Snetterton 300 - 4/5 June 2016
ByBox Historic Touring Car Championship
I’m writing this report from a driver’s perspective, having eventually gotten the Lotus Cortina rebuilt (with some help from Robyn Slater) and back in the saddle after a 5 year+ break. It was good to start over again in a relatively ‘low key’ way – Snetterton wasn’t that well supported (for most of the championships except for HFF). Our 17 entries were boosted by amalgamating with the Allcomers grid of 14, albeit with them starting from a separate grid ten seconds or so behind. However, the Snetterton ‘300’ was new to me and the inner section is quite ‘technical’ and predominantly left handed too. I didn’t grasp it that well….lots of wheel waving from the Cortina looks great but doesn’t necessarily mean quick.
Qualification saw the FIA Lotus Cortinas of Graham Pattle and John Davison lock out the front row, followed by series newcomer Mark Burton’s Mustang (the ex-Neil Brown car) and 2015 champion Simon Benoy’s Imp. Robyn Slater’s zippy Anglia headed superstalwart Roger Godfrey’s Mini on row three, then yours truly’s Lotus Cortina and Steve Platt’s Chamois on row four. The top ten were rounded out by Neil Wood’s Anglia (returning after a 4 year break) and Tim Brook’s Mini. Although the track was dry, a strange mist hung in the air which was slightly offputting on the windscreen. The dampness always makes the engines crisper though.
The mistiness burnt off for race 1 on Saturday afternoon. Graham initially made a good start then struggled into second and was swamped by half the field. I made a great getaway then got hung out to dry around the outside of Riches. In front of me Roger and Steve argued over the grass but kept it all pointing the right way. John, Simon, Robyn and Neil all capitalised on this but unfortunately John’s Lotus Cortina pulled off on lap 2 with a minor ailment, fixed for race 2. Graham soon regained his composure and retook the lead, stretching out a big gap to the flag. Simon kept the Anglias of Robyn and Neil at bay, these two tussling vigorously until Robyn staked a firm claim on third. Neil then slowed a little allowing me to pass him for fourth! Result! Behind Neil, Steve was the last unlapped runner and the field was rounded off by Roger, Tim and Richard Cross – the Triumph finishing its first race since a big rebuild. Hooray! In addition to John Davison, Adam Gittings Anglia retired with overheating and Shaun Hazlewood’s Imp suffered a bad misfire.
Race 2 on Sunday afternoon and it was proper warm. We’d had most of the day to fettle our cars and get those nerves sharpened to a razor’s edge. Graham makes another dodgy start (he subsequently found his reverse blocker was loose which baulked a quick change into second) and again the next couple of rows surged past. I was immediately behind Simon, whose Imp invariably makes a cracking start so I floored it and to my amazement found myself in second through Riches and the hairpin. Out of the left hander at Palmer (honestly, I was rubbish slow through there) Neil is on my tail and slots inside down into Agostini. He’s on fire and soon catches and passes Simon (probably not so easily though) and is in the lead. Robyn’s on my tail and I let him through a bit too gracefully, then think to myself ‘why am I so soft?’ and set after him. We have a cracking dice for the rest of the race, interrupted by a recovering Graham going through (eventually to win by less than half a second from Neil). Mark joins our party too, the Mustang power getting him past both of us for fourth. Robyn’s steamy Anglia edges me out for fifth (but of course another lap and I’d have been back past!). John Davison was closing on me towards the end but was shy by a few seconds in seventh, from Steve’s Chamois, Dean Trower in Roger’s Mini (his annual outing and in good form), just shading the final finisher – Tim Brook’s Mini. Adam’s overheating woes still weren’t quite put right and he retired along with Shaun (continuing misfire) and Richard. We all worried about the fate of the Triumph but it turned out to be no worse than a loose timing chain tensioner.
I hope to see you all, and more besides, at Cadwell on the 18th/19th. Another double header on a super circuit!
Let's go RACING