MIRA Report 14th September
This, the penultimate round of the championship this year, was also another dry meeting! The class had not been to MIRA since 2003. We had run there for four years from 2000. Looking back at the spreadsheets for those days in the list are some 20 drivers that no longer compete with us. Only 3 current drivers had been at all those first meetings. Mr & Mrs Millward and me. Botty had done 3 (missing 2002 apparently due to his Silver wedding!) as had Dave Hampton. Dick had been there twice before (though he couldn’t remember it!!!) as had Keith and June. To finalise this bit of ‘all our yesterday’s’ only Dick and I were in the car we had used back then.
Geoff Stallard had also been to MIRA before in a previous HSA existence with his TVR.
Steve Hopkins had come into this meeting with a 3-point lead over Steve Millward and was very keen to maintain or improve on that position.
Several drivers weren’t there, Sarah Bosworth, Ian Parmenter, Tony Shute and David Gidden. Back with us however was Clive Buffey with both him and the 61 fully repaired and Brian Meddings also was there in his 35.
Whether David Gidden had originally entered I don’t know but he had made a trip north to Bo’ness Hillclimb together with Malcolm and Sarah. Unfortunately, only Sarah’s car made it back in one piece. Malcolm had a quite big off and then David apparently had a front suspension failure that caused him to crash. Luckily both Malcolm and David were not hurt themselves. Malcolm was using Sarah’s 340R for MIRA.
Anyway, although there were a lot of current drivers that had not been to MIRA before it was scarcely much different to those that had due to the 16 year gap.
The MIRA track for the sprint is a very high grip tarmac surface to test vehicle handling and although the basic layout cannot have changed the latter part of that layout was marked with cones and was making the course, I think, tighter. Not much difference but there had been some crashes due to the very fast nature of the last part of the track (ask Mr Morrison!) and some effort had been made to slow the corner exit onto the straight and corner entry at the last left hander.
We were close to the end of the class running order. It was all fairly quiet that first practice run although one or two drivers made their intentions clear. Tony Wallen was fastest with 53.14 (John Crook had the class record from 2003 with a 49.88 but as I said I’m not certain times can be directly compared) from Dave Hampton on 56.55. Only just behind on scratch time were Geoff Stallard enjoying his new slicks on 58.16 with Steve Hopkins very close with an excellent 58.44.
Mr Matty was having (wait for it!) misfiring problems.
The second practice run came around quite quickly and everyone improved. Tony Wallen to 50.58 and DH to 53.37. Geoff improved to 55.58 and Steve Hopkins to 56.62.
Paul and I sat down as usual to consider the handicaps. We treated it basically as a ‘new’ venue which it was for most. We then could only factor in our knowledge and experience of the drivers and their expected ‘behaviour’. There is always more pressure to get it right as the season draws to its close but this was the worst situation to guarantee ‘getting it right’.
Steve Millward as the usual first dual driver had a longish moment and was very slow. Karen set a 82.06 and Chris Westwood a 62.53, both improvements on practice but some way off their targets. John Palmer however, immediately busted through his 58 handicap with an excellent 56.87. Dick was 1.15 away with his 63.15 and Jonathan Bibby just 0.71 down with a 62.21. Pretty good for not far from standard S1 Elise.
Botty was another with a really good time and his 60.39 was 0.86 under. I improved a bit but was revving the nuts off of it in 3rd to end up not going very fast. A different approach was needed (and how). Mr Stallard emphasised that very effectively with a fantastic 53.47, 1.28 under. Steve Hopkins was always going to be trying but this time got a bit of a tank slapper going on the back of the circuit and side swiped a cone leaving a very visible witness in the paint on the side of the Elise but still got a 56.81. But that was 1.56 over. Jane Millward was improving a lot and her 62.42 was just 0.42 over. Last road car entry was Malcolm in the 340R and he beat his 57 handicap by 0.23.
