Report – 15/09/18

Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2018

Shelsley Walsh 15th September


This was the third visit to Shelsley this year and it was already the final round of our 2018 championship.  In the main championship things were already looking settled for the result with Geoff Stallard having a ten-point lead over Dave Hampton.   Dave would have to win at this event and take the 11 points with Geoff not scoring and then they would both be equal on 61 with score count back being necessary to decide the winner.   In the road scratch Geoff also had a 3-point advantage over me and only if he had failed to score good points and I had could the result have been in doubt.  No such doubts in the race scratch as Dave Hampton had a seven-point lead coming into the meeting so that position was safe. 

We had two non-starters in our group with Ian Parmenter being unwell and Steve Hopkins fuel pump electrical problems with the Elise becoming so severe that he thought it pointless to come.   Kenny Lewis was making only his second appearance this year.

The Millward’s were back in the Elan which had all been sorted save for some final painting work.  The suspension work necessitated by the Harewood visit to the tyres had also had the benefit of a full alignment check at Bromsgrove with anticipated benefits.   The other dual drive was Tim Grasby in Keith Bristow’s Exige V6.

Brian Meddings was still having issues with the clutch hydraulics on the 35 so brought his trusty 51 instead.

The weather looked as if it was going to be good for the day and, indeed, that was what materialised.  The class was towards the end of the running order so there was no fear about being an early victim of any dampness in the Esses from the previous evening’s rain.  When we went up for our first practice the track seemed in great condition.  Everyone took a fairly sensible approach to that first run however although Mr Shute’s 31.62 was only 0.64 away from his PB.

Everyone improved second time up with Keith Bristow setting a new PB of 32.33. Mr Matty got to within about 1/2 second of his own PB as were Malcolm and Sarah to theirs. Paul hardly liked to mention that he was faster than Malcolm!   Tony Shute saw a 31.14 that was just 0.16 shy of his PB. 

Paul and I then set the handicaps following our usual guidelines.

Despite an MX7 rolling at Top Ess earlier the meeting was proceeding well and the lunch break finished about 1:20.   It was then about an hour to our first run.

Steve Millward first off and his 37.52 was about a quarter of a second away from his PB.  Tim Grasby next set a new PB on 36.05.   Karen, first off in our main batch was close to her PB.  Dick was next and he set a 37.58, 0.43 over, but, he reckoned it was the best time for the ‘yellow car’ with the high ratio diff.   Geoff Stallard, set a 34.22, 0.42 over though he was not happy with the handling of the car despite making some suspension adjustments    Botty was in determined mood and his 36.85 was the first driver to get under handicap, in this case by 0.25.   Jonathan Bibby couldn’t quite equal his best practice time and the 36.78 was 0.33 over.   Jane then set a 37.41 that was 0.46 over.   Chris Westwood’s 38.49 was 0.49 over.  John Palmer in the similar Elise 111R recorded a 37.87, 0.13 under.   I was next, feeling quite confident after second practice when I had just eclipsed Mr Stallard, and I was prepared to have a go to see if I could maintain the upper hand.  Unfortunately, that didn’t quite work out as leaving the line with a lot of revs there was a pronounced clunk from the rear of the car and I immediately stopped it. The fact that all wheels were over the line as a fail was irrelevant as I knew something fairly serious had happened. My first thought was a broken driveshaft but I found I could still get drive so, with permission, set off slowly towards the courthouse and back down the lower return road.  And later I was able to drive the car to the trailer park at slow speed quite normally with no nasty noises.   Checking things on The Sunday at home quickly revealed the culprit as a broken key on the offside rear hub/drive shaft that had allowed the outboard drive shaft to turn within the hub.   In Matty circles this could be known as ‘Glazzarditis’.  Fortunately, the driveshaft and hub were only slightly marked so some careful lapping in and a new key should allow a full repair.  The torque biasing of the Quaife LSD does put more torque through the more heavily loaded wheel when the lighter loaded nearside wheel spins.

Fortunately, I didn’t hold things up for long, so Keith Bristow was next but couldn’t equal his best practice time and the 32.89 was 0.64 over.

