View Report 04/08/18

Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2018

Harewood 4th August


It had seemed like an age since our last event at Pembrey on the 2nd June. Nine weeks in fact.  So this definitely seemed like the second half of the season.  Though there was some rain about on the Friday in the area our Saturday meeting was held in good weather with some cloud cover on and off and the usual Harewood breeze making things not too hot.

Geoff Stallard was on the final entry list even though he had already told me he was going to be on holiday in Greece and he had told the BARC that he wouldn’t be there.   Also, Tony Wallen was entered but did not appear.   Steve Hopkins was finally making a belated appearance as the rear sub-frame replacement on the Elise and other issues had taken time to sort.   He had prepared well for this event however having just done the driving school where, apparently, he had come top. However, on his way up to Harewood from South Wales he had suffered from intermittent cutting out of the engine and had experienced the delights of the (lack of) prompt service from the AA.  The car was OK during the event but failed again on the M1 going back home.  Now it appears to be an alternator problem letting the ‘new’ battery go flat.

Keith Bristow and Tim Grasby were here dual driving Keith’s Exige V6.  It was the first time in their current cars for Sarah and Malcolm Thorne at Harewood

The track had been resurfaced about a month previously and looked to be very grippy.  That proved to be the case.  My only minor concern was that now there were more sausage kerbs about. These were clearly marked and, apparently only where grass had been before, so the track ‘limits’ had actually not changed.  The effect being more psychological than actual.

We were the first class off as usual.   We all took it fairly steadily for this first practice except for Clive Buffey who lowered his PB by nearly 3 seconds for a 68.19.   Chris Westwood, despite suffering with tooth problems was within a second of his PB.  Malcolm lowered his Buick time to 65.09 in the 35.  Our dual drivers in the road class actually went out after our cars in the race class and that’s how I’m reporting their runs.

Our second runs came around quite quickly.   Keith Bristow set a new 68.13 PB as did Steve Hopkins with a 69.58.  Chris Westwood also with a 74.81 and then Jonathan Bibby with a 71.90.  Clive improved again with a 67.36.   Not surprisingly Sarah eclipsed her 340R time with a 69.35 in the 61/69 and equally unsurprisingly Malcolm set another new PB with a 63.39.   Brian Meddings got to within a second of his PB.   David Gidden had a scary moment when he ran wide on the long left hander of Farmhouse bend and collected quite a bit of grass in all the nooks and crannies of the 23.   Then June had an issue on her run as she could hear the engine wasn’t mechanically happy and pottered up to the top.   She retired the car but latest news is that it was a mercifully minor failure associated with the roller rocker system and Paul had it sorted on the Sunday.  Everyone else improved their times even those that did not set PB’s  Jane got within 3/10ths of her PB with a 70.88.

Paul and I sat down to do the handicaps quite quickly after this second run as we knew that our first competitive run would be before lunch.

Keith Bristow was red flagged and on his second go set a new 68.04 PB but that was some way off the 55.50 we had set him.  Steven Hopkins also had a new PB with 69.02 that was just 0.52 over.  Chris Westwood also set a new PB recording a 74.10.    Ian Parmenter saw a 72.84 that was 1.44 over.  Jonathan Bibby was also going well and his 70.06 was another new PB and 1.06 over.  Dick was finding that the 3.55 diff in the S3 Elan was just too high – he had been expecting to be using the S4 and he could not get anywhere near his PB in the S3 when it had the lower ratio diff and his run was slower than his best practice time.

Botty was a bit quicker this run but, like most of the old hands, couldn’t get close to his old PB but nevertheless the 71.10 was quite respectable though 1.35 over.  Steve Millward set his best so far but the 72.11 was 1.36 over.  I also set my best time of 67.32 but, as I just may have mentioned to everybody several times! this was 5 seconds adrift of my PB from 2008.   

Clive Buffey was first off for the race class and immediately broke through his handicap time as the 64.55 was 0.45 under.   Stephen Palmer was also going better and the 68.89 was 1.39 over.  Keith Wilford, who had suffered a bit of a disappointing season so far, was making amends and the 67.04 was just 0.14 over.  Sarah took another 3 seconds off her best time in practice and the 66.43 was just 0.18 over.  Malcolm was really winding up the 35 and the 61.27 was only 0.77 over.   Brian Meddings 67.10 was a second slower that his best in practice so didn’t help his cause.   David Gidden had recovered well from his Farmyard bend excursion earlier and the 65.99 was just 0.24 over.  As June had retired the car it was Paul next and his 63.06 was a good improvement and nudging him closer to his long standing PB (2008 the same year I set my PB).  The 63.06 was 1.56 over.   It was Mr Shute next and his 61.72 was just 0.12 away from his PB set last year in the 69F and 0.47 short of his target time.    Dave Hampton was quicker but his 61.08 was 0.98 shy of his handicap.

