Snetterton 750 MC Results 300907

Snetterton 30th September 2007

Another great turnout of 500s outnumbered the 750 Trophy cars for a sunny and warm autumn day at Snetterton with the 750 Motor Club. After years as David Lecoq's pusher, it was great to see David Whiteside take the plunge in his freshly restored Cooper Mk VII,  the ex-AE Prince car, without pannier tanks, a narrow nose and several Beart-style modifications. We also had the pleasure of the delightful Monaco, one of the earliest 500s, in the hands of John Potts.

Perhaps it was the sun or just end of term high spirits but practice became a lively affair with everyone trying (a bit too) hard. The short practice session thus proved a busy affair. Mike Fowler had a grassy moment attempting to take Coram flat and a couple of laps later John Turner spun, with seemingly most of the field reporting a near miss as the car snapped back across the track. The pits proved popular, with many cars returning with minor problems mainly fuel related, including Nigel Ashman (misfire), Gordon Russell & Paul Hewes (fuel feed), David Lecoq (fuel leak) and Roy Wright (loose fuel tank). Martin Sheppard realised he had forgotten his transponder and dived in to retrieve it, not realising that he was in trouble anyway, and that his earlier laps were being manually timed and would count. The only major problem was John Chisholm with a slipping timing gear on his JAP. With limited time, no amount of hands were able to fix the problem before practice, but he would be allowed to take the race start.

Mike finds an interesting entry to Russell.

On quite a slow circuit, Mike Fowler was comfortably fastest, two seconds ahead of Neil Hodges, who was in turn more than a second ahead of David Lecoq, although Nigel Ashman was just one hundredth behind David. John Turner was next up, complaining that the softer cam he has temporarily dropped in his JAP engine was costing him badly on top speed along Snetterton's two long straights. Further down there were some close times promising some good battles through the field, and with several faster cars looking to make their way back to the front.

Roy's race ends in a spin at Coram (Gary Walton).

Mike Fowler leads the pack through Russell (Gary Walton).

All cars were present and correct in Assembly, but with several cars being reluctant to start, notably the Arnott and the Mk VII, cars were waiting interminably. Trouble was inevitable, and the mechanics reached pit wall to find four stranded 500s - Chisholm, Bell, Gilbert and Whiteside - and the strong smell of barbecued clutch in the air. The remaining twenty six pilots were well on it, however, and a rumbustuous pack appeared through Coram, two, three and more wide. Brands David & Linden (750 Trophy) led through Russell, with Mike Fowler taking the first apex from Roger Windley, who promptly spun across the chicane, somehow being missed by the entire field who were very tightly packed and side-by-side even through Russell. Across the line it was a David Brand, Linden Brand, Mike, Paul Mason and Neil Hodges with no daylight between them, then half a second back a similar train of Lecoq, Ashman and Turner, and so on with only the Monaco making a slow start. Paul Hewes’ fuel problems had not been solved, and he pulled off at Russell.

Darrell Woods in the Creamer Kieft (Gary Walton)

Dastle of Roy Wright (Gary Walton)

Second time through, Mike made a bold move into Russell for second place overall and, desperate to put the pressure on Mike, Neil was trying everything to dispose of Paul Mason, and in the process was late on the power out of Russell, allowing a charging David Lecoq to nip past over the line for fourth place. All eyes though were back at Coram. Part way through the fast corner, Roy Hunt’s gearbox seized solid (enough to jolt it out of alignment on its mounts). The car snapped around so quickly, Roy suspected he had been smacked by a rival, and only spectators confirmed this was not the case. The car flung itself across the track straight into the path of John Turner who gave it a damn good clout, snapping the front left steering of the Martin (yet remarkably leaving no obvious damage on John’s Cooper). Somehow neither car was hit by the busy pack behind. John continued, but Roy’s car came to rest on track in the braking area for Russell. With two locked wheels and one wonky, the marshals were unable to move it and a red flag was thrown.

Shirley looks determined to stay ahead of Roy Wright (Gary Walton).

