Snetterton 200 2017.
So the last races of the season are upon us and the last men and women standing head their way to the Snetterton circuit once more. Some drivers thought they would get a head start on their fellow competitors and take up the option of testing on the Friday before the race weekend. Team StrikeWick were the first on the scene as they arrived on the Thursday to set up shop and Baggsie the best place in the paddock, David was to be testing the newly rebuilt bottom end in the MGB GT and Mr Whitewick was running in his newly acquired rubber in the hope it would aid his lap times.
The weather had other opinions and decided that a nice and greasy track would be the order of the day. David was first to head out in the morning session with Chris having a go in his TF later in the day.
Also out testing and after parking his MGB in the barrier at Oulton Park was Rod Oakenfull, he decided that a wet track would better suit a front wheel drive car, so he bought one! The ex Drayton Manor Metro is now firmly in the Oakenfull camp as Daughter Megan hopes to be out in it and mixing it up with the rest of the MG Cup boys and girls next year.
Hannah Brian was out to get more track time under her belt but was unfortunately collected on the exit of Bombhole by a ZR from the Trophy that was behind her, she’d had a half spin and was left momentarily sitting on the racing line hunting for a gear. Much wielding of borrowed sledgehammers (thanks to last years champ Tom Halliwell for the lend) and tow ropes attached to parked vans meant that the Metro was almost square again and was ready for the afternoon session.
Some decent weather arrived and thankfully no more maladies were had by anyone, so with the cars put to bed for the night everyone headed to the bar.
Race day arrived and the clouds had somewhat cleared to just a mere drizzle. The atmosphere among the competitors was none deterred and the usual banter and mickey taking was well underway as was the morning coffee. After some scrutineering had taken place which was much faster than usual, probably due to the lack of competitors taking part in the 4 hour relay this year, the intrepid racers headed to their quali session in the dry and bright October sunshine.
Quickest to the timing line was Alan “Nosedive” Brooke in the rapid little red Metro, he put his car on pole for race 1 and race 2. Next up was Marge Simpson in his Miami Blue Tomcat closely followed by Richard Buckley in 3rd, this was to be the starting grid top 3 for race 2 as well. Richard Buckley was hedging his bets this weekend as he cleverly painted his current car exactly the same as his old one which is now being run by Charlieboy Moreton. Should one of them be called to see Uncle Gammons then they can always blame the other!
A rocket start from Matt Simpson and he was leading the pack into Riches for the first time hastily pursued by Alan Brooke and Rich Buckley, Matt held them both at bay for nearly 3 laps until Alan found a way past and started to pull a small lead. Simpson couldn’t answer to the quick little Metro in the early stages as Alan kept the pace up to avoid a lapse in concentration as he needed a win and a fastest lap to add to his points tally in the championship battle. Further back in the pack Chris, David, Rod and Hannah were all trying their best beat each other with some good respectful driving by all. Hannah was to finally get past Chris in the TF and started to chase down Rod. David was having issues with the B and was slower than usual.
Dave Nixon was having problems in his Tomcat as was dropping back through the field, first impressions were that he was losing his turbo pressure but it proved to be more involved as a holed piston was to spell the end of his days racing.
Also adding the attrition rate of race 1 was Pete Burchill who had run out of electricity in the ZS, and Iain Dowler who made 2 attempts to solve an issue with calls to the pit lane, but he too was to drop out.
But by far the most impressive way to exit a race was expertly executed by Ian Boulton. Showing the rest of the class how it’s done he parked his inferno of a ZR right next to a fire marshal, for obvious reasons as he didn’t want to use his on-board extinguisher as he may need it again during race 2. His car had thrown a rod through the front of the block and his race was run.
Alan Brooke held the overall lead until the chequered flag followed in by Matt Simpson and Richard Buckley, so the championship fight would come down to the last race on the Sunday. Buckley took the Class B win with Josh Wright winning Class A.
Charlie Moreton, Josh and Steve Tyler were all having a close battle of their own in the mid pack and Steve Tyler took the fastest lap for the Class A cars with Dan Jones taking the fastest lap for Class B.
