Silverstone 13th April 2014

Sadly, the 500 race was rather spoilt by the accident involving John and Richard which brought out the red flags and saw both taken off to hospital. Their condition is reported as rather sore. Get well soon guys, we're thinking of you.

Whilst only a single race this year, it is already clear that the VSCC’s Spring Start meeting at Silverstone is an excellent event to kick off the 500 season – accessible to many, mixing with the ‘right’ crowd, and again blessed with at least acceptable weather.

Despite four regulars electing to run with the Juniors (Martin Sheppard in his Stanguellini and Mike Fowler, Pat Barford and Neil Hodges in Geminis), eighteen 500s turned out, with three invitational cars. The most notable was the debut of VSCC regular Adrian van der Kroft, who has purchased the Alan Brown/Ecurie Richmond Cooper Mk V. The car was well-presented, but very reluctant to fire. Fortuitously, the one time it did so was at the start of the qualifying session, so Adrian got at least some miles under his belt, before scratching from the race. At least he had some other toys to play with over the weekend.

In a similar boat was Rudi Ernst with the Whitfill, which came down pit lane sounding all fire and brimstone, but expiring before it was out of earshot. Rudi apparently had five other cars at the meeting, so wasn’t too bothered. Both cars just need a bit of perseverance, and hopefully we will see them at the other VSCC events this year. Also of note were our regular visitors from across different stretches of water – Charles McCabe with the final Cooper, and Maurice van der Brempt with the Fillingham.

Qualifying
By late morning temperatures were coming up nicely, and all but Sean Mooney’s Vixen presented themselves for qualifying. The VSCC had allowed us some pit garage space, and instructed the cars to start from pit lane – a move appreciated at least by all the mechanics that didn’t have to trudge way over to Assembly. John Turner’s time was cut short by a snapped tappet arm (easily repaired) leaving him down in sixth place, but several cars found more terminal problems. Nick Powell had the big end go, Maurice seized the engine in the Fillingham. With Adrian and Rudi already mentioned, that was four cars that would be packed away early. Charles McCabe drove well for seventh place, but would also have to scratch.

Roy Hunt had a good day

The remainder seemed to run with little mechanical trouble, and it was Darrell who came out fastest, half a second ahead of Roy Hunt. Ian Phillips was close behind in third, and would line up beside Simon Brown in the big old Twin. Richard Bishop-Miller (for once with no major repairs to follow) and John Turner trailed by a couple of seconds. Several naughty boys were called to the headmaster’s office for overtaking under yellows and accelerating before the green flag. Seriously, everyone needs to heed that lesson – not seeing the flags isn’t an acceptable excuse even if it is an excuse. We would get a harsh lesson in why it is so important later.

Bonus points though go to JB, who failed Schoolboy 101 by admitting to a mistake before being accused:
CoC: “Do you know why I called you here?”
JB: “Is it because I passed someone under yellow flags?”
CoC: ”No. Try again…”

Race:
From a clean rolling start, Darrell took the lead into Copse, from Roy, Ian, and Simon Brown in the Twin, the last two swapping before reaching Becketts. Out of the hairpin Darrell got a little loose, allowing Roy half a chance along the back straight. Darrell managed to hold him off, but in the process Ian’s white Cooper and the twin were past, and Roy got his chance heading up to Maggots for the second time, only to lose the place again on the back straight, where the Twin was also able to open up and take the lead. As Simon opened a small gap as they started Lap 3, Ian held second, but was probably unaware that the other two were closing back onto his tail, although who was closest depended on which second you looked.

These four had opened a couple of seconds over a trio of Richard Bishop-Miller, Xavier , and John Turner. A larger gap led to another trio – Charles McCabe, Fred and JB (in the Cooper this time) – followed closely by Stuart Wright’s Dastle in close company with the Arnott, the Petty, and Richard de la Roche. Some way further back Kerry was chasing Richard Utley’s JBS.

So three good battles were joined, but seconds later the red flag was out, after a major incident at the Becketts hairpin on Lap 3. Exactly what happened is not totally clear, as two of the participants weren’t able to give their versions of events, but it seemed to go down a bit like this. Although John Turner had passed him for sixth place, Xavier was driving superbly. In fact he had a great run through Copse and drew alongside the yellow Cooper. He actually baled out at the Maggots kink, but maybe John was committed to braking late, or maybe he was looking for the silver Staride in his mirrors, or maybe there was something wrong with the Revis in front. Whatever, the end result was the Cooper ploughed into the back of the Revis at the entry to Becketts, and took off skywards. With its low tail the Revis offered little protection, and Richard got an almighty wallop in the back and head, presumably from the Cooper’s wheel. The suspicion was that he was concussed and the car motored straight on, right through the gravel trap before coming to a (relatively) gentle stop against the barriers some 30 yards past the track.

Meantime, things had gotten very serious for John. Not just pitched upwards, the car was sent rolling. The roll hoop at least took the first landing, but John and his seat were flung out. Eye witnesses (including Peter Wright) described it as a very violent accident. John eventually landed in the gravel trap on the outside of the corner, and was rather lucky that the car didn’t land on him as well.

