Cadwell Park VSCC 120605

Cadwell Park 12th June 2005

One of the highlights of the 500 season is surely the VSCC Cadwell Park meeting in flaming June. So it was a bit of a shock to the system to find it unseasonably cold with a raw wind off the North Sea. On-track though, we were to see a much more healthy entry of twenty cars, including some new cars and five rookie drivers. Most welcome arrival was Gordon Russell in the Mackson. Nigel Challis (Cooper Mk VIII), Nigel Ashman (in an immaculately prepared Cooper Mk VI), and Martin Sheppard (in the blue Scandinavian Cooper Mk XII) all made their debuts. Mark Palmer had also brought his Cooper Mk IX across from the hills, this car featuring the prototype coil & wishbone front suspension. Mark had offered his car to Simon Diffey and it was good to see brother James assisting. Completing the rookie line-up was Tim Sage in a Cooper Mk II. Excepting a shakedown at a minor sprint, the car was having its first run for some twenty years. Sadly, the gear change mechanism snapped on the way down to practice. By the time repairs could be made, the stewards refused to grant permission for Tim to race. We look forward to seeing him again soon. A very short practice session of just ten minutes produced a mixed grid. With no more than five laps and many drivers got much less, only Simon Diffey managed to put in a truly representative lap and was comfortably fastest. The lead group was completed by David Lecoq, John Turner, Bob & James Culver, Rodney Delves and an impressive Mike Fowler. The only casualty was Bill Needham with piston failure which was quickly replaced during the break.

Mackson Cadwell 0605 small.jpg (20506 bytes)A revised start procedure meant far less sitting about on the grid and eighteen of the nineteen starters got away cleanly with only Shirley stalled. Off the line Mike Fowler made a superb start, and surged into the lead from fourth on the grid. John Turner tried to hold out around the outside of Coppice, resulting in a huge sideways moment that surprised a few of the following drivers. As the cars crested the mountain, a huge battle was underway with Mike still ahead, Rodney Delves in second (after an equally good start from the third row), Simon Diffey, John Turner, David Lecoq, James and Bob Culver, Kerry Horan, Neil Hodges, and Geoff Gartside, and the rest of the field. Bob Culver slowed into the Hall Bends, and quickly retired with engine problems.

Gordon Russell's Mackson

As lap 2 started, the dark clouds finally brought rain. Although not particularly heavy, it was enough to make the circuit slippery, particularly through the Mountain loop where plenty of oil from previous races made the track particularly "entertaining". The first six cars raced back through the Mountain, using all the track and more. New marker posts were lifted from their mountings and onto the track which, on lap 3, led to a most curious incident. Through the Hall Bends, David Lecoq ran over and flicked up one of the posts into the path of Rodney Delves. Somehow the post managed to enter the engine compartment and dislodged Rodney’s drive chain, instantly retiring the car. The marshals were none too keen to clear up the debris, and the chain joined the posts and various other body part littering the track, and making the Hall Bends even more of a slalom course than usual!

John Fettles Arnott Cadwell 0605 small.jpg (19610 bytes)David also lost time in this incident, and fell back into the clutches of Kerry and Neil. Neil was carrying huge speed through the corners, particularly from Park Corner to Mansfield, but was unable to overcome the power advantage of Kerry’s Vincent. Delayed for a lap and a half behind the Petty, he then raced back onto the tail of the Trenberth. By now, though, Kerry was starting to lose power, and just as battle was rejoined the engine let go with a suspected piston failure. Meanwhile, at the front, Simon and John were battling furiously, swapping positions all around the circuit. James Culver ran a second behind, although suffering from progressive brake fade leading to a few grassy moments.

John Chisholm fettles the Arnott

Mike Fowler ran a few seconds further down the road. Behind the Kerry/Hodges/Lecoq battle, Geoff Gartside was being hunted down by debutant Nigel Challis, who was growing in confidence. Ten seconds further back Paul Hewes and Gordon Russell’s Mackson were in close company, with Nigel Ashman trailing them by another eight seconds. After a slow start, Bill Needham had passed Martin Sheppard and was closing in on Hakan Sandberg’s JBS.

A fine sight as the 500s form up for practice. Gordon Russell's Mackson in the foreground.

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Fifth time around, Simon led John by two seconds, with Mike trailing twelve seconds behind. James’ brake problems finally caught him out with a lurid spin at the bottom of the Mountain. He rejoined a few seconds behind the Horan/Hodges battle but ahead of David Lecoq. The red mist clearly descended, and James set off on a superb fight back. Within a lap he disposed of Neil and the retiring Kerry and set off after Mike Fowler. Mike managed to batter his Mk V over the Old Hairpin kerb, bending a steering arm and was unable to defend when James appeared in his mirrors on lap 7. James was through and set the race’s fastest lap final time around, a full three seconds quicker than anybody else. Third place immediately became second when John Turner was caught out by the damp and oily hairpin and joined a growing band of enforced spectators including Paul Hewes, John Chisholm and Martin Sheppard who had all come unstuck in the same way. So final time around, Simon Diffey lead home James Culver, Mike Fowler, Neil Hodges and David Lecoq. Nigel Challis managed to find a way past Geoff Gartside.

Gordon Russell brought the Mackson home safely in eighth place, followed by Nigel Ashman and Bill Needham. Hakan Sandberg, crippled by a disintegrating carburettor was lapped by Simon on the final run out of Barn, before the JBS finally stopped some thirty yards from the line. With great form, Hakan leapt out and pushed the car over the line, immediately walking away in disgust. Sadly the stewards were not sympathetic to this nod to history, and listed him as Not Classified. Hard luck, old boy, but some of us appreciated it!

Nigel Challis and Martin Sheppard

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Classified Finishers
Pos Name Car Time Laps Best Fastest lap: James Culver 1:57.65

Not classified: Hakan Sandberg, John Turner, Kerry Horan, Martin Sheppard, Paul Hewes, Rodney Delves, John Chisholm, Bob Culver, Shirley Monro.


Our congratulation to Simon and thanks to the VSCC for another excellent day's racing.

Championship Positions

1 Simon Diffey Cooper Mk IX 16:44 8 2:00.35
2 James Culver Cooper Mk X 17:01 8 1:57.65
3 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk V 17:15 8 2:05.08
4 Neil Hodges Cooper Mk VIII 17:22 8 2:06.88
5 David Lecoq Petty 17:47 8 2:02.54
6 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII 17:59 8 2:11.42
7 Geoff Gartside Cooper Mk VIII 18:00 8 2:10.08
8 Gordon Russell Mackson 18:21 8 2:15.35
9 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk VI 18:39 8 2:16.81
10 Bill Needham Cooper Mk IV 19:00 8 2:15.81

Simon Diffy with the winner's laurels

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A typical Cadwell scene as Geoff Gartside crests the Mountain

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