by Kerry Dunlop
The two long straights on the 300 lay-out allowed the bigger, heavier cars to make the most of their extra power and so for once some of the regular winners in smaller, lighter machinery missed the top step of the podium. David Griffin was the only driver who remained unbeaten.
Pre ’66 – Race 1: David Hall’s quick Lotus Cortina topped the timesheets by a healthy margin so it was no surprise when he led the first race from start to finish. “I pushed for a couple of laps and then I just made sure I kept it on the black stuff” he said. Michael Sheraton was going well in the little Anglia and held second place throughout despite losing second gear again. During the early laps Andy Messham looked threatening but his 1293 Mini was losing out on the long straights and he had to settle for the final place on the podium. “They were just too quick for me” he admitted. “The car was dancing all over the place.” Patrick Harris was enjoying fourth place until his Minor retired on the penultimate lap so Kevin O’Brien (Anglia) picked up fourth spot ahead of Nathan Scott Williams (Mini Cooper) and Luc Wilson (Austin A40). Class winners: Sheraton, Wilson, Michael Loveland (Imp).
Race 2: Hall started from pole position but never completed the first lap so Sheraton, whose gearbox problem resolved itself, went on to take a popular win by a healthy margin over Messham. O’Brien held third place initially but he retired with just a lap remaining so Williams was elevated to third place. Once again Wilson came out on top in a spirited battle for fourth with Steve Dunne (A35). Paul Cooper’s Cortina GT rounded out the top six.
Pre ’83 – Race 1: The Group One touring cars can usually be relied upon to provide some cracking racing, but this time two of the chief protagonists were sorely missed: Steve Cripps was still trying to sort out his Escort’s persistent misfire and Mark Osborne’s Dolomite expired during qualifying. To make matters much, much worse Tony Crudgington’s Dolomite and Mark Fowler’s Escort collided at the first corner, then spun across the track through the middle of the pack until Stuart Caie’s Capri torpedoed the Escort amidships. “I never even had time to hit the brakes” said Stuart. The Capri’s long nose probably saved it from serious mechanical damage but the Escort will have to be re-shelled. The accident was particularly sad because it was Crudgington’s first race back with the CTCRC after an absence of several years, it was also Fowler’s first race for some time, and of course Caie was an entirely innocent victim of circumstance. David Howard’s big Jag was leading Primett’s Escort at the time of the accident, and after the safety car pulled in the XJ12 held off the Ford for the remaining three laps to win by a length. “I was lucky to hold on to that” said Howard. “On the last lap I selected the wrong gear and Stephen almost got by me.” Mark Cholerton had been pushing hard throughout and at the end his Escort was only a tenth down on Primett. Simon Jeffs (Golf GTI) finished a fine fourth ahead of the pretty BMW of Neal Mills. Class winners: Primett, Mills, Alan Wilshire (Capri), Tony Crates (Cortina Lotus).
Race 2: Once again Howard used the power of the Big Cat to leap into the lead, ahead of Primett, Cholerton and Alan Wilshire (Capri). But during the second lap an error by Howard allowed Cholerton and Primett to sneak ahead and next time around Primett hit the front for the first time. Once in front the reigning champion eased away to win by 12 seconds from Howard who had managed to find a way past Cholerton in the closing stages. Wilshire retired on lap six so it was Crudgington, whose car emerged relatively unscathed from the earlier accident, who finished fourth. Allan Weyman hustled the big Camaro into fifth place ahead of Mills. Class winners: Howard, Mills, Malcolm Best (Capri), Crates.
Classic Thunder & BOSS – Race 1: This was a thoroughly entertaining encounter with a developing theme of bouncing back from adversity. Matthew Evans (3.2 BMW) started from seventh on the grid, but he soon began to pick off his rivals and when the initial leader, Stuart Day (Escort WRC) made a mistake Evans seized a lead which he retained to the finish. Day admitted “I ran wide onto the dirt and had to fight my way past four cars” – he was rewarded with second place. Lee Spencer started from pole but ended the first lap back in fifth spot. Undeterred, he put his head down and fought back to second place until the last lap when his BMW M5 slowed to a crawl. Ilsa Cox maintained a strong pace throughout in her SEAT Leon, despite faster cars which overtook and then fell back again: she raced on to third place. “My best race of the year” she said. James Janicki (Nissan Skyline) was fourth, ahead of the BMWs of Lucky Khera and Jasver Sapra. Steve Scott was the quickest of the BOSS runners but his Sierra Cosworth retired after five laps and so Piers Grange (Escort Mk.2) took the no. 1 spot from Ashley Shelswell (Sierra XR4i). Class winners: Day, Cox, David Griffin (3.0 BMW), Simon Light (5.0 Capri), Grange, Shelswell, Alan Breck (5.0 Capri), Ben Dewen (3.2 BMW).
Race 2: Day made no mistake this time and he led this far less fraught affair from start to finish. Cox held a strong second place, shadowed by Janicki until the final drag to the flag when the 2.8 Nissan outgunned her 2.0 Leon. Griffin finished a fine fourth, comfortably clear of Light. Scott was sixth overall and the best of the BOSS category, ahead of Shelswell and Grange. Class winners: Cox, Griffin, Light, Scott, Grange, Breck, Dewen.
Pre ‘93/’03/’05 – Race 1: During qualifying it soon became apparent that the 2-litre Civic Type R of the pre ’03 championship leader, Steve Barden, was unable to match the pace of the 3-litre BMWs driven by David Griffin and Ian Bower.
Sure enough, in the race Bower seized the lead from Griffin and these two began to pull away from David Hunt (BMW) and Luke Allen (Civic Type R). Griffin was quick to take advantage when Bower slid wide onto the grass; he raced past and went on to win with a seven-second advantage over Bower. Hunt completed a 1-2-3 for BMW, while Pre ’03 winner Allen, James Alford and Ross Craig made up a 4-5-6 for Honda. Anna Barden (Clio) won the Pre ’05 category again, but husband Steve was forced to retire after three laps. Class winners: Allen, Gail Hill (Jaguar XJS), Andrew Sheraton (2.5 BMW), Barden, Theodore Bridgeman-Williams (Alfa 145).
Race 2: This race started well enough, if a little predictably, as the first four held the same positions as before. But after only four laps Bridgeman-Williams and Steve Barber (Clio) crashed and brought out the red flags. Unfortunately the race could not be re-started because of the curfew at Snetterton. It was a sad way to end the meeting. Class winners: Allen, Hill, Sheraton, A.Barden.