Race Report Blyton Park 30th July 2017

Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2017

After quite a long five week break following Prescott, Blyton was the first of three events for us taking place on consecutive weekends.  The event was to use the ‘Eastern Circuit’ again that we first used last year.   Personally I much prefer the ‘Outer Circuit’ layout we had used previously that was, for the most part, far better defined that the Eastern with it’s proliferation of cones and bales and the guess where to go next nature not to mention the very tricky ‘Curva Grande’.

We had Iain Stallard guesting again with strict instructions from Dad not to go too fast and break the car prior to Harewood.  This particularly after his stellar times last year.      Of the regulars David Gidden and Dick Swindall couldn’t make it.   It was the first time here for Jonathan Bibby, Graham Pattinson, Clive Buffey and Stephen Palmer.   Pete Bottrill and Grayham Parker had not run this layout before.   Keith Bristow was at the meeting but in his Ralt.

It was a 10:30 start which worked fine I thought, allowing me to drive up in the morning at a reasonable time and there were no time pressures resulting.

The weather was mostly good but the showers that later manifested themselves had a bigger than normal influence on the times and results.  There was quite a breeze and the track dried tremendously quickly after a shower but, conversely, got slippery equally quickly with even a light shower.

It was fully dry for the first practice.  There were three dual drives in the class and leading off was Steve Millward, followed by Graham Pattinson and then Iain Stallard.

Few improved or got close to their PB’s from last year.   The exceptions were Chris Westwood who took five seconds off.  He said he was feeling far more confident with the handling of the car.   Keith Wilford also set a new mark by a couple of seconds with much more power than last year.   Tony Shute and Ian Parmenter got quite close to their best times.   John Palmer had a spin.

The second runs came round quite quickly and despite the odd shower being seen in the distance it was another dry run.   Everyone improved.  Chris Westwood took another four seconds off for a 88.50 to be over nine seconds to the good from his PB at the start of the day.   Malcolm Thorne was only a second away from his PB and John Palmer also quite close.  Those not improving were Jonathan Bibby who had a spin and likewise Tony Shute who recorded a slightly slower time on 174.29.   He was rather hampered by ending up in an awkward position on the track that required the use of reverse, but that was locked out.

Grayham Parker came back in from his run saying that the brakes had virtually completely failed.   He had quite a good 85 second time despite that but further inspection of the car by Mr Matty showed that there was a major issue with the master cylinder and a lot of fluid had leaked away.   In consequence there was nothing for it but to retire the car so we had lost two of our number before competitive runs commenced.   I suspect a trip to a certain Bromsgrove garage may follow. 

Paul and I sat down to do the handicaps and basically used last years PB’s as a guide for most with usual exceptions and making comparisons and estimates for the first timers.

As it was getting close to our first timed run there was a heavy shower.  Oh Joy!

In fact it was starting to dry fairly quickly but we couldn’t really know that.   The early runners were generally slower than their practice times but it was the further round the track you went it became more obvious that there was quite a bit of grip available.

Of course, Iain Stallard set his best time so far.    Jonathan Bibby had a fairly fraught run as Elise hydraulic gremlins now afflicted his car as the clutch did not want to release properly.   He retired his car after this run.     I found a lot of wheelspin off the line and was cautious into the first couple of corners but it soon became obvious that most of the track was completely dry but I was always wondering what would be around the next bend but the time was rubbish.  Still there always the last run.

Stephen Palmer set a new PB with an 86.80.   Paul Matty set a good 80.77.  Clive Buffey  set a 92.42.   Tony Shute recorded a 77.29.    Brian Meddings improved his time compared with practice to 86.76.   Mr Hampton was just keeping his nose in front of Tony Shute with a 76.35.   Our last two runners had been red flagged so they came back to make a second run with the clear knowledge that the track was fully dry.

Malcolm’s time, despite that ‘advantage’ was a very impressive 80.86 that was clearly a new PB and also 1.04 under.   John Palmer was just 0.30 slower than his PB from last year and the 76.59 was 0.29 over.

So after that run it was Malcolm first from John Palmer with Mr Matty in third.

We nervously awaited our final run as we could see showers all round us with the worst straight in front of us as we lined up to start although it looked as it would pass us by.   Steve Millward was first off and improved to 87.05 and though not a new PB it was just 0.65 over.   Iain Stallard set his best of the day with a 78.00 which was a great time though not counting for the Championship (thank God!).  Ian Parmenter set a new PB with an 88.51 that put him 0.24 under.   Botty improved to 93.42 but that was a good way from the handicap we had set him.  By the time Chris Westwood set off there were spits of rain on the screen from the edge of the shower passing ahead.  He improved to a 90.57 but that a couple of seconds off his best from the morning.   Geoff Stallard in front of me left the line but with the rain a bit heavier now I was still convinced that it wouldn’t be too bad and that I would give it a good go.  Meanwhile Geoff was finding that it was affecting the track quite a bit.  In fact he said after his run that it was so iffy that he thought he had a puncture.    This culminated in him losing control under braking for Bishop’s (the left hander in the far corner) and resulted in a four wheels off.   He made it back in 108.30 though even that was, of course, disallowed.

As I said, having misjudged the track conditions for the first run I was determined not to do the same this time.  In fact that was just what happened as when I set off at full bore I nearly went of the track heading up to the first left hander.   I had to put the wipers on as the rain was pretty heavy but after probably only about 10 seconds the rain stopped but the damage was done and that run was wasted.  The extreme transient nature of that shower meant that by the time I had got to Bishop’s where Geoff had come to grief there seemed plenty of grip but with not much point in exploiting it.

June was behind me and was similarly afflicted by that brief shower though I don’t think she put the wipers on!

The track was drying at that incredible rate and so by the time several more cars had gone through it was Clive Buffey who the first to improve to a 91.77 that was his BTD.

Tony Shute, who as we know loves the rain, nevertheless had a virtually dry run to set a new 74.15 PB that was just 0.15 over.  Brian Meddings also improved to a 84.89 that was about a second slower than his PB.   Whilst Tony loves rain Dave Hampton hates it but, again, the track was dry by the time of his run and he recorded an excellent 72.47, just 0.29 away from his PB and handicap.

Both Malcolm and John Palmer were slower than their first runs.

So with that somewhat topsy turvy couple of runs it was a Malcolm that took the 11 points with Ian Parmenter coming up on the rails for second place and then Tony Shute in third from DH in fourth.

In race scratch it was another win for Mr Hampton from Tony and then John Palmer in third.   Road scratch saw Geoff Stallard take the win (ignoring Iain’s time of course) despite the last run shenanigans from Steve Millward second with me coming third.

Before this meeting Geoff Stallard was in the lead of the championship by one point from our current champion Tony Shute with Jonathan Bibby in third.

Now with the problems for both Geoff and Jonathan only taking the 1 point for attendance the tables are turned with once again Tony Shute in the lead with 45 points from Geoff and now Dave Hampton tied second on 38 and Jonathan with 32.

The race scratch championship sees Tony Shute with 26 with Dave Hampton steadily making up for his missed meeting now with 24 points.   Mr Matty is third with 9.

In road scratch Mr Stallard has a five point advantage over me with 26 points to 21 with Keith Bristow still in third on 14.

Just a few days to Harewood now.   Let’s hope for a completely dry meeting.