|Snetterton 11th June 2011
The season continued with another remarkable turnout for Round three at the new Snetterton layout. Although Shirley Monro, Martin Sheppard and David Stevenson were unable to attend, twenty three cars did appear. Most welcome guest was Charles McCabe back on tour from the States and driving “the last Cooper” – Lex DuPont’s Mk XIII. The other debutant was Mike Fowler’s Mk XI – another American chassis, and finished in a very fetching midnight blue. Mike Gilbert had his Mk IX repainted in a similar forest green and had added a yellow stripe for good measure. The race was to be for the Jim Russell Trophy, a new award to celebrate the local 500 legend. Jim was in attendance with some of his old cars, and spending much time with Duncan Rabagliati.
So we were already five down, one of the worst opening laps for some years. But at least with this year’s grids we still had sixteen cars running. From the flag, Nigel clearly had the run on Richard’s Kieft. Wary, though, that Richard can take a lap or so to get into his stride (as at Donington), Nigel kept his head down and focussed on smooth fast laps. In a reversal of form, he quickly established a five-second gap and eased away at a second or two thereafter. Any hopes Richard had of catching were stymied as the Kieft’s carburettor began to fall apart and he began to fall back towards the chasing pack. And that pretty much summarises the first two places on the podium. Nigel would win by some 17 seconds, whilst Richard took runner-up spot just six seconds ahead as measured (and as things turned out it could have been much worse).
Biggest beneficiary of all this was David. Slightly baulked, Rodney was easy pickings up to the flag, and at Sear he passed Nigel for third, Through the fourth lap he eked it out to just a car’s length but thereafter could look forwards and would moved out to a couple of seconds. Into Agostini he still had nothing, from Nigel, Rodney, Darrell (who had passed Neil again on the previous lap) and Neil, who promptly retook the Staride through Hamilton. Again onto Revett the Staride wound itself up only to be caught out under braking at the bridge. Indeed this time Neil not only held position but leapfrogged the Kieft. On lap 5 Neil passed Nigel for fourth under braking for Agostini. Darrell also had a go, but got badly out of shape when he missed a gear letting Rodney back past. Rodney was in fact struggling to see where he was going, having collected a film of oil on his visor from one of the cars ahead. He was easy prey for Darrell, who set off one more time after Nigel. By this stage there was about a second between each of the cars, from 3rd to 7th.
Kerry was having great fun but was slightly confused that he was struggling to keep up. It was only once back in the Paddock that marshals explained that the bungee cord springs at the rear had given up the ghost, and he had been three-wheeling though the corners with one rear wheel hanging on its stops. Kerry finished some eleven seconds off the pack, but at least happy with how the race had gone and making it to the end for once.
Richard still leads the championship both overall and in class C, but now by just three points. Darrell is looking a good bet in Class B after another good drive, and especially if Mike Fowler is moving to the Cooper Mk XI. The Staride looks to need a little more stability, but Darrell is starting to establish himself in that forward group (as is Nigel Challis). Equally pleasing is the coming together of a nice midfield group around David Whiteside. Nell now has a ten point lead in the Turner Trophy, helped by George's mechanical maladies. All any of our drivers can really ask is some close but fair racing and we got that in spades, pretty much everyone involved in the fun!