The Historic Sports Car Club’s Donington Park race weekend (June 24/25) was a great success with some fantastic racing, notably from Formula Ford and Formula Junior, as very warm weather marked the mid-summer weekend.
The opening Historic Formula Ford race was an absolute stormer as five drivers battled mightily at the front of the pack. As has become the norm this year, the racing was intense, yet respectful and sporting and it was Callum Grant who was in the right place at the right time when the race had to be halted due to a stranded car.
After 11 laps of wheel-to-wheel action, Grant headed five cars over the line in a blanket of less than three quarters of a second, with Linton Stutely, Benn Simms, Matthew Wrigley and Will Nuthall all vying for victory, as four different marques packed out the top five. Sam Mitchell was aiming to go with them as well but was forced out by coil failure.
Battle was redrawn in the second race on Sunday and, once again, the leading contenders were covered by fractions of a second for much of the race. Eventually, Stutely and Grant edged clear but then Grant had a moment and dropped back into the clutches of Wrigley and Simms, leaving Stutely with a handy lead that he took to the flag for a deserved victory in his Royale RP3.
Not to be outdone by the Historic pack, the Classic Formula Fords also delivered some tremendous racing and a hard-earned debut race win for Jake Shortland in the rare Lola T440. FF1600 pundits considered that this could be a first UK win for a T440 for more than 40 years.
The opening race lost Mike Gardner from the lead pack with a detached nose cone on his Crossle 32F and it became a battle between Shortland and category veteran Rick Morris on the run to the flag. After many place changes, Shortland made it by less than a fifth of a second although Morris then dropped back a little on corrected time with a track limit penalty but was still second before Andy Gosling completed the podium.
Gardner made amends in the second race on Sunday when a clash of wheels with Morris sent the Royale off at Redgate and brought out the red flag a couple of laps early. Ben Tinkler, Shortland and Gosling were all well in the mix after another fantastic race.
The Historic Road Sport pack had a single 25-minute race and Kevin Kivlochan was pleased to have his Shelby Cobra back on song following its bump at Cadwell Park in early May. Kivlochan just had the legs on the Morgan pack, though to his great credit John Shaw never stopped chasing his teammate with his Plus 8 and had four seconds in hand over Peter Garland as they rounded out the podium. Best of the smaller engined cars was Jonathan Stringer in his Lotus Seven S2.
It was a good weekend for the new Historic Modsports and Special Saloon Series with a gaggle of new cars and some entertaining racing as they shared the grid with the Historic Touring Cars. In the opening race Ollie Reuben was away and clear in his mighty TVR Griffith when a small electrical fire stopped him on the last lap. At the same time, second placed Paul Sibley also faltered when his MG Midget ran dry after a carburettor fuel leak. Instead, special saloon veteran Tony Davies came through to win in his Vauxhall Firenza from the fire breathing Ford Falcon of Andy Robinson and Steve Watton’s Turner. Steve Platts was the best of the Touring Cars in his Singer Chamois.
On Sunday, Reuben started the TVR from the back of the grid but flew through the field and was into second by the time the pack reached Coppice on the first lap. He then swept ahead for a fine victory as Robinson and Davies wrapped up the podium. Myles Castaldini (Davrian Mk8) had made great progress from the back of the grid after a double driveshaft failure on the line on Saturday, but retired a couple of laps from the flag as Platts again headed the Touring Cars from Nigel Cox (Lotus Cortina).
The Aurora Trophy and Classic F3 grid had no answer to the pace of Rory Smith in his Formula Atlantic Ralt RT4 though in the opening race he took a few laps to find a way around the battling formula 5000s of Neil Glover and Paul Campfield. Once ahead, Smith was able to exploit the handling of the Ralt to move clear of Glover, who now has his ex-Bruce Allison Chevron B37 back in Allison’s original blue livery. Mike Coker completed the overall podium in his Lola T300 once Campfield parked his Chevron at Redgate. Ben Stiles was the best of the Classic F3 pack with his FF2000 Van Diemen RF82.
Sunday’s race was one of attrition and with Campfield non-starting and Glover coasting into an early retirement, Smith was able to romp clear of Jim McGaughay in his Swift DB4. Coker had a scary moment when he went straight on at the chicane before retiring and so it was Frank Lyons who moved up to third, though Stiles chased him like a terrier in the little Van Diemen.
Stephen Nuttall was easily the class of a strong Guards Trophy and Thundersports pack, winning by more than a lap with a commanding performance in his Chevron B8. Mark Dwyer brought his Lenham P69 up into second before the next of the B8s in the hands of David Forsbrey. Series returnee John Davison was a welcome sight in his TVR Griffith and was the best of the GT cars in fourth overall, while Gwyn Pollard topped the small Thundersports contingent in his Royale RP17 once Paul Cope retired his March 75S.
The rear-engined formula Junior race was another cracking affair, as three drivers went wheel-to-wheel for much of the race. Horatio Fitz-Simon, Clive Richards and Sam Wilson battled mightily for lap after lap and changed places constantly. Unfortunately, an inadvertent touch left Wilson with deranged front bodywork and he had to pull off and a trip through the gravel gave Fitz-Simon a deficit to Richards. They still raced hard to the flag and were split by less than a fifth of a second, though Fitz-Simon was later handed a 10 second penalty for excessive weaving on the green flag lap. Up to complete the overall podium came Mark Woodhouse in his Lotus.
In the front-engine Junior pack, Andrew Hibberd was the class of the field and extended a winning margin of more than 20 seconds in his father’s Lola Mk2. Stuart Roach had been praying for rain all day and came very close to having his prayers answered when a short sharp shower fell just as the cars went to the grid. However, the rain stopped, the track quickly dried and Roach could only watch Hibberd rush off into the distance as he settled the Alexis into second from the Condor of Alex Morton.
The 70s Road Sport field also had a longer race, although it was interrupted mid-race by a red flag when John Williams had his Porsche windscreen smashed by an errant seagull on the Craner Curves. Julian Barter was the class of the field before and after the stop and was able to out-distance the battling Jim Dean and Nigel Armstrong while Antony Ross had his TVR 3000M well up in contention in the early laps before retiring.
Rounding out a busy weekend were two strong grids from the Monoposto Racing Club and from the first grid it was Nigel Davers and Matthew Haughton who shared the wins in their Jedi Mk6s. From the second grid, Tony Bishop won all three races in his Dallara F307.