View Report – 3rd August 2019
Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2019
Harewood 3rd August
Despite so much bad weather in the North and the consequent fear for the state of trailer park and the paddock, in the event Harewood had not had much rain and everything was fine. And, thanks be to someone in overall control, it was also to be a fully dry meeting. Only the second so far this year for us.
We were missing quite a few regulars and particularly championship leader Stephen Hopkins. It was a first visit for Karen Buffey. Mr Buffey, last year’s Harewood winner, although his hand was now quite a bit better was still not yet driving. Geoff Stallard was looking forward to exercising his improved engine and new slicks. Tony Wallen, after finding nothing obvious amiss with anything on the BDA after the belt tooth jump at Shelsley caused an ignition timing issue, had replaced a few bits and pieces, including the belt and was hoping for a trouble free run. This was the first time at Harewood in our class for Sarah Bosworth and, as an instructor there, she was likely to go quite fast! It was a return to Harewood for the Millwards after Jane had that scary crash last year at Clark’s, the first right hander, following steering failure.
We were the first batch to go on the hill and it was a fairly restrained first practice run for most although David Gidden did his best to liven up proceedings when he ended up going left at the right hand Orchard corner after hitting a kerb too hard which upset the car. He returned to the paddock with no damage but with significant quantities of gravel and foliage distributed about the 23B. As it was practice, I thought I would try a few different gearing options around the course. A dismal failure compounded by having a low oil pressure warning light flashing at me at various points of the course. Somewhat off putting though there was no engine issue, just an electrical connector problem that was soon resolved. The 35 of Mr Matty was suffering from a misfire as has become too frequent a problem for him as of late. He was somewhat (very) exasperated as he had changed lots of ignition bits to try and sort it out.
Second practice saw all improve except for Keith Wilford who had an exciting and grassy moment coming out of Chippy’s at the bottom of the course. He was telling me that when he started competing at Harewood it was still the old course and that was the start line. Paul was still having misfiring problems despite putting on a new coil.
We knew it was likely that the timed runs would start before lunch and so we knew that we had to get the handicaps sorted quickly. With Paul struggling to sort his car we agreed that we would co-opt Tony Wallen (who helped the process at Three Sisters) and the Clive Buffey to help me with the handicaps. We got things sorted in good time but I think Clive was quite surprised at the thought and deliberation that goes into setting the targets for our drivers.
As expected, our first timed run was, indeed, before lunch.
Geoff Stallard was reveling in the extra grip his new slicks were giving him and set a convincing new PB of 63.61 that was 1.49 under handicap! Botty was also going well and his 68.94 was only 0.16 outside his quite long standing PB and was 1.26 under. Dick set a 71.47 that was only just over a second off his ‘Blue car’ PB. Chris Westwood was the second driver to set a new PB but this time by just 2/100ths with a 74.08. Sarah Bosworth then did what we all expected and set an excellent 60.91, easily eclipsing my 11 year old class record though it was about a second off her own sub 60 PB from last year in a Class 3B win. Steve Millward was a bit slower than Dick with a 71.95. I enjoyed my run and thought there was not much more to come. Oh, apart from the time! 67.04 was not what I was looking for.
Jane set a 71.20 and this was pretty good going overcoming any demons from last year.
In the race class Stephen Palmer saw a big time improvement and the 66.72 dropped his PB by 1.63 seconds and he was just 0.22 over. Kenny Lewis set a 65.06, 0.56 over. Tony Wallen was obviously having no engine issues at all as he saw a new 60.84 PB by 0.7 compared with his best with Twin Cam power. Keith Wilford was not pleased with a 68.11 but Sarah Thorne had found a big chunk of time compared with practice and the 65.35 was just 0.35 over. Setting targets for Sarah, in June’s old car, and June in the ex-John Crook 69 was as tricky as it had been for previous events. We could have set Sarah a 64 and June a mid 59 based on what the cars had done in the past but we just aren’t that cruel and went for something more sensible. Tony Shute set his best time so far but felt he was losing time up the final straight before Quarry with less power than the other 69’s. It was a 62.49 that was 1.22 over.