Tim Grasby was improving in the fearsome Exige V6 but Harewood on a first visit is quite hard to learn.  He got into the 76’s.  Jane didn’t have a good run and was slower, maybe, in hindsight, a result of an issue starting to rear its head.

So, after the first round it was Clive Buffey leading.

Our second and final run counting for the championship was after lunch.

Keith Bristow did not improve and neither did Steve Hopkins.  This trend continued with Chris Westwood and Ian Parmenter.  Jonathan Bibby was giving it a real go but unfortunately fell foul of the most tricky Quarry Bend and ran wide into the gravel trap for a fail.   Later looking at some of the locals driving that bend it was very illuminating, particularly watching the front wheel drive cars.   The ‘Oh that’s how it’s done’ might not necessarily translate into our own performance there.   Dick set a 77.51 and he wasn’t a happy Scottish bunny.  Botty was slower.  Steve Millward was a lot slower than first time  and thought there was some issue with the tyre pressures as he couldn’t get past what appeared to be a lot of understeer.   I was quicker despite a crap start (the concrete start surface I think is more tricky to get right particularly for the front engined cars) and the 66.60 was 1.10 over.

Clive was slower this run but Stephen Palmer improved to leave his new PB on 68.35, 0.85 over.   Dr Wilford also improved and the 66.49 put him 0.41 under, close behind Clive.  Sarah was slower but Malcolm improved with an excellent 60.98 that was just 0.48 over.   Brian Meddings also went a lot better and his 65.43, while being just shy of his PB was just 0.43 over.  David Gidden took another tenth off and the 65.88 was just 0.13 over.    Paul and I had been discussing why the older contingent couldn’t get close to their PB’s and Paul did give this a real go and whilst the 62.35 was a couple of seconds off what he had done in 2008 is was a big improvement and just 0.85 over. Tony Shute was slower that run but Dave Hampton set a new PB with a 59.94 that put him 0.18 under.

Tim Grasby improved a bit more for a 76.25.  Then it was Jane Millward but unfortunately the Elan didn’t make it round the first right hander off the start and understeered into the tyres.  Obviously, we were all concerned for her safety as two ambulances attended.   Jane was basically OK thank goodness with just some bruises but she was taken, with Steve, to A & E at Wetherby hospital for a check over.   She was released quite soon.  Apparently, some of the other patients thought the race suits they were wearing were fancy dress!

The marshals towed the Elan up to the paddock.  Steve had first thought that it could have been a failure of the U/J between the column and the rack because obviously there had been some kind of steering failure.  But as we all inspected the car I could see that the steering column was not moving as much as the steering wheel angle.  Paul immediately thought what it could be and checked the steering column adjuster/collapse mechanism.   It had come loose and so steering wheel movement was only partially and vaguely being translated to the column.  I have never liked that arrangement much and, indeed, I fitted, a long time ago, one of the solid columns from the earlier cars and things like Triumph Heralds, to the +2.

So with that dampener on the proceedings much relieved by finding out that Jane was basically OK Paul made the presentations.   So it was a win for Clive, just edging Keith Wilford and with Dave Hampton in third.   Just as a note, further down we announced that it was Stephen Palmer in 10th.  That was correct but looking later Mr Matty was sharing the 0.85 time difference and so he is also joint 10th with 2 points.

In race scratch it was Dave Hampton first from Malcolm and then Tony Shute.  In road scratch it was me from Keith Bristow with Steve Hopkins.

So despite missing this meeting Geoff Stallard retains a healthy 5 point lead in the main Championship over Dave Hampton who is 5 points ahead of Tony Shute.

In the Race scratch Championship DH has a 4 point lead over Tony Shute.  Those two well clear of the rest.

In Road scratch I have drawn level with Geoff on 22 points with Jonathan Bibby on 16 in third.

As is usual at Harewood there were third runs on offer though we were not sure this was going to happen due to the delays surrounding Jane’s accident.   Eight drivers had another go.  I’ve shown the times in italics on the spreadsheet for just information though they have not influenced the result.  In the event only two drivers improved their times.  I set a 55.51, my best time at Harewood since 2009 and so now I can witter on about only being 3 seconds off my PB.  But it was Mr Hampton that set a blistering new PB with a 59.19.  This would, of course, have been a new class record eclipsing that of John Crook in 2004, but as it was not set during the Championship runs, Mr Crook retains that honour.

On to Shelsley.