As we moved to "the land of my fathers" the Championship possessed an interesting addition. Stewart Robb had a decision to make. Did he change to something "historic" or, while he felt capable, did he enhance the machinery he had? He undertook the latter choice and wheeled the MP88 off to Lincolnshire to enable Mike Pilbeam to replace his Judd KV with a Judd GV. The difference being two cylinders more and perhaps another 100bhp. The first reaction was, as might be expected, what a beautiful tone! The second was that it was perhaps the quietest car in the paddock? When I was treated to a closer examination of the installation it was easy to see why it was so quiet, two not insubstantially sized cans!
It is clear that Stewart has some learning to undertake which he knows. For the moment he is being very modest with the rpm he is using and taking advantage of the significant additional torque on offer, but for a first competition outing (he'd only tested at Kames so far, with some sparkling results) there is no doubt, it's quick!
Very unfortunately Mark Anson's engine failed to recover from Paddock bend in practice, an experience which has possibly seen the end of his season. Steve Brown seemed to be undergoing his own woes on Saturday, from which most fortunately he managed to recover on Sunday. Otherwise the common downside to everyone was related to track and air temperature - it was too hot!
The top of the timed runs saw Colin ahead of Heather Calder by 6/10ths who in turn was ahead of Stewart Robb by 6/10ths too. Nick Algar managed to pull a corker out of the bag for 4th qualifier. Then came a closely grouped John Graham, Steve Broughton & Terry Holmes who were split by about a third of a second. Behind them was Mark Hillam & Steve Miles, a few tenths apart and then ......Chris Jones - at a power circuit! Somebody was not only intent on qualifying....but picking up bonus points by overcoming a three year old record. Someone else with that self same aim, although in his case against an eleven year old record, was Simon Bainbridge. They both qualified in sub record times.
Also providing something of a howl was Paul Horrox's Honda engine in his Juno. Having been absent from us for some years he is becoming closer to the pace. Also discovering a new level of performance are the two Mygales with 1600 forced induction engines. Both have benefited from "attention" over the winter and are now both on the cusp of qualification, upsetting a few applecarts in the process.
Due to the way things were run (I shan't elaborate any further) Saturday's Run Off was run after Sunday's sole practice run (with me so far?) For a variety of reasons many competitors' times in this sector were somewhat less than their qualification times had been. Simon Bainbridge did manage to put in one of his times sub Sports Libre record but knew there was more to come. Graham Blackwell continued his steady improvement run by run, both runs being not only under the record (his own) but also under the 100 second mark. Steve Miles underwent a variety of woes over what was for him a weekend to forget. His singular completed run being slower than he had managed in qualification. Chris Jones was also only able to complete one of his two runs but at least it was under the existing 1100 record mark, so a bonus point helped matters. Little quicker, surprisingly, was Terry Holmes, but Matt Hillam was able to better both his qualification times with both his run off runs but his co-driver Steve Broughton was also able to improve his qualification times with his opening run off attempt. Although unable to match his qualification time Nick Algar posted two 93 second times leaving him top 2 litre car. Both John Graham & Stewart Robb were closely matched with best times in the 91s. Of the Calder's Heather was quicker than she had been in the high 88s, but she knew she needed more, then father Colin put in a low 87 putting the pressure on. Most often better second run around Heather then improved to 6/100ths quicker than her father. Could he better that? I think the tyres by then had given of their best and Colin was only able to post an 89 second run.
