View Report – 21.09.19
This was our final visit to Shelsley this year and, of course, the final event of this 28th year of the championship. We were also to be blessed with the best weather that I can recall at Shelsley. Clear blue sky but still not too hot. Having been dry for some days previously there were no worries about the grip in the Esses – a rare occurrence!
The main championship positions were all very tight with Steve Millward having a one-point lead over Steve Hopkins but with the latter not having an entry for this event it was left to 4 other drivers to be able to make a last-ditch attempt on the title.
The road scratch was already decided really as Sarah Bosworth had a 3-point lead over Steve Hopkins and with Sarah at this event and again with Steve unable to score that looked a shoe in for Sarah. Only misfortune would deny her.
Race scratch however was very tight with Tony Wallen having just a one-point lead over Dave Hampton.
In the end it was one of the tightest finishes I can recall with the result not decided until the last run.
Fortunately, Dave Hampton was able to rebuild his clutch after the MIRA problem, burning the midnight oil during the week, and was hoping the car would be OK.
David Gidden, after his Bo’ness crash in the 23B (he thinks the front suspension failure was a legacy of his gravel excursion at Harewood) was in his road Elise S2 135R. He had had this car for quite some time but had only done a couple of hundred miles in it, so this was going to be a challenge.
Brian Meddings, with his 35 sick, had brought his trusty 51C. Malcolm Thorne with another 35 hors de combat was driving Sarah’s 340R as he had at MIRA.
Most meetings this year had seen Mr Matty wrestling with a misfire issue that would come and go. He had changed carbs this time and initially that seemed fine running it at home. But later starting it again, the misfire was back. Just by chance he noticed the back of the ignition switch had some loose wire showing. Basically, this had been causing the intermittent problem though it was surprising behaviour in that usually with that sort of issue it would either work or not. Clive Buffey was back at Shelsley now but determined to get further than the Esses bank this time. We were towards the end of the running order for this event. Steve Millward was first and then John Palmer led us off in the main batch and the 38.25 was only 1/2 second shy of his PB. The other Mr Palmer, Stephen, was also close to his PB with a 34.81. The other noteworthy performance was June who set a new ’69’ PB on 33.97.
Our second practice run came around quite quickly. This time John Palmer set a new PB with a 37.45. Geoff Stallard now on his new slicks also set a new PB, only by 6/100ths, with a 33.72. Dick Swindall was going very well and while his 36.80 was a second away from his PB set in the mists of time, when he was even younger, it was far quicker than anything he’d done so far this year. Malcolm Thorne was only 1/4 second away from his PB in the 340R. Stephen Palmer got to just 9/100ths away from his PB. Tony Wallen’s 30.91 was just 0.04 shy of his best Shelsley time in practice in July before he had the timing belt slip. Sarah Thorne was just 3/100ths away from her PB with a 34.39. Dave Hampton, whilst very pleased that the clutch was functioning fine was not so pleased with a 31.58. We had not seen Tony Shute for some recent meetings and when he then set a 31.17, just 0.2 off his PB that left Dave unusually third fastest. This was just practice however! June exactly equaled her first practice time!
Although, in reality, every handicap decision throughout the year was important to the final outcome this last event of the year saw even more emphasis on getting it right. Accordingly, Paul and I sought the opinion of a third party, Dave Hampton to participate in the process. It was not just vital to try and get the leading drivers targets correct but everyone, as ‘mistakes’ lower down the order could compromise the overall points allocation.
There had been some oil put down over at least half the hill by a single seater which caused quite a delay as the marshals cleared things up. The first car up the hill afterwards was lost in a white cloud! Quite a few more cars had gone up before it was our turn and the dust had cleared, as it were, but the white witness line up the hill was still rather off putting.
Unusually our road and race classes were not in the same batch so that the road class were back down the hill before our race class set off.
It was the dual driving Steve Millward that was first on the road for us in the previous batch and his 37.51 was 0.56 over.
John Palmer was in very determined mood and set yet another new PB with a 36.86, 0.36 over. Jonathan Bibby was only just slower than John and the 36.89 and with the same handicap was just 0.39 over. Karen was a bit slower than her best practice but then Sarah Bosworth set a blistering 31.98 that was a new PB for her and 0.02 under handicap.
That time got me thinking of some past top times in the road class, both in Elise/Exige derivatives. Our late friend Grayham Parker’s best in the Motorsport Elise was 31.79 and going back further to 2007 it was Chris Beadsmore in his Exige with a 31.91.
Geoff Stallard was getting quicker run on run and the 33.19 was another new PB and just 0.19 over. Botty was a bit slower than his best in practice, but Dick was still improving and his 36.65 was just 0.15 over and a very impressive performance. In fact, Dick’s very quick practice time gave us a bit of a handicap problem because often we will give Dick a similar handicap to Steve and Jane. We just couldn’t this time.
