Oulton Results 080810

Oulton Park 30th August 2010

The August Bank Holiday was traditionally one of the high days of the 500 calendar, and whilst the holiday has moved, the Oulton Park gold Cup meeting has reinvigorated that tradition. A fine entry of twenty seven, comprising most of the regular runners and many faces not seen for some time, were greeted by a clear, sunny sky after two wet days. Sadly, Hakan had already been and gone. Bringing the JBS out for its first UK outing of the season, he was called away to deal with a fløød at home.

Of the additions to the great and good of the regular racing group, two entries stood out. After nearly two years away from the circuits, John Turner finally felt well enough for a return. As the Association’s most enthusiastic member, it was good news to see John and son Andy back in the Paddock, and it was hoped he could show some of the young guns a trick or two. The other arrival was another father & son team - this time Roy and Stuart Wright with a brace of cars. Stuart would take the Dastle, as he has recently, but Roy has recently added the Albert Zains’ Cooper Mk XI-based Flash Special to the stable. Other notables included David Lecoq, back in the Petty after a lengthy gap, and Tony Steele, running Duncan’s Trimax again to try to get to the heart of the various mechanical troubles.

John Turner, back in the saddle.

So a full Assembly Area prepared for practice at noon - much of it staying there as David Stevenson's Norton was reluctant to fire and the car partially blocking the narrow exit. It was no great surprise to see Nigel Ashman at the top of the sheets, but right beside him on the grid was John Turner - age and illness clearly having not slowed him (nor indeed a hesitation at high revs that had Andrew arms-deep in the engine bay for some time). Neil Hodges posted third fastest time, followed by Mike Fowler, but the former was sidelined with a dead engine. A spare magneto was donated by the Tuners and eventually a spark was found. George Shackleton and Richard Ellingworth completed the top echelon, both swift but being a little cautious.

Missing from this group was David Lecoq. Frustratingly, David’s ultra-reliable motor had developed a massive vibration in its time off, in David’s words it was trying to escape from the car. Initial investigations showed no easy fix, and he would have to scratch, returning to his other job of supporting David Whiteside.

Darrell Woods couldn’t replicate his qualifying form from Croft, but still led the next group, a couple of seconds off the back of the leading group. A useful battle looked in the offing as Nigel Challis and Brian Joliffe were in close attendance, followed by Roy Hunt, who always picks up the pace in the race. The long lap exaggerated the gaps between drivers, but Martin Sheppard, Mike Gilbert and Stuart Wright all ran well, whilst David Whiteside Mike Bell and Richard Utley were all somewhat off their expected pace. Tony brought up the rear with clutch problems on the Trimax, but Equipe Hodges excepted, most were able to participate in and judge the President’s tart competition.

So twenty five cars were ready for the last race of the day, as the sun went low enough to cause a few problems on the run from Old Hall corner down to Cascades.

Race start would feature something we haven’t seen for a while - a right royal cock-up. Despite the usual discussions with the organisers to agree a favourable start procedure, somehow the message was confused, and the cars were held on the grid ready for a green flag lap. The wait was exacerbated by several cars struggling to exit the Assembly Area - having committed to start from the back, they were presented with the quandary of whether to now work through the stationary grid or not. In the extended wait, with some JAP engines already overheated, inevitably someone stalled and quickly several hands went up. The start was aborted.

Mike Bell exits Lodge

Eventually, cars were started again. It seems that there was no communication that there would be another green flag lap (correctly), and a quick succession of 1 minute and 30 second boards was followed by a waved green flag. Pole man Ashman correctly deduced that it was a green flag lap, not the start. JT, though was confused, and reacted to Nigel’s getaway by flooring it, believing it to be the race start. Whilst easy to criticise, others behind admitted they weren’t sure either way, and opted to trust Nigel. That in itself took until halfway down Cascades, and the rolling grid gradually retook it’s two-by-two order, variously grateful to be moving again and/or nervous of overheated engines and particularly clutches. John though was off, and approached the end of the lap with a healthy 20” lead.

This could all have been resolved if someone had brought John to a halt on the grid to await the arrival of the others. Although it was now obvious to all and sundry what had happened, that didn’t happen and John was allowed to continue on for another lap. Things then got silly as he was now shown (incorrectly) the red flag. John looked for guidance, found none, and pulled off at the pit lane exit. Still with no direction he returned to the Paddock and spent the next few minutes touring the Assembly Area and pit lane looking for everyone else (who he assumed should also have stopped for the red flag). Eventually someone in pit lane realised and made the appropriate (if not MSA-approved) gesture to “get the hell back on circuit, they’re still racing”. John rejoined just ahead of the leaders, a couple of laps down (or maybe he wasn’t, we’re still not certain of this). He made space to let them through before tagging onto the back of the group before fuel problems eventually did it for him. Good to have you back, JT!

