Lawton leaps to Cadwell success

Cadwell Park, 27-28 April 2024

A first trip to Cadwell Park in three years for the Classic Touring Car Racing Club brought maiden wins for three drivers on the challenging circuit dubbed the ‘mini Nurburgring’. Among them was Josh Lawton who flew over the Lincolnshire circuit’s undulating terrain to victory in Classic Thunder.

With double points on offer, Cadwell’s challenge was made all the more difficult by treacherous conditions on Sunday, which sadly led to the second Pre-’66 Touring Car race being cancelled.

Edmundson Electrical Classic Thunder

On just his third race weekend with the club, Josh Lawton delivered on the promise he has shown to date, taking pole position and victory in impressive fashion on Saturday before champion Nick Vaughan hit back on Sunday.

Saturday’s cold temperatures made it particularly difficult to get temperature into the slick tyres on most cars. But Lawton hasn’t yet got his supercharged Honda Civic EG dialled in on full racing rubber and so is currently running treaded tyres. That helped the Hull racer scorch to an 86mph pole lap, 1.4 seconds clear of the field.

The rest were headed by York’s Mike Cutt, his E36-shape BMW M3 itself another 1.4s faster than David Blackie’s more modern M3. Vaughan’s Audi A3 was next, with the Holden Monaro of Andy Wilson fastest of the big Class A cars, fifth overall. Simon Collier’s spaceframe Vauxhall Tigra rounded out the top six.

James Janicki returned to action in repaired – and upgraded – Nissan Skyline R32

The tyre-warming issue meant the field was given two green flag laps before the race, but with the 15-minute race time commencing at the start of the second. When racing got under way, Lawton shot away and led Cutt by 4s at the end of the first lap.

Lawton nearly doubled his advantage on the next tour before a safety car was called when a dislodged barrier was deposited on track through the woodland section of the circuit.

Behind the front pair, Vaughan had jumped into third at the start as Blackie was slow away, dropping outside the top six. The turbocharged Audi was followed by the V8s of Wilson and Andy Robinson (Ford Falcon) and Colin Voyce’s leading historic car.

Sadly, after a couple of laps under caution, red flags came out and the race was declared after effectively only two racing laps. So Lawton claimed his maiden victory from Cutt and Vaughan. Wilson won Class A, while Ian Bower claimed Class C honours in his M3 E36. Paul Finney brought his ex-Olly Allen Ford Fiesta Mk3 out for a play on his local circuit and duly topped Class D.

Pip Finney added colour in hs pretty Ford Fiesta Mk3

Conditions on Sunday were very different after heavy overnight ran continued through the morning, with racing suspended for over two hours. And while a number of drivers opted not to risk their cars, the field was further depleted when Wilson’s Monaro dropped on to a single bank of cylinders during the green-flag laps.

A change to the procedure meant that the race effectively began with a safety-car start, rather than the usual two-by-two rolling affair. Unaware, Cutt mistook Lawton’s signals to drop back. Instead, thinking he was being waved through, Cutt powered ahead and immediately pulled away.

Vaughan managed to further demote Lawton, completing his move as they arrived at the circuit’s iconic Mountain section on the first lap. While Vaughan could not match Cutt’s pace through the first half of the race, it appeared immaterial as the BMW driver was given a 10s penalty for a false start.

Cutt built a lead of 5.4s over the first three laps, giving himself a chance to overcome that penalty. But Vaughan stabilised the gap and then closed back in during the second half of the race, setting the fastest lap in the process. Cutt repelled Vaughan’s challenge to cross the line first, but their places were reversed by the penalty. It completed a rare front-wheel-drive double in the category.

Andy Robinson was a class winner in Aussie V8 Ford Falcon

Behind them, Lawton’s focus shifted to holding onto third. He faced race-long pressure from a fast-starting Blackie and Robinson’s big Falcon as the Civic struggled to put down its power in the conditions.

A moment for Lawton forced Blackie to back off, and he was unintentionally clobbered in turn by the Falcon, but the order remained unchanged: Lawton secured another podium, while Blackie scored his best result in fourth overall, with Robinson claiming Class A honours in fifth.

Joe Collier’s M3 was sixth, ahead of Bower’s Class C-winning example, while AJ Howe climbed from the back of the field to eighth overall – second in class – in his Ford Focus estate after retiring from Saturday’s race on the warm-up lap.

Poultec Classic Race Engines Historic Thunder

Only a thin field of Historic Thunder machinery made the trip to Lincolnshire, with Colin Voyce scoring a double victory in his Mountune-powered Ford Escort Mk1.

Voyce was outqualified by only seven of the more modern Classic Thunder cars and made further progress in Saturday’s truncated race, finishing an impressive sixth overall. The Essex veteran drove cautiously in Sunday’s treacherous conditions, but brought the car home safely to complete a double success, both in Historic Thunder overall and in Class 2.