|1. Heather Calder||(3.5 Gould GR55-NME||87.32secs|
|2. Colin Calder||(3.5 Gould GR55-NME||87.38secs|
|3 Stewart Robb||(5.0 Pilbeam MP88B-Judd GV)||91.29secs|
|4. John Graham||(3.5 Gould GR55B-NME||91.62secs|
|5. Nick Algar||(1.3s DJ Firehawk)||93.59secs|
|6. Steve Broughton||(2.0 SBD Dallara F3)||95.02secs|
|7. Matt Hillam||(2.0 SBD Dallara F3)||95.36secs|
|8. Terry Holmes||(3.5 Lola-Tegra Judd)||97.40secs|
|9. Chris Jones||(1.0 Force TA)||97.48secs|
|10. Steve Miles||(2.0 Van Diemen-SBD RF96)||98.43secs|
|11. Graham Blackwell||(1.6t Mygale VVTi)||99.29secs|
|12. Simon Bainbridge||(4.2t SBR Chrono V8)||100.27secs|
As Sunday progressed it became apparent that an ever increasing track temperature was doing nothing for the times. Having undertaken a practice run, followed by a top 12 Run Off, some considered any more than a singular qualification run quite superfluous. These included the three Scots, both Nick Algar and Chris Jones both felt they had comfortably qualified each with a 97 & 98 second run respectively. Steve Miles had a succession of problems which would require a book of their own to detail. In short this rather put the tin hat on Sunday resulting in his failure to be fit enough to run in the Top 12. Both Mygales were battling manfully each doing enough to qualify each finishing either side of the 100 second mark. Also in the vicinity was Simon Bainbridge, just finishing with a number beginning 99....Both the SBD runners qualified in the 95s, as did Stewart Robb who it was thought had overfilled his oil tank and was battling with a recalcitrant wheel bearing and John Graham pitched in with a 94, despite having the shearing of his sheep in the back of his mind. The Calders too had the oil tank overfill issue together with an air lock in their water system.
Pete Goulding put in two solid runs to secure his points for the day. Graham Blackwell had to be pleased securing a 98 second run on his final run (half a dozen seconds quicker than he had managed last year!) On his opener Simon Bainbridge managed his one and only 98 second run for the weekend so managing to take the Sports Libre record into new territory. Chris Jones managed a few hundredths better than the earlier run off also placing the 1100 Racing Car record into new territory. Also in the 97s was Terry Holmes but ahead of him was the SBD duo, who during the course of the weekend were also involved in conducting the SBD Westfield's opening competitive outing (Matt Hillam sharing with Steve Broughton's step daughter Zoe Kingham who was armed with her own set of overalls for the first time - I didn't ask mum Kim for her thoughts on the issue!) Nick Algar put in a 93 second run for his opener, but was unable to better that. On his first run Stewart Robb's efforts came to a diminished conclusion on the exit from Honda Curve when he discovered he'd run out of fuel! Nonetheless he still managed to conclude his weekend with a satisfactory 93 which completed one very pleasing debut for the car. John Graham mustered a 92 for his podium place. Heather Calder managed a very indifferent 90 second run for her opener which Colin overcame with a mid 89. Then Heather acquired an 88.30 from somewhere which Colin was unable to better with his mid 88 run.
With registered contenders as they were in 2017 there would seem little room for pleasure but where the difference lies is that in 2018 all but a handful are becoming regular runners everywhere. There also seem to be a lot more motorhomes everywhere?
|1. Heather Calder||(3.5 Gould GR55-NME||88.30secs|
|2. Colin Calder||(3.5 Gould GR55-NME||88.63secs|
|3. John Graham||(3.5 Gould GR55B-NME||92.78secs|
|4 Stewart Robb||(5.0 Pilbeam MP88B-Judd GV)||93.13secs|
|5. Nick Algar||(1.3s DJ Firehawk)||93.28secs|
|6. Matt Hillam||(2.0 SBD Dallara F3)||95.18secs|
|7. Steve Broughton||(2.0 SBD Dallara F3)||96.23secs|
|8. Terry Holmes||(3.5 Lola-Tegra Judd)||97.02secs|
|9. Chris Jones||(1.0 Force TA)||97.41secs|
|10. Graham Blackwell||(1.6t Mygale VVTi)||98.35secs|
|11. Simon Bainbridge||(4.2t SBR Chrono V8)||98.97secs|
|12. Pete Goulding||(1.6t Mygale FF200)||101.18secs|