Race Report – Loton Park 21st May

This was the second day of our double header at Loton and there were a few less entered for the second day.   In fact the only planned absentee was Grayham as he usually only does the one day.   However also absent were June and Paul as some urgent family business had come up.   Finally Dave Hampton had to withdraw as, despite being semi-retired, an urgent trip to the Far East had required him to fly on the Sunday.   He was not happy to concede unnecessary points to Mr Shute.  We would find there was to be a little more attrition in our class during the day.

In the absence of Mr Matty on the Sunday he had invited John Palmer the previous afternoon to deputise for him for the handicap process

The weather forecast looked much more promising for the day.  This time we had another back-to-back run situation but now it was our practice climbs that were effected and these had to be squeezed in between 8:30 and the start of a church service at 9:30.   After the church service had ended the main competitive runs for the two day competitors would start,  Our competitive runs would be just before lunch, prior to the top 12 run-off and again last runs in the afternoon before the final run-off.

Steve Millward was the only dual drive now in the absence of the Parker Elise and went up in 67 seconds.   Geoff Stallard set a mid 63 and Chris Westwood a mid 70.

Ian Parmenter was next and had an electrical failure on the course and a red flag was shown to, who else, but Jane. Now on her fourth red flag of the weekend.          Keith Bristow set a mid 65 and Jonathan Bibby a high 63.   Dick was still a bit subdued after yesterday’s brush with the tyres and set a mid 70.  

Jane filtered back into the queue just ahead of me and I followed onto the start line,

I was held for longer than I expected and then the red flags came out again!   This time it was Jane (what’s the reverse of poetic justice?) who suffered what at first seemed to be a catastrophic engine failure coming out of Fletcher’s Dellow and depositing copious amounts of oil all the way down the straight to Triangle.  It transpired that, in fact, the oil filter seal had somehow been blown out (Steve later found) together with lots of oil straight out of the pump.  Because it actually hadn’t been an engine failure Jane’s first indication of a problem came because the back tyres were slipping on her own oil.   She quickly pulled off at Triangle and dripped(?) her way back to her paddock space.

I could see from the startline marshals starting to lay the modern equivalent of cement dust on the run down to Triangle.  Then more marshals from other posts came down to join in the dust laying fun.     I had plenty of time to renew my discussions with the startline marshals again and one thing I didn’t know was that Loton is to be resurfaced in the not too distant future(not before my run unfortunately!).   They told me that there had been an engine blow up and that there was a lot of oil on the track after post 2.  How far after Post 2 I thought.   Anyway, after some time I was pushed back into the paddock to allow the course car to get past and make a couple of runs through the ‘Millward mess’.

Prior to this excitement, and my third red flag of the weekend, I had been determined to go into max attack mode early in the day and build on it.  Somehow this plan didn’t seem to be coming together and I went on this run with slightly less determination.   I saw (couldn’t miss) the dust when I came through Fletcher’s Dellow and it was covering half the track.    Not surprisingly Jane had been on the normal left line approaching Triangle and this looked  a no-go area now and the only clean tarmac was now on the right with the Triangle turn now being very sharp.   Everyone now was very cautious there and the times showed in.   Only Tony Shute got under 60 seconds.

Of course, with the back to back runs there was no opportunity for lots of other cars to settle the track down and it was for us to go over it again straight away.   With the demise of the S3 Elan there were now no dual drives at all.   Geoff Stallard set a mid 63 again. Chris Westwood a high 71.  Ian Parmenter had not had any time to fix his problems, despite Roy Bury being there on his normal  ‘Busman’s holiday’ visit, so did not take a run.   It was Keith Bristow next with a high 62 and the JJ with another mid 63.   Dick was not surprisingly unsettled on his first run though the dust and set a low 71.   I was a mid 64 and Steve Hopkins a high 67.   Andrew Lewis set what was his best time of the weekend with a 64.8.   Everyone else was quicker than first time up but it was only David Gidden that got close to his previous days PB with a 60.71.  Tony Shute was just 1/2 second his best from Saturday.

We just got back to the paddock before the church service started but were told to be very quite coming down the hill!

John Palmer and I now had quite a bit of time to sort the handicaps out though there was quite a bit a effort going in to Ian’s car to try and sort out some peculiar chassis earth problems.

John and I spent a lot of time over the process of trying to give people fair targets and some decisions were not easy.

