Race Report

Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2016 – Loton 15th May

Circuit Loton Park
Date Saturday 15 May 2016
Race Report
The second day at Loton was also blessed with great weather, sunny but not too hot.This time, for the other classes, this was the competition day so our running order would be a bit different.  Instead of our final run being very early this time we would be the last to run except for the top twelve run off.  We were all worried about this as it looked like we might be in for a long afternoon.  The possibility of this was not improved by the fact that the meeting had to stop in the morning for a church service.

In the end we need not have worried as the meeting went very smoothly and our last run was about 3:30pm.

Having had a rather small class on the Saturday we knew it would be even smaller on Sunday because neither Lyn Bird, nor Grayham Parker were competing that second day.  In addition David Gidden had not been able to effect any improvement in the 23B so it was set to join the queue at Mr Matty’s on Monday.   Roy Bury came along for the day (for a rest?) after holding the fort at the garage with the absence of Paul and, of course, John Crook who is still recuperating from his heart op.  I fear Roy’s day was not very restful after all.


We had the same early start as Saturday and again it was Steve Millward that led us off.  Most had a steady first run, particularly Mr Swindall who instead of selecting 1st gear on the entry the Hall corner got 3rd and for some bizarre reason continued in 3rd for the rest of the hill.  Declaring that this was ‘an experiment’ and he ‘enjoyed’ the view that the slower run gave him it did not seem that going 10 seconds slower than his norm was an experiment worth repeating.  Tony Shute set a new outright PB with a 56.89.

After Chris Westwood returned to the paddock there was the sound of the alarm of his Elise going off.  It kept resetting and going off again.  In the quite long period between our first and second practices Roy Bury tried everything to stop not only the alarm but also to circumvent the immobiliser.  The alarm is powered by it’s own battery which is secreted in the darkest recesses of the car and can only be got at by some disassembly.   Roy did his best but Chris decided to retire.    So we were now down to 12 drivers.     Keith Wilford was having a bit more success with his problems and with a new pump, extra tank breathing and some float level adjustments courtesy of the ‘resting’ Mr Bury, finally had the car in better shape for the second practice.  Steve Millward was working on a throttle linkage problem that was afflicting the Elan for the second practice but did make some improvement for the competitive runs.

So Steve only had a small improvement in his practice time but Geoff’s 61.13 was just 1 second away from his PB from 2014.  Keith Bristow improved to 67.46 and Ian Parmenter to 67.88.   Jane didn’t seem to suffer so much from the throttle problem and set a 66.35 and then Dick a 66.96.     I was better pleased to get into the 60’s with a 60.86.

Stephen Palmer was just 1/2 second off  his newly set PB from Saturday with a 74.84 and the Keith then set a much better time of 64.28 as the car made it to the top of the hill.   Keith still felt there was some hesitation and was pumping the throttle.   John Palmer set his best time of the weekend with a 58.81 and then Tony Shute improved again with another PB on 56.16.    Dave Hampton was really flying and looking at the splits later could see that he was on for a new PB.  The exit from Museum did for that however and he lost the back end and strayed on to the grass on the inside.  Despite that it was still 58.23.


As we would be off immediately after lunch Dave H and I set down to do the handicaps.  Whilst some times would stay the same as Saturday others would not.

We eased Geoff’s time by a tenth and Keith B’s time by 1 second.  Maybe not surprisingly we tightened Ian’s time by 2.5 seconds.  We weren’t going to get caught like that again!   We eased Dick’s by 1.1 seconds and mine by a tenth.   We tightened

Mr Shute’s target by 1.75 seconds and Dave’s time by 0.70.   I know Mr Matty would not ever set a handicap under the class record but a) Dave was convinced he could do it and b) ‘while the cat’s away…………’


As had happened on Saturday Jane kindly took the handicap sheet down to the organisers who expressed surprise, and some irritation, that we were not going to use the same times as Saturday since “it would cause them some problems”.   Jane held her ground and the new handicaps stood.    I can only assume that Ian Parmenter and Tony Shute had got to the timekeepers first!   In a way I could see where they were coming from since obviously the way things were set up, witness our combined times on the printouts making for difficult reading, it was organised for the main meeting, not just us.  Anyway everything worked out as we wanted.