In the race class it was David Gidden first off but his 34.05 was some way off his target time.   Stephen Palmer was only just slower than David with a 34.14 that was just 0.04 over the goal we had set him.    Kenny Lewis had been very quick in practice and continued this performance when he saw a new PB with a 32.05 that was 0.05 under. Keith Wilford wasn’t very happy with his 35.38.   Clive’s 33.20 was his best so far but we had set him a 32.10 handicap after his great run in August.   June was just a tenth behind Clive and that was just 0.30 over.   Paul took another tenth off his best practice time and his 31.56 was his best time at Shelsley in the championship this year and just 0.31 over.   Tony Shute was on it as always and the 31.08 was only a tenth shy of his PB and was 0.13 over.    Tony Wallen had a good improvement over his practice times and the 31.48 was 0.43 over.  Brian Meddings set a 33.99 that was 0.99 over.   Dave Hampton saw a 30.63 come up on the clock at the top of the hill and that was 0.53 over.   Sarah, despite the ‘Granny’ on the side of the car was driving better and better and the 34.12 was 0.18 under and a new PB.   Last man Mr Thorne also set a new PB by 2/100ths and the 31.25 was just 0.20 over.

So after the first run it was Botty first from Sarah and then John Palmer.

The final runs came around quite quickly although the meeting did come to a halt for a while as a Mini came to grief at Kennel and rolled a couple of times.   The car was pretty comprehensively wrecked but fortunately the 82-year-old driver escaped without any serious injury.

Steve Millward improved again and the 37.14 was a new PB and just 0.04 over.   Tim Grasby was a little slower this run.   Karen’s 46.51 was her best of the day but a tenth shy of her PB.  Dick was a little slower this run and Geoff Stallard also slower, but only by 1/100th, still not happy with the handling.  However, aside from our Championship, it now seems that Geoff, with this Shelsley performance, has secured the 2018 HSA championship where he has been running the Elan and his TVR Vixen.  A great performance but one, he was telling me, has meant he has racked up some 15,000 miles travelling to and from events from his home in deepest darkest Surrey!

Botty was a bit slower this run but Mr Bibby’s 36.50 was an improvement to just 0.05 over.  Jane was quicker with a 37.32 but just behind Steve!    Chris Westwood was also quicker and his 38.35 was just 0.35 over and 0.09 away from his PB.   John Palmer was a bit slower but Keith Bristow was faster this run but had done what we all have done at some time – been quickest in practice.   David Gidden and Stephen Palmer were both slower as was Kenny.  In Kenny’s case only by 0.04 which was still quicker than his old PB at the start of the day.   Dr Wilford did get into the 34’s with a 34.94 but that was not where he was aiming.   Clive had some engine issue on his run, right from the start and it sounded pretty horrible.  He was much slower as a result.   June, Paul and Tony Shute were all a bit slower than the first attempts.  Tony Wallen, in the always lovely 69 was a tenth quicker and he finished 0.33 over.   Brian also took some time off and the 33.68 was 0.68 over.   Dave Hampton was 2/100ths slower and then both Sarah and Malcolm couldn’t better their first runs.

So, after this last run the order was still Pete Bottrill, Sarah and John Palmer.   In fourth place, very much on merit was Kenny Lewis, but, of course, as we had told him by only entering two events this year we couldn’t allow him to take points from others who had made the most attendance effort.   The rule generally is that 4 events is the minimum to allow championship points.  Mr Matty does allow extenuating circumstances occasionally.   Kenny is still eligible for awards from the MAC but with our championship this meant that Steve Millward and Stephen Palmer, both on 0.04 over each had the 8 points for fourth place.   Race scratch saw the usual 1,2,3 in Dave Hampton from Tony Shute and Malcolm.   Road scratch had Keith Bristow with the win from Geoff and Tim Grasby taking third.

So, that’s it.  With neither Geoff nor Dave H scoring more than the attendance loyalty point the status quo was maintained and the championship winner was confirmed as Geoff Stallard.  Dave Hampton was second but Sarah had come up on the rails to pinch third place on 49 points from Tony Shute now with 46.

Geoff also took the road scratch from me in second and Keith B in third.   With these two wins plus his HSA title I dread to think what his bar bill is going to be like at the Chateau dinner in October!

Just confirming that Dave Hampton took first in the race scratch from Tony Shute with Malcolm in third.

So, at the end of the 27th year of the championship we can look forward to what next year can bring.  This year has been pretty good!