As was mentioned in the Cadwell report, the entry numbers for a lot of race series have been hit this year and most would put this down to cost in the current financial situation. With this in mind and with the lack of a sponsor for the TV coverage a number of people have been working very hard behind the scenes to organise whatever they can for the series to continue to thrive and to maintain the Championship status. One of these worth a mention is Tim Davis, who, as well as holding down a full time job and preparing a race car has been making the air fizz with the amount of calls to potential sponsors and the drivers to raise cash for this years TV coverage. Fortunately the effort paid off and AMTV were back with us to cover the racing at Snetterton. Unable to get full sponsorship Tim hit on the idea of what he calls ‘a Bob Geldoff’ approach where everyone contributes a bit and we get sponsors per meeting rather than for the whole series. The other person involved is the series owner John Reid of Readman Racing / Grantura Engineering. John has negotiated with the BRSCC to reduce some of the meetings down to a single day, this has two positives, it saves the drivers money on overnight stays etc and it significantly reduces the TV costs.
So onto the racing, the entry was back up to something more respectable but the changes meant we were to race with the Intermarque League again. We had two newcomers to the series, Peter Hunter who is sharing a Tasmin with Dave Stewart and they are doing alternate meetings and Jamie Golby. Jamie has recently acquired the well proven Tuscan off of Sam Head.
The Intermarque cars were mostly the Silhouettes this time and they dominated qualifying locking out the first three grid spots and had five of the front seven. Heading the grid for the TVR’s following a blinding qualifying session was our very own Competition Secretary Graham Walden. Out for the first time this season Graham put the Rover V8 powered Tuscanon row two. One row behind and separated by 0.6 of a second was 2008 champion Dean Cook, also out for the first time this season. Newcomer Jamie Golby was third of the TVR’s slightly in front of local boy Kevan Gore with the road derivative Tuscan freshly rebuilt after the big off at the end of last season. Tim Davis, out with shiny new Silver and Purple livery on the much lightened S3Erbera headed Hugh Marshall to complete the class A cars. Hugh did remarkably well running the whole session with only 7 cylinders, a faulty injector causing a problem that couldn’t be fixed during the 20 minute session.
Keith Vaughn-Williams now piloting a Rover V8 Tuscan instead of the Tasmin he ran last year qualified second of the class B cars. In class C we saw the return of John Simpson in the 3000M, work over the close season belying the cars age, the car was once owned by Martin Lilley and was the oldest in the field, his return saw him just 0.17 secs in front of the Tasmin of Dave Chant. Richard Hewitt put the Griffith in the next slot just ahead of Peter Hunter, suffering a mixture of rear suspension problems and lack of seat time.
Leigh Jones was on the back of the grid but last season saw seemingly one problem after another and the car hadn’t been run since the race truck broke down on the way to Mallory in July last year. Only a few weeks ago it was looking like he wasn’t going to be out this season so it was good to see him finish the session.
Unlike Cadwell, when for some odd reason the TVR’s were all put together at the back of the grid, John Reid had met with the clerk of the course and insisted the cars were safer starting in qualifying order, this meant the Intermarque Silhouettes and the lone Caterham were mixed in the field.
The race started with a rolling start and the cars headed for the first corner but the Intermarque leaders had decided to win the race at the first corner and nearly had everyone off. Out of the first corner we had Hugh Marshall leading the field now using all eight cylinders; car 3 was very quick on the straights but was being hounded by the silhouettes in the corners. Hugh remarked afterwards that ‘it’s like racing with Scalextric cars they corner so fast’, but he held them at bay for the first three laps eventually succumbing to both at Riches.
Tim Davis pulled out on lap 10 losing oil from a cracked oil cooler, a repeat of the problems he had at Cadwell. Dean had woken up by now and was close on Hugh’s rear and was soon past him and challenging the top two silhouettes, he looked likely for an overall podium until lap 14 when the throttle jammed open coming out of the Bomb Hole. He had the presence of mind to hit the kill switch but couldn’t avoid taking to the grass and catching the tyre wall his race then over. This left the way clear for a chasing Hugh Marshall.
Kevan Gore’s race also ended with just two laps to go as he slowed to allow the silhouettes through at Riches, they were so intent with their own race that they forced him wide onto the marbles off the racing line and he lost all braking grip and ran through the gravel trap to collect the tyre wall.
The race finished with Hugh Marshall taking his first TVR win followed home by Graham Walden in the class B Tuscan with Jamie Golby a very creditable third.
In class C the return of John Simpson saw the return of the epic midfield duels with the Tasmin of Dave Chant, the racing between these two is always close and very clean and this time Dave got the upper hand and finished ahead of John. Leigh Jones entertained with a spin at the Russell chicane closely followed by Richard Hewitt doing the same; they both were taking avoiding action at the time.
In the paddock the guys had less than an hour to sort themselves out for race two. For Dean it was simple, inspect the mostly superficial damage and shrug, after two major shunts last year he has seen much worse and then remove the ¾ inch stone that had wedged itself between the pedal and the floor mounting bar. Throttle jam mystery solved but where the stone came from will need the detective powers of Columbo.
For Graham Walden it was a case of checking that the misfire wasn’t terminal and concluding that all was OK and for Tim Davis it was a case of bypassing the oil cooler, cleaning up the mess, refilling the car with oil and praying that no damage had been done.
For Kevan though it looked like it was all over, both ends of the Tuscan’s bodywork were damaged and Kev was in the mood to chuck it all in forever.
TVR nuts being what they are though, his mechanic and the builder of the car, Matt Smith, started to look over the damage and was soon joined by the crews and drivers of most of the other teams, a few rivets and a lot of blue gaffer tape later and Kev drove into the holding area to the cheers and applause from all the Drivers, this wasn’t just for Kev for having the determination to get back out there but for all the guys that worked on the car to get him there. The car was missing the front splitter and a lot of the nose was damaged but it was raceable.
Although Dean had the easiest fix an error in timing meant he was late getting to the assembly area, appearing just as the cars started the rolling lap behind the pace car. He was ushered into the pit lane to start his race from there once everyone had been through.
The race that followed was up there with the best, everywhere there was something happening and as a photographer it was difficult to keep track of all the places that were exchanged. Kevan, Graham and Jamie had a tussle lasting most of the race until a spin at the Russell chicane for Jamie saw Graham follow suit and take to the grass in avoiding action. The class C battle recommenced with the lead changing hands a number of times and with the cars separated by the width of a fag paper most of the time, it is a credit to both of them that there wasn’t any contact. This time John took the honours to make it a draw.
Graham’s race finished on lap 14 when again he had looked capable of an overall podium finish when the car simply stopped running. Post race investigation revealed the culprit to be a 10 pence electrical connector failing.
In class A Dean Cook showed what TVR and Tuscan racing is all about, he simply drove his way through the field to finish in overall third place, his fastest lap was 0.6 seconds faster than the leading silhouette and had the race been longer he would have challenged for top honours and all of this was done on four year old tyres.
Kevan’s off in the first race did have a bit of a silver lining though, as the car is unique (a road Tuscan with an AJP V8) he and Matt are constantly trying to settle the rear end down, this problem had plagued him all last season and anyone that witnessed his off at Oulton would have agreed that he was a passenger for the last 500 yards. The lack of the front end splitter balanced the car better and Kevan was 2 seconds a lap quicker than in race one. Matt is promising a repaired car and a Max Power rear spoiler for Brands Hatch in two weeks time.
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