Portimao Results 160910

Portimao 16th & 17th October 2010

For the season finale, the Association had arranged something a bit special. In a change to the traditional wet Mallory, here we were at the Grand Prix standard Portimão circuit in the Algarve and (more importantly for some) bathed in late-Summer Portuguese sun. By a range of measures (and with much thanks to the organising team led by Nigel Challis), thirty cars appeared at the track for practice. Twenty six of these represented the cream of the English, including the full Team Wright (with Flash Special and Dastle for father & son respectively), and Gordon Russell back at last in the Mackson. With hotel rooms for competitors, there was a healthy turnout of supporting cast, whilst the Wrights had made a holiday of the extended week. Unfortunately, a mismatch with half term meant several WAGs and children/apprentice pushers were missing, which would have been the icing on the cake for many. But the Hodges clan turned out with three generations. Complementing them were four French cars. Patrick Jamin’s Racer Boyer represents the post-Formula III era of 500 racing (similar to the American LeGrand and Delfosse cars of the mid-1960s) with much more advanced chassis and suspension. Fitted with an even later engine it outclassed all other machinery present - not perhaps appropriate but accepted in the Invitation Class.

More appropriate were a brace of DB Panhards for Gerard Datan and David Coursier. These original French “Racers Cinq Cents” were running the larger 850cc motors of the later Monomills which gave them an advantage on the long straight. Both were also notable for their loud doodlebug rasp - a change from the usual JAP & Norton buzz.

Finally, the star appearance was for Gilbert Lenoir, finally debuting the restored Cooper Mk IV of the Schell brothers. This LWB chassis was notable for being the one used by ‘Arry at Monaco, coming second in the Formula III race (to Shirley Monro’s ex-Moss car), then starting the Grand Prix itself fitted with a JAP Twin. Although retiring in the famous harbour-front pile-up, it still stands as the first World Championship appearance for a rear-engined car, and a first appearance for Cooper. Having found the car modified and carrying several extra layers of paint, Gilbert has gone for an immaculate, “ex-factory” restoration, and a mighty fine job it is. He had also gone for the Twin motor which, once running cleanly, showed an impressive turn along the main straight.

The circuit itself came with some reputation. The design followed a common pattern of compact layouts, with a long pit straight and three loops out back (as with Jarama, Estoril and the original Kyalami), but with that magic ingredient of elevation. Pretty much every corner (and there are many) was approached by or exited onto a rise or dip, and a fair few rose or fell away (or both) mid-corner. A two and a half minute scratch time meant a lot of track to learn, and stand-out corners by paddock chatter were; A pair of hairpins early in the lap, home to an inordinate number of spins, another bottom hairpin behind the pits - built onto the hillside, with a downhill approach to entice the foolhardy, and a steep climb out to trap the cautious, a blind entry, double-apex Top Corner and finally an interminably long final complex, with continued right hand turns, rising and falling until finally (if you nailed it) spitting you out up the final hill to the finishing line. This final sequence tested fuel systems to the limit, and several cars with less than perfect fuel pumps and carburetion would suffer fuel starvation troubles. The circuit as a whole would also test both clutch and, unusually, gearboxes, with a more problems than normally seen in these areas.

Wishart Mk II with Mark Palmer at the wheel.