Colin Voyce’s Mk1 Escort was class of Historic Thunder field

Class 3 honours were closely contested between Tony Davies (Vauxhall Firenza) and Martin Reynolds (Ford Escort Mk2). Davies’s Blydenstein-built car pipped Reynolds to class pole in qualifying with a flying final lap just 0.02 seconds quicker than the Escort’s best.

Reynolds got the jump in the race, only for a loose exhaust manifold to force his retirement, handing Davies class honours. Neither driver started Sunday’s wet race.

Melvin Hooker’s V8-powered Jaguar XJS was the sole runner in Class 3. The Group 44-tribute machine duly claimed the laurels in both races.

Pre-’83 Group 1 Touring Cars

There was a brand-new winner in Pre-’83 Touring Cars as Nick Williamson claimed a first victory in his Rover SD1 – but not before series benchmark Stephen Primett showed everyone the way home in the opener.

In a shortened qualifying session, an under-the-weather Primett put his Ford Escort Mk1 on pole position ahead of the Datsun 510 of Jonathan Corker – Primett’s chief rival from the opening rounds at Donington Park.

On only his second weekend in the Rover, former 750 Motor Club Toyota MR2 man Williamson was the fastest Class B runner, third overall. Mark Cholerton (Escort Mk2) was next, with row three of the grid set to comprise Mark Osborne and teenage debutant Harry Hickton.

Osborne’s Triumph Dolomite Sprint was back after a crown-wheel and pinion failure prevented it racing at Donington, while Mini Challenge racer Hickton was having an outing in his father David’s magnificent Opel Kadett GT/E.

The immaculate Mk1 Escort of Stephen Primett cocks a wheel through Hall Bends

Williamson made the best start to Saturday’s race but, on the narrow circuit, could not find a way past the front-row men. With Hickton electing to start from the back, the rest of the top five remained in grid order as they filed through the opening bends.

Out front, Primett was in fine form and pulled away inexorably to win by an eventual 7.5s. Corker was almost as untroubled on his way to second.

Behind them, Cholerton began putting the pressure on Williamson. He got a run exiting Charlies on lap six of nine, and grabbed third place along the Park Straight. Williamson initially tried to retaliate before dropping away slightly, still winning his class in fourth overall.

Osborne withstood intense pressure from Bob Bullen to finish fifth. Bullen’s Escort was smoking quite heavily for much of the race, earning him a black-and-orange flag. That was upgraded to black as Bullen crossed the finish line after not acknowledging it, but he was allowed to keep the position – albeit with a verbal warning from the clerk of the course.

Malcolm Jeffs debuted new livery on Golf, but suffered loose wheel and high oil temps

Carl Shreeve (Dolomite) was seventh ahead of Hickton, who made rapid early progress before fading in the latter stages of the race.

By the time of Sunday afternoon’s second race, the track had dried from the earlier rain to such an extent that it was the wrong decision to opt for wet tyres, as much of the field did. But Primett and Williamson reaped the rewards of being on the right rubber.

Williamson jumped Cholerton off the line and then snatched second from Corker at Park on lap two of nine. Primett, meanwhile, opened a 2.6s lead on the first lap and was ready to cruise home for a fourth win of the season when he stretched that to 4s over Williamson on lap two.

But fate was to intervene. A valve-spring rocker on the Escort’s Pinto engine failed, leaving it running on three cylinders. Williamson closed in and powered past mid-race, going on to take his first overall win by nearly 5s.

Nick Williamson (middle) scored a maiden Pre-’83 victory

“It’s tough competition,” said the delighted victor. He added: “I know he [Primett] had a problem. Some people were on wet tyres and some were on dry; it was actually fully dry out there so that worked in my favour.”

Primett continued, and such were Corker’s travails with his wet tyres, that the 11-time champion was able to bring his wounded car home for a class-winning second overall. Primett was relieved just to make the finish, let alone complete a maximum points haul for the weekend.

Corker, Cholerton, Osborne and Shreeve completed the top six, with Bullen a non-starter.

Everard Pre-’66 Touring Cars

The packed programme meant that both Pre-’66 Touring Car races were scheduled for Sunday and unfortunately led to the second contest being cancelled. But Ian Thompson produced a fine performance en route to victory in the race that did take place.

Qualifying was held in the dry on Saturday and Thompson secured pole position, the first of three Lotus Cortinas in the top four. The others were driven by Donington winner Peter Smith (third) and Robyn Slater (fourth). Reigning champion Billy Kenneally was the interloper, edging Smith by less than a tenth in his Ford Anglia, some 0.74s off Thompson’s pace.