In the race class it was Kenny Lewis in the 61 last campaigned here in 2003 by Botty. Kenny set a 56.09 was was some way over. In the first of the 23B’s Stephen Palmer set a 58.24 and then Keith a 58.69. Both had been given 56 handicaps. Clive Buffey was obviously fairly rusty but was playing himself in with a 59.46. Brian Meddings was going well with a 56.51. Tony Wallen then set a 50.67 which was tenth slower than his best practice and a little bit off the John Crook 49.88 target we had given him. Sarah Thorne took nearly four seconds off her best from the morning but that was still 2.65 over target. Dave Hampton set a slightly improved 53.11 but had heard a bang on leaving the line. When he returned a start line marshal brought him a piece of metal that had been found on the track. A bit of looking and thinking revealed it to be a roughly 2 inch section of an AP twin plate clutch internally splined adaptor ring that sits between clutch cover and the flywheel and transmits the torque to the intermediate pressure plate. After some inspection by Messrs. Matty and Wallen under the 69 it was determined that it was indeed from Dave’s clutch. It looks like a piece of the one of the sintered pressure plates had broken and forced its way out via the ‘A’ ring. Not all drive would be lost which was why Dave was able to complete his run but it would be mad to try another start, so Dave had to retire the car. These things always happen when there are only a few days between events.
June improved to a 57.14 and then Paul to a 56.82.
So, after the first run it was Geoff Stallard from John Palmer and the Pete Bottrill.
The meeting was going quite well and with a strictly enforced 5 pm curfew at MIRA that was just as well.
Steve Millward made up for his earlier indiscretion with a 62.07 that was just 0.07 over. Karen improved into the 70’s with a 78.82 and Chris Westwood took a couple more seconds off for a 60.42 that ended the day for him 2.67 over. John Palmer was continuing his good performances with another 0.09 shaved him to finish with a 56.78 and 1.22 under. Dick also improved to a 62.75 that was 0.75 over. Mr Bibby was setting some super times and the 60.57 was another big improvement and 0.93 under.
Botty was determined to chase me (and I hadn’t been making it too hard for him) and this incentive pushed him to find another second and the 59.34 took him to 1.91 under.
I was equally determined to stop driving like a prat and did what I should have done at least by the second practice and used top gear where I had been holding third way above the power peak of the engine. That produced an immediate 2 second improvement and the 57.64 was just 0.74 over. Mr Stallard was still giving it everything and the 53.31 was another PB and was 1.44 under.
After his excitement of the first run Steve Hopkins was again on max attack but again the plan backfired when the car spun onto the grass on the last bend and the recovery left him way off. He was fairly p*ss*d off but adopted the usual comment that we all use – “that’s motorsport!” Very similar words used by DH.
Jane Millward was also giving it everything and she was very pleased with a 61.33 that left her with another PB and 0.67 under. Malcolm also had a do or die effort and the 56.11 effort left him 0.89 under
Kenny Lewis also took more time off and his 54.87 was just 0.87 over. Stephen Palmer won the 23B battle with a 56.84 to Keith’s 57.44 leaving them 0.84 and 1.44 over respectively. Clive was a little slower this run but then Brian Meddings improved to 55.83. Brian, however, was concerned that all was not well with the car and indeed a subsequent check revealed the top rear wishbone mountings had broken on the Hewland gear casing. More work for the Bromsgrove workshop it seems!
Tony Wallen made a big effort and the 50.19 was our BTD and was just 0.31 over. Sarah took another 1/2 second off to finish on 56.10.
In the absence of Mr Hampton June produced a committed run to end with a 54.33 that was just 0.33 and third fastest single seater. Paul was a bit slower and I think the T/C may not be all that well.
So this meeting ended with a win for Botty with Geoff Stallard second and John Palmer third. In some ways of more significance was that Steve Millward scored 5 points with Steve Hopkins only getting the ‘attendance’ 1 point. So now Steve Millward is just one point ahead in the championship but the curved ball is that Steve Hopkins has not got an entry for Shelsley so he can’t add any more points.
It is by no means a done deal for Steve Millward as there are four other drivers that could just pip him if he no scores at Shelsley. Maybe the worst scenario for marital harmony is that Jane is one of those four!
In race scratch it is also tight with Tony Wallen just one point ahead of Dave Hampton but just between those two drivers No-one else is close.
In road scratch it looks like a win for Sarah Bosworth and the second place driver currently is Steve Hopkins. Geoff Stallard is 5 points behind Sarah.
In the end I think that Paul and I did a reasonable job of setting target times considering the lack of data to go on. I think MIRA is a great track and most enjoyed it a lot. I hope we can go there again and that is absolutely nothing to do with the fact that’s it’s only a 19 mile drive for me!