Prescott Race Report 24th June

Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2017 

This was a later visit to Prescott this year as we had moved from the traditional but very frustrating ‘La Vie en Bleu’ meeting to one that at least seemed to major on motorsport.

Having said that not everything went smoothly!

Quite a few of the regular competitors were absent for a variety of reasons.  I think Grayham P was on holiday (and therefore no Graham P!) and Chris Westwood was not quite ready, understandably, to tackle Pardon Hairpin again.  Brian Meddings, Keith Bristow and John Palmer were also absent.  Sarah Thorne was at the meeting but not driving whilst recovering from a shoulder op.  June was also entered but had to withdraw due to some pressing family issues.  She did come in the afternoon and we were all very pleased to see her.

Dick Swindall and Jonathan Bibby were back with us after missing Pembrey.  It was Clive Buffey’s first visit to Prescott.

Malcolm was down on the entry to drive his 35 but that was still not quite ready.  He had left the braking a bit late into Bottom Ess at the recent Shelsley meeting with the 15 Buick and that had left the front looking a little second hand so he was out in Sarah’s 340R again.   David Gidden had entered his Mk1 Cortina but issues there necessitated a run out again for the 23B.  Dick was in the ‘yellow car’

It was a bit annoying for our classes again to be split well apart (as at the first Shelsley) with our race cars in the Bugatti paddock and the road class up in the Styx at the very top paddock.  So I must apologise if any nuggets of information or interest escape this report.

The weather forecast for the day had looked nothing more than OK but in the end we had quite a bit of sunshine.   This meeting also featured motorbikes under the auspices of the ACU and that did cause some issues later.

We knew that we would be the first class off the line scheduled for 08:30.   At about 08:10 the scrutineers arrived simultaneously with the announcement of a drivers briefing at 08:10.  The scrutineers did their job as quickly as possible but it was still 08:15 before I was down at the drivers briefing which finished about 08:20 (having yielded nothing of any use!) and that left the climb back up to the top paddock to be ready in the car for 08:20.   This just didn’t work and I was certainly late leaving my spot whilst trying to get everything sorted.  I’ll spare you the details but after I left the Paddock Marshal suggested to Kay that she should get me more organised.   Be that as it may, and I think I’m well under her control already, I had been there since 7 am and I hate not being ready.  Even our race class was pushed to be ready in time.

It certainly is a very good feature of Prescott that there is a separate return road and so the dual drive issues do not involve little batches.   Steve Millward led us off.

These first runs did not produce much in the  way of quick times.   There were exception however as Geoff Stallard’s 51.38 was only just off his Class PB  though he did tell me he had been in the 50’s in another event here with the car.  Ian Parmenter was only just over a second outside his PB.  Stephen Palmer took over 4 seconds out of his PB from last year with a 53.59 that beat Keith Wilford’s time.  Mind you Keith had had a bit of an overshoot into Pardon and had to come to a virtual stop to get round the corner so that explained that discrepancy.   The other outstanding drive from that first round was from Dave Hampton.   His 45 .59 was only 0.14 outside his PB dating back to 2013.

Just as a complete aside, after 25 years of doing Prescott I encountered a horse and rider on the return road for the first time and duly went very slowly eliciting an appreciative wave from the rider.

There was a big delay in the motorbikes going up as, I believe, the ACU scrutineer had not turned up, at least on time.   Anyway, from our distant position in the paddock it was very difficult to know what the hell was going on as the tannoy was quiet for so much of the time.

Anyway, we did get a second run and then most did improve their times.  Ian Parmenter’s 55.74 was just a couple of tenths off his PB.  Geoff Stallard also set a new Class PB with a 50.46 and Jonathan Bibby was going well in the very standard Elise S1 with  a 53.54.   Keith Wilford set a much more representative time with a 51.85 that certainly did beat his best in the S4 seven but not his Europa.  Stephen Palmer set another new PB with a 52.21, only just behind Keith.

Dave Hampton did now set a new PB by 0.09 with a 45.36 and then Tony Shute reset his mark by an even smaller 0.03 margin for a new 46.45 PB. David Gidden easily beat his 2015 PB with a 49.39.

Paul and I had sat down to do the handicaps and with the weather being very good decided on some fair weather targets.

We were due to be first class off the line after lunch.   So, all the drivers were in the road cars in plenty of time, well nearly all the drivers.   The first we heard of any problem was when the tannoy was calling for Mr Bottrill to go to his car.   We waited and we waited, until he eventually appeared so it was getting pretty hot in the car with the sun well out.

