The 2015 HRSR/HSCC ByBox Historic Touring Car Championship
The ByBox Historic Touring Cars started the 2015 season at a cold and blustery , typically Easter weather, Thruxton with 24 cars starting practice but only 12 still racing at the end of the second race at this two day meeting. Two of the cars were destroyed at the very fast left hand Noble corner – Dan Wray’s Lotus Cortina in practice when a halfshaft snapped and the offside rear wheel came off and Nigel Cox’s Lotus Cortina rolled towards the end of the first race – and Richard Cross suffered an engine bay fire in practice which put paid to his weekend whilst mechanical attrition accounted for the rest. Jon Milicevic, well known in HSCC circles as the Historic Formula Junior champion, made his touring car debut in an immaculate Mini Cooper ‘S’ and qualified sixth. Tim Davies, champion in 2013 and 2014, continued where he left off and took pole and a fine brace of wins to open his championship hat-trick campaign heading Pete Hallford’s Mustang and David Tomlin’s Lotus Cortina in both races.
Next stop was Silverstone for the International Trophy meeting on the GP circuit. Not a popular venue for the Historic Touring Cars as shown by an entry of only 24 cars – the Imps in particular not liking the circuit that takes a heavy toll out of their high revving engines and only two of the pocket rockets appeared on the entry. An interesting newcomer to the series came in the shape of Jim Chapman’s Chevrolet Corvair but his new acquisition from the USA requires some development and it was well down the practice time sheet that was headed by the Mustangs of Greg Thornton and Neil Brown. The two Mustangs led from the start with Neil taking the lead on the opening lap and surviving a ‘speculative’ overtaking manoeuvre from Greg, which left both cars with some light panel damage, to take the win ahead of Tim Davies and Warren Briggs with Greg slowing towards the end in ninth place. Newcomer to the series, Mark Davies, in the ex-Joe Gomm Lotus Cortina came a very competitive fourth just ahead of Pete Hallford’s Mustang – a great effort in a 1600cc car on this power circuit and giving notice this is a driver to watch. The Corvair survived half the race before retirement but I suspect there is a lot more to come from this car. Donington Park followed in late May and the practice time sheets were dominated by Briggs, Thornton and the two unrelated Davies. Another newcomer to the ranks was Theo Paphitis in a Ford Anglia, hoping to get experience and signatures for Godwood at the end of the year. Tim Davies took another win, comfortably ahead of the Mustangs of Briggs, Brown and Hallford with Bob Bullen’s Anglia nipping at the heels of the yellow Mustang, whilst Mark Davies and Greg Thornton were unfortunate retirements.
Double header races at Snetterton and Cadwell Park came next in June. Snetterton was a very wet affair and Mark Davies took pole ahead of the Minis of Jon Milicevic and Roger Godfrey with Simon Benoy’s Imp a fine fourth. Mark was swamped by the Minis and Imps off the line but worked his way up to second on lap two before taking the lead in a stunning move round the outside of Jon Milicevic’s Mini at Coram – in the wet!! This lad has great skill. The Cortina stretched the lead to a comfortable 13 seconds by the end ahead of Jon and Roger as Leo Voyazides wrestled his Falcon through the field from what was for him a lowly 14th grid slot up to fourth ahead of Pete Hallford’s Mustang. Race 2 saw Mark take another fine win as the conditions worsened with Jon and Pete filling the other podium places and Leo pulling off on the warm up lap with brake issues. Tim Davies had a very subdued weekend with old, worn tyres not liking the conditions at all but, with no opposition on the day, taking two more class wins. By this point in the season Tim was suffering with a lack of numbers in his class and was second in the championship behind Pete Hallford but comfortably ahead of the class E cars of Steve Platts and Simon Benoy.
Cadwell saw a meagre field of twenty cars including the debuts of Graham Briggs’ very smart Hillman Imp and the Mini shared by Michael Wade and Nigel Parry. Mark Davies put his class C Lotus Cortina on pole by almost a second ahead of the class B Cortina of Tim Davies with Mike Gardiner’s similar car a further two seconds back. The pole sitter only lasted a lap as a halfshaft broke cresting the Mountain on lap 2 and, with no spare, his weekend was over. Tim Davies took the win ahead of the Mustangs of Warren Briggs, Neil Brown and Pete Hallford but proceedings were interrupted on lap 5 by the departure of Richard Dutton’s Cortina into the barrier at the Gooseneck and the result was declared at the end of lap 4. The second race was a quieter affair and Tim Davies took a second win ahead of Warren and Pete as their race one sparring partner, Neil Brown, fought his way through the field from the back of the grid as the Mustang wouldn’t fire up in the assembly area.
A fine field of 27 cars turned out at a sunny Brands Hatch for the Superprix meeting in mid-July on what must be the UK’s finest circuit. Practice saw four of the top six cars with V8 power with Leo Voyazides on pole in his Falcon with a healthy time gap back to Tim Davies’ Cortina with the Mustangs of Briggs, Thornton and Hallford split by Mark Davies’ class C Cortina. Leo was slow away and the two Davies led the first couple of laps before the Falcon flew by with Warren Briggs following through. The two pulled away to take the top spots on the podium whilst a few seconds back Tim and Mark had a great ding dong for third which was spoilt by Tim clipping Mark in to a spin at Druids after Mark had found a way through. Mark fought back well but was half a second or so shy of his namesake at race’s end. Pete Hallford’s Mustang had a rare retirement here, his only non-finish of the season, and Greg Thornton’s similar car fell back with an ‘off’ in to the gravel from which he was lucky to escape. Further back Simon Benoy dropped to third in class behind the similar Chamois/Imp of Steve Platts and Adrian Oliver but didn’t lose ground in the championship to his main rivals with the retirement of Hallford and a lack of class opposition for Tim Davies. Tim still led Simon by a point with Pete Hallford a further point back.
