View Report 5/5/18

Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2018

                                              Shelsley 5th May


This originally was going to be the second event in the 27th year of the Paul Matty Championship but with the cancellation of the drastically undersubscribed (not by us!) Croft sprint it was now the launch event for the season.  Unusually for a; a bank holiday, and b; the first Shelsley, the weather was looking good with the forecast for Saturday being dry but largely cloudy.   In the event the day dawned with beautiful blue sky which lasted all day once the mist had quickly burned off from the Teme Valley.   The conditions could not have been nicer and the usual concerns about the condition of the track in the Esses were completely absent.  The track was in great condition.

There were quite a few changes to our normal entry, both on the driver front and the cars themselves.  New drivers included our own Karen Buffey, having now been tempted to join Clive on the hills, but in her own Elan S4, and Paul Hemmings in a very nice, and fast Exige 240 Cup. Tim Grasby was dual driving with Keith Bristow in the Exige V6.  Keith Wilford was absent as he was at home looking after Sue who had suffered a dog induced fall and with back pain was not able to make it.

The other driver not to be there was Stephen Hopkins who had failed to get an entry. Now, stop press just in, he has discovered a major crack in the rear sub-frame of the Elise that will not be a quick or easy job to fix.

We weren’t expecting Tony Wallen but he was there having suffered from an MAC admin error in not initially recognising his entry.  He was in his lovely 69 F3 but this time it was in ‘low drag configuration’ as the front and rear wings were nowhere to be seen.

Lots of people had had engine rebuild work done over the winter, me included.  The only car, as far as I am aware, with a very different engine spec was that of Stephen Palmer who had succumbed to the obvious temptation of a lot more power.  It had to happen!   Dick Swindall was in his ‘yellow car’ as the ‘blue one’ had just succumbed to head gasket problems – an inconvenient time.  The ‘yellow one’ then failed him as he was leaving home and needed wholesale replacement of ignition components before he could set off again.

There were also two new Elise 111R’s in the class to join Chris Westwood’s.  John Palmer was starting the process of rebuilding his 61 so is running an Elise for this year.  The Millward’s have also acquired an Elise that they will use at some events whilst the Elan will be at others.

The only other thing of interesting note, I think, was that Geoff Stallard was there in his Elan for the Saturday meeting.   He had also entered his TVR in the Sunday meeting so as soon as his last run was finished on the Saturday he was loaded up on his way back to Godalming to then load the TVR to come back!   Some 14 hours of driving over the weekend if everything went well!!!

As ours was a one-day event in the midst of the hybrid one day/two day meeting (that has really confused Resultsman) we had to keep a close eye on our batch timing.  Our first batch came quite soon in the morning.  Some initial cars were not being given times but, as usual, nothing astonishing happened in first practice.  We didn’t have the finish line clock working at all, all day.    Jane Millward really enjoyed her first run in the Elise and, in fact, that was her best time of the day.  Later she (and Steve I think) was suffering from too many gears and going into 6th when 4th was required.   A common issue on the Elise I am told.

Tony Shute was finding his rear diffuser was proving a little too effective for the methods he had used to secure it and further fixings were needed to prevent it bending under the negative pressure.

Karen was very pleased with her first run at Shelsley.  

Our second runs came around quite quickly, the meeting was going smoothly.  Everyone improved, our new drivers by quite a lot as expected.  Only Jane was slower with the aforementioned gear selection issues.   Clive Buffey set a new PB.  Stephen Palmer had a misfire but that was a wayward plug lead,

Paul and I sat down to try and put some sensible targets together.   Very difficult with new drivers and car changes.   As usual we try to be a little tougher when there are unknowns involved but again, as usual, we try not to be overly hard.  For example, we did not give Tim Grasby the same target as Keith Bristow but had again to recognise that it was a very powerful car and so had to make a judgment that didn’t look too out of line with the other targets set.   We also recognised that conditions were not going to get much better than this even though engines might not be quite so happy with the high-ish air temperature.

We were about the fourth batch after lunch after some more practice for the two dayers and by this time the day was getting very warm.

Keith Bristow as first off and he set a 33.75, just 0.50 over.   Steve Millward was next and the 38.63 was a bit slower than second practice and about 1.5 seconds over.

