Snetterton CSCC Results 050408

Snetterton John Cooper Trophy 5th April 2008

There are times when your reporter begins to think that motor racing should be reclassified as a winter sport...... With forecasts of the worst kind, it was quite incredible that we mustered twenty two entries for this so called Spring meeting, the John Cooper Memorial Trophy at Snetterton. As things turned out, both qualifying and race were actually held in almost dry conditions, although the cold temperatures meant little grip and quite a few spins but we endured rain showers, hail and just the odd sunny spell through the day.


The morning practice session was a shambles to say the least. After the (now mandatory) noise tests on entering the Assembly Area, the cars were finally released to the pit lane to begin the session and immediately shown a mixture of red and green flags so after one slow lap, all returned to the paddock to be informed that the tests would have to be re-done. By the time this was competed, the session was over so qualifying would be combined with the Formula Junior practice. This session, in turn, proved complicated when many of the Formula Juniors were sent back from the crowded Assembly Area for noise testing but eventually nearly everyone got out to try for a time, although a few missed the cut and would have to qualify even later behind the course car. Only Kerry Horan's Trenberth failed to qualify, a split fuel tank putting him out for the day. The combination of low grip and crowded corners persuaded many that discretion was the better part of valour and times were well off most people's personal best. Combining the sessions also served to complicate life for the timing clerk so it was early afternoon before we found out the running order. Neil Hodges took the pole with a 1:36.32 with Nigel Ashman only five hundredths of a second behind, Nigel demonstrating that his form at Mallory in the first round was no one off performance now that he's back in his Mk XI Cooper Norton. Row two would be David Lecoq, for his first race of the year, in the Petty Norton and Simon Frost in a borrowed Cooper Mk IX. Roy Hunt's Martin and Mike Fowler made up row three, Mike still coming to terms with the more flexible chassis of his Mk V. Gordon Russell in the Mackson and James Holland's Mk VIII made up the fourth row, good performances for JAP engined cars on this fast circuit. At the back of the grid was John Potts' lovely Monaco the earliest 500 actively competing.

A mixed up practice session as Mike Gilbert and Darrell Woods find the Lotus 20 of Michael Lyons on the inside. Photo Kitty Chisholm.

Fettling was most mostly minor during the break, quite remarkable given the number of starts that everyone had been forced into, but both Equipe Hewes JAPs were in serious trouble as was Darrell Woods' Creamer. The rest had to content themselves with grumbling about the weather.

That'll be Hewes' JAP then, above. Right, John Potts' Monaco. Photos by Philippe Giron.


The race start also turned into a French farce as, having agreed with the organisers that there would be no green flag lap, the front men arrived in position to see the lights go out immediately, before the grid had formed. They waited in vain for the 5 second board while some of the tail enders were sent down the pit lane and performed a lap of their own! Considering the interminable delay for the actual start a remarkable number got away eventually but there were some inevitable stalls and failed clutches, Roy Hunt being amongst them. John Chisholm's Arnott was another victim, forced to try to pull away in second, causing irreparable damage to the clutch and he would be out after five laps. The front row of Hodges and Ashman both got off the line cleanly and ran neck and neck towards Riches, the power of Nigel's Norton taking him a nose ahead as they approached. Neil, on the wrong, inside line had to give best and lost momentum through the short straight to Sear's allowing Nigel to take a couple of cars lengths lead down the Revett Straight. Simon Frost had made a good start from the second row to catch Neil at Sear's and his Norton was enough to take the inside line into the Esses for second. Simon and Neil battled through Coram and into the Russell chicane, both taking more kerb than ideal, Simon's eagerness to get on the throttle early proving his undoing as he spun round on the exit. All this allowed Nigel Ashman to extend his lead to half a dozen car lengths and Dave's Petty through into third as they crossed the line for the first time. The race looked to be over but, having gathered his thoughts, Simon set about a terrific fight back, setting a string of fastest times, the best being a 1:33.9, over 5 seconds faster than his qualifying time! Neil Hodges hadn't quit either and spent most of the race chipping away at Nigel's lead, taking a few tenths each lap but not enough in the time available. His break came when they engaged a group of back markers, enjoying their own fight, just as they arrived at the end of the Revett straight and had to deal with them through the Esses, Bomb Hole, Coram section. Suddenly the gap was down to a matter of hundredths as they arrived at the chicane. Neil managed a better exit and was able to slip stream up the Senna straight, pulling alongside in time to take the corner. What neither realised was how close Simon now was and he promptly took both on the Revett straight. Neil's attempt at a fight back only led to a grassy moment at the exit of Coram but he retained his place into the chicane. The final order being Simon Frost, Neil Hodges and Nigel Ashman, all in Coopers. David Lecoq came in fourth in the Petty having had a fairly lonely race with Mile Fowler fifth and Mark Woodhouse sixth in the Martin, having spun on the first lap and spending the rest of the race playing catch up. James Holland went well with a significantly improved time from qualifying but a failed gear linkage left him stuck in top and allowed Gordon Russell's Mackson through to take seventh. The final un-lapped cars were Nigel Challis and Tony Steele, guesting in the Kieft, finishing with a few hundredths separating them. Sadly, David Whiteside missed a gear and bent a valve as a result on the last lap. Another consistent performance by Nigel gives him a slender lead in the championship from Neil with John Turner and Simon Frost, equal on points, close behind.

Simon demonstrates how air gives less grip than tarmac, shortly before spinning....  Photo Kitty Chisholm.

Classified Finishers

Pos Name Car Time Laps Best

Fastest Lap: Simon Frost - Cooper Mk XI 1:33.959

DNF: David Whiteside - Cooper Mk VII, John Chisholm - Arnott, John Potts - Monaco, Roy Hunt - Martin, Hakan Sandberg - JBS, Paul Hewes - Cooper Mk VIII  DNS Simon Hewes - Cooper Mk VIII, Kerry Horan - Trenberth

1 Simon Frost Cooper Mk XI 16:11 10 1:33.959
2 Neil Hodges Cooper Mk VIII 16:12 10 1:35.667
3 Nigel Ashman Cooper Mk XI 16:14 10 1:35.921
4 Dave Lecoq Petty 16:28 10 1:36.023
5 Mike Fowler Cooper Mk V 16:38 10 1:38.182
6 Mark Woodhouse Martin 16:40 10 1:37.532
7 Gordon Russell Mackson 17:04 10 1:40.141
8 James Holland Cooper Mk VIII 17:20 10 1:39.613
9 Nigel Challis Cooper Mk VIII 17:44 10 1:44.117
10 Tony Steele Kieft CK51 17:44 10 1:43.712
11 Shirley Monro Cooper Mk IV 16:27 9 1:46.123
12 Richard Utley JBS 16:55 9 1:46.633
13 Mike Gilbert Cooper Mk IX 16:58 9 1:48.273
14 Malcolm Bell Cooper Mk X 17:15 9 1:52.408

Points after Round 2

Nigel Ashman led most of the race. Photo Kitty Chisholm.

What appears to be a bizarre tug 'o war between Nigel Challis and Darrell's Creamer (left) and a busy Assembly by Philippe Giron.











Simon Frost poses with the Cooper Mk XI and Equipe Bell looking relaxed (photo Anne Fowler)