|Goodwood Revival 19/20th September 2008|
Our return to Goodwood proved a great success with a succession of warm days producing some quick times and plenty of entertainment for drivers and spectators. The vagaries of the invitation process and few late changes left a paddock somewhat biased to the late-model Coopers, although still with a fair collection of other cars. About half the field was made up of regular British racers, with six Scandinavian raiders, and it was good to see French 500 stalwart joining the group. “Team Svenska Effyh” fielded three of the midget racers, led as usual by the irrepressible Peter Kumlin plus Rickard With and Frank Hogman. Hakan Sandberg and Richard Utley presented a brace of JBS, whilst Jason Wright joined Mike Fowler to provide a pair of immaculate bare-metal Cooper Mk Vs. Jason's car would also appear in the Legends Tribute with non other than Stirling Moss aboard. Gordon Russell had forsaken the Mackson for Pat Barford’s Cooper Mk VIII (now sporting a tidy mid-green colour scheme), while David Woodhouse had the Ivor Bueb Mk IX that had won the Earl of March Trophy in 1955 and 1956 - David would drive the car in the “Goodwood Heroes” parade wearing a copy of Ivor’s crash helmet.
Sadly Rabagliati’s restored Trimax was not ready for its debut so Duncan was in Nigel Ashman’s Kieft CK52, while Nigel reverted to his regular Cooper Mk XI. The Trimax was, however on display in the Paddock, looking fantastic and making it even more frustrating that she did not turn a wheel! The other different cars were, honorary Frenchman, JB Jones in the Cousy, John Chisholm's Arnott and Dave Lecoq's Petty. Another car to go missing was Simon Frost's Martin, another delayed restoration, so Simon would pilot Mark Palmer's Cooper Mk XI. Fortunately we had the regular Ray Martin car of Roy Hunt to uphold honour. Scrutineering proved interesting with a number of issued being raised over eligibility of fire extinguishers. Fortunately a stock of correctly dated extinguishers satisfied the scrutineer......
Exiting the chicane at the end of lap one, Russell, Turner, Hodges, Holland and Challis. Photo Kitty Chisholm.
Practice looked to be enlivened by both leading JAP cars, John Turner and Neil Hodges, making plans to change gearing mid-session, both drivers being desperate to take on the Nortons but mindful of the risks of over gearing or over revving . Both did indeed stop in the Paddock after completing their mandatory three laps for different reason. John was satisfied with his car and decided to sit out the rest of the session. Neil, however had a badly slipping clutch. The well-laid plans of his mechanics rapidly descended to the level of Fred Karno’s army (albeit with rather more swearing). Disappearing on a cloud of tyre smoke, the clutch blew completely at Lavant on the out lap, leaving him a relatively poor ninth on the grid.
Major problems were fairly limited. Simon Frost blew the top end in Mark Palmer’s Mk IX Norton, but had a spare to drop in. Rodney Delves did the same on his final run through the Chicane, but didn’t, and would have to scratch from the race. As well as Neil’s clutch, Jason Wright was handicapped by a misfire (though to be an earthing problem), while Roy Hunt lost his float chambers. Geoff Gartside also suffered a misfire, and on later inspection discovered first a cracked engine-bearer then a crack in the rear frame.
Joining John on the front row (a 3-2-3 formation, of course) would be Simon and David Lecoq - the three of them covered by less than a tenth of a second. Nigel Ashman would be fourth (on his Goodwood debut, although there were rumours of a surreptitious appearance at a test day the previous week) and Gordon Russell. Mike Fowler headed Row 3 - after a cautious debut in 2005 he seemed to be squeezing the most from the Mk V whose chassis really can’t compete with the later Coopers - joined by David Woodhouse (with concerns about rather vague steering) and Roy Hunt. Neil would assume Row 4, next to the space where Rodney should have been. Row 5 combined the two most improved drivers of the year - James Holland and Martin Sheppard with Richard Utley. An all-Swedish Row 6 (Peter Kumlin, in the very nervous SWB Effyh, and Hakan’s JBS showing better performance than for a while) headed Shirley (looking good with a new engine), Nigel Challis (returning to the scene of his roll in '05) and John Jones. The remaining runners were generally happy, most learning the circuit or their temporary mount, only Frank Hogman’s Effyh proving reluctant. Special praise though for Paul Hewes - after their nasty battering at Cadwell Park in August, both car and driver were in finer fettle than they should have been, and Paul gently eased himself back into the saddle for 26th place.
