Practice | The Race | Results

I was looking forward to getting out onto the circuit, as I had spent the previous Saturday testing at Snetterton. Terry Nightingale very kindly came along for the day, and drove the car too. A few tweaks to the brakes and suspension, and Terry was getting into the 1 minute 21s - quicker than any class B car went last year. This was very encouraging, especially as the engine was suffering from a flat spot at around 6500 rpm, which was costing about 0.5 to 1 second per lap. I wasn't able to match Terry's time (he's a very quick and experienced racing driver, and currently races a Brabham F2 single seater in the European Historic F2 Championship), but I did knock 5 seconds of my previous best at the circuit, which I was pleased with.

The weather was great, which made a change from the last two meetings, and I headed out onto the circuit with all the other drivers. This weekend, we were using the short circuit, which was good, as I had driven there last year. I was initially right behind Mike Topp, and hoped to try and follow him around to remind myself of the lines around this rather twisty circuit, but after about 200 metres, he slowed and pulled of the circuit with a dead engine. I continued around, trying to push the car harder through the bends. Terry's advice the weekend before had sunk in, and for the first time, I felt really confident in the car, and was able to push through the corners a lot harder. This was reflected in my qualifying time - 1:13.51 - 4 seconds quicker than I had managed last year. Unfortunately, there are a lot of quick drivers in the race, and I was only 10th on the grid of 13 starters. I had also noticed that the engine was still suffering from a flat spot. Paul Dunnell had suggested it could be related to the engine running too cold, so I decided to blank off a bit more of the radiator to try and raise the engine temperature to the correct level.

Rob Putnam managed to survive only his 2nd ever practice session, but his newly rebuilt engine wasn't running properly, which slowed him down. Steve Taylor managed a very impressive time of 1:10.12 - over 1 second clear of Clive Hudson (a very quick driver himself) who was in second place. Mike "Squadron Leader" Topp was pleased to find that his car stopping fault had disappeared, and was able to qualify with the Locost cars in a later session. Unfortunately, he almost suffered a repeat of his huge accident last year when he lost the back of the car, and went onto the grass and over a dirt track. This caused the car to take off some 3 feet or so into the air (Mike had obviously been watching the Le Mans 24 hour race a couple of weeks earlier!), although this time he was lucky to get away with just a bent steering rack, rather than a seriously damaged car as was the case last year. Unfortunately, Mike's complaints about the circuit last year hadn't been acted upon, and this accident could happen again.

The Race | Results | Practice

Race 1

As I lined up on the grid, I tried to plan a way round Barry Obey (to my left) and Charles Sterling (just in front of me). The track is very narrow at Cadwell, so I decided to try and make a clean start, and avoid any contact. As the lights went to green, I messed up slightly, which allowed Barry to get ahead, and I followed him and Charles Sterling into the slight left hander after the start line. I was able to stay with these two, and saw that they were having there own battle, so I sat behind them waiting to see if one of them would make a mistake. Several laps in to the race, and my opportunity arose - Barry ran wide on to the grass at Charlies, and lost momentum. I edged past him along the straight, and went into Park corner ahead of him. I then attempted to close on Charles Sterling, which I was able to do, although I had to keep a close eye on Barry, who was trying desperately to pass me.

This was the first time I had been in a position to dice with people, and I kept making mistakes - locking my wheels going into corners, and taking the wrong lines. Amazingly, the car just stayed glued to the track - Terry had done a brilliant job in setting up the car, and it was taking all the punishment that I threw at it. Barry almost took me at the hairpin bend, but I got on the power just in time, and he couldn't quite get past so was on the outside as we went through Coppice, which was the dirty part of the track and he spun. This was a huge relief to me - I had obviously put too much tape on the radiator, as the water temperature was now edging over 100 degrees with 6 laps still to go. As Barry was some way behind me now, I backed off to allow the engine to cool down. Unfortunately, this meant letting Charles extend his lead over me, but this was a small price to pay to enable me to get to the end of the race. This also meant I couldn't offer any resistance to Andy Owen (whom I passed when he spun), and Mike Topp (who had started at the back of the grid after qualifying out of session) when they came to pass me. Over the next few laps, the temperature dropped slowly, and I was desperately hoping that the race would finish before Barry caught me up, as I wouldn't be able to hold him off without risking the engine overheating again. Unfortunately for Barry, he was trying just a bit too hard to catch up, and spun again, just after Park. I noticed this in my mirrors, and breathed a huge sigh of relief, as it meant I could cruise to the finish.

As the last lap board came out, I could see Charles ahead, and decided to try to catch him, as my engine had now cooled down sufficiently for one more lap of racing. Unfortunately, I had left it too late, and he beat me by just under 2 seconds. I thoroughly enjoyed this race - the first time I had been able to dice with people, and Barry also enjoyed it too, despite coming in behind me. Rob Putnam and Ian Creba unfortunately didn't finish, with Rob's throttle linkage becoming detached, and Ian's car suffering from low oil pressure and a slipping clutch. Steve Taylor also dropped from first place to 4th on the last lap, when he suffered a slight mechanical problem.