August had double headers at Croft and the Bank Holiday Oulton Park Gold Cup meeting. Croft was warm and, at times, sunny which made a pleasant change from some previous years and it looked as if racing had already started as Mark Davies and Tim Davies led the field of 22 out of the pit lane for practice and went straight at it. Mark just took pole but Tim’s efforts went unrewarded as he was penalised 10 grid spots for track limit violations elevating Warren to the front row ahead of returnee Mark Jones in his class C Lotus Cortina. Warren got the power down well as Mark’s car bogged down a bit and the Mustang held a comfortable lead which was extended on the last lap with an oil haze signalling some mechanical woe on the Cortina. Tim Davies fought his way through to third after his grid penalty ahead of Mark Jones and Pete Hallford. Andy Jones had put his Singer Chamois in to the lead off the line but fell back thereafter to an eventual eighth place well clear of the Minis of Roger Godfrey, Andy Harrison and Tim Harber and Simon Benoy’s Imp. The Croft Nostalgia meeting is a great favourite with the spectators and Saturday’s good crowd was well surpassed on Sunday with cars arriving well in to the afternoon and they were treated to a fabulous Historic Touring Car race.
Mark Davies did the warm up lap but did not start the Cortina owing to transmission problems leaving Tim Davies and Warren Briggs to fight it out at the front – and what a battle it was! Warren led away but for the whole race they were never more than half a second or so apart. Warren ran wide at the complex on lap5 and Tim sneaked through only for the Mustang to regain the lead on the next lap. The crowd at the complex were entertained every lap as the Mustang, breathing fire from the exhausts on over-run just kept Tim at bay – his Cortina giving off plumes of blue smoke from the front tyres as he braked heavily. It couldn’t last and on lap 10 the Mustang’s gears went AWOL for a moment and the Cortina was through. Tim held on to the end for a great win a couple of seconds clear of Warren. All this left Mark Jones on his own in third but there were other great dices down the field.
Oulton Park was another double header event but the weather turned from OK on the first couple of days to wet on the Monday. The Mini drivers were obviously well pleased and Jon Milicevic took pole and the win in the first race ahead of the Cortinas of Mark Davies, Tim Davies and Mark Jones. The track dried a little for race 2 and Jon was swamped by the more powerful Cortinas and Mustangs with Tim taking victory ahead of the two Marks. An interesting entry at this meeting was the Ford Corsair of Alan Wheelwright and with Colin McKay having a rare outing in his Jaguar ‘S’ Type there were nine different shapes of touring cars competing – it’s good to have variety as well as the hordes of Minis, Imps, Cortinas and Mustangs.
Brands Indy circuit hosted the season’s penultimate meeting with double headers for most categories. The usual suspects of Briggs, Davies, Davies, Gardiner and Hallford headed the practice sheets with Joe Gomm slotting his ex-Dan Cox 2 litre Cortina in to the midst of them before his engine expired in a big way signalling an early end to the session. In the first race Warren Briggs managed to stay ahead of the Cortinas of Tim Davies and Mark Davies to the flag though it was very close at times. Mike Gardiner was well in the mix until his 2 litre Cortina engine expired just past half distance and behind the leading four Bob Bullen’s Anglia chased Pete Hallford’s Mustang before passing and edging away to a comfortable fourth after Gardiner retired. Simon Benoy came a splendid seventh behind Robyn Slater’s Anglia. Race two was just as close and although the top six positions were the same as the first race there was much to be raced for throughout the field. Simon Benoy mixed it with the larger engine cars again and took the class win that would seal his well deserved second Historic Touring Car championship in fine fashion.
Siverstone Finals meeting came around far too soon and a fine dry autumnal day greeted the ByBox competitors. Pete Hallford took pole in his Mustang followed by a hoard of Lotus Cortinas headed by Tim Davies. Tim led at the end of the opening lap but Pete put the Mustang’s horses to good use and swept ahead to take a popular first HRSR win ahead of the Cortinas of Davies, Avill, Spiers and Martin. A fantastic race long dice between the Minis of Godfrey, Paddy, Milicevic, Harber and Harrison had Simon Benoy’s Imp mixing it with them and the six cars were covered by a mere three seconds at the flag. A crowd pleasing way to finish the season. Pete Hallford took second place in the championship ahead of Jon Milicevic and Tim Davies. Tim won his class at every round but with poor entries in his class at half the rounds his chance to score full points was compromised. Tim has the distinction of entering and finishing every race over the last three seasons – a fine achievement.Peter Wray
Race Reports and Photos
Thruxton (Easter Revival) - 4/5 April - Race Report Silverstone GP (International Trophy) - 16/17 May - Race Report Donington Park - 30 May - Race Report Snetterton (Autosport 3-Hours) - 13 June - Race Report Cadwell Park (Wolds Trophy) - 27/28 June - Race Report Brands Hatch GP (Historic Super Prix) - 11 July - Race Report Croft (Nostalgia Weekend) - 8/9 August - Race Report Oulton Park (Gold Cup) - 30/31 August - Race Report Brands Hatch Indy – 26 September - Race Report Silverstone National (Finals Day) - 17 October - Race Report