Fifth fastest was the Hillman Imp Super of James Ibbotson, keenly anticipating Sunday’s expected wet weather, while Barry Sime – racing at the track for the first time since his XR Challenge days a quarter of a century ago – was fastest of a trio of Minis filling positions sixth to eighth.

Thompson’s Cortina led Kenneally’s Anglia in wet Sunday morning race

The race was held in treacherous conditions early on Sunday morning. There was standing water on both the start/finish straight and Park Straight, with rivers of rainwater running across the circuit in places too. It is to the credit of all drivers that, once under way, they completed an uninterrupted race with no significant incidents.

After two green-flag laps, Ibbotson signalled that not all was well aboard his Imp, which was then pushed into the pitlane by marshals ahead of another warm-up lap.

When the race did get going, Thompson converted pole into the lead and was never headed as he secured a maiden victory. But Kenneally impressively kept in touch and set a better lap time as he put the pressure on. While Thompson remained assured in front, the Kent racer looked set for a class-winning second overall until his throttle cable snapped on the final lap – a cruel blow.

The Hillman Imp of Adrian Oliver starred in the wet

Behind them, Smith was beaten off the line by Slater and a fast-starting Dan Lewis (Mini). Lewis then snatched second from Slater after getting a better exit from the Mountain on the first lap. He had no answer to Thompson’s searing pace though, finishing 23s back, but the winner of Class C.

Third overall was the Class E-winning Hillman Imp of Adrian Oliver. The multiple HSCC champion had qualified only 14th (third in class) but revelled in the conditions as he carved through the field in style.

Ibbotson too had pace aplenty. Clutchless, he was able to join the back of the field from the pitlane and scythed his way through to seventh overall (second in class) at the chequered flag, setting the race’s fastest lap in the process.

Ibbotson latched on to a terrific scrap that featured most of the rest of the top 10. The Anglias of Ed Gibbs and father-and-son duo Kevin and Jake Swann were particularly well involved, while the Cortinas of Slater and Smith traded places just in front.

Ed Gibbs was involved in thrilling all-Anglia scrap

Ultimately, Slater beat Smith to fourth overall (and second in class), while Swann Sr won the battle of the Anglias and just held off Ibbotson for sixth. Gibbs had held the upper hand on the final lap but a spin dropped him to an eventual ninth. That was just behind Jake Swann, who limped home with a puncture following side-to-side contact with Gibbs as they slithered around on the wet surface.

Class D honours went to the Austin A40 of two-time champion Luc Wilson.

While the second Pre-’66 race fell victim to the weather, drivers were allowed to join the back of the Pre-’83 grid as guests if they wanted more race action. Ibbotson and Michael Sheraton (Anglia) took up the opportunity, Ibbotson turning around when en route home to do so. The duo proceeded to entertain in sideways style despite Sheraton joining the race late after suspecting he had a tyre problem.

Burton Power Blue Oval Saloon Series

The Blue Oval Saloons joined up with Pre-’93 and Pre-’03 Touring Cars for the weekend, combining to make a busy 30-car field. Three-time champion Piers Grange stretched his winning run to five races in the opener before 2014 title holder Olly Allen claimed his first win since returning to the championship.

Grange’s Smith & Jones-powered Escort Mk2 proved to be quite evenly matched with leading Pre-’93 duo Ian Bower and Stuart Waite, as he split the two in qualifying. Allen’s Duratec-motivated Fiesta Mk6 was next fastest BOSS car, fourth overall. Third-quickest in BOSS, Martin Reynolds (Escort Mk2) was well clear of the rest of the field.

Combined grid awaits the off in Cadwell’s scenic surroundings

Grange jumped into the overall lead at the start of the first race. But it was neutralised as early as lap two when Sam Daffin’s wretched luck continued, clutch failure forcing him to pull over on the Park Straight.

In the cold conditions, Grange’s slick tyres lost temperature while following the safety car, which left him having to mount a defence against the Pre-’93 BMWs for the remainder of the race. It was a little too close for comfort at times but Grange held on to win, with Allen second in BOSS some 4s back.

Reynolds completed the BOSS podium, a long way clear of Class D winner Will Hunt’s Mk6 Fiesta. The Gainsborough man pipped fellow Lincolnshire local Paul Finney (XR2) by just 0.04s at the flag. Class B winner Colin Claxton’s Escort was right behind the pair.

Will Hunt’s smart Mk6 Fiesta was second on Sunday

With the risk of Sunday races falling victim to the weather, Grange elected to return to Cheshire at lunchtime, while on-track activity was suspended. Reynolds had already hot-footed back to Norfolk and the pair therefore missed race two when it eventually took place.