It must have been about midday when we set off and the track down to Triangle could be fully used.   Geoff Stallard was now first off and immediately set a new 59.96 PB which was 1.04 under.   Chris Westwood set a 70.47 and then Keith Bristow a 61.43. Car 19 was missing since Ian Parmenter’s problems could not be fully resolved and he elected to retire and set off carefully for home.  Jonathan Bibby set yet another new PB and the 62.45 was just 0.20 over the very tight target we had felt we needed to set – new drivers and all that!

Dick Swindall was getting back into gear and set a 67.73, 1.23 over.   I was starting to get there with a 61.63 that was 0.63 over.   Steve Hopkins was determined to have a go this time but unfortunately a big grassy moment at Fallow was the result, losing his number plate (subsequently found) on his way an 85 second run though with all four wheels off that would not have counted.   Andrew Lewis set a high 65 as did Stephen Palmer.   Clive Buffey was chipping away to a low 70 and Kenny a 59.48, just 0.48 over.

Malcolm Thorne was next but overcooked it rounding the tightening part of Loggerheads and went off on the grass on the inside, picking up some mud and grass and just stopping before hitting a tree.  He also knocked off and broke the front number plate.   I remember going off there in my first Loton event in 1993 and knocking off the front spoiler.

Sarah managed to keep it all on the island and set a new PB of 62.68.  Keith under 62 but not as fast as the day before.  Brian Meddings set a mid 62 again not as fast as his Saturday best.  David Gidden however was really making the 23B fly and the 58.95 was not only a new PB by 1.35 seconds but also 0.55 under.  John Palmer was suffering some discomfort in his feet and was not able to brake with confidence nevertheless set a 59.48.  Last man Mr Shute set an excellent 56.21, just 0.21 over.

So, after that first competitive run it was Geoff Stallard leading from David Gidden and JJ third.

Luckily there were few hold ups after lunch and final runs came round about 3:30 I suppose.  Steve Hopkins decided that he couldn’t wait and called it a day before the final run so there were just 17 of us now.

Geoff was first off and was going even faster, looking at the splits, but had a spin at Museum which put paid to that.  Chris Westwood was slower with a high 71.   Keith Bristow improved to 61.20, just 0.16 slower than the Saturday and 1.45 over the tougher handicap we had given him.   Mr Bibby improved yet again!  The 62.19 was not only a new PB of course but 0.06 under handicap.   Best laid plans etc………..

Dick had easily the best run of the weekend and his 66.94 was just 0.44 over.

I had a better run with a 60.62 that was 0.38 under.  Andrew Lewis set 64.97 that was still shy of his best of the morning.  Stephen Palmer was going very well and the 64.60 was a new PB by some margin.   Clive Buffey was in the 69’s but just a tenth slower than Saturday.   Kenny had a moment somewhere and was much slower.   Malcolm wheeled up the mud spattered and grass covered 340R to the line much to the amusement of the startline marshals and set a 64.13, 1/2 second slower than Saturday.  Sarah went quicker again, even if it was just 1/100th with a 62.67 PB.   Keith Wilford also set a new PB with a 61.00 that was just 1 second over.   A frustration for Keith is that until this weekend that was faster than DG’s  PB.  John Palmer must have forgotten his feet with the adrenaline and the 58.66 was a big improvement and just 0.16 over.   Mr Shute also improved to a 56.08, just 0.08 over and 0.20 outside his PB.   The absent Mr Hampton will be relieved that his Saturday best was 56.07.

So, after a good day for those that could stay the course it finished with a well deserved win for Geoff Stallard with David Gidden second and me third.

Race scratch was Tony Shute from John Palmer and then David Gidden.  Road scratch was Geoff from me and then Keith Bristow.

So now we can refer to the overall championship positions after the first three rounds it shows that Jonathan Bibby is leading with 25 points from Tony Shute and Geoff Stallard joint second with 22.   The race scratch position are Tony Shute on 13 from DH on 10 and the joint third on 5 points Messrs Matty, Gidden and Palmer (P).

Road scratch has Geoff Stallard on 13 from Keith B with 12 and me third with 9.

After the usual visit to the bar and our and then the Hagley presentation we were able to leave at around 5 o’clock.   Let’s hope that sort of timing prevails for our first event at Pembrey in the depths of Wales.