Jane’s 37.63 was 0.68 over and Chris Westwood was slower than his best from the morning. Malcolm’s 34.68 was a new 340R PB and was 0.18 over. David Gidden did his best time so far with a 40.63. Another getting quicker every run was Stephen Palmer and his 34.19 was just 0.08 shy of his PB and 0.19 over. Kenny Lewis was not as quick as in the morning and, surprisingly, nor was Tony Wallen. Clive Buffey was improving but quite understandably was being cautious. Keith Wilford improved to a 35.33 but marshals had seen the 23 leaving a fluid trail so there was a delay. It transpired that actually it was just fuel as there was a problem with a carburettor. This was later resolved in the paddock by Keith and his regular, and cheap, mechanic, Gordon Morrison.
Sarah Thorne was also faster again and the 33.89 was 0.79 over, but a new PB. Brian Meddings wasn’t as fast as in the morning and neither was Dave Hampton nor Tony Shute. June was a couple of seconds slower than her morning runs. Maybe she had and gear change issue? Paul was also slower.
So, after the first run it was Sarah B leading from Dick and then Malcolm. At that point Steve Millward was still out front with 4 points from Geoff Stallard on 7.
So, the final run of the year with both the main championship and the race scratch championship was still not settled.
Steve Millward’s final run was 5/100ths slower than his first which was leaving him exposed. John Palmer was slower this time, but Jonathan Bibby was a bit faster and the 36.74 left him just 0.24 over. Karen was slower as was Sarah Bosworth. Geoff Stallard seemed to leave a good layer of his new rubber in the tyre warming area, but his efforts paid off as the 33.04 was yet another PB and also, more importantly just 0.04 over. Botty had his best run of the day on 36.30 to finish 0.80 over. I also managed a half decent run (at last) to get a 34.68, 0.68 over. Dick was slower this time as was Jane, but Chris Westwood just got under 40 seconds though this was some good way off his PB.
In the race class Stephen Palmer went quicker again with a very good drive and his 33.84 left him 0.16 under. Kenny Lewis also had a very good run and the 32.39 was just 0.14 over. Tony Wallen was frustrated that while his 31.11 was a competition improvement it was not as fast as he had done in the morning nor as fast as July practice. This left him 0.56 over. Clive took a smidgen off for a 36.04 and Keith Wilford and small improvement to finish with 35.16. Sarah Thorne is driving the ex-June 20/22 very well now and the 33.18 was a good time and only 0.08 over. Brian Meddings set his best of the day with a 34.43.
Now Mr Hampton knew this was his last chance to best Tony Wallen and gave it his all and the 30.97 was the successful result on scratch but it was still 0.72 over in the main competition. Tony Shute was unusually slower this run. June improved to a 34.06 but that was still not as fast as she had managed in the morning. The Guv’nor was a bit slower this time.
It was therefore a win for Stephen Palmer with Sarah Bosworth second and Geoff Stallard third. In race scratch it was DH from Tony Wallen and then Mr Shute. Road scratch saw Sarah Bosworth take an emphatic win from a hard charging Geoff Stallard with Malcolm and me equal third.
Well that certainly changed the complexion of the championship around. Of the top contenders only Geoff Stallard, Jonathan Bibby and Steve Millward scored more than the attendance 1 point. Now the 9 points that Geoff Stallard scored gave him 51 points and the 2 that Steve Millward scored gave him 51 points! Obviously to resolve this we had to employ a best scores countback. Geoff had two wins and a second while Steve was more consistent his best results were 3 third places. So, on that basis Geoff Stallard retains the championship. Commiserations to Steve Millward, and, indeed Steve Hopkins at being pipped at the post.
In race scratch with the win Dave Hampton levelled the scores at 37 each but Tony had 4 wins to Dave’s 2 so that one goes to Tony.
What a great meeting. As a side issue, as I have discussed with lots of people, I am convinced that Shelsley is slower now than it used to be. One change I really notice is the now the low tyre wall at the ‘Kink’ that seems, maybe only mentally, to compromise the line we used to be able to take. I don’t think it is coincidence that Martin Groves hill record of 22.58 has now stood for 11 years. It does make it difficult to compare times from that long ago and old PB’s. It’s not only Shelsley of course, other tracks have understandable ‘safety’ mods.
Anyway, congratulations to Geoff Stallard again on a great year. Speculation at the bar after the meeting centred on what clothes he would be removing at the dinner after last year’s ‘t’ shirt extravaganza.
Also, congratulations to Tony Wallen on his first scratch championship and Sarah Bosworth on hers.
My final point is just to put on record the great work that Marion Hampton does in rushing round getting all the times for me. It isn’t a well-paid position but then………..
See you at the ‘do’