After unloading kit and fighting off the best of Portuguese bureaucracy through Thursday, track time eventually got underway early on Friday morning with a free practice session followed by qualifying late in the afternoon. Broadly in expected order, little could be read into times as circuit knowledge improved and final drive ratios were guessed and re-guessed. It did manage to eliminate a handful of runners. Richard Utley threw a driveshaft on his JBS. The limited transport space meant no spare had been packed, but any thoughts of a field repair were scuppered when he saw that the flailing shaft had battered the chassis. Gordon Russell had a fire when a fuel line failed. Considerable time was spent clearing up the extinguisher powder before it could be properly inspected. It might have just been possible to get the Mackson running for the Sunday race by begging all manner of parts, but one of Pat Barford’s cars to drive in the Junior race, Gordon decided to scratch. Gerard Datan’s Panhard motor blew, and seemed to make a decent attempt at escaping from the car judging by how the nosecone panels were dislodged. Last and most frustrating was Darrell Woods. Darrell has shown great form on some occasions this year, and was looking to sign off on a high. But a gremlin hiding in the engine left him with an untraceable misfire and low power. As usual in the 500 Paddock, bodies, parts and advice were in plentiful supply. Work continued from Friday afternoon through until race start at Sunday lunchtime before the towel was finally thrown in.
Others with less terminal problems included Neil Hodges (engine swap to eliminate a misfire), John Jones (lunched gearbox), Martin Sheppard (fuelling, and a huge hole in his silencer), Gilbert Lenoir (fuelling), Richard Bishop-Miller (dodgy fuel pump and starvation in that final turn, which managed to drain the large over-engine tank to its dreg and forced him to cruise up the straight) and George Shackleton (making up a bitsa-JAP motor with parts donated by Richard Bishop-Miller).

George attempts to kill the understeer by leaning further. Photo Paul Philcox

Race 1 - Saturday

As noon approached, the cars were lined up in grid formation in the pits. Release was a little chaotic, even by 500 standards, with a large break in the field as the cars set off to pick up the pace car (as a rolling start had been proscribed). Most caught up but John Jones and Paul Hewes cars refused to fire. Finally, both came to life as the field came into the final turn, and they could soon be released after the race had started. Unfortunately, poor David Coursier was unfamiliar with our somewhat random start procedure. Although his car fired up, he was uncertain whether he could pass the stubborn Cousy and hesitated to leave pit lane. The appropriate Anglo-Saxon, two-word instruction was given that he could go, and should catch up with the field, but apparently did not translate well. He finally set off, but came round some thirty seconds after the field and some twenty behind JB’s Cousy leaving pit lane.

Some had listened to the briefing more closely than others, noting that the race started when the green light came on, not at the line. Patrick Jamin was away, but Mike Fowler had immediately steamed ahead of ‘our’ poleman Nigel Ashman. Behind it was already four wide - Neil Hodges and Steve Jones mugging Roy Hunt and Brian Joliffe. Neil was bravest into the first corner and led that particular group.

Nigel was back ahead at the end of the first lap, with Mike and Neil in close company, but Mike was already in trouble. Third gear had gone missing, and he retired at the end of the second lap. Nigel got a break on that lap, and Neil was picked up by Steve Jones and Brian Joliffe. After a gap, Roy led from Martin Sheppard (looking very handy), George Shackleton, James Gray and James Holland (also back on form).

Another gap, and another group - David Stevenson, Mark Palmer, Nigel Challis and Mike Gilbert were line astern. Impressively, JB was going all out and had almost picked up the tail of this group. Gilbert Lenoir with the JAP Twin was also close by, although continued fuelling issues were hurting its speed on the straight (where it should have the most advantage). These would bring him to a halt on the third lap.

Shirley Monro led Hakan Sandberg with David Coursier’s DB rapidly catching and, with the extra horses pulling him down the home straight, he was soon past and after the group ahead. Patrick Morin was near to hand, then followed a group of cars all hampered with fuel & misfire issues. Richard Bishop-Miller led (pump actuation fixed, but the pump now loose), but was past at the start of lap 3 by Stuart Wright in the Dastle, although its fuel surge problem promptly did it for him on that lap. Dad Roy was adrift with a developing misfire caused by the magneto overheating. He would retire on the fifth lap. Late-starting Paul Hewes brought up the tail of the field, as poor Mike Bell had seized his sole engine after one lap.

Next to go was James Gray with a novel excuse - fourth time through the first loop and chasing Martin Sheppard, he performed a 360° spin. He kept the engine running and was quickly away, but a trip over the kerbing had dislodged the points. The spark quickly collapsed and he parked on the climb before the bottom hairpin.