Race 2

The grid for the second race was decided by the finishing position from the first, which saw me just behind Mike Topp, and alongside Barry again. This time, my start was terrible, and I couldn't get the car into 2nd gear. This cost me loads of time, and allowed Barry to get ahead of me. Barry also managed to get past Charles, and it looked set to be a repeat of our 3-way tussle from race 1. I had removed some of the tape on the radiator, so didn't have to worry about the engine temperature which allowed me to concentrate on getting past Charles Sterling. A couple of laps in, and I managed to get a brilliant exit from the hairpin, pulling alongside Charles, only to loose momentum when 2nd gear wouldn't engage again. From then on, I had to use 2nd for the hairpin, which caused the engine to bog down slightly, and loose me speed. At the hairpin again, I managed to dive down the inside, and came out ahead of Charles.

I then went after Barry, who was slower than me through the Gooseneck - this almost caused me to go off a couple of times, as I had to back off to avoid hitting his car. At this point, it started to rain slightly, which was rather worrying, as we were still continuing at full speed. I was hoping Barry would slow slightly, as he admits to not enjoying racing in the wet, but he didn't slow at all. Charles was right behind me all the way, giving me a couple of unintentional taps as we went through the hairpin. One of these caused me to run wide onto the grass, just missing the bank on the left, and Charles got ahead of me. I kept close to him for the next few laps, hoping that either he or Barry would make a mistake in their battle, but neither one did. I finally managed to get alongside Charles at the hairpin on the last lap, and he spun trying to keep ahead of me. This allowed me a bit of breathing space to go after Barry again, but he just managed to hold me off by 0.36 seconds!

I thought the first race was good, but this one was brilliant! As soon as we pulled into park ferme, Barry and I jumped out of our cars, and ran over to Charles, to congratulate each other on an amazing race. When I was having problems building the car, and everything seemed to be going wrong, Terry Nightingale kept reassuring me that it is worth it if you persevere - he was right!

Although Steve Taylor retired with a broken differential, Rob Putnam recorded his first ever race finish - an excellent achievement, which delighted his family who always come along to the races to support Rob and Martin Smith (who is still sorting out an engine after his previous one blew at Mallory), and who have taken me under their wing, making sure I am fed properly and looked after at the races!

The drama of the race was not to end at the chequered flag however. A post-race scrutineering check resulted in Tim Harmer being excluded for a technical infringement, which resulted in me posting two 4th places.

Results | Practice | The Race

Qualifying Times

Fastest Lap
1 C Steve Taylor Sylva Striker 1:10.12 75.77
2 B Clive Hudson Sylva Phoenix 1:11.19 74.63
3 C Paul Gill Sylva Striker 1:11.42 74.39
4 B Nick Flynn Sylva Striker 1:11.48 74.33
5 B Mark Owen Sylva Striker 1:11.85 73.95
6 C Andrew Owen Sylva Phoenix 1:11.91 73.89
7 C Tim Harmer Sylva Striker 1:12.25 73.54
8 B Charles Sterling Sylva Phoenix 1:12.58 73.21
9 C Barry Obey Sylva Striker 1:12.92 72.86
10 C Edward Hasler Westfield SEiW 1:13.51 72.28
11 B Ian Creba Vindicator Vulcan 1:15.50 70.37
12 C Richard Welch Westfield SEiW 1:17.73 68.35
13 B Robert Putnam Vindicator Sprint 1:30.98 58.40

Race Results - Race 1

Race Time
Fastest Lap
1 B Nick Flynn Sylva Striker 12 14:19.90 1:10.90 74.94
2 B Clive Hudson Sylva Phoenix 12 14:20.34 1:11.28 74.54
3 C Paul Gill Sylva Striker 12 14:21.96 1:11.15 74.68
4 C Steve Taylor Sylva Striker 12 14:22.93 1:09.99 75.91
D C Tim Harmer Sylva Striker 12 14:23.90 1:11.19 74.63
5 B Mark Owen Sylva Striker 12 14:29.62 1:11.64 74.17
6 C Andrew Owen Sylva Phoenix 12 14:33.73 1:10.93 74.91
7 B Mike Topp Westfield CVH 12 14:35.59 1:11.30 74.52
8 B Charles Sterling Sylva Phoenix 12 14:44.59 1:12.77 73.01
9 C Edward Hasler Westfield SEiW 12 14:46.50 1:12.82 72.96
10 C Barry Obey Sylva Striker 12 14:58.98 1:12.68 73.10
11 C Richard Welch Westfield SEiW 12 15:25.75 1:16.25 69.68

Note: Tim Harmer disqualified for technical infringement

Race Results - Race 2

Race Time
Fastest Lap
1 C Paul Gill Sylva Striker 12 14:22.36 1:11.02 74.81
D C Tim Harmer Sylva Striker 12 14:22.71 1:11.02 74.81
2 B Nick Flynn Sylva Striker 12 14:30.18 1:11.57 74.24
3 B Clive Hudson Sylva Phoenix 12 14:30.70 1:11.73 74.07
4 B Mark Owen Sylva Striker 12 14:31.97 1:10.97 74.87
5 B Mike Topp Westfield CVH 12 14:35.14 1:11.71 74.09
6 C Andrew Owen Sylva Phoenix 12 14:44.59 1:11.95 73.85
7 C Barry Obey Sylva Striker 12 14:53.11 1:13.35 72.44
8 C Edward Hasler Westfield SEiW 12 14:53.47 1:13.22 72.57
9 B Charles Sterling Sylva Phoenix 12 15:01.94 1:13.11 72.67
10 C Richard Welch Westfield SEiW 12 15:30.32 1:15.95 69.96
11 B Robert Putnam Vindicator Sprint 10 15:43.81 1:31.47 58.09

Note: Tim Harmer disqualified for technical infringement