View Report 27/05/2018

Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2018

Prescott 27th May – La Vie en Bleu


The forecast for Prescott’s La Vie en Bleu event was dire, violent storms and earth rending thunder were predicted. Likewise the weather outlook was dismal and such was the downpour that many of the happy campers had their sleep broken by the sound of rain and the accompanying thunder and lightning.  The result of which was a rather muddy paddock and dire warnings from marshals of ‘it’s very slippery in the esses!’ However, dawn broke and the day started with a glimmer of blue sky promising a rather better prospect than the previous day when the proceedings had been delayed by fog until 11:00am.

There were some notable absences and apologies. Firstly, from Jon Dobson who was sorely missed from handicapping and reporting but had preferable alternatives to the rigours of Prescott. The Meddings had chosen to go sailing somewhere off the south coast (the Isle of Wight was mentioned) and a collective prayer for less stormy weather for them was made. Sarah (Grannie) Thorne had elected to go to a wedding reception but did make an appearance in the morning to encourage us, and doubtless Malcolm in particular, with his repaired gearbox. A broken first gear had been the problem and Paul Matty said it may be worthwhile ‘lifing’ this component given the torque they are getting from the more powerful single seaters and in particular with the very grippy surface at Loton. Dave Giddens gearbox was also fixed from its Loton problem, although this was not a case of breakage. The Keith Bristow/Tim Grasby Exige was not in attendance and Stephen Hopkins and Keith Wilford were also listed but missing. To counter these absences there was a warm welcome for Andrew Lewis in the un-branded 22, and a rather more heated welcome from the scrutineers for Kenny’s JPS branded 61. This, very questionable, issue continues to be a real pain in the backside for Kenny. Which, naturally, prompted him to report that he had, for routine purposes, recently had to undergo a colonoscopy. When asked if all was well he replied that all was well with the examination other than the rather startling discovery they had found, untouched by sunshine, an illegal JPS sticker. Which of course required immediate removal! This anecdote had Dave Hampton crying tears of laughter into his £3 cup of coffee.

All drivers had to attend the drivers briefing and a rather quaint affair it was but with a reminder that practice is, well just practice. With that in mind we made haste to get a run on a drying track. Some were rather more circumspect than others and the times ranged far and wide. In the racing cars, Tony Shute, who obviously missed the memo about the slippery esses, put in a startling 47.31, some 4 seconds quicker than the next time of an obviously fired up Kenny on 51.29. Dave Hampton and Tony Wallen were in close pursuit with the remainder of the class grouped in the mid 50s. In the road class, Geoff Stallard led with 57.73 but followed closely by Steve Millward’s 58.31. Steve explained that he has chosen a new tactic for practice. Basically it’s flat out from the off. Rather flying in the face of the Clerk of the Course’s briefing but highly effective. Ian Parmenter, Jonathan Bibby and Dick Swindall followed closely in the high 50s with the rest in the low 60s. Jane and John Palmer were pleased to find that 2nd gear in the Elise would do the hill and so eliminate the need to select 5th, swear a little, and then try to get 3rd.  Karen Buffey had good clean first-ever run up the hill and put in a creditable run in the 70s.

Prior to second practice it had contrived to rain a little and throwing this die into the mix caused all second practice times to be slower than first practice. Not all to the same degree and this is mostly probably a case of some being more cautious than others; or is that some more brave than others? Dave Gidden had acquired a misfire and replaced his plugs and Kenny was doing likewise.

The result however, was headache for the handicappers (Paul and Dave Hampton, with Marion on data gathering). Made more difficult as they also had to take account Andy Lewis equalling his PB and Stephen Palmer, Clive Buffey and Malcolm Thorne bettering their PBs all be it in different specification cars. A task not to be envied particularly when accompanied by a Frank Sinatra tribute singing inappropriately about ‘weather-wise it’s such a lovely day’. Followed rapidly by a flash of lightning, a crash of thunder, and a torrential downpour that had us all running for cover.

The sun poked its head out after this and the first runs were on a drying track but with a damp start-line. The times were getting back to the first practice runs and in the road going Geoff’s 57.13 put him first on scratch but Dick’s superb 58.64 put him first on handicap. In the race class it was Tony Shute on scratch with 51.76 and Kenny on handicap with 53.81. Dave Gidden’s new plugs worked so well he had an off.

The call for the second runs came round quite quickly but giving just enough time for the Elise contingent to remove their tops. This is not change in dress code but an attempt to save weight and keep cooler whilst waiting to approach the start in the bright sunshine. In this case made more worthwhile because the two cars immediately before our class had offs that resulted in considerable delays. All of which led to a dry start-line and track ahead. Consequently, times tumbled, handicaps were beaten, and the following set PBs: Stephen Palmer 51.76, Malcolm Thorne 48.84 (35), Clive Buffey 51.13; Steve Millward 54.63, Jane Millward 55.99 (both in Elise 111r), Karen Buffey 71.35.

John Palmer was by far the slowest of the road class with a 66.84. However, he did add to the never-ending lexicon of driver’s excuses. Apparently he made such a blistering start, obviously on the way to a sub 50 second run, that his radio jumped out of the dash and, hanging by its aerial cable, swung in sympathy with the corners. Please note that this excuse is deemed un-acceptable in the race-car class!

So in the final reckoning of the Paul Matty Classes the top ten in reverse order were:

10           June Matty

9              Jane Millward

8              Clive Buffey

7              Dave Gidden

6              Tony Wallen

5              Dave Hampton

4              Jonathon Bibby

3              Dick Swindall

2              Steve Millward

1              Geoff Stallard

But that was not all. Tony Shute got FTD for the event, made the appropriate closing speech for the event, and is now to be known by his new soubriquet ‘big balls’.

So that concludes this report from La Vie en Bleu at Prescott where in the fashion of true Brits the dancers and singers defied the weather very much in the spirit of après nous le deluge. Now for the wide open spaces of Pembrey.

John Palmer

[1] a procedure in which a flexible fibre-optic instrument is inserted through the anus in order to examine the colon: colloquially, camera up bum