Again the cars were put to bed and everyone headed to the respective hotels and hostelries for the evening. All except Team Boulton who burned the midnight oil (Ian likes burning oil) to fit a new engine into his ZR. Hats off to them as that was some job to do outside, at night with no engine crane. Just so they didn’t feel on their own, David Strike who had set up camp next to Team Boulton decided to do a head gasket change Saturday evening too in the hopes he would gain some more power from the B.
The evening proved eventful even for those not changing engines in the October twilight. A huge powercut effected 3000 homes in the Snetterton area (some say that was most of Norfolk) that included the hotel we had booked dinner at with Messers Oakenfull, Tyler, some bloke called Jonesey and all our respective partners. Dinner was called off by the hotel staff and with the prospective of only peanuts to eat the wonderful hotel manager made a booking for 10 of us at a local Italian restaurant. So with Steve and Angie Tyler driving the rest of us to Attleborough with calls of “are we there yet” from the back seats we all headed for a evening of pizza. Great thanks to Team Tyler for the taxi service, we all owe you one.
So the morning of the Sunday beckoned and the work rate was still frantic on the ZR of Ian Boulton, as it was refusing to start and run on all four cylinders so early. There was even more smoke but this time from the exhaust as the guys refused to give up and eventually she stuttered into life and the recalcitrant engine finally came to life. With the battery topped up in the ZS of Burchill, The ZR of Dowler fettled to health and the MGB of David Strike repaired the grid was back to almost full numbers. The MGC of Conner Holmes had retired after quali with a split in the sump, and Dave Nixon was already heading home with his poorly Tomcat.
James Darby being the nice guy he is suggested to Dan Jones (who is well known for his height) in the assembly area that he should have a seat in the MGB GT, Dan’s ZR is somewhat more roomey than the lowdown MGB and once inside it looked as though Dan might have to start the race in the car he was currently stuck in. The rest of us were helpless with laughter and left him to slide his way out of the car like an arthritic sealion. Sorry Dan!
Wet again, and as the racers took to the grid the TF of Chris Whitewick decided that two windscreen wipers were just a frippery and the one on the drivers side stopped working. Hopefully the rain would not fall any harder during the race.
As the lights went out Rich Buckley gave it a bootfull and had nothing but wheel spin and fell down to fifth place. Simpson went into the lead once again and was to hold Alan’s Metro for the initial laps. Peter Burchill was close behind in third but this was not to last as he slowly dropped down the order with more problems.
On lap 8 Alan Brooke had encountered the first of the back markers but as he passed “One Wiper Whitewick” into Murrays corner the back end of the Metro was slightly off the drying line and he had a half spin and the engine stalled. Unable to get it going for few seconds he dropped to eighth place and notably behind Peter Burchill and down to 3rd in the battle for Class C and the championship.
Josh Wright was having a blinding race in the wet getting his Class A ZR up behind Buckley, and then making a move on him during lap 9 which put him into 3rd overall behind Dowler.
Hannah Brian who had finally got her skates on and made a move to pass Chris Whitewick at the hairpin, and was hot on the heels of a struggling James Darby, James was not enjoying the lack of grip in the greasy conditions. Rod Oakenfull was on the other hand really having some fun in the front wheel drive Metro even though he was having a lonely race as the chasing trio of Strike, Darby and Hannah couldn’t catch him up.
Dan Jones was the fastest driver in the wet on the day posting the quickest time overall in his Class B ZR, with Josh (Class A) and Alan (Class C) second and third fastest, all of them were within 9 tenths of each other. Wet weather really is the best leveller.
So at the chequered flag with Matt, Iain and Josh taking the podium that left Alan Brooke down in 6th place but most importantly 2nd in Class C which gave him the points needed to take the overall 2017 MG Cup Title.
Well done to all the drivers over the final weekend of the year with some respectful and entertaining driving.
The 2017 Champions are:
Class A Josh Wright
Class B Richard Buckley
Class C Alan Brooke
Alan Brooke is the MG Cup overall Champion.
We hope to see you all at the end of season bash in a few weeks, dust those Ball Gowns and Dinner Jackets off and lets have some fun.
That’s all Folks!!!
See you in 2018.