Steve Millward set a 53.37, 0.62 over.  Steve Hopkins seemed a little below par and his 56.12 was over three seconds from his target and PB.  Botty had gone a bit quicker but again the 53.89 was over three seconds over his target and  then so was Ian P who whilst being some way off goal time was closer to his PB but still not as quick as his second practice.  I was over two seconds off the 48.50 target and worse, exactly three seconds slower than my 47.63 PB from way back in 2006.

Dick was going very well in the S3 and was just 0.21 over his target with a 54.06 and within 1/2 second of his PB in that car.  Geoff Stallard emphatically set his new mark with a 49.14 that was 0.14 under.   He was very pleased as it was the first time he had been able to pedal the Elan quicker at Prescott than his best in his TVR.

Jonathan Bibby got very close to his handicap and his 53.03 was just 0.18 over.  Jane was just a tad slower than Steve with a 53.52 and then Malcolm just edged under the handicap by 0.03 with a 51.22. 

Andrew Lewis, definitely still suffering from the 31 mile (how far???) charity walk he had done on the Friday was a bit slower than his best practice as was Tony Wallen.   Clive Buffey was however well along the learning curve and improved to 54.67.    Mr Matty was also going quite well and set a 48.09, about 1 1/2 seconds off the handicap I had given him.   Keith Wilford improved to a 50.96 PB and Stephen Palmer with another new PB on 52.18.

Dave Hampton was clearly in determined mood and he set a new PB again, by a good margin, with the more important point being that the 44.91 exactly equalled the Class record of John Crook going way back to 2002.   That also put Dave 0.34 under handicap.   Tony Shute was giving chase, as it were, and he set another new PB with a 46.04.   Kenny Lewis also improved, he always goes well at Prescott,  and his 47.38 was just 0.13 over.  David Gidden set another new PB on 49.01.

So, after that first run it was Dave Hampton first from Malcolm and then Kenny.

We were all in the cars in good time for the final run though there were a lot of red flags and so we were again sat in the cars for quite a long time.

Steve Millward was a bit slower than his first run but Steve Hopkins improved to 55.43.    Botty also improved by 1/2 second to 53.21.  Ian P was a tad slower this run.

I improved to 50.32, partly due to a less wimpy run through Orchard, getting a bit closer to the speed of my rivals, but still couldn’t get the Esses right.   I wanted to give Geoff a bit more of challenge but not today.   Dick improved again with a very good 53.80 that was just 0.18 slower than his PB in that car.    Geoff was slower this run as was Jonathan Bibby.   Jane was a lot slower, must have had a moment somewhere, though I didn’t pick up on the reason.  Malcolm was also slower.

Andrew Lewis improved by just 0.03 for his best time, but still not as quick as his second practice.  Tony Wallen went quicker for a 47.03, but that was still a second away from his PB.  Clive continued to improve and the 53.47 was very respectable for his first visit to Prescott.   Paul took about 3/10ths off to finish on 47.81 and Keith Wilford slipped into the 49’s with a 49.93, clearly a PB for that car but still some way off the 48.65 that achieved some years ago in his Europa.

Stephen Palmer was a bit slower but DH was definitely out to prove a point and hustled the 69 to a tremendous new Class record of 44.68, at last managing to eclipse John Crook’s 15 year old reign with that honour.   Tony Shute was a tenth slower than his first run but Kenny improved to a 46.91, just 0.27 away from his PB and also 0.34 under handicap.  Last man David Gidden secured his third new PB of the day with a 48.19 that put him 0.06 under.  Maybe he was now pleased he didn’t bring the Cortina!

So the day ended with not only a new Class record for Dave Hampton that, not surprisingly earned him first on handicap.   Second was Kenny Lewis and third David Gidden.  In race scratch it was obviously DH from our always hard charging Tony Shute and Kenny Lewis third.  In road scratch Geoff Stallard had a well deserved win with me in second and Malcolm third in the 340R.

So now in the main championship it is Geoff Stallard leading on 36, just a point in front of current champion Tony Shute, with Jonathan Bibby on 30, joint third with Mr Hampton.

In the scratch championships in race it is still Tony Shute leading on 22 with Dave Hampton trying to claw back points from his missed event at Loton on 19.  It’s the Gaffer in third with 7 points.   The road competition has Geoff on 21 points from me on 18 and Keith Bristow third with 14.

In many ways it was a very good day with not only the new class record but 6 new PB’s, not counting the first timers.   There were quite a lot of things that for me made a very stressful day, particularly our class split apart and the ghastly trailer park and I have emailed  the Competition Secretary at the BOC with my thoughts and, I must say, have had a amicable and constructive response.

Anyway, now a five week break until we get to the Blyton, Harewood and Shelsley events spread over just the three weeks.