Race Report

Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship

2016 – Prescott 28th May

Circuit Prescott
Date Saturday 28 May 2016
Race Report
This was our normal May visit to Prescott that was coupled to the French, and now Italian, themed entertainments.The weather was kind to us though the forecast did suggest that we could have a shower at some point in the afternoon.
We were missing some of our regulars. Peter Bottrill recovering well from one knee
op is now about to have the other one done on Thursday. Good luck Pete, though Dick Swindall was getting pretty fed up with the continued lack of ice cream service.
Steve Hopkins was also entered but had to withdraw due to, apparently, some engine problems. A pity as he had managed to squeeze in quite a lot of work on the car in between his busy work schedule.
Neither Brian Meddings, Keith Bristow nor John Palmer were there and, perhaps understandably, Chris Westwood, after his monster shunt last year had decided to give this one a miss. Mr Crook normally comes to Prescott but is still in convalescent mode after his op earlier in the year. It was Stephen Palmer’s first visit to Prescott. Dick Swindall was in the ‘Yellow’ car (the S3 Elan).
David Gidden had got the problems of Loton sorted by Mr Bury and also had some new wheels and tyres. Keith Wilford had done some more work to eliminate the fuel starvation problem. There were three cars making a first Prescott appearance. Sarah Thorne in the 340R, Grayham in the Exige 260 Cup and Tony Shute in the 69F. Tony said that apparently it is not a 69FF, but a 69F, though he could offer no explanation as to why that was. Answers on a postcard!
Our first practice run came after about an hour. Competition runs did occasionally interrupt the interminable ‘cavalcades’. Sorry, I had said I wouldn’t go on any more!!
Most drivers were some way off their PB’s on this first ascent though both Malcolm Thorne and Ian Parmenter were the exception setting new marks.
Our second runs came round quite quickly (don’t mention the cavalcades!) Lyn Bird was within a second of her PB. Geoff Stallard set a new best of 51.51 though his old PB had been back in 2013. Dick was within a tenth of his Yellow car PB though complaining the car wasn’t going very well at high revs. Ian improved by 4/100ths to set a new best. I gave it a bit more of a go and was pleased to get into the 49’s with a 49.37 though that was about 1 1/2 seconds away from my PB from 2006. Grayham took a couple of seconds off for a 55.08. Jane was slower this run and, unusually, slower than Steve.
In the race class Stephen Palmer took off 4 seconds but was still driving sensibly in learning mode. David Gidden’s 51.18 was about a second away from his PB. Kenny Lewis was going well and the 47.96 was a big improvement. Mr Thorne was a bit slower than his first run but June was quicker and was into the 49’s with a 49.81. Paul was also going well and the 47.75 was only a couple of seconds off his PB.
Keith Wilford’s fuel starvation saga was not over however as the complex new tank breathing arrangements only resulted in a rather embarrassing hold up to the meeting as the breather appeared to be more keen on being a siphon and deposited quite a lot of fuel on the start line!
Tony Shute was a little slower than his first run, getting used to the car and the gearing here I suppose. DH was a second faster though some way still away from PB, and about 3 seconds from John Crook’s long standing class record of 44.91 from 2002.
Paul and I sat down to do the handicaps with a baseline of around PB’s but with the usual differences. It is getting quite tricky to position the Elan’s correctly even without Botty.
So to our first competitive run. The way things were organised Jane, as the dual drive was last in the class. That was to have some repercussions.
Steve Millward was first and set a 54.21. Some way off his target. Maybe the relative lack of torque of the new smaller engine is proving less suitable at Prescott. Lyn Bird was a little slower than her best practice time. Sarah’s 56.86 was her fastest so far but was some way off her goal time. Geoff Stallard wasn’t pleased with his run even though it was quicker with a 51.28. He was feeling uncomfortable with the car and felt it could bite him at any second. It is strange how different tracks suit different cars as normally he and I are quite close and here I was quite a bit quicker.
Dick was going very well and took 0.80 off his old PB in that car and his 53.62 got to within 0.12 of his handicap. He still complained later that the car wasn’t running very well!
Ian P set a new PB by nearly a second but the 55.55 was still 1.80 over. I had a scruffy run, losing time in at least four places and the 49.48 was 0.88 over. Mr Parker saw a big improvement and the 53.71 was just 1.21 over.
Stephen Palmer set a 57.87 inevitably some way off the 51.00 target we had given him. David Gidden was a second away from his PB and 2.95 over. Kenny was going well and his 47.06 was within 1/2 second of his PB and just 0.31 over. Malcolm also set a good time – the Buick must be quite a handful at Prescott – and the 50.97 was a 2 second PB improvement over the day and just 0.47 over.
June’s 49.55 was about a second off her long standing PB and was 0.80 over.
Paul also improved to 47.26 that was 1.16 over. After all his travails Keith Wilford put in a quite respectable time in his 23B, particularly since revealing his rather less than impressive engine bhp figures, and the 52.77 left him 3.52 over. Tony Shute took about three seconds off his best time from the morning and his 46.48 was just 0.48 over handicap though still a tenth slower than his best in the Exposé.
Dave Hampton was working up to it steadily as he always does (just ask Marion!) and his 46.56 was was 1.11 over.
Last to run for us was Jane and looking at her splits later was on a very good run. However, coming round Semi-Circle she was met with a red flag – a surprise at that part of the hill.
It quickly transpired that there had been a complete timing failure. The main ‘clock’ had gone down and MMTS had not brought a spare. A very strange oversight not having back-up kit, though they were not far, of course, from their base at Malvern. A driver’s briefing was called and we were told that it would be at least an hour before things were restored with a new clock on it’s way. Of course, the priority when the system was up and running again was to give runs to those that had not yet had a first timed run. Jane and all those behind her.
So in our class there were many opinions. Some, bearing in mind the showers forecast were in favour of finishing there and then. Some, who had not had a great first run were in favour of staying and going again. Again, of course, for us it was Jane who was the only one without a first run time so we couldn’t declare.
I must say that although I wanted another go I thought that Sod’s law would probably intervene and it would pour down just before our run. In the event neither would it rain, nor would we be given a final run as Jane and the rest of the classes were given a first full run but then the meeting was declared finished. Jane’s first and final run was, I suppose, almost inevitably after all the delay and hassle, not what her first, first run had promised and she set a 54.25. Just 0.04 slower than Steve
So it was Mr Swindall, despite all those awful car problems, that took a very well deserved win and the 11 points with Kenny second and Malcolm third. In race scratch this time it was Tony Shute who took the win ahead of a mildly frustrated Mr Hampton who felt ‘we wuz robbed’ and then Kenny Lewis in third. In road scratch it was me from Geoff Stallard and then Dick Swindall third.
So in the main championship it is still Mr Hampton leading with 33 from the joint second place men Messrs Shute and Swindall on 30 with Ian Parmenter fourth on 26.
In the race scratch it is Dave Hampton on 19 with Tony Shute coming up on the rails on 17 and John Palmer third some way back with 9.
Road scratch sees me on 18 points edge a 1 point lead over Geoff Stallard with Keith Bristow and Dick Swindall joint third on 7.
It was good that BTD came from our class with Tony Shute taking the honour and doing the speech. At least, with some prompting, he remembered it was Prescott and not Shelsley as per his last Prescott BTD speech!
Next it’s Anglesey.