There was also concern for Xavier, whose car had also driven into the gravel close by. In fact, he had seen the accident unfold immediately in front of him, and as John was thrown out he impressively quickly decided to stop. Quickly checking on John he was soon running (as much as it is possible to do so on deep gravel) back towards the Maggotts flag post to get a red flag.

As the surviving cars returned to pit lane, medic crews rushed to the scene. Astonishingly, given how bad it had looked, John was considered stable enough to move within just a couple of minutes, and was soon on his way to the Medical Centre. Richard, reporting some back pain, took some time to remove from the car. Within twenty minutes both were talking to Ann & Andrew, and Karen respectively, and whilst kept in hospital overnight for observation, it seems both avoided serious injury. Which is pretty incredible.

Stuart Wright with his exhaust attached by Blu-tack

 

After a long delay for extraction, and then getting everything back into position, the VSCC were good enough to allow a restart, despite the schedule having gone to pot. To everyone’s surprise (given they thought he was in an ambulance), Xavier appeared remarkably nonchalantly, and ready to have another go. Finally he decided there was too much gravel collected in the crevices of the car and pulled out. The marshals also pinged John’s Arnott and Charles’ Cooper for excessive oil puddles and refused them the restart. Like last year, Stuart’s exhaust was working loose from the head, but a liberal application of lock wire just about had it running.

Restart:
So, with good news coming from the medical centre to lift spirits, eleven cars would go for a second rolling start. Roy made the best of it to lead from Ian, but quickly Simon took the lead from Ian, with Roy and Darrell in tow. Simon got the break he needed to exploit the extra power, and by lap 2 had a couple of seconds in hand. Ian found himself mugged by Roy and Darrell.

With the second group taken out by the accident, quite a gap was opening to fifth place, which was taken by Fred, with Richard de la Roche and John Jones in close proximity, and the scarlet pair Nigel and Stuart hanging onto their tails.

Completing lap 2, Roy was into second and beginning to catch the Twin, whilst Ian and Darrell were still within a second and fighting hard themselves. Richard moved past Fred for fifth, the latter now battling with Nigel, who was past but not away from JB and the Dastle, although the last of these was already exhibiting the rough sound of a loosening exhaust. Stuart would slow significantly when it worked itself completely free, but completed the race. John’s Triumph began to sound off as the race headed into the fourth lap, but he was able to stay with Fred and Nigel as they battled on.

That fourth lap would prove decisive. Exiting Luffield for the third time, the Twin was suddenly struggling. Roy went past accelerating away through Woodcote, and Ian was also alongside out of Copse, completing the move at Becketts. Darrell completed the switcharound, then went for the lead as they headed to Brooklands. Positions were changing by the metre through the final complex, but as they exited Luffield to head onto Lap 5, it was Ian who just lead, from Roy then Darrell. Which was most fortunate for Ian as they found the chequered flag being waved at Woodcote after just four laps – no-one having considered to check how many laps the restarted race would be!

At the final reckoning, the top three were covered by less than half a second, with Simon rolling in a couple of seconds behind them. Fred would pinch fifth overall as Richard’s Smith packed up at the start of the final lap, with Nigel not quite finding a way past. JB was barely a car length behind them, and Stuart took eighth, deaf in his right ear for the second year in a row. Some way further back Richard Utley and Kerry Horan brought their cars home in close order, completing the finishers.
 

Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Class Time Laps Best

Fastest Lap

Class P2: Fred Walmsley - Cooper Mk VII-Norton

Class P3: Darrell Woods - Cooper Mk XII-Norton

JAP: Richard Del La Roche - Smith-JAP

 

Invitation: Simon Brown - Cooper Mk IV-JAP

 

DNF: Richard Del La Roche - Smith-JAP, John Turner - Cooper Mk IX-JAP, Richard Bishop Miller - Revis-JAP, Xavier Kingsland - Staride-Norton, John Chisholm - Arnott-JAP, Charles McCabe - Cooper Mk XIII-Norton

 

DNS: Maurice Van Der  Brempt - Fillingham-JAP, Nick Powell - Cooper Mk VIII, Adrian van der Kroft - Cooper Mk V, Rudi Ernst - Whitfill-Triumph

1 Ian Phillips Cooper Mk X-Norton P3 5:30 4 1:20.19
2 Roy Hunt Martin-Norton P3 5:30 4 1:20.08
3 Darrell Woods Cooper Ml XII-Norton P3 5:30 4 1:19.96
4 Fred Walmsley Cooper Mk VII-Norton P2 5:46 4 1:23.91
5 Nigel Challis Petty-Norton P3 5:47 4 1:23.72
6 JB Jones Cooper Mk-IX-Triumph P3 5:47 4 1:23.52
7 Stuart Wright Dastle-JAP P3 5:55 4 1:25.60
8 Richard Utley JBS-Norton P2 6:13 4 1:31.05
9 Kerry Horan Trenberth-Vincent P2 6:14 4 1:31.65
             
             
             

 

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