More confusion reigned as the cars were returned to the start line. Many did not see any flags until Coram and were approaching at some speed. Once stationary on the dummy grid all drivers were desperately trying to keep their hot engines running whilst awaiting directions from the marshals. Finally, it went quiet, and at least some common sense prevailed as the marshals realised that a good dozen push starts uphill was beyond them and various mechanics were allowed over the wall. Thanks should also go to Simon Frost who realised the original non-starters would be allowed to take the new start and could be hard shouting across the track to John Chisholm and Mikes Gilbert and Bell “Get your bloody helmets on!!!” The two Mikes at least were able to recover to pit lane and would eventually manage a few laps for their entry fee.

The race would be started from scratch, with the grid based on positions after Lap 1. The second race continued in the same fashion as the first, with Mike, Neil and David making good starts, and Mike diving past Linden Brand for second into Russell, though Linden would soon be back ahead and chasing his father. Neil was again behind Paul Mason (who he had overtaken in the first race, but lost out on count back) and the two crossed the line side-by-side. There followed at small intervals David, Roger Windley, Nigel Ashman, John Tuner & Nigel Challis, a trio of Trophy cars, Roy Wright with a slight gap over, Martin Sheppard, a flying Gordon Russell and Shirley Monro.

Unable to stay with the 750 Trophy leader, Mike drifted off by about a second a lap and was caught by a very fast Roger Windley, with whom he would tussle for a couple of laps until Roger had a moment and dropped back. Neil, now in fifth place needed to pass Paul Mason, and on lap three tried a “Fowler” around the outside at Coram. It didn’t work and resulted in a particularly grassy spin which cost him some five spots and ten seconds, returning amidst the battle between Nigel Challis and Nic Grele (Jeffrey).

David's ex Prince Mk VII

At this stage it looked like most battles were sorted. There were broadly gaps of a second or two everywhere. John Turner eased out a small gap from Nigel Challis and Nic Grele, while Neil quickly disposed of all of them. Nigel Ashman though was on his own some ten seconds up the road in seventh place, and Neil was only making slow progress across the gap and would ease off to protect fourth in class. Roy Wright, running very well, had been passed by Gordon Russell (running better). Martin was in this mix, but a misfire was hampering progress, and Shirley (also running strongly) was a couple of seconds off and not quite able to close the gap. Although well behind, having restarted from pit lane, the two Mikes were having good runs, Mike Bell eking out a very respectable 1’ 41” lap, better than in practice and which would have put him in the top dozen or so.

The race however was not over. David was getting into his stride, whilst Mike was being slowed, first by his battle with Roger Windley, then by mechanical problems. David was three seconds adrift as they started the final lap, on Mike’s tail as they exited Coram for the final time, and stole third place as they ran up Senna Straight by 0.04 seconds. Nigel Ashman stayed away from trouble and lapped consistently to finish third. Neil Hodges recovered from his spin to take fourth, closely followed by John Turner with Nigel Challis in sixth. Remarkably, there were no retirements from the second race.

Report by Richard Hodges

Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Time Laps Best


Fastest Lap: David Lecoq - Petty 1:34.82

DNF: Mike Gilbert - Cooper Mk IX, Roy Hunt - Martin, Darrell Woods - Creamer Kieft, David Whiteside - Cooper Mk VII, John Chisholm - Arnott

Our thanks to the 750 Motor Club and to Gary Walton for the photos.

Mike now leads the championship by three points from Roy Hunt who failed to add to his total this time. With one race to go, three drivers still have a chance of taking the title.

 Championship Standings

1 David Lecoq Petty 12:55 8 1:34.82
2 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk XI 12:55 8 1:35.01
3 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk VI 13:07 8 1:36.36
4 Neil Hodges Cooper Mk VIII 13:12 8 1:35.41
5 John Turner Cooper Mk IX 13:16 8 1:37.25
6 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII 13:23 8 1:38.41
7 Gordon Russell Mackson 13:40 8 1:39.03
8 Roy Wright Dastle 14:12 8 1:44.17
9 Martin Sheppard Cooper Mk XII 14:19 8 1:44.50
10 Shirley Monro Cooper Mk IV 12:36 7 1:44.50
11 Mike Bell Cooper Mk X 13:30 7 1:41.71
12 John Potts Monaco 13:25 6 2:10.03

Gordon Russell in the Mackson on his way to seventh.

A study of Mike Gilbert at speed in his 1955 Cooper Mk IX. (Gary Walton).

Contrasts with the 1947 Monaco of John Potts (Gary Walton).