by Kerry Dunlop
After having to dodge heavy showers at Silverstone it was a relief to arrive in North Yorkshire to find cloudy skies and mainly dry weather – apart from light drizzle at the very end of Sunday’s programme. Double winners Dale Gent and Philip House shared top billing over the weekend.
Classic Thunder & BOSS – race 1: Gent’s potent Subaru Impreza started from pole and soon built up a handy lead over Dave Cockell’s Escort-Cosworth before going on to win with a margin of seven seconds over the Ford driver. Andy Robinson took up the chase initially, but his mighty Ford Falcon was proving a bit of a handful around Croft’s challenging corners and on lap eight Adrian Hawkins’ well-sorted Alfa 33 16v slipped past and then went on to claim a solid third place. Paul Hand (Audi TT) finished further back in fifth ahead of Andrew Wilson and his 6.7 litre Falcon. Next up was Paul Nevill (Escort RS2000) who beat Neil Argrave and Tom Abbott to win the BOSS category. Class winners: Hawkins, Hand, Wilson, Nevill, Richard Askham (Jaguar XJR), Demetris Neophytou (Fiesta Mk.1).
Race 2: Once again Gent led all the way to continue his dominance of the category, but this time Robinson put his head down, stoked up his Aussie V8 and managed to finish only 14 seconds adrift at the finish. Cockell might have found his way to the podium but unfortunately his Escort expired after only two laps, so Hawkins picked up another third place, comfortably ahead of Hand. This time Argrave managed to turn the tables and beat Nevill in the race to be the best in BOSS. Class winners: Robinson, Hand, Argrave, John Edwards-Parton (Fiesta XR2).
Pre ’66 – race 1: The Lotus Cortinas of Philip House and Roger Stanford shared the front row, ahead of Alan Greenhalgh’s Falcon, and it was Stanford who seized the initiative, but after four laps House found a way past and went on to take a narrow victory. These three were chased for most of the race by the Minis of Neil Bray and Andy Messham, bit with less than two laps to go Bray was forced to retire so Messham finished fourth, well clear of Martin Reynolds’ Anglia. Class winners: Greenhalgh, Messham, Patrick Harris (Morris Minor), Freddie Brown (Hillman Imp), John Everard (Alfa Sprint).
Race 2: This time House led from the start, pressed on purposefully and went on to win by a healthy margin. Stanford led the chase initially but he was coming under threat from Greenhalgh and after a race-long, spirited scrap with plenty of place changes the Falcon driver managed to secure second place. Bray managed to fix his Cooper after its earlier retirement and he was rewarded with a fine fourth place, well clear of Reynolds. Class winners: Greenhalgh, Bray, Luc Wilson (Austin A40), Brown, Everard.
Group One Pre ’83 – race 1: Former champion Jim McLoughlin made a welcome return to the series with his charismatic Capri and he soon showed that he had lost none of his form when he lined up on the front row alongside the current champion and polesitter, Stephen Primett (Escort Mk.1). Indeed, Jim led the opening lap but it soon became apparent that he had a problem as the Capri lost ground and eventually retired after six laps. Stephen soon hit the front and went on to win by five seconds from Mark Osborne (Dolomite Sprint) and Steve Cripps (Escort RS2000). Mark Cholerton, usually a force to be reckoned with, seemed to struggle this time and his Escort Mk.2 finished a distant fourth, just ahead of Phil House who had switched to an Escort. David Howard (Jaguar XJ12) was sixth after a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits. Class winners: Howard, Scott Rust (Escort RS1600i).
Race 2 – This was another cracking race, typical of the category, as Howard’s Big Cat howled away from the start and led the opening lap from Cripps, Primett and McLoughlin. Next time around Cripps hit the front, but Primett had also passed the Jag and was closing fast and the white Mk.1 squeezed past the black Mk.2 to lead the next two laps. Then Primett’s Ford began to falter and he started to fall down the field. Meanwhile McLoughlin put in a late charge, set the fastest lap in the closing stages and then managed to snatch victory by just seven tenths from Cripps, House and Howard. Primett limped home a distant fifth. Cholerton retired on the opening lap. Class winners: Cripps, Howard, Rust.
Pre ‘93/’03/’05 – race 1: Steve Barden’s Civic claimed pole position ahead of the BMWs of David Hunt, Roger Stanford and Mike Dugdale and the Honda driver managed to maintain a slight advantage all the way to the chequered flag. Stanford held on to second place throughout, ahead of Dugdale and Hunt. Newcomer to the series – and to racing – Ian Bower made a promising debut and raced his M3 home to a fine fifth place. Class winners: Stanford, Dugdale, Anna Barden (Renault Clio), David Howard (Jaguar XJ12), Alex Nuttall (Golf GTI).
Race 2: By now it was drizzling and the damp track caught out Barden, who completed the first lap dead last. Nevertheless he set about picking off his rivals with impressive progress so that he managed to take the lead from Stanford at half-distance. But Bower, displaying commendable maturity despite his lack of experience, was moving up through the field as well. From fifth on the grid he moved past Hunt, Dugdale and Stanford and then snatched the lead from Barden before pulling away to win by almost six seconds. A real fairy-tale victory for the novice! Class winners: Barden, Stanford, Nuttall, Neil Bray (Renault Clio), Gail Hill (Jaguar XJS).