View Report 15th June 2019
Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2019
Three Sisters 15th June
This sixth event of our season was our first visit to Three Sisters for quite a time. I had thought it was as far back as 2005 but Mr Swindell’s trusty notebook showed that we were last there in 2012. This time however the event was to be on the so called 2 lap circuit, so this was new to us all except Geoff Stallard who had driven it last year in his TVR as part of his successful HSA campaign. Some things had changed at Three Sisters since our last visit, including resurfacing by the new owners after the previous organisation had gone bust in 2017.
Although our class were luckily situated in a good part of the paddock with a new tarmac area the rest of the paddock was the usual confusion and it was very disorganised making the Chief Paddock marshal’s job very difficult.
The weather forecast was for a dryish morning with showers in the afternoon. I had decided that after my excitements on slicks at the wet Loton I would use my cut slicks for this event. These were now 5 years old and well past their best and took some getting used to again.
There was a reasonable entry for the class, better than Pembrey ended up, and I noticed that Stephen Palmer had entered describing himself as a Novice!! I don’t think we’ll let him forget this as he ended up winning an award here for the fastest Novice!
Although I wasn’t at Pembrey there was a repeat of the changed number issue for Ian Parmenter here also. Dave Hampton had initially been put in the road class and Ian in the race class. So, the numbers were swapped. This did put Ian’s normal, and well known, reticence to the test and a short rant followed while he sorted out his new numbers. Jonathan Bibby was a late entry.
Geoff Stallard had got his engine rebuilt with new QED cams and new valves and the engine was remapped on the rolling road with the result that he has a few more horsepower and quite a bit more torque with the curves being far flatter. He said after his first run that it felt different and better. Keith Wilford had his clutch mechanism rebuilt and beefed up at Bromsgrove after the failure at Pembrey. Dick was in the ‘Yellow car’.
Things didn’t start too well for Sarah Bosworth as the Elise just would not fire up. Much disassembly and attention from Mr Matty and others was to no avail and Steve Hopkins kindly offered Sarah a dual drive in his car.
Steve Millward and now Sarah B went out first and the rest of the class followed.
One thing that is very noticeable at Three Sisters is how tight many of the bends are. This caught out both Botty, with a grassy moment, and Keith, with a spin. I was quite slow getting used to the (lack of) grip from the old tyres and the other thing I found was how tricky it was to spot the position of the first lap right hander after the straight.
Longton & District Car Club had determined that there would only be one practice run and all others would be timed for the main competition. Paul agreed that we should use our normal format of two practice and then two competitive runs so we decided that we would keep ‘our’ results to ourselves and let the organisers do their own thing. In view of the fact that we had no history to go on for this layout Paul said he wanted four people to be involved in the handicapping process so that we could try for maximum fairness in what could be a bit of a lottery. Geoff Stallard and Tony Wallen were chosen.
We went out for our second practice but as the later runners in our class were lining up the rain started.
Geoff, Tony and I were ensconced in Geoff’s trailer ready to do the deed when Paul appeared saying that June’s 69 had really suffered from the water all over the electrics and ignition and he was going to have to attend to that. The handicapping team were down to three.
Marion was doing her normal sterling job getting the times but it was taking so long for the times to be made available for her that it was always a long wait for them.
With now the double whammy of little data and now the rain starting handicapping was going to be even more difficult. We agreed on a broad approach of trying to anticipate what dry times people might/should achieve and then backing that time off because of the rain. We went for a median of about 7 seconds.
As we were doing the handicaps the rain got quite heavy and soon much of the paddock had large puddles everywhere. The plan had been to get a third run in for all competitors before lunch but in view of the downpour that idea was shelved and the lunch break started with a 1:15 restart planned. During lunch the rain would stop only to start again in very short order. Basically, the rest of the afternoon was wet though Mr Shute wasn’t with us to take advantage!
Our first timed runs started. I was very cautious and although I had no issues, I was very slow. These days I would rather later reflect on the fact that there was more grip than I expected rather than less! Geoff Stallard set a 95.83 and that was eclipsed by Steve Hopkins with a 95.28 and then Jane Millward racked up an excellent 95.66 that was only 0.66 over. Not often that Jane beats Geoff Stallard. We later found out that Steve had fitted new Yokohama Advans to the Elan and they were just amazing in the wet
I think Keith had another spin as he set a 113. Tony Wallen set an 85.20 but during the afternoon I lost count of the number of red flags re-runs he got. For him it was much more like a 6 lapper. Dave Hampton who is not a rain enthusiast set an 89.19. Last man JJ however was going really well in the Elise and his 93.77 was the fastest of the road cars.
Our final run was due to come around quite soon but we were held for ages in the line-up as something had happened on track. When we got going Steve Millward was a bit slower but Sarah Bosworth improved by half a second but I know she was not comfortable to make her usual efforts in a borrowed car. Ian P was slower but both John Palmer and I were quicker as was Geoff Stallard with a 95.30. Chris Westwood was slower but Steve Hopkins was much quicker to set a 92.52. Botty was quicker this time but Jane was slower. Dick was a couple of tenths quicker but he wasn’t pleased with his times. Stephen Palmer (the Novice) went quicker by over 1/2 second to set a 96.05. Mr Matty had been suffering with misfire problems and whether this was the cause he was a lot slower.
Sarah Thorne then set what must undoubtedly be one of the slowest times of day ever. 192.30. When Marion eventually managed to wrest the times from the organisers, I saw this as I was typing the into the computer and thought it must be 92.30. In the Clubhouse later Sarah gave us the story. She had a problem off the line and only went a few feet. She was gesturing to the start line guys to push her back but no-one came to her aid. This went on for some time and, of course, Sarah knew she couldn’t just head out on the track without knowing the necessary gap was there. Finally, she got the nod to go but the clock had been running all the time, hence the 192.30. I think it is fair to say that Sarah was unimpressed with the assistance she didn’t receive. The rain was starting to get heavier at this point and Malcolm was slower. Keith went quicker however by keeping it all on the island this time. Tony Wallen was slower as was Dave Hampton. Behind them June had lost the will to live and had turned around to retire to the paddock. Last man Mr Bibby was slower than his excellent first run.
So that was it. A very weird and wet event.
So, it finished with a win for Jane, with JJ second and Steve Millward third. Those tyres were worth the money.
In race scratch it was Messrs. Wallen, Hampton and Thorne, in that order. The road class saw the win for Steve Hopkins from Jonathan Bibby and Geoff Stallard third.
In main championship it is Steve Hopkins leading on 40 points with Mr Millward coming up on the rails on 39 with Tony Wallen third with 32.
Race scratch sees Tony W on 23 from Dave Hampton on 20 and Tony Shute 19. Road scratch is Steve Hopkins on 23 from Sarah Bosworth on 20 and Geoff Stallard third with 12.
Please can we have some dry weather for Shelsley in three weeks?