Donington Park Report – July 29th 2018
July 2018 will go down in the history books as a month of record high temperatures and a complete lack of rain, until Sunday 29th July that is! Actually Donington was on the edge of the rain band that swept the country, so whilst there was some rain, it was never as bad as some areas, and the racing never seemed in doubt!
The Entry and Practice – There were 33 cars on the track in what was the biggest grid of the year! (If some of the late with-drawls had made it we would have a record entry) There were a welcome number of guest drivers in the ‘Invitation Class’ (Class I) some returnees and plenty of regulars!
In the event it was one of our own drivers, Jason Davies, who took Pole Position in the wet practice session with a time of 1.25.842 (0.231 clear of the 2nd place man) It was Jasons first race of the year, and he entered Class I, as he was so busy getting the car ready, he had not registered for points! 2nd fastest was the quick guest Dave Cockell with a standard looking Mk 6 Ford Escort, that was the classic ‘Wolf in Sheeps clothing’. On the second row was another guest Mike Cutt with a wild looking BMW E26 M3 but he was joined by Chris Everill who was the first of the WSSCC points scorers. Another guest Paul Wollfit was 5th but he was joined by Fabio Luffarelli, the 2nd of the WSSCC points scorers!
As the full grid is on TSL, (including our guests, who we decided to split into Class IA for the fastest cars, Class IB for 2 litre Fwd cars and Class IB for the 1.6 cars), I’ll concentrate on the WSSCC entries. Mike Moss, the current points leader was 9th in his Class CS Caterham, and was full of the delights of driving an open top car in the rain. ‘My Racesuit is soaked through and as I haven’t got another I just hope it dries out before the race.’ In 15th was Mark Williams, clearly at home in the wet. In 16th was Ellis Wiggins, the 2nd CS car, then a guest driver, and then Simon Hutchins (3rd in CS) then another guest driver, and then in 20th place, was Nick Rocke! Nick was closely followed, in 21st Place by Colin Dunn (Class BT). Then another guest driver and in 23rd place was Gareth Haycock, who was re-united with his V6 Golf, and had now moved into Class CS and took Pole for the class as Damian Longatano was languishing down in 28th after being plagued by a lack of grip. Actually he was behind Darren Hockley (a Class IB Contender) in 26th and Andy 88 Williams in 27th, but they were all due for a boost after 2 of our guests pulled out, leaving some empty spaces on the Grid, Daniel McKay, and Jasver Sapra. Jas lost his wing of his BMW in Practice, and as he is 2nd in Kuhmo Tyres championship, decided some discretion was best for him. (Shame that because he was a very late entry and I was hoping to say hello to both him and Daniel).
Tight behind Damian was Melissa Lufarelli (29th) , and then Blake Edwards (30th). Blake managed to set a time on his 2nd lap, which is just as well, as he spent the rest of the session throwing his Clio at the scenery! First he went into the gravel trap (aka ‘the Kitty litter’) at Redgate and had to manoeuvred back on the track by the Redgate snatch vehicle! Not content with that he went off again, near the end of the session! ‘The tyres I had were just a semi sort of wet and weren’t up to it!’ Karl Mason was our last guest ahead of Verity Banks, who was 32nd driving Tyrone Luffarellis spare car. (Tyrone was on hand to support Verity) Alan Smith was 33rd and the last WSSCC point scorer in the Ford Ka!
Race 1 -15 mins plus 1 lap – rolling start
In between practice and the race, the rain showers eased and then came back, and driven by a strong wind, it made the track truly wet! So there was no dilemma as to what tyres to use!
As the grid made it’s way back to the start-line, front row man Dave Cockell drove straight into the pit-line and then the paddock, with a lack of turbo power after a pipe had come adrift!
This left Jason on his own as he lead the pack down into Redgate for the first time. Jason looked to be in his element and began to build a 7 second lead over Mike Cutt. But more on that story later!
3rd & 4th on the road was Chris Everill and Fabio Luffarelli but Chris began to draw away as the they came up to lap, the back markers which included Melissa Luffarelli who was having a big struggle that unfortunately lasted all race long! Melissa could only manage 8 laps in the end, but at least she finished! We had already lost 3 of our guests, Dave Cockell, Rick Jessop and John Dee, when late on Colin Dunn also was a DNF! ‘ I was overdriving due to a misfire and spun into the gravel at Craner. More on that story later
On 9 laps Blake Edwards was 26th Karl Mason was 25th and Verity Banks was a respectable 24th with Alan Smith in a great 23rd place. Andrew Williams was 22nd and Simon Hutchins was 21st and but for a last lap spin, in front of Damian Longotano, was look to stay on 10 laps and was in 7th place for a lot of the time. Later he commented ‘Despite learning that I’m not very good in the rain, had a great time at Donington, and thanks very much for all the close but safe driving (and for dodging me when I span, twice…. especially Damian!!.
Most of the rest of the grid was on 10 laps! From 5th to 10th place was a gaggle of guest cars, with Kirk Armitage in his BMW M3 who put in an excellent drive to pull up from 11th place and was given the ‘Driver of the Race’ award for his entertaining drive! (Which went down well with Kirk and his 3 little children!) In 6th Place was David Jones (Ford Focus) who was the Class IB winner and Paul Woolfit 7th (Lotus Excige) and 8th Scott Hubel (Peugeot 205T)
In 9th place was WSSCC scorer Mark Williams and his immaculate Class CT winning VW, with Mike Moss 10th and the Class BS winner. Mike had a good grid position, but lost a lot of places at the start, when he couldn’t get a gear! Mike had a good dice with Mark with Simon Hutchins early on, but later with guests Gary Bowers and Darren Moon and Ellis Wiggins who also in the mix, and was 13th! Nick Rocke was 14th, and had switched back to Class BT , and took the BT win, after Colin Dunns faux pas! Gareth Haycock was 15th and was justifiably proud of his regenerated VW V6 Golf! Gareth had switched to Class CS and he was a Class Winner on his debut! Gareth was at the head of a ducking & diving bunch of guest drivers including Darren Hockley! In 20th place was Damian Longatano the last driver on 10 laps.
