Race Report (Shelsley Walsh 18th September)
Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2016 Shelsley Walsh 18th September
|Date||18th September 2016|
This was not only the last meeting at Shelsley for the 2016 season but also the 10th and last event in the 25th year of the Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Hillclimb Championship. It was also a lovely day weather wise and was the eighth dry event for us this year.
The main championship could only now be won by Tony Shute or Dave Hampton and Tony had the benefit of a six point lead coming into this event. The scratch championships had already been decided before this event with Dave Hampton having a ten point winning margin over Mr Shute and in the road competition I had a six point advantage over Geoff Stallard. We were without John Palmer and Steve Hopkins. Team Thorne were debuting the ex Morrison 61/69 special for Sarah and
a 35 F2, similar to Paul’s but redder, with lots of provenance (and patina) for Malcolm. They had both briefly run the cars at Curborough but this was only a brief outing prior to a winter work programme for both cars.
Dick Swindall was in the Yellow S3 as this event was merely a stop off en route to a holiday in Devon with Diane and the S3 has a passenger seat!
It was nice to see John Crook, Roy Bury and Gordon Morrison at the meeting to cheer (or was it jeer?) us on.
David Gidden and Geoff Stallard were running on the Saturday also. David was going very well and set a new 32.11 PB. Geoff was less fortunate and on his first timed run the engine would not start again at the top paddock. This was down to the starter being less than helpful and doing nothing. Geoff wrestled with the issue for the rest of Saturday without success but then, after the meeting, took the motor off and discovered a broken internal link. He managed to effect a temporary but fully effective repair and when we arrived on the Sunday morning he was still getting the starter motor back in and reconnected. It was a bit less of a panic for him since Shelsley were running elective practice sessions for the morning so we did not have to go out as early as if we had been ruled by the competition batches.
I personally find this rather bizarre as every other one day meeting we go to uses batch and number order for practice. The elective method is fine for two day meetings but then there is the first 30 incentive to kick things off. Here, with no incentive to go early, a nice day with the track only going to get better, many people selected later batches and due to some accident delays about 25% of the entry could not take a second practice run due to time running out ahead of lunch. I think with any method some would have missed a second run but our two classes would have got all runs. Chris Westwood selected batches 1 & 3 for practice (he wanted to settle down with the paper!) but it was tricky when they combined batches 1,2 and 3. He took his second run in 4.
At around 12 noon the MAC realised that some people had not even had one run so after batch 10 they inserted an emergency batch for those people. My second batch was 11 so having sat in the car for about 15 minutes, I got out again and waited. In the event batch 11 and 12 did run before lunch. Eight of our number did not get a second run though Geoff and David Gidden were in that group and had, at least, run on the Saturday.
In the practice runs the highlights were new PB’s for Messrs Wilford (twice), Swindall, Palmer (twice) and Westwood. Jane and June got pretty close to their best times also. Both ‘new’ Thorne cars were being rather temperamental with times in the 40’s resulting.
Since for the timed runs these would be in batch order – Steve Millward in batch 1 – Paul and I didn’t have a lot of time to put the handicaps together but using targets there or thereabouts as per the times we set in August came to our conclusions. Of course, particular care was taken trying to establish the goal times for the two at the top of the championship and in the end we set Dave’s handicap just 0.25 tighter than Tony’s and took the usual care with the others.
Steve Millward was first off as mentioned previously and he set a new PB by just 0.05 and 0.02 under his 37.25 handicap. Geoff Stallard, next up, though the starter motor was fixed, was doing a reasonable impersonation of smoke screen laying in a naval engagement. Oil level in the dry sump tank seems very critical as there was little smoke at his last meeting, Harewood. The smoke cleared on the run itself, but coming to the start he was definitely trying to gas the paddock marshals.. He set a 34.36, 0.36 over his target. Jane set an identical 37.06 to her second practice and this was just over the 37.00 handicap we had set her and just 0.16 outside her PB. Botty set a 36.05 that put him 0.30 over. Ian P recorded a 37.72 that was 0.22 over. Dick was obviously not thinking of his Devon holiday when he set a stonking 37.12 in the yellow car, not far off a second better than his PB for that car at the start of the day and an excellent 0.38 under. Think how well he’ll go when he gets a bit more experience under his belt.
I was fairly pleased with a 34.42 that was 0.17 over but nowhere near my 32.89 PB from about 8 years ago. I bore any who are prepared to listen with the observation that my PB dates from the same period as Martin Groves 22.58 hill record that remains unbeaten. It seems like a good excuse to me!
Chris Westwood was a bit slower than his second practice. Keith Bristow set a 34.00 that put him just 0.50 over. Grayham P in the 260 Cup Exige recorded a 36.78, 0.78 over.
