Mallory Park Peter Best Insurance MG Cup Sunday 29th March 2015.
Report by Nick Arden, MG Maestro EFI No. 36 Class A.
When we arrived on Saturday afternoon the predicted poor weather for the weekend was moving in. Whilst putting up the canopies with Tom Diment & friends we decided to really tie them down well to trailers and vehicles since gusty wind and heavy rain were predicted. Most of the Peter Best MG Cup racers were there on the Saturday, as friendly as ever and laughing off the grey skies.
A modest group of 15 MG Cup racers went out for the first days qualifying on a fully wet circuit. Since I’d last been here in 2008 the circuit has been resurfaced and is smoother and better draining than before but still ready to catch you, or I out!
With a few wobbles, slides and wheel spins most of us made it through to the end of the session except for front running class A competitor Paul Eales of Oselli whom had a suspected main bearing failure so would be forced to watch Mr D.Eales senior show him how to do it later in the day.
Simon Cripps’ class B MGB had pole by a large 2.5s ahead of Thomas Halliwells class C ZR. A mix of class A & B cars covered Tom Diments 4th to Clive Jones’ 10th with a 3.5s spread. At the back of the grid only 0.07s separated the class A MGB of David Eales and Metro of Hannah Brian, so it looked like everyone would have someone to race. That’s what we like.
I was pleased to be up front of class A in 6th overall on the grid with Clive Jones two rows back. David Strike whom had been testing and has been consistently improving the last couple of years suffered a broken throttle cable so had to complete qualifying with another race series and start from the back of the grid. However given the right situation he could be coming through fast.
Just to spice up the first race at Mallory in a couple of years as well as being wet there was a light coating of oil around most of the circuit from the final practice.
When the red lights went out it seemed to take many seconds to get the car going, I could see everyone around me slithering on the wet track like a comical synchronised burn out session but eventually we got some bite and were off.
I had already decided that whilst Jonesey and Strike are gentlemen off of the track they are plenty competitive on the track and had set myself the stretch target of keeping up with the class B ZR170s for the first couple of laps. As this is not actually possible due to the higher power and wider tyres they are using Mallory’s Devils Elbow gave me the shove when I was trying to follow Ed Davies through it. With a full on 90 degree side ways slide at a reasonably scary speed I kept the power in and with some opposite lock, managed to keep off of the barrier using the gravel side track to rejoin. My windscreen video camera was completely filled with flashing green and white as the painted barrier whipped past. Any expletives have been muffed by the helmet padding and are not audible!
So with almost everybody having passed me I now felt like David Strike must have starting at the back of the grid and after checking the car still handled & braked OK set off in chase to have another, slightly more tender, go at it. Soon I passed Rod Oakenfulls lightened MGB and somewhere around the halfway point managed to get the run on Jonesey, Strike and Darby but becoming harder as these boys are quicker. It was then a case of not overdoing it as earlier on the oiled up track. At 16 minutes in the race was red flagged when David Strike had high speed spin and hit the barrier at the John Cooper Esses.
I was pleased to recover my initial position but it was a shame we lost David from the results and race two where he surely would have added to the excitement.
Simon Cripps (B) won overall by 42s as Tom Diment (B) overhauled Thomas Halliwell (C) to take 2nd by 0.4s and Ed Davies’ (B) ZR 14s further back in 4th. Jonnie Wheeler’s super yellow class C V8 failed to finish from 3rd on the grid.
The first race was tricky and finishing competitively required a lot of concentration, perhaps more work for points than outright fun.
I think most drivers were rather unsure exactly what conditions we would have for race two as we had had intermittent rain all day but with high winds then drying the track fast. An unusual weather scenario. As it was the track was near dry by the time we left the assembly area for the second race in similar start positions as race one but with MGBs of Paul Eales , the Wheelers and now David Strike out.
At the start Simon Cripps MGB was immediately crippled and pulled over from pole as we charged away, Jonesey got a great start and cruised round the outside at Gerrards with James Darby as I was queueing behind Ashley Cross’s ZS adjusting to the dry conditions.
Tom Diments engine let go leaving the hairpin on lap one and he decided to sharply exit left to try the motorbike circuit with the remaining vehicle motion as the main field all chased down the devils elbow onto the start straight.
Contrary to what we’d been advised but had asked for, the MG Trophy had been combined with our race and two ZR190s came tearing past on lap two only to immediately bang into each other unnecessarily at the hairpin and tear off again like rabid fighting cats.
The pace car came out to allow Cripp’s MGB to be removed which allowed Jonesey to pull a couple of hundred metres gap on me after the restart. I had a couple of laps close racing with Ashley Cross as his 2.5 V6 pulled past me on the straights but I managed to brake later for the corners so we stayed together until he adapted and then gently pulled away. The apparent audio of my engine in the video is greatly improved with an unseen V6 ZS alongside!
The first half of the race was near dry and hanging on around the long Gerrards curve in 4th at around 90mph reminded me why I like racing, much more fun than the earlier race. However a few spits of rain started to fall and drivers had to trim back their limits slightly. This allowed me to catch up with Jonesey whom had really been pushing hard to make the most of the first half near dry conditions.
Unfortunately for me attacking Jonesey was constantly interrupted by MG Trophy 190 & 170 cars coming from behind and threading through our own backmarkers. I’d get close and then my speed was compromised in the parts of the circuit where I was quicker allowing him to pull away again. This was repeated a few times until I thought I really had a chance close to the end but he took a well-deserved class A win by 0.4s and 5th overall as the race was shortened by 1 minute, 1 lap.
Thomas Halliwells ZR190 (C) took the overall win by 3.7s from Ed Davies ZR170 (B) and with James Darbys MGB (B) getting faster but still some way behind and Ashley Cross’ ZS (B) 7s further back.
A good race with quite a mix of events and I hope looked quite good from a spectators point of view – certainly Kevin Hewers report covers much of what I did not see so make sure you’ve read that perspective too.