So the way was clear for Allen to take a dominant victory on only his second outing back with the club. He was unable to match the pace of the leading Pre-’93 BMWs, but still managed to finish second on track, more than a minute clear of the BOSS runner-up.

That was Hunt, who repeated his class-winning feat of a day earlier. Tim Mizen’s Mk4 Fiesta completed the BOSS podium ahead of Daffin. With clutch plates replaced, the Ecoboost-powered Mk5 Fiesta steadily worked its way through from the back of the field, its driver very satisfied to finally have a running car at weekend’s end.

Laser Tools Pre-’93 Touring Cars

The Pre-’93 field was bolstered by the return of Jon Olliff-Cooper in a smartly-liveried ex-Ray West BMW M3 E36. Will Davison further increased the category’s Salisbury-based ranks in an ex-Graham Myers E36 while his Pre-’83 E30 awaits parts. And there was an outing for veteran Trevor Kyffin in his pretty Alfa Romeo 75. But none of them could prevent reigning champion Stuart Waite powering to another double in his E36.

Waite was pipped to pole position by less than two tenths by two-time champion Ian Bower’s similar car, and would in fact have to start third on the grid, separated by BOSS man Piers Grange.

Champion Waite again set the pace in his new-for-2024 livery

Terry Davies was next fastest, ahead of Kevin Willis, Davison, Myers and Olliff-Cooper as E36s filled the top seven places on the Pre-’93 timesheet. Shaun Morris suffered an oil-cooler failure in the earlier Classic Thunder session, and had to sit out Pre-’93 qualifying. Luckily, he was able to source a replacement nearby and take up his position at the rear of the grid.

Grange got ahead of Bower at the start of Saturday’s race, leaving the Southampton-based marathon runner having a mirror full of Waite. As the duo rounded the long Charlies right-hander at the start of lap two, Waite sniffed an opening and dived inside his rival just before a safety car neutralised the race.

Upon the resumption, Waite harried overall race leader Grange as Bower kept a watching brief. Despite getting his nose alongside a couple of times, Waite could not dislodge Grange but still claimed maximum Pre-’93 points.

Bower was less than a second behind at the flag, while Davies beat Willis and Davison to the final podium place.

Jon Olliff-Cooper debuted his ex-Ray West BMW, complete with DTM-style livery

Sunday’s rematch was held on a drying track. Waite converted pole position into the race lead but Bower kept the pressure on. He set the fastest lap to that point on the third of nine laps, but a ‘moment’ then dropped him a couple of seconds.

Perhaps trying too hard to make up for it, Bower dipped a wheel onto the grass exiting Park and had a big spin. He lost around 20s but still held third in Pre-’93, behind Davies who was enjoying putting the pressure on BOSS leader Olly Allen.

With Bower’s threat removed, Waite was able to ease home for a fourth win from four races in 2024. Davies could not pass Allen but held second in Pre-’93, with Bower settling for third.

Sole Class C entrant Kyffin twice brought the Alfa home safely for class laurels in both races.

Burty Haulage Pre-’03 Touring Cars

Another driver who remains unbeaten in 2024 is two-time Pre-’03 Touring Car champion Gary Prebble, who swept to a double triumph in his Honda Civic EG.

Prebble was fastest in qualifying ahead of guest driver Adam Read’s BMW Compact, a welcome addition to the field. Third fastest was Don Hughes, whose Peugeot 306 XSi was back on track for the first time since its big blow-up at Snetterton in 2022. But sadly, despite its pace, it wasn’t a happy return – Hughes hit trouble mid-session and was unable to start either race.

Prebble was his usual dominant self in the first race, despite running wide at Charlies on the last lap. That lost him a place to BOSS driver Martin Reynolds in the overall classification, but he remained more than 20s clear of Read in Pre-’03.

Adam Read ran well in BMW Compact on a guest outing

Behind Read, Class D winner Andrew Neal (Peugeot 106) completed the podium on a relatively rare outing with the club. A final-lap charge helped him past Dave Hutchins (Honda Civic Type R) and Prebble’s running mate Joe Dorrington.

Unlike their BOSS and Pre-’93 counterparts, most of the Pre-’03 entry were able to take up their positions in Sunday’s race. Prebble won again but this time he was pushed all the way. Opting for wet rubber proved to be a mistake. The champion had Read’s BMW in his mirrors for the entire race but just managed to hold on for victory.

Neal was another to struggle on the wrong tyres and finished around three-quarters of a minute further back, but was still a class-winning third in Pre-’03. Dorrington was fourth, ahead of Anton Martin’s BMW 330 E46. The four-strong Class A entry was unable to keep up with the nippy smaller cars, but Martin still completed a class double.

Full results are available via the TSL website.

All images courtesy of CTCRC official photographer Steve Jackman/Eat My Pixels