Well here we go again for the season opener with a merry band of 10 drivers assembled under a cloudy sky, but thankfully dry – would it remain so given the forecast, everyone had their fingers crossed!
Of the 10 pilots, three are new from last season, father and son John and Andrew Forsyth sharing the freshly imported Alfa Dana, and Tony Claringbould with the JP Mk1. The regulars were two more father and son teams in Patrick and Mark Riley as well as John and Alistair Dent, along with intrepid duo Tim Ross and Ted Sharpe and lastly, yours truly.
The first practice runs were dry but the gremlins were out in force with only four drivers not having at least some sort of problem, three having small issues and three not recording a time. John F had a slipping clutch, Alistair D threw has chain in the top paddock, as the engine had moved, and Tony was getting used to the gearbox.
Tim’s carburettor problems and Ted’s spark issues were to prove insurmountable, but otherwise there were eight going into second practice. John D had worked on a spark gremlin, Alistair had done a swift engine change, and John F attended to the clutch.
This time the track was rather wet and seven recorded a time, as I spun out by Deer Leap – less right boot needed on a wet track! The gremlins were still not all back in their box so more fettling was needed before the afternoon campaign, but progress was made.
The rain fell heavily over lunch so the track was very wet when the first timed runs took place so times were not that fast. Things dried up for the second run but now we were down to six runners, as John D was not happy with the spark side of his engine and Patrick had succumbed to effects of the cold and wet, even though the car was fine. This was to prove the best run of the day, giving the fastest times for all except John F, who ran out of fuel at Karousel, even though every drop he had was in the tank. The car has a foam filled tank so no level can be seen.
Patrick’s parting comment was ‘I’ve been getting competition withdrawal symptoms over the winter, but thank goodness these have now been put to bed and I am looking forward to the rest of the season’. Mark was also happy with his starts and progress down through Hollow, not surprising, as he got more goes than anyone else due to loads of red flags during his runs. His passing comment was ‘I certainly got my money’s worth, this is a bargain!’
Of the three new entrants this year, Tony’s grin said it all, ‘This is great’. John and Andrew F might be new to 500s but have a wealth of experience in faster machinery, namely their 3.5 Pilbeam MP58. Indeed, Andrew is current holder of the Gurston Top Ten Challenge! Roll on Wiscombe and great new season on the hills.
No Runs: Ted Sharpe - RGR, Tim Ross - Cooper Mk IV
Report by Mike Wood
Smith Mk III-JAP
Cooper Mk VI-JAP