The race class, now including Sarah, was in the next batch. Her car was not going any better and a 43.86 was the result. Surprisingly, Keith Wilford had his slowest run of the meeting so far with a 35.87. We had given David Gidden a handicap time influenced by his best run on the Saturday and his 33.04 was a little way short of that. Brain Meddings set a 34.79 and Kenny a 34.21. Both some way off their target times. Stephen Palmer, like Keith, also had his slowest run of the day so far.
Mr Matty though was obviously in a very determined mood and his 31.78 was 0.47 under the time I had set him (and tighter than August). June was slower than her practice runs and then Malcolm, with gear selection and engine issues, contributing to a 41.84. Something tells me he may be a tiny bit quicker next year!
Class record holder Dave Hampton seems to be struggling a little to reprise his best times at the moment (tell me about it!) and he was not best pleased with a 31.79, some 1.29 over. Tony Shute, still trying to bed in some new brakes (coming down the hill anyway), was the fastest that run and the 31.33 was 0.58 over but still 0.05 away from his August PB (when he was running in the engine).
So after the first runs it was Le Patron who was first from Dick and Steve Millward.
With no significant incidents to hamper progress our second and final run of 2016 came round quite quickly.
Steve Millward was slower this run but then ‘smoky’ Geoff Stallard improved to 33.95. Not a PB but then I think his PB was set with a lower axle ratio. His run was still 0.05 under. Jane was 2/100ths quicker the 37.04 leaving her 0.04 over for the day. Botty had retired. After the first run he had found himself with no oil pressure coming down the hill. Checking the oil tank when back in the paddock revealed an equally complete lack of oil. The mystery of where the oil had gone, and he hadn’t been emulating Mr Stallard with a lot of smoke, remains, at this point, a mystery.
If the scavenge part of the pump had failed the engine sump could be full of oil, not being returned to the tank, and the pressure part then having nothing to pump. I’ve not heard of that happening since the pump rotors are on a common shaft. Could a key have sheared on the scavenge rotor? It will be interesting to hear the results of the strip down.
Ian Parmenter improved to 37.50 and in doing so simply acknowledged the innate skill of the handicapping team since 37.50 was his handicap! Dick was 2 seconds slower this run as he was being blinded by the sun and since his S3 has no sun visors (they do have sun in Glasgow I’m sure?) he couldn’t see much. Despite a really good start I lost a couple of tenths in the Esses and was slower. Chris Westwood had been determined to break into the 39’s but it wasn’t to be and the 40.29 left him 1.54 over. Keith Bristow was again in determined mood and a good run and a new 33.46 PB left him 0.04 under. Grayham also set a new PB by 1/2 second and the 36.01 was just 0.01 over.
In the race class Sarah had retired as the car was just dead and would not fire. Keith Wilford improved this run to 35.42 that was 0.92 over but still not a quick as his best time in practice. David Gidden did improve and although the 32 .35 did not quite equal Saturday’s best it was still a great run and just 0.25 over. Brian improved as well and the 33.77 was just 0.27 over. Kenny always leaves the best until last and his 33.23, while not a PB was just 0.48 over. Stephen Palmer also got it all together this run and his new PB of 36.53 was 1.03 over. Mr Matty was a couple of tenths slower and that seemed to run in the family as June was 3/10ths slower. Malcolm’s car problems got even worse as the car just stopped on the hill.
Championship protagonists Hampton and Shute were our last runners. DH improved but by no means to the extent that he wanted and the 31.43 was 0.93 over, and more importantly, slower than Tony’s first run time and, though Tony wouldn’t know it as he was on the hill that sealed the championship. Maybe, somewhat ironically Tony was slower that run and equally strangely equalled Dave’s time with a 31.43.
So that left Paul as our victor this day from Dick Swindall keeping second and Geoff Stallard third just 1/100th ahead of Keith Bristow. In race scratch it was Tony from Dave H with Paul third. In road scratch it was Keith B from Geoff and then me.
So that leaves Tony Shute the 2016 championship winner with 62 points. A well deserved result as I’ve heard he can drive a bit! Geoff Stallard came up on the rails with 58 to edge Dave Hampton to third with 56. Our competitor from the frozen north, Mr Swindall, was fourth with 50 points. The points were close all the way after that.
The race scratch, as already revealed, saw Dave Hampton first with 48 points from Tony S with 39 and then John Palmer third with 20. It was a bit closer in road scratch as I finished with 41 from Geoff on 36 and Keith Bristow with 23.
It has been a great year for this important championship milestone and as always our thanks must be with Paul and June for all the efforts this, and the previous years.
With Paul announcing the different format for the end of year ‘do’ with no raffle, dancing and less trophy giving surely that can’t mean the Dipstick award will go unpresented?
See you there