What this report can’t really communicate is the amount of overtaking that was taking place through the field. Clearly the Nortons would benefit from the long straight with a fast entry, and a second long straight rising and falling to the back hairpin. But the JAPs more than held their own at other places, and the subtleties of gearing, bravery, occasional skill (and lack thereof) meant that anyone vaguely near another car had a good chance of battling, and many position changes were reversed within another corner or two.

At the front, Nigel was pulling away from Neil, who in turn was falling into the clutches of Steve Jones, still battling Brian Joliffe. Fourth time through, Steve led, and Brian passed Neil into Turn 1, only to be retaken at Turn 2. Brian was back ahead by the end of the lap and eked out a second next time around. But seventh time around, Neil hooked up a brilliant line through the final turn to slingshot onto the straight and up to, then beside Brian. Brian eased Neil right over to the outside of the road (fairly and safely). In the long braking area for the first corner, Neil initially went for the late breaking run around the outside but then cut back in the hope that Brian would overshoot. A gap opened on the short run to 2, but Brian was able chop it shut, Neil raising one wheel on the kerb. Third time lucky, Neil forced a gap at the first hairpin, but on the climb out towards the bottom hairpin it was Brian that got the drive, and as the road fell again to entry he had the line. Neil was side-by-side on the long climb away but Brian was clear by the Samsung Corner and held a second’s advantage by the top, double-apex. Neil focussed on line and caught up in by inch through the final loop, then got another slingshot out of the final corner. At Turn 1, now on what would be the final lap, it was Neil that was able to cut across Brian’s bow to seize the initiative. Brian fought back repeatedly, almost getting a nose in at the bottom hairpin, but Neil held firm.

Nigel and Steve were long gone by now, thirty and thirteen seconds up the road respectively for the first two positions in class, and Neil came home third and fastest JAP, just ahead of Brian’s similar mount, only for the former to run out of fuel on the slowing down lap. Doubly frustrating for Brian is that one more lap would not only have eliminated Neil, but Nigel also had his gearbox fail on that slow down - but for a couple of miles, fourth could have been second.

Nigel Ashman, Race 1 winner in the Dick Irish Kieft

If that battle was busy, the one behind was just as busy. A slow-starting Roy Hunt pushed through to lead the 5th place battle by the end of lap 2, but had Martin Sheppard (running particularly well) and George Shackleton in tow. James Holland was also showing well, tailing James Gray until the latter’s retirement, and hanging off the trio ahead. James H’s run came to an end at the Top Corner, fifth time around, a spin at the blind entry, double apex corner - although on tarmac runoff, recalcitrant marshals and not being close enough to the downhill run for a bump start did it for him.

Roy eased away from the pursuing duo, making time as their battle slowed them. George had a golden move into the final hairpin that started the final return to the start, repeatedly diving past the silver Cooper, only for Martin to laboriously draw back along the long, long straight. Of the three, only George would take the flag. First, Roy had something of a moment at the Top Corner when the Martin’s rubber band rear suspension collapsed - a bumpy ride (onlooker James Holland convinced he was going to flip over). Roy puttered around in the hope, successful as it turned out, that this was the final lap. George was long gone, but there was a long gap back to the next group and Roy collected sixth in class. But that should fairly have fallen to Martin, for whom another good run was scuppered. At least this time it wasn’t another expensive engine job - attacking George into the back hairpin as they came up to lap Paul Hewes, Paul turned in and across the bows of Martin. On brake and throttle at the same time, inevitably the chain broke.

Next group on the road provided the longest battle of the race. David Stevenson, Nigel Challis and Mark Palmer were joined by Mike Gilbert, the Wishart differentiating the three dark green, late-model Coopers. It is impossible to explain quite how much overtaking was going on in this group, which lasted for almost the entire race. From the start line it was much like a cycling echelon, each driver methodically working their way to the front of the group only to immediately drop to the back and start again. In the event, Mike was leading when the flag came out, a nose ahead of Nigel, David’s engine failing on the run to the line in a cloud of smoke, and Mark retiring on the last lap.