Back at the front Jason Davies had drawn out a 7 second lead over Mike Cutts’ BMW M3. Chris Everill was 3rd in his 69 red Ginetta G50 and Fabio was 4th in car 70, and was the last driver to complete 11 laps! As Jason looked on his way to a race one win, he came across a gaggle of backmarkers, just as Colin Dunn spun into the gravel! The yellow flags came out and that forced Jason to back off! This gave the advantage of Mike Cutt, who was able to catch Jason, and did a slingshot past as they passed out of the ‘Yellow’ zone! Mike put the hammer down and tried to draw away, but Jason responded and set the races fastest lap on final lap of the race, and was only 0.194 behind at the chequered Flag!
We had the lunch break after the end of the race and shortly after the rain lessened, (although the wind didn’t!) We had planned to use the Aston Martin marquee to do the prize-giving, but due to weather they decided not to erect it! Due to the prospect of more rain later it was decided to walk around & deliver the Race 1 Awards.
Race 2 -15 mins plus 1 lap – rolling start
By the time of our 2nd race of the day the rain had largely eased and the wind was having a dry effect and with 3 races on track before our race, it seemed that a dry line was showing.
Shortly after the start we lost one of guests and Colin Dunn, ‘We hadn’t fixed the electrical gremlins and the engine cut out on the first corner. So far we’ve found duff battery, alternator and some loose wiring to a relay. I’m very disappointed with the result as I was making great progress in race 1. I love the wet conditions and I was having great fun racing amongst the big grid. I don’t get much luck when we travel to the East Midlands. I had a double dnf at Mallory last year too.
Colin was starting from the back, along with the other DNF finishers, 3 guests including Jon Dee, Rick Jessop and the very rapid Dave Cockell! For Jason the priority was to build a big enough lead, to keep himself out of reach of a late challenge from Dave! Jason banged in an early series of quick laps to establish a lead over race 1 winner Mike Cutt, who was 2nd. Chris Everill was 3rd and he had Kirk Armitage and Fabio for close company. However Fabios race didn’t last long this time, as he pulled off with the Corrado on Fire! ‘The marshals were on the scene quickly and not only put the fire out, but sprayed powder over me and my helmet as well as the car!’ Fabios problem let guest driver Scott Hubel have a run on to Chris Everill, but Chris was out of reach! . Dave Cockell was already on the move and was up to 6th by lap 2! Also on the move was Damian Longotano and they came on Mike Moss who became sandwiched between Damian & Jon Llanon and his Citroen Saxo. Meanwhile Mark Williams had made an excellent start and was dicing with guest Gary Bowers when they were joined by the Damian, Jon & Mike trio! At the end Damian was 7th with Mike Moss 8th and closely followed across the line by Guest driver Gary Bowers! Damian was 1st in Class CT & Mike was 1st in CS. Mark Williams was 10th and the CT winner. Simon Hutchins was 13th, with Darren Hockley 14th and Ellis Wiggins 15th only a second behind. The dicing Yorkshire Mini Miglia duo of Darren Moon & Rick Jessop had a race long dice to 15th & 16th Gareth Haycock was 17th. In 20th place Andrew Williams found his himself winning Class BT, after Nick Rocke became the final retirement. Nick was pushing on well, when he found he had trouble getting all his gears, which escalated into a complete lack of drive, when he was almost within sight of the line. Nick thought that it might be the output shaft that may have broken! Melissa was 21st , and the Class M winner, after a big dice with Blake Edwards. Verity was 23rd after passing Alan Smith who was the final finisher in 24th place. All the while at the front Jason was lapping so quickly that it was hard to check on the rest of the field!
Jason was leading from Mike Cutt, Kirk Armitage and Chris Everill. By lap 10 Dave Cockell had joined them. Armitage and Chris Everill were almost joined together, but as if it meant to remind us, it started to drizzle again!
Dave Cockell took advantage and leapfrogged Chris &Kirk, to put pressure on Mike Cutt. Dave was pushing like mad and he passed Mike on the last lap and threw everything into trying to catch Jason. However it was all in vain as Jason romped home with a 24 second advantage at the cheqeured flag! So Jason took the race win, with guest drivers 1st, 2nd & 3rd Chris Everill in 4th the first WSSCC points scorer!
After Jason said ‘It’s a bit of shame that Dave wasn’t on the front row for this race as I’m sure it would have been interesting!’ Even so Jason was justly awarded ‘Driver of the Race’
The rain seemed to be back as hard as ever, as we went around to deliver the awards, and later Alan & Mike made an early exit as they both had got soaked for the second time! It was only then that we found out it was Alans birthday! Happy birthday mate!
Packing up was a bit of chore for some! Mike Moss had to ‘bin’ his gazebo as it collapsed under the strain, despite the help from a few willing hands. In typical motorsport fashion, on the way home the rain stopped, and the sun came out!
Later we had a chorus of emails giving us some great feedback from our guest drivers such as this one. ‘Absolutely loved the racing, it was a great family day out. Everyone at the club and in the paddock was approachable and friendly. On track, all the racers seemed to be aware of the conditions and drove to them and if being lapped were very observant, which was a revelation’
So we certainly made a great number of new friends, who would be looking to support us when we go back to Donington. That’s a ‘when’ not an ‘if’