June was much quicker than in practice and the 65.32 was just 1.32 over. Paul Matty seemed to have found a solution to his misfire problems by retarding the ignition a bit and was much happier with a 63.55, 1.55 over. Malcolm Thorne set a 62.84 but that was two seconds or so outside his PB and his handicap.
David Gidden was gaining confidence after his Orchard excursion and saw a time of 66.42, 0.92 over. Last man, race class record holder, Dave Hampton was not having a great day and his 61.66 was 2.41 over handicap.
So, after that first run it was Geoff Stallard leading from Botty in second and Stephen Palmer third.
We were the first class to run again after lunch. Karen took a little more time off but Geoff Stallard was over a second slower than first time up. Botty was also slower but only by 3/100ths. Dick however did improve and his 71.02 put him 0.52 over. Chris Westwood had a good run this time and the 72.75 was another new PB and 1.75 over. Sarah Bosworth improved again to a 60.61 and this was 0.46 over and our new road car class record. Steve Millward took 0.80 off his first run best and the 71.15 that was 0.65 over. This time the octogenarian battle was resolved in Dick’s favour! I was determined to give it a good go and was really pleased with how the run felt but the clock didn’t agree again. 66.91 was just 0.13 faster than first time and 1.81 over. I just cannot conceive how, 11 years ago, I could do times 4 1/2 seconds faster, particularly when the run felt so good. Jane Millward set her best time of the day with a 70.57 that was just 0.05 outside her PB and 0.07 over.
Stephen Palmer improved again for another new PB with a 66.54 that was now just 0.04 over. Kenny Lewis then pulled a stormer and his 63.24 was a new PB and 1.26 under. Tony Wallen also set a new mark by 0.11 and the 60.73 was just 0.23 over. Keith Wilford’s 67.81 was an improvement but some good way off his PB and 1.31 over. Sarah Thorne was a bit slower this run but Tony Shute was faster, though only by 1/100th and he finished 1.23 over. June took another second off and the 64.31 left much better placed to be just 0.31 over. Paul was a bit slower this run but Malcolm was a bit faster and his 62.62 was 1.87 over. David Gidden also improved to a 65.55 and that was a new PB and 0.05 over. Last man Dave Hampton was extremely frustrated to go slower this run and that was over 3 seconds adrift of his record from last year.
As is usual at Harewood our result was declared at that point and it was only 2 pm when most of the class retired. A few drivers did decide to take a later third run and those times are shown in italics on the spreadsheet.
So, it was a clear win for Geoff Stallard but with Kenny Lewis not far behind in second and Botty taking a well deserved third. In race scratch it was Tony Wallen taking the honours from Dave Hampton and then Tony Shute. In road scratch it was an unsurprising win for Sarah Bosworth (and just pipping Tony Wallen for the overall scratch best time) from Geoff Stallard and then me a rather distant third.
Steve Hopkins remains the championship leader on an unchanged 47, now 3 points ahead of Steve Millward with Tony Wallen third with 38. In race scratch we have the interesting situation where Tony Wallen and Dave Hampton share first place on 28 points, six ahead of third place man, Tony Shute. The road scratch table has Sarah Bosworth at its head on 30 points with Steve Hopkins 5 points behind and Geoff Stallard a further 5 down on 20 points.
I mentioned that a few drivers did have another go. In the end nobody improved their best time that run. I suppose I came closest by recording an identical time of 66.91. Again, I had thought it was a really good run……….. I was 1.4 seconds quicker last year! It was a strange meeting in that there were many drivers that saw PB improvements and conversely others that could not get near. Harewood is a very enjoyable drive but it can be frustrating.
Just two meetings to go now. MIRA and Shelsley.