Back with the real race. With JT off up the road, and David Stevenson off after the aborted start, that left twenty three cars finally lining up for the start, and several of these having to do so from the pit lane. When the lights went out, Nigel Ashman made a mare of a start to be headed by Fowler, Hodges, Ellingworth and Hunt. The bulk of the grid went through with the Trimax and Flash Special running up the rear. Thirty seconds or so later, Richard Bishop-Miller finally got life back into the baked Mk II, then finally Richard Utley was the last man to get going.

Mike quickly opened a small gap, enough not to have to adopt defensive lines. But Neil was soon under pressure from Richard, the latter moving into second place at the Knickerbrook chicane on the first lap. Nigel found a way past Roy for fourth but was already seven seconds adrift. Darrell had followed Nigel through, and whilst unable to hold onto the Kieft. it gave him a chance to try to escape the clutches of Roy and Nigel Challis.

Roy Hunt's Martin on its way to fourth overall and second in Class B

Martin Sheppard and Brian Joliffe headed the next group with John Jones, Mike Gilbert (looking racy), Stuart Wright and George Shackleton, the last-named still with some gearbox issues and recovering from a very poor start. Kerry Horan and James Holland came up next, then Shirley Monro, David Holland and Mike Bell, Paul Hewes and Roy Wright, then the late-starting Richard Bishop-Miller (angry at the start problems, and using that anger to good effect) and Richard Utley. Of all the cars to suffer at the start, the Trimax was the most likely, and sure enough Tony Steele brought her into the pits with a smoking clutch after one lap.

As is to be expected, the race gradually split into groups, and it was the leading group that caused most excitement. Neil also had clutch problems, and it was this that had left him defenceless against the Parker-Kieft. He was unable to hold onto the leading duo, but with a healthy lead over Nigel, he hoped to nurse the car through the next quarter of an hour. The plan worked fine for the first half of the race, but on the fourth lap the clutch was giving up the ghost. He waved Nigel past early on lap 5, and by the end of the lap there was nothing left but that acrid smoke and he parked up. Nigel would take a lonely third place.

At the front, Mike was looking for his revenge from Croft. For the first couple laps he seemed to have the Kieft covered, closing but not quite able to attack the silver Cooper. But on the third lap, Richard was on Mike’s tail. A good run out of the Hairpin gave him a run on the back stretch, and he stuck a bold block pass on Mike at the Knickerbrook chicane. It was forceful but fair, and gave Richard the advantage to extend a gap up Clay Hill. It seemed like game, set and match to Richard, who had the gap pegged at three-quarters of a second for the next two tours. But Mike regrouped and came back with a superb drive. Out of Lodge Corner, he got the better run and edged Richard out by hundredths completing lap 5. Richard now had to regroup, and looked to have the better exit from Cascades, but Mike covered the hairpin, and began the return trip still ahead. Into Knickerbrook for the sixth time, Richard went for the tried and trusted block pass, braking late on the inside for the right hand entry to the chicane. Mike was wise (or foolhardy) this time, and lifted off the brake. A car length ahead, he turned across the Kieft, and despite carrying far too much speed he just about found an apex for the second turn and was away. Poor Richard was left scrabbling for anywhere to go. Again, though, he fought back, and by the end of lap 6 made the decisive move to keep the lead for the rest of the race, eventually winning by two seconds. But both drivers can be proud of their driving.

The battle for what would be fourth place was equally rivetting. At first Darrell looked like he may be able slip away, but Roy always performs best with a hare to chase and duly did so. Nigel, though was doing even better, first passing Roy, then challenging Darrell. But a moment dropped him behind both and, although always attacking, he never quite found a way past either again. Catching the slowing John Turner through the single file drop into Cascades cost Darrell his gap over these two on the fifth lap, and Roy was passed by the line. Darrell kept attacking, and on more than one occasion these two were within a car length (with Nigel barely a yard or two further back) but never quite first across the line. It would end Roy, Darrell, Nigel and all three were most pleased with their race. On any other day this might have been the best battle of the race.