Gilbert Lenoir in the Harry Schell twin leads Shirley Monro, JB Jones and Richard Bishop-Miller. Photo Gilbert lenoir

Into the midst of this came John Jones. JB was giving it the beans and tagged onto the tail of the group on lap 3. Disposing of this mass of Nortons took more time, finally clearing the group beginning lap 5. (and it’s worth remembering quite how basic a chassis the Cousy is - it really should not suit a track like Portimão). Despite getting clear, John’s eyes were already on his mirrors. With its oversize engine, David Coursier’s DB was having no trouble cutting through the field from his even-more delayed start. Paying no attention to the fact that it was not in class, JB was keen to open a gap before the other French car cleared the group, and equally was unaware of how much faster the DB was. The Cousy held strong for a lap, but once past, David was quickly away. A big moment brought them together again, but eventually the DB prevailed.

JB was eventually classified 16th overall, which came as something of a surprise. One of several timing problems through the weekend, it would appear that his pit lane start had registered his first lap as the green flag lap. John protested and was correctly re-attributed with that lap for ninth overall and seventh in the 500cc class (albeit that he seems to have forgotten the circumstances of his “pole” lap from Cadwell a couple of years back...). It was a heck of a drive though.

This wasn’t even the last of the racing. Shirley Monro was having that rarity of late, a trouble-free weekend. A tentative start put her behind her group of peers but, able for once to concentrate ahead rather than listen for noises from behind, the Shirley of old came through. Paul Hewes and Hakan were soon dealt with, but Patrick took a bit longer. One mistake and Patrick was back through, but Shirley again reasserted herself. Patrick tried to hold on, but eventually slipped back towards Hakan who was another to suffer (relatively slight) fuelling issues. Richard Bishop-Miller was enjoying himself hugely around the back of the circuit, but the fuel starvation problems had him merely cruising along the main straight awaiting the refilling if the gravity-feed tank without risking the engine dying (or worse). And last man home was Paul Hewes.

 Race 1 Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Class Time Laps Best

Fastest Lap: Nigel Ashman - Kieft CK52-Norton: 2:28.640

DNF: Martin Sheppard - Cooper Mk XII-Norton, James Holland - Cooper Mk VIII-JAP, Roy Wright - Flash Special-Norton, James Gray - Comet-JAP, Stuart Wright - Dastle-JAP, Mike Fowler - Cooper Mk XI-Norton, Mike Bell - Cooper Mk X-JAP        DNS: Darrel Woods - Cooper Mk VIII-Norton, Richard Utley - JBS-Norton, Gordon Russell - Mackson-JAP


Invitation Class: Patrick Jamin - Racer Boyer - Honda, David Coursier - DB-Panhard, Gilbert Lenoir - Cooper Mk IV-JAP, Gerard Datan - DB-Panhard

Report by Richard Hodges

1 Nigel Ashman Kieft CK52-Norton B 22:41 10 2:28.640
2 Steve Jones Cooper Mk X-Norton C 22:55 10 2:30.254
3 Neil Hodges Cooper Mk VIII-JAP C 23:01 10 2:31.854
4 Brian Joliffe Cooper Mk IX-JAP C 23:02 10 2:31.380
5 George Shackleton Cooper Mk VI-JAP B 23:46 10 2:35.543
6 Roy Hunt Martin-Norton B 24:11 10 2:34.965
7 JB Jones Cousy-Triumph C 24:33 10 2:39.259
8 Mike Gilbert Cooper Mk IX-Norton C 24:47 10 2:42.321
9 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII-Norton C 24:47 10 2:41.655
10 David Stevenson Cooper Mk VIII-Norton C 24:51 10 2:42155
11 Shirley Monro Cooper Mk IV-JAP A 22:38 9 2:46.597
12 Patrick Morin Cooper Mk XI-JAP C 22:38 9 2:49.002
13 Hakan Sandberg JBS-Triumph B 23:01 9 2:49.693
14 Richard Bishop-Miller Cooper Mk II-JAP A 23:55 9 2:53.692
15 Mark Palmer Wishart Mk II-Norton C 27:20 9 2:42.825
16 Paul Hewes Cooper Mk XI-Norton C 24:50 9 2:59.802

