 rounded off the top ten.
The Townsend and Gardiner Cortinas were fixed for race two, as were the Lloyd Mustang and Colin McKay’s Jaguar, but just as the cars were about to leave the assembly area Dave Cabena’s crew (his wife) noticed coolant squirting out of the radiator and he returned to the paddock rather than risk his engine. Tim Davies led the race throughout but the star of the first lap was Mike Gardiner who found gaps everywhere to cross the line in second place at the end of the lap after starting from 13th on the grid but the engine went off song on lap 3 and he lost places each lap. Graham Pattle’s Cortina inherited second place which it held to the flag with Justin Cooper’s Mini in third. Roger Godfrey’s Mini was driven by his son in law, Dean Trower, who had a fine race from the back after practicing out of session to fourth ahead of Shaun Hazlewood, Tim Brook and David Lloyd. Tom Westley Jnr took eighth after also starting from the back of the grid following his dad’s drive in race one followed by Mike Gardiner and Adrian Oliver, both slowing with engine problems towards the end of the race, Jonathan Townsend’s finally on-song Cortina, Richard Cross and Celia Stevens, the Anglia also trailing an oil haze as it crossed the line. Simon Benoy’s Imp retired after 4 laps with engine problems and Colin’s Jaguar retired at the same time – the brake problem not fixed. Richard Conway’s lovely P544 Volvo (a car we were more accustomed to seeing on the rally stages in period) also called it a day at the end of the opening lap.
By my reckoning Tim Davies leads the championship on 40 points, a point ahead of Adrian Oliver with Simon Benoy third on 36 and Roger Godfrey fourth on 33 points.
Report by Peter Wray