Silverstone National Race Report.
A long time ago in a galaxy far far away……….
The MGCC Race season opener has finally kicked off the 2018 season. Silverstone welcomed the great and the good of the Peter Best Insurance MG Cup with a few brave souls going testing on the Friday before race day. Unfortunately this was to be the early bath for one driver before the lights had even gone out, Jonathon Harker our sole MGTF LE 500 entry had massive brake system failure and despite many efforts of the Preptech team it was only going to be an issue that could be solved back in the workshop. So it went back onto the flatbed truck and Jon went to the Bar.
New Girl Kayleigh Twigger in her Tomcat already has much experience in the car but was new to the Silverstone layout and took her time to learn the new track and was in good spirits. Many of the other drivers had taken the opportunity to beat the Saturday morning alarm clock and had also turned up on the Friday, So the atmosphere was good as all the drivers, and non drivers, had a good catch up on the off season news and tinkerings. That and the fact that team Simpson had a kettle!
After an evening of either a cold van in the paddock and a BBQ or a nice warm hotel and cooked dinner for others. We are civilised people us racers after all. Everyone rocked up at the signing on and scrutineering bays in enough time for the newbies to have their drivers briefing and all was set for the day proceedings. Which were to be more eventful for some than others….
The Silverstone National is one of the shorter circuits that we use during the year and as such the lap time are nice low which keeps the racing tight. It is also so much more fun for the spectators as there is barely no gap in the battles all round the track once the race is under way. So once the tyres and the drivers had warmed up the lap time began to fall. Mike Williams in the Pocket Rocket Metro was the first to be the first Pole sitter of the year with a time of 1:10:177. Just 4 second cover the top 10 car with all the classes included in that group, and less than 3 seconds covering the top 5. Three very different cars were in that top 5 which goes to show the diversity the MG Cup offers to Club Racing. James Darby decided to take the “Fiery Baton of shame” from last years holder Ian Boulton. James came into the pits with the rear brakes on fire this time, which was very different from Ian’s attempt last year to set fire to the complex at Snetterton. Very impressive performances from you both, well done.
The top three cars of Mike Williams, Matt Simpson and Richard Buckley all stormed off towards Copse corner with the rest of the racers all making their way two a breast with no paint swapping necessary. But the swapping of places for the leaders was most necessary, by lap 2 Buckley had clawed his way into the lead with Matt Simpson still in 3rd. This was not to last as he to got passed Mike in the Metro on lap 5. All this time Stuart Tranter in the slightly more modified Tomcat in the Invitational Class was keeping up with the leaders, with Peter Burchill in his ZS, Ian Boulton in his ZR and James Darby in the MGB in hot pursuit. Darby and Burchill began to drop back from the Yellow Peril Tomcat of Tranter by lap 4 and started having a close battle of their own. Ex Champ Dan Ludlow had a costume malfunction on his newly built Class A ZR when the Bonnet pins failed on the start/finish straight and came back with enough force to shatter the windscreen and damage the roof. His only chance to get off the track safely was to aim to the left of the main drag and gently onto the gravel, which is where his race day ended. Hopefully he will be back and sorted in time for Brands Hatch.
Buckley held the lead until lap 10 when Williams got back past him to retake the lead, this was short lived as Richard was to pull off with drive shaft failure a lap later, and one lap after that Mike was also to pull off 100 yards from where Dan had parked his car as the smell of fuel in the Metro had become overpowering and the car was losing power. The truth came to light once the cars were back in the pits that in fact Mikes Fuel regulator dial had come adrift and was last seen by the following Car 20 bouncing down the pit wall at great speed. This left Matt Simpson to drive the remaining 4 laps all on his own and bring the car home to take the first victory of the season.
Well done Marge.
The somewhat depleted field lined up in the assembly area for race 2, Car 52 of Dave Nixon had also had to withdraw due to oil pressure problems. But not to be deterred the lights were reset and the race was go for the second time of the day. The repaired Mighty Metro of Williams once again blasted into the lead but had dropped to second place by the start of lap 4 with Buckley taking the lead, again Car’s 16-44-13-and 74 were all chased the front runners like mad whilst also having their own battles. Ian Boulton managed to get past Pete Burchill in the ZS and made a bit of a gap. This left Pete in the clutches of James Darby in the Blue MGB (apparently there was a little blue paint on the ZS at the end as well) Kayleigh Twigger in what was only her second race ever was growing in confidence with both the track and the car and was holding station in front of the ZR’s of Nick Arden and Darren Harris in their ZR’s. Nick had brake issues also after Race 1 with complaints of juddering under heavy braking, Darren being the nice fellow that he is loaned Nick his spare Discs to get him back on the grid. It has to be said that the Discs were fitted to his car by another sometime ZR racer Steve Tyler. What it must be like to have all these people sorting your car you eh??! Car 28 of Mike Williams was having his own nightmares as the gearshift had begun to go very long and he was only able to run the whole lap in 4th gear. This meant that he was on the rev limiter on the entry into most of the corners so losing overall lap speed. This was not stopping him managing to stay in front of Pete Burchill for a few laps by carrying a huge amount of corner speed into copse and not worrying about using the brakes. That’s one way round a corner I suppose! Pete in Car 13 was eventually able to get past and use the grunt of the V6 to pull away enough to give him 5th overall by the end with Mike 7 seconds behind. So with the race drawing to a close, and the light beginning to fade the leading pack of Buckley, Simpson, Tranter & Boulton were spread out by nearly 12 seconds but with less than 1 second separating the top 6 best lap times the racing was most certainly close all day. Richard Buckley was the first to cross the line and pick up the spoils. Well done to him.
So with only a few weeks to go until the next round at Brands at the end of the month there is barely enough time for all the drivers to get the car sorted in time, but rest assured they all will. Brands Hatch is always well attended, and we expect to see much better numbers there. Incidentally Steve Tyler and his MG/Rover specialist company British Legends are Sponsoring the next Race at Brands so please do come and support the series by entering to race if at all possible.
See you at Brands Hatch !