Race 2 - Sunday

When the celebration and chatter were over, there was usual work to do in the pits. The circuit had certainly taken its toll on clutches and gearboxes, with both Nigel Ashman and Mike Fowler in trouble with the latter (but not alone in that). But by late afternoon, most cars were being reassembled and the pit area was slowly emptying of the “redshirts” kindly arranged by Carol Woods and worn by most of the teams. Only Mike Bell was a definite scratch, despite being resplendent in their own “Team Bell” black Tees. With no spare JAP, and other spares around the Paddock already pressed into service or cannibalised, there was nothing to do but pack up. Mike’s closed-season plan looks to involve applying ducts and louvres to the tail of the Mk X.

Grid order for the noon start was to be the finishing order from Race 1, again starting behind the pace car, a decision that was particularly unfortunate for Mike Fowler (and James Holland and Martin Sheppard deserved better). The gremlin in Darrell’s car had retrenched overnight, and he finally scratched half an hour before start time. Still, twenty five starters (5/6ths of the entry) would be good form for any double-header.

Mike and Nigel down the main straight. Photo Harry Hodges

At the front, things were a little calmer without Mike around. Patrick Jamin was away and gone, and in the 500s Nigel was clearly first. A fairly poor start by Neil left Brain clearly in second. A worse start by Steve Jones made an even worse start falling into the clutches of the next group, and being totally mugged by George (both drivers describing it as one heck of a move).

The low grid position had served only to give Mike a dose of the red misties. Incredibly, he completed lap two ahead of Neil and in third place of the 500s. Bear in mind that not only did he have to pass some rather handy drivers in those first six miles, but many of them were already in tight battles of their own, and often already side-by-side.

Second time through the order of the race was already becoming clear. Nigel held a comfortable lead (or so he thought) from Brian, in turn some eight seconds ahead of Mike and Neil. David Coursier’s DB had no answer to the later Coopers around the twisty sections, but those French horses galloped down the main straight in a cacophony of firecracker exhaust crackling. He was clear of the pack and catching Neil.

A few seconds back, Steve Jones finally had the measure of George and was picking up speed. Another gap, and Martin Sheppard and James Holland were in close company, Nigel Challis unable to hold on but clear of Gilbert Lenoir (that Twin thundering the car along the straight) with James Gray in close company. Roy Hunt had a slight lead on a tight battle between Mike Gilbert, John Jones (terrible start) and Mark Palmer. Completing the field, Patrick Morin overhauled Richard Bishop-Miller (fuelling finally sorted, and able to attack), Hakan, Shirley and Paul. Already, Stuart Wright had retired, continued surge problems on the Dastle catching him out with the engine dying mid-corner. And trickling into the pits were David Stevenson (more engine trouble) and Roy Wright - unable to solve his overheating troubles, Roy had a cunning plan to do pit, wait for the engine to cool, and get out for the last couple of laps.

Up front, Mike was already cutting into Brian’s lead, by a couple of seconds and more, and Nigel was not getting away up front. It certainly looked like he may be in for a surprise in the closing stages. Completing the third lap, David Coursier moved to take Neil, completing a tidy block pass at the first corner. David covered the line at the second corner, but promptly spun across Neil’s bows at the now infamous Top Turn. David was going again some 15 seconds later, only Steve Jones able to take advantage, and already moving in on Neil. George, Martin, James H and Nigel C were separated by a second or two each, Nigel falling off the tail but unchallenged. After another gap, Roy Hunt had picked up speed, picking off James Gray and Gilbert Lenoir, only for the latter to come back when the road straightened.