A study on contemplation, Nigel prays, John ponders and James smiles for the camera

Next up was yet another battle. At first led by Martin Sheppard with Brian Joliffe in close company. John Jones, Mike Gilbert and Stuart Wright followed, whilst George Shackleton cut through on the first lap. But desperate to get back to the front, George over-cooked it out of Lodge Corner and managed a 360 spin in the dip of Deer Leap, back on the gas and onto the group again in a moment. Clearly the fastest of the group, George worked his way through the group over the first six laps. At first there were signs that he might set after the Hunt/Woods/Challis group some sixteen seconds up the road, but with o incentive he eased off for a safe seventh place.

Martin was having a good run, holding off first Brian (who lost his drive sprocket on lap 6) and John, then Mike. John began in a battle he would have expected to win on recent form but felt the engine tightening - behind, Mike was dealing with the oil being thrown off. John kept running, but at a reduced pace to finish eleventh, quickly parking up. Both Mike (running quietly but very efficiently) and Stuart made very impressive pace, although never quite close enough for a full battle. Both eventually passed Martin to complete the top ten.

Kerry and James both began on the tail of this group but fell away (Kerry retiring on lap 6), which left twelfth place (and first of the lapped cars) to Shirley. Shirley was running at good speed, but frustratingly seemed to have damaged yet another motor. Also in this group was Mike Bell, but a complete lack of brakes (“rather than the nearly complete lack of brakes at Cadwell”) cost him badly. Hopefully Team Bell can get to the root of this problem and get Mike back up where he belongs.

Another fine drive, although for little reward, came from Richard Bishop-Miller. Angry with the start problems and his very late departure, Richard certainly didn’t let up for his eight laps, and managed to Paul Hewes and the crippled Mike. Of the remainder, David Whiteside was hampered by undiagnosed gear selection issues and retired after two disappointing laps. Roy’s Flash Special died at the same time, while Richard Utley soldiered on from his very late getaway for seven laps before parking up.

The Gold Cup meeting has quickly grown to be one of the biggest motor racing events in the calendar and a particular favourite for 500s. It has established itself alongside VSCC Cadwell Park as a premier event in the regular (non-Goodwood, non-foreign) season. It has shown again what we can do with a large grid, with most competitors getting some wheel-to-wheel racing at some point in the race. Now, if we can sort out the start procedures again, and everyone reads the rules..

 Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Class Time Laps Best

Fastest Lap: Richard Ellingworth - Parker-Kieft-Norton - 2:16.390

DNF: Richard Utley - JBS-Norton, Neil Hodges - Cooper MK VIII-JAP, Brian Joliffe - Cooper Mk IX - JAP, Kerry Horan - Trenberth-Vincent, David Whiteside - Cooper Mk VII-Norton, Roy Wright - Flash Special-Norton, John Turner - Cooper Mk IX-JAP, Tony Steele - Trimax-JAP, David Stevenson - Cooper Mk VIII-Norton



Report by Richard Hodges Pics by Carol and Zula

Our thanks the Historic Sports Car Club

Points Table

1 Richard Ellingworth Parker-Kieft-Norton C 20:46 9 2:16.390
2 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk XI-Norton C 20:48 9 2:16.947
3 Nigel Ashman Kieft CK52-Norton B 21:19 9 2:19.136
4 Roy Hunt Martin-Norton B 21:38 9 2:20.781
5 Darrell Woods Cooper Mk VIII-Norton C 21:38 9 2:21.574
6 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII-Norton C 21:39 9 2:21.729
7 George Shackleton Cooper Mk VI-JAP B 22:01 9 2:21.561
8 Mike Gilbert Cooper Mk IX-Norton C 22:45 9 2:27.967
9 Stuart Wright Dastle-JAP C 22:51 9 2:28.583
10 Martin Sheppard Cooper Mk XII-Norton C 22:56 9 2:25.886
11 JB Jones Cousy-Triumph C 23:02 9 2:26.739
12 Shirley Monro Cooper Mk IV-JAP A 21:09 8 2:34.574
13 James Holland Cooper Mk VIII-JAP C 21:09 8 2:31.221
14 Richard Bishop-Miller Cooper Mk II-JAP A 21:57 8 2:37.020
15 Mike Bell Cooper Mk X-JAP C 22:03 8 2:32.153
16 Paul Hewes Cooper Mk VIII-Norton C 22:56 8 2:48.084

Nigel and Sally make hard work of marking cake, while Gordon despairs

Richard in the Parker Kieft

Rears of the year by sunset