Paul Hemmings was first off for us in our main batch and set a very good 35.80, uncomfortably close (for the handicappers!) to the new driver 35.00 target.  He was obviously driving very well.   Karen was next and was pleased to get under 50 seconds.   Chris Westwood followed and immediately set a new PB on 38.57, 1.57 over.   Botty was finding his Elan was going much better with some much more appropriate plugs fitted.  The old ones were ‘hard’ race plugs.     He set a 37.16, 0.91 over.   John Palmer recorded a 38.12, 1.12 over and then Dick Swindall a 38.19.  A bit slower than his best practice but not bad considering the diff ratio was a very unsuitable road oriented 3.55 since he had been expecting to be in the other car.   I was next and was reasonably pleased with a 35 dead, that was 0.50 over as I was still trying to have a ‘running the engine in’ mentality.   Something that becomes more difficult when the green light goes on at the start!  Tim Grasby set a 47.92, a bit slower than his best practice and then Jane Millward set a 40.11 (gears?).   Jonathan Bibby was again doing a very good job and the 36.97 was just 0.42 off his PB and target.     Geoff Stallard in the rather smoky Elan (he has a solution but that needs the head off so may need to wait until the end of the season) was very quick as always and the 34.55 was just the same 0.42 margin away from his target as Jonathan.

Tony Wallen was first off for the race cars and his 32.05 was 0.95 over.  Sarah was next and set a new 35.62 PB, 0.62 over.  Clive was quicker again and the 34.84 was another new PB and 1.34 over.  Mr Matty was also going very well despite some earlier clutch issues and his 32.60 was just 0.35 over.   Stephen Palmer just missed a new PB by 0.07 and the 35.09 was 1.34 over.  Brian Meddings set a 34.77 that was 1.27 over.  June was also quick and the 34.03 was just 0.53 over.   David Gidden set a 34.25 that was 1.50 over.   Malcolm Thorne did not appear at the top of the hill.  He had run out of fuel when coming to the line obviously making an early, and convincing, bid for the end of year Dipstick award.   He was allowed to run out of order and set a 34.45.

The Hampton/Shute battle was joined again with Dave setting a 31.27 just bettering Tony’s 31.40.  Tony was closer to handicap however being only 0.30 over.

I just had time to get back to the trailer park to key in those first results before zooming back (OK, I know, I don’t zoom!) for our final run.  After the first round it was Mr Shute leading from Paul Matty second and Messrs Stallard and Wallen joint third.

On the final run Keith Bristow improved to a 33.58, 0.33 over.   Steve Millward also improved but the 38.30 was still 1.30 over.

Paul Hemmings was continuing to try to embarrass the handicappers with another improvement to 35.69, 0.69 over.  A good first time at Shelsley.

As I said it was a very hot day and Karen’s Elan just got too hot coming to the line and wouldn’t restart after a stall.   Her car was pushed away.   Chris Westwood was a bit slower as was Botty who reported that whilst the engine had been generally running better he had now detected a knock at lower revs………….  Oh dear, more work.    Ian Parmenter improved to a 38.07, 0.82 over.  John Palmer was bit slower as was Dick Swindall.   Dick reported a misfire on the finish straight which he later put down to low fuel level causing starvation coming through the Esses.   I was a bit quicker on 34.91 that could have been much better had I not braked miles to early in Bottom Ess but I had now pretty much dispensed with running in the engine if the 8500 rpm tell-tale is to be believed!  My time was 0.41 over.

Tim Grasby kept the learning curve very steep with another 5 seconds off to finish on 42.77.   Jane Millward improved to 39.19 to end on 2.19 over.   Jonathan Bibby was on a mission again and his new 36.44 was not only a pretty stellar time for a reasonably standard S1 Elise but also a new PB and 0.11 under.

Geoff Stallard went for it again and set a new 34.07 PB (for the car in that spec – he has done a 33.64 some time ago) that was 0.06 under.

Tony Wallen then tried to give Malcolm some competition, not on the track as such, but more in a bid for the Dipstick award himself when he also ran out of fuel but this time halfway up the hill.     He couldn’t understand it as he had put 10 litres in the car.  I use about 4-5 litres for a four run Shelsley so it does seem a bit much.   He was gracious enough to wave at us from the Bottom Ess holding area as we were coming back down the hill.

Sarah was a bit slower this time, but Clive took off another couple of tenths and the 34.64 was 1.14 over.   Mr Matty was slower as was Stephen Palmer.   I’m not sure if Stephen had a problem on that last run as the new much more powerful engine did not elicit the expected new PB.   Brian was slower, but June went quicker again for a 33.58 that was just 0.08 over.   David Gidden also improved to a 33.56 and that was 0.81 over.  Malcolm Thorne then went 3 seconds quicker – what was he doing earlier I hear you ask? – for a 31.35 that was 0.65 under and indeed a very good time. Dave Hampton improved to 31.12 that was just 1.00 over and then last man Tony Shute couldn’t better his time from the first run.

So, the event ended with a clear win for Malcolm from Jonathan Bibby in second and Geoff Stallard third.

In race scratch it was Mr Hampton keeping a hold on top spot but with Malcolm next edging Tony Shute into third by 0.03 seconds.

Road scratch saw Keith Bristow on top from Geoff Stallard and then me.

So now on to the double header at Loton.