Neil takes the hairpin. Photo Paul Philcox

After a gap, Mike Gilbert was now alone. Mike had made a poor start with a slipping clutch, but somehow managed to bring it back enough to complete the race, albeit tentatively and with no added drama. His early battlers had their own troubles. Mark Palmer was losing revs, and eventually retired after five laps. JB didn’t even get that far. First the gearstick connection fell apart - John grabbed the linkage stick to keep going (hampered by having to think every time “Is pull up or down?” And there are a lot of changes needed at Portimão). To end his misery, the engine called time on the third lap and he coasted into the pits. Patrick Morin was having a good race. He eased to the front of the tail group, first holding off Richard (still with some fuel issues, but then slowed by clutch problems), then a good battle with a feisty Shirley (who first had to battle clear of Hakan).

On lap 4, Roy Hunt had a half spin, rattling over the kerbing. Carrying on, he felt the handling was a bit off and headed for pit lane, there to discover the problem to be a clean snap of the main chassis tube. A half lap later, James Holland’s race came to an end with a bang, from the engine bay - a disappointing end for what will hopefully be a return (to both form and more regular appearances at the races) in 2011. Mike Fowler had the gap to Brian down to three seconds, and behind, Steve was looking to put a move on Neil. Next came George, separated from Martin by David’s DB, which had gone round again. James Gray had overhauled the Cooper Twin, which was suffering more and more fuel problems eliminating its strength.

By lap 5, Mike was on Brian, but that was as far as he got. The rebuilt gearbox seized and he pulled off on the sixth lap. Brian couldn’t rest though, as Steve was now catching, showing his typical form of getting faster and faster through the race. That left Neil all on his own, comfortably clear of the DB, which had easily overhauled George, but was too far adrift to have another run at the Swedish Cooper. Martin was keeping George in sight, and was a good twenty seconds clear of Nigel Challis in ninth place on the road. Now on his own, James Gray was making some headway into Nigel’s lead.

There followed an interesting battle of the early cars and the walking wounded. Gilbert Lenoir (fuel) held a small lead on Mike Gilbert (clutch), followed by Shirley, Patrick (clutch), and Hakan (one of two fuel pumps failed), the latter passing a slowing Richard (fuel & clutch). Paul motored on, lapped at the end of his fifth lap. And as promised, Roy Wright rejoined the fray for a final flourish. Unfortunately, the magneto hadn’t cooled enough, and whilst he puttered to complete two more slow laps, he was back in the pits on the leaders’ seventh lap and didn’t get to see the flag.

So it all looked to be settled. Nigel Ashman looked safe, but Steve looked set to overhaul Brian for second 9of the 500s). That he did, but not the way he expected. Towards the end of lap 8, Brian was the latest to have his gearbox seize up, and he nursed the Cooper back to the pits and retirement. As they started the final lap, David Coursier was clear of George, in turn clear of Martin, although the latter was getting a bit racy ad closed the gap noticeably. Nigel Challis was on his own, but James Gray, the last of the unlapped (by the much faster Jamin) runners was catching fast.

But there were some final twists in the tail. Three quarters of the way around that final lap, Nigel’s gearbox called time, and left the Kieft jammed in top gear. His immediate reaction was to park it and save what was left, but on a hunch he guessed that it was probably the last lap (the race being time-based) and nursed up hill and down dale (one being a more considerable challenge than the other). His hunch was correct, and he kept left for the chequered flag rather than pit lane. But he had no answer to first Steve, then Neil, who motored past for the top two steps on the podium. Yes, a lucky victory, but you have to be there when it counts.

The DB, George and Martin duly trailed in, happy with their drives. But Nigel Challis got a shock with bandits and 12 o’clock in the shape of the Comet. James saw one chance and went for it. The result though was a half-spin rather than sixth in class. Still, as the final unlapped car, he trailed in dutifully behind the Chairman. the remainder had mostly already finished, having been lapped by the non-period Boyer, and whilst most were crippled in some way, there was no expensive damage.