Steve’s first competitive run was a 65.82, slightly slower than his best of Saturday and 1.07 over.  Geoff Stallard was next and set a 61.12 that was his fastest of the weekend as was Keith Bristow’s 65.51.  Ian P set a conservative 67.63 that was 1.13 over his new Sunday target.   Jane set her best time of the weekend with a 65.80 that was 1.05 over and, as usual, more importantly, quicker than Steve.   Dick, deciding that looking at the scenery did not make for a good time set his best with a 65.40 that was 0.80 over.  I also improved to 60.72 though was losing a couple of tenths off the start compared with Saturday (I knew these cut slicks wouldn’t be so good!!!).  Having said that the time might have been better if my seat belts had not come undone going round Triangle.  Can’t fathom how or why. I did briefly debate if I should do the sensible thing and slow down but ‘blow it’.   Stephen Palmer had a slower run than his best practice and Keith also slipped slightly compared with practice but the 64.35 was still just only 1.35 over.

JP improved to 58.33 and Tony Shute to a 56.07 best so far.   Dave Hampton was trying very hard and his 54.51 was just 0.10 outside his own class record and just 0.26 over.

So this time we had chance to digest the situation after the first run and now it was Dave Hampton first, from John Palmer and then Dick Swindall.


As I said we were pleased not to have to wait too long for our final runs.  Steve Millward was a little slower than first time up.     Keith Bristow took another second off for a 64.43, 3.43 off.

Ian Parmenter did his best to stuff the handicappers again with an improvement to 65.86 but we had seen him coming this time and that left him 0.36 over.  Still an improvement in PB of 2.14 seconds over the weekend – those were the days when I could improve my PB by 2 seconds!    Jane was quite a bit slower this run.  I don’t know if she had a problem.  Dick was slower this time, maybe the scenery was just too alluring for him?  I was next conscious of the fact that Geoff Stallard had been red flagged and was now just behind me in the queue.  Previously I had been able to see his times come up and with my usual consummate skill had been able to tweak my performance just enough to stay ahead of my main rival (yeah, right!).  Seriously, when you are having a friendly duel I don’t know if it is best to see their times or not.     Since now Geoff was right behind me he couldn’t see my time.  I gave it a bit more welly, too much at the start again, and ended with a small improvement to 60.49, 0.89 over.  Geoff did improve by exactly 1/2 a second to 60.62 for a 0.52 over to finish and when he drew up alongside me at the top enquired what time I had done.  My answer resulted in his response being what I believe was ‘B*gg*r’ though my helmet might have muffled the words!


Stephen Palmer set easily his best time of the weekend with 71.22.  Keith was a bit slower this run the fuel problem not completely cured.   John Palmer was leaving the best until last and his 57.72 was just 0.12 over and 0.17 outside his PB.    Tony Shute was really getting the hang of the 69 and set yet another new PB with a stonking 55.86 that saw him end the day 0.61 over.   It was a bit of an anticlimax for Dave Hampton as something seemed to go wrong at the start with a long 64 ft. time and a resulting 57.00.  We all thought it seemed a bit suspicious but there was nothing really to be done.


So that left the final result as a win for John Palmer with DH second and Ian Parmenter third.


The race scratch result was the usual Hampton, Palmer, Shute order.   Again all race entrants scored scratch points.   In road scratch it was me form Geoff and then Keith Bristow in third.


This time we can now refer to the main championship positions with Dave Hampton first on 28 from Ian Parmenter second with 25 and John Palmer third on 24.


Race scratch sees the afore mentioned  Messrs Hampton, Shute and Palmer in the top three spots (15, 12 and 9 points respectively) though interestingly, Keith Wilford and Stephen Palmer are joint fourth with 3 points.


In road scratch Mr Stallard and myself are level on 13 with Keith Bristow third with 7 points.


As always thanks to Marion for her sterling service over the weekend garnering all the times together.


On to Prescott.