View Report – 4th May 2019
Paul Matty Sportscars Lotus Championship 2019
Shelsley Walsh – 4th May 2019
This was the start of the 28th Season for Paul’s Championship. If only it seemed just like yesterday!
This season there have been some car changes, and at the moment, just one new driver. The new driver is Sarah Bosworth in her Elise and the combination has produced some scarily good times at so many venues over recent years. Certainly not a new driver, as he started out those 28 years ago, was Ian Parmenter and we were all so glad to see him back and looking very well after his health excitements that started last year.
On the car change front, Sarah Thorne is now in June’s previous car, the 20/22 and June herself now running the ex-John Crook 69. Steve Hopkins is back after a torrid 2018 with many things sorted on the Elise and a much-improved engine that is now producing close to 190bhp. Keith Bristow is also now giving his lovely Lotus 19 some exercise on the hills. Tony Wallen’s 69 is now sporting a BDA in place of the twin cam and, as usual with Tony’s cars, it is beautifully prepared. Immaculate rather undersells it! Last year’s champion Geoff Stallard has now had the cylinder head inlet pin hole sorted and is no longer producing clouds of smoke. Dick Swindall is now back in the ‘Blue car’ after an engine issue last year that took longer than expected to sort. Brian Meddings 35 seems now fully sorted and changing gear effectively back on the cards.
There had been overnight rain that had only stopped around 6 am and also it was bloody cold, so the prospect of early fast running was definitely not on the cards and we were batch 2.
This first run was certainly interesting. Like others I found the grip was virtually non-existent even on the lower part of the course, particularly with slicks, and certainly by the time I got to the Esses discretion was certainly very much the better part……….
Unfortunately, two drivers had not been put off sufficiently by the lack of grip as both Dave Hampton and Clive Buffey crashed in the Esses with the nose of both cars very modified and a trip back down the hill on the truck of shame. An experience I well recall! Clive did make it to the top of the hill but the marshals weren’t too impressed as he was dropping fluid. Kenny Lewis was quick to point out that this time it wasn’t him dropping fluid.
Everyone else was fairly slow but some were quite quick like the usual suspects of Messrs. Shute and Thorne.
We were just competing on the one day but there was also a two-day meeting going on and so were off again an hour or so later after those drivers had had their first practice.
Conditions were quite a lot better for our second run but the Esses still held some dampness, always difficult to pick out the track condition there in the shade of the trees, and it was still cold. Again, most did treat this still as just practice but times were coming. Sarah Bosworth did a 34.58. Tony Wallen and Malcolm were quite similar with a 33.80 and 33.74 respectively. Mr Shute was fastest with a 32.71.
Paul and I sat down to set the handicaps. As it was so cold, we had a general baseline of about a second shy of PB’s with the usual adjustments where there were unknowns of new cars, changes etc. The only driver we asked to go quicker that her PB was Karen.
The meeting seemed to be very strangely scheduled as it was going to the first competitive runs for batch 1 and 2 after lunch followed immediately by the final competitive run for those batches again. In fact, we were done and dusted by about 2:45 pm only to find that the other classes were then offered a 3rd and then 4th practice!
Anyway, Steve Millward was first off for us in batch 1 as the dual drive and set a 38.98, 0.98 over. Ian Parmenter set a 39.75, 2 seconds over handicap but then Karen Buffey pushed through her 44 second handicap with an excellent 43.07. Geoff Stallard made a 34.98 run, just 0.98 over. I was on the same 34 second handicap as Geoff and just pipped him with a 0.65 over. Dick was going well and the 38.96 was just 0.96 over and then Steve Hopkins 36.68 was 0.68 over. For some reason Jane wasn’t quite as comfortable in the car as Steve and her 39.22 was 1.47 over. Chris Westwood ‘s 40.23 was 1.23 over. Sarah Bosworth was, as expected, very committed and her 32.98 was just 0.08 over. JJ (Jonathan Bibby) was going well and the 37.68 was just 0.43 over.