Race 2 Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Class Time Laps Best

Fastest Lap: Nigel Ashman - Kieft CK52-Norton: 2:30.217

DNF: Mike Fowler - Cooper Mk XI-Norton, Mark Palmer - Wishart Mk II-Norton, James Holland - Cooper Mk VIII-JAP, Roy Hunt - Martin-Norton, Roy Wright  - Flash Special-Norton, JB Jones - Cousy-Triumph, David Stevenson - Cooper Mk VIII-Norton, Stuart Wright - Dastle-JAP

DNS: Mike Bell - Cooper Mk X-JAP, Darrell Woods - Cooper Mk VIII-Norton, Richard Utley - JBS-Norton, Gordon Russell - Mackson-JAP

Invitation Class: Patrick Jamin - Racer Boyer-Honda, David Coursier - DB-Panhard, Gilbert Lenoir - Cooper Mk IV-JAP, Gerard Datan - DB-Panhard

Points Table

1 Steve Jones Cooper Mk X-Norton C 23:00 9 2:30.645
2 Neil Hodges Cooper Mk VIII-JAP C 23:09 9 2:32.046
3 Nigel Ashman Kieft CK52-Norton B 23:13 9 2:30.217
4 George Shackleton Cooper Mk VI-JAP B 23:54 9 2:36.747
5 Martin Sheppard Cooper Mk XII-Norton C 24:03 9 2:36.343
6 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII-Norton C 24:48 9 2:41.790
7 James Gray Comet-JAP B 24:55 9 2:41.198
8 Brian Joliffe Cooper Mk IX-JAP C 20:43 8 2:31.976
9 Shirley Monro Cooper Mk IV-JAP A 22:37 8 2:43.951
10 Mike Gilbert Cooper Mk IX-Norton C 22:41 8 2:44.836
11 Patrick Morin Cooper Mk XI-JAP C 22:43 8 2:45.749
12 Hakan Sandberg JBS-Triumph B 23:24 8 2:49.499
13 Paul Hewes Cooper Mk XI-Norton C 24:10 8 2:55.586
14 Richard Bishop-Miller Cooper Mk II-JAP A 24:25 8 2:50.645

Printable caption required. Photo Robin Shackleton

and one for the ladies...... Photo by Zula

Portuguese bureaucracy had one final twist to play, preventing the trucks from coming into the circuit. As ever, the 500s found a way, clubbing together to get the cars out and loaded in double-quick time. Anyone who saw John Jones sitting atop the brakeless Cousy as it freewheeled downhill into the access tunnel (and pedestrians within), could only be reminded of Slim Pickens’ final scene in Dr Strangelove, riding the bomb! But most illustrative was Martin Sheppard’s car being manhandled and podged into Brian Joliffe’s truck alongside Brian’s own cars for the return home - you don’t get that sort of clubbing together with the Grand Prix cars. And that’s why we’re the friendliest Paddock you’ll find.

As a final note, particular comment is necessary for the organisation of this event. Not only was it the biggest undertaking of its kind in the Association’s history, but it broke new ground in what we are capable of.

The logistics of shipping the cars and equipment across Europe effectively made the event possible, and saved most entrants an enormous amount of hassle. For this, arranging the races and generally dealing with Portuguese bureaucracy (and after everyone experienced it signing on, you can appreciate the enormity of that particular task), particular plaudits are due to “Cap’n” Nigel Challis. The other Nigel - Ashman - should also be applauded for dealing with the other liaison elements, arranging meals and social functions, and securing a pool source of methanol. Joining him were Nikki Jones, Carol Woods, Sally Russell and Susie Barford, who also took on that most difficult task of extracting money from drivers’ wallets.

That it came together so well says more for their hard work than the laissez-faire attitude of the 500 paddock - just because you didn’t see it doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening in the background. A huge thank you is due to all of them.

In short, while we endured a few frustrations and difficulties, the 500 Owners spirit of friendly competition on track and friendly cooperation off track resulted in a terrific weekend that was not only a lot of fun in the sun but set a standard that some of the older participants could never have dreamed of just a few years ago. It'll' take a winter to recover though....

The French just have to show off. Patrick and Nicole Morin with Maurice enjoy the farewell dinner