Competitors appeared bright and early for the 10.40 race start. All appeared in fine fettle, the only problem being wayward spectators as the cars were started in the Paddock area. There were a few close shaves, and Simon Frost nearly collecting a Lotus 22 being pushed across his path. Spot on time, all twenty nine cars departed the Assembly Area to complete their sighting lap. The cars were very quickly formed on the grid, and on release the first three rows roared off in almost perfect formation. Nigel Ashman hung onto the first three in very close formation, until John Turner was pushed wide onto the grass at St Mary’s, dropping him to seventh place over the line.
At the front, Simon was starting to ease a gap of 1-2 seconds a lap from David, who was coming under pressure from Nigel. Next was Neil who had cut through the battle that was Mike, Gordon and David (with John looking for a similar way through) to take fourth place, though some distance from David & Nigel. The pace was certainly ferocious with the first four already well below the pole time. Of the expected front runners, only Roy was struggling, with a slipping clutch. He tried to cool out without success, and as it got worse he finally pulled over after three laps.
On lap four, Simon now held a comfortable lead of about five seconds, but it was now from Nigel who dived past into Woodcote. With a clear track ahead, he would start to stretch the Mk XI and move closer to Simon. Neil was still fourth, some four seconds back but lapping a second faster than David, so perhaps he might steal a podium near the end. The second yellow & blue Cooper-JAP, John, was running at Neil’s pace now he was clear of the pack, and might join the party.
That chiselled jaw, it must be James Holland
The next group contained Gordon in sixth, edging away from David Woodhouse and Mike Fowler (enthusiastic, but unable to quite overcome the shortcomings of the Mk V). Nigel Challis latched onto the group, finally rediscovering his mojo after his crash here in 2005, and putting in the best performance we have seen in those three years. James Holland could not quite hold the pace and would gradually slip back for a lonely race, well clear of Peter Kumlin. Ten seconds behind, Martin Sheppard had picked up the tail of Richard Utley (runner-up in 2005). The pair would run nose-to-tail for the rest of the race, but Martin was never quite able to make the pass. Shirley was edging away from another close pack, holding 14th position and leading John Chisholm , the Coopers of Mike Gilbert and Mike Bell, Hakan and John Jones, plus appearances by the late-starting Patrick Morin. Mike Gilbert would depart on the fifth lap with a holed piston, John Jones a lap later with overheating, and Mike Bell (dropped valve) & Hakan would complete seven laps. Duncan Rabagliati was getting more brave with the Kieft and moved onto the tail of this group and ahead of Paul Hewes.
Geoff meanwhile was again afflicted with the misfire and plummeted down the order, making thumbs-down gestures to his pit crew and just making the most of the day. As Nigel Ashman slowly fought his way onto the tail of Simon, Neil was taking big slices out of David Lecoq. On lap five the gap was down to three seconds (and ten clear of John Turner), on lap 6 he was right on the tail of the Petty. From Madgwick to Lavant, Neil was carrying extraordinary speed, and on the seventh tour the pair came through Fordwater approaching a backmarker. David hesitated briefly before committing to the inside of St Mary’s. Neil was already committed to the spot, and was at full speed and off line. In Neil’s version of events, the car went around, then three recently-lapped cars all but stopped to let him rejoin. Repeats on the DiamondScreens around the circuit confirmed a slightly different version - the car did at least a 720, followed by a 180 backwards, and the three drivers clearly decided to keep well away from the action!
And there was more action at the front. Simon looked to have Nigel under control at around one second. but on the eighth lap he came across Hakan and Duncan on the run to the Chicane. Fractionally later on the power, he now found Nigel right on his tail and sniffing blood. Next time around, the roles were reversed as Simon put John Chisholm between them through Woodcote. Again, on lap 11 Simon had to contend with Per Hagerman, and Simon was back on his tail. But finally with a clear track for the final tour, Simon pushed hard to pull out a comfortable margin as Nigel accepted defeat. In fact he was so focussed he missed the chequered flag and his photo-opportunity and completed another flying lap...
2005 victor David Lecoq completed the podium, but successfully holding off John and Neil, and Gordon nursing his car to sixth. Seventh was a delighted Nigel Challis, who fought his way past David Woodhouse (still unhappy with the steering) & Mike Fowler, and a lonely James Holland in tenth. Peter Kumlin manhandled the very twitchy Effyh to eleventh followed by Richard Utley and Martin Sheppard in close formation.
The pack stream through Madgwick for the first time, Challis, Sheppard, Monro, Hunt (on the wider line), Sandberg, Utley, Gilbert, Hodges, Gartside and Chisholm. Photo Mike Tozer www.michaeltozerphotography.co.uk