|Snetterton John Cooper Trophy 24th April 2005|
The 2005 season got underway with the fifth running of the John Cooper Memorial Trophy at Snetterton, organised by Richard Culverhouse’s CSCC. It was good to see Richard Fry back in the paddock with his motor home and our thanks go to Richard and Kevin for their hospitality, the “over-nighters” all enjoyed their paddock barbeque. We hope to arrange more of these through the season.
Against expectations, Sunday dawned warm and dry. Qualifying turned up the usual first race problems and was interrupted by red flags when Shirley had a spin at Esses, caused by the carburettor detaching itself. James Culver dominated the timesheets but behind him, there were indications that we might be in for a very competitive race, with Mike Fowler completing the front row and Neil Hodges just a fraction behind. Bob Culver set a slow time, but was confident of being back on pace in the afternoon. As was Geoff Gartside, whose times were compromised by a rear shock absorber breaking loose.
In the race, ten cars got away cleanly from the grid. James Culver surged ahead from pole, but as he reached for third gear, found nothing. This dropped him to the back of the field and slightly baulked a couple of others. Bob and Geoff had made superb starts, and as the cars rounded Sears onto the straight we had a six car battle for the lead. Into the Esses for the first time, a very determined Geoff moved to the front. The cars completed the first lap four abreast, with Bob sneaking into the lead. Meanwhile, James had collected himself and was beginning his charge back to the front, albeit at a reduced pace. Still without third gear, he would set the fastest lap fifth time around. Shirley was caught out by the borrowed (from Paul Hewes) Cooper and spun into retirement at the Russell chicane first time round. The battle at the front continued, with Bob, Geoff, Mike, Richard Utley, Paul and Neil swapping positions regularly, and James catching quickly. Paul would retire on the third lap with a thrown chain, and Geoff slowed when his inlet trumpet had worked loose, costing him power He kept going, eventually finishing a distant sixth.
Further back, John Chisholm would retire with a burnt piston. John had lost first gear in qualifying, losing him time at the start. But with his JAP engine running cleanly at last, he was able to show the pace of the Arnott, staying close to Steve Jones Cooper MkIV. Steve continued comfortably ahead of Geoff before retiring.Up ahead, Bob had eked out a two second advantage over Mike, who was coming under pressure from James. After one grassy moment at Russell, he got past for a Culver one-two. But the missing third gear caused James another excursion, allowing Mike back through. James fought back but ran out of laps, finishing a fraction behind for third place.
Mike Fowler on his way to second in the Mk V Norton