With the earlier demise of Mr Hampton, it was Kenny Lewis off first for the race class and he was 1.88 over with a 34.78. Stephen Palmer went well with 35.58 that was 0.63 over. Tony W set a 32.98, 1.38 over and then Keith Bristow in the 19 set a 35.66, 1.41 over. Dr Wilford was just a tad slower than Stephen Palmer on the same handicap and was 0.77 over. Sarah Thorne with a 34.36 was quite close to her best in the 61/69 but that was still 1.26 over. Malcolm, as usual, was fully committed and the 32.13 was the fastest so far and just 0.13 over. David Gidden set a 33.59 that was just 0.01 under and then Brian Meddings a 35.21. Tony Shute was on it and his 31.66 was 0.09 under and the fastest scratch time so far. June set a 35.39, the engine not seeming to be running that well. Last man, the Boss, saw a 32.98 that was 0.73 over.
Normally at this point I trot off to the trailer park to enter the times and come back with an interim results table. This time, of course, we were on virtually back-to-back runs so there was no time for that. However, it was pretty obvious that Karen was in the pound seats.
Steve Millward set a very good time and his 37.66 put him 0.34 under. Ian P was just 0.03 faster than first run but still a good effort considering his rustiness. Karen was slower this time but still managed to get under her handicap. Geoff Stallard set a 34.56 but when I talked to him at the top of the hill, he thought it was a 34.06. So, when I came up with a 34.13 I thought b*gg*r. When we reviewed the splits, it did appear that the 34.56 was correct and I was just a gnat’s quicker up the hill. Mind you I might not have been as I had been having braking issues with the front pulling quite significantly to the right all day and that run I really had to get off the brakes going into bottom Ess and the sleepers on the right seemed suddenly even more uninviting than usual. I’ve got the Wilwood calipers stripped down now for a rebuild as that braking issue could be even less fun at Loton.
Dick Swindall then took off a big chunk of time and his 37.79 was 0.21 under. Steve Hopkins improved to 36.10 that was just 0.10 over. Jane improved to a 38.44 but on this day just couldn’t keep with Steve and was 0.69 over. Chris Westwood’s 39.75 was also an improvement and was 0.75 over. Sarah Bosworth improved to an excellent 32.55 and that was 0.35 under. JJ took a couple of tenths off to finish on 0.20 over.
Kenny saw his best of the day with a 33.87 that was 0.97 over. Stephen Palmer was a bit slower this run, but Tony Wallen saw a 32.34 that was 0.74 over. Keith Bristow was a bit slower this time. Keith Wilford saw a big time reduction and his 34.89 was 0.06 under. Sarah Thorne was a couple of tenths slower this run, but Malcolm went quicker again and the 31.83 was 0.17 under. David Gidden was a bit slower this time, but Brian Meddings was quicker and the 34.55 left him 2.05 over.
Next man was Tony Shute but as they were lining up Mr Matty behind him saw what he thought was smoke coming from the exhaust and advised Tony not to run to avoid any, or further, damage. The thought was that this could be a head gasket issue. Tony has stripped to the top off the engine and has found no obvious sign of a head gasket failure. There was some coolant on the top of number 4 piston and water was dripping from the No 4 exhaust pipe. No sign of any oil in the water either so he is getting the head checked out to see if there is any internal crack or other issue.
June’s run was quite a bit better but she was annoyed not to get into the 34’s and the 35.04 left her an uncharacteristic 2.14 over. Paul’s final run was 0.60 quicker and the 32.38 was just 0.13 over. At the results announcement I hadn’t picked up that this was just the same difference as me so that we both pick up the two points just scraping into the top ten.
So, in the main competition it was a clear and well-deserved win for Karen with Sarah Bosworth second and then Steve Millward and Dick Swindall 3rd and 4th respectively. If these last two could just get a bit more experience, then they could be quite quick!
In race scratch with a non-score for DH it was 5 points for Tony Shute from his single run from Malcolm with a 4 and the Tony Wallen on 3.
In road scratch it was a win for Sarah Bosworth with me second and Geoff third.
On to Loton.