by Ricardo Preece

Un cupo e umido mattina ha accolto una forte voce in genere di 20 autovetture in questa sede vicino a Shrewsbury popolare. Gli organizzatori avevano assegnato una buona dimensione, e separata, zona paddock per la nostra auto che rapidamente riempite come primo pratica avvicina.

[In inglese Ricardo! Ci sono solo io e lei capirà questo, oltre che eventualmente da Sergio Ransford e ho il sospetto che è veramente un pensionato Telford. - Ed]

A wet and gloomy morning has taken a strong voice in the genre of 20 cars in this popular near Shrewsbury. The organizers had given a good size, and separate paddock area for our cars that quickly filled as the first practical approach.

Jon Goodwin took more than his share of parking area by bringing along two totally contrasting cars – his wife's 550 and his lovely 250 Lusso. His explanation was simple.  Our series only allows road tyres on cars that have to be driven to the event.  This is in contrast to single-seater competitors who bring both wet and dry tyres to cope with all conditions – in the absence of a tyre choice, Jon had brought both a wet and a dry car along!  Lucy the Lusso would be in use today.

The first practice run saw Sean Doyle absent, he had suffered a broken GT4 brake caliper on the way to the event, but all the others going gingerly in very wet conditions – so wet that the timing gear failed to register for the first four runners.

Times were understandably slow with Sergio Ransford (308), Colin Campbell (248GT) and Haynes x 2 (Tracey - 328, Charles - 348GTC) finding things very hard work.  Others in the field were cautiously 'testing the water' with the notable exception of Richard Allen (355), Richard Prior (348ts), Nick Taylor (348GTC) and Dave "Pouhon" Tomlin (335) [OK, enough with the Spa references - Ed] who were putting in brave runs in the 67 secs. area. 

Other worthy runs came from Pauline Goodwin (328) and Jon – both doing impressive runs in the 70s.

Stars of first practice though were Butler (355 - 65.71s) and Mineeff (65.68s) who seems to be learning how to wring great hillclimb performance out of his 360.  A drying track proved lucky for Doyle who, having arranged recovery of his sick GT4, arrived late to take up a generous offer from Tracey Haynes to use her 328. He put in a decent time in the 71s.

Conditions brightened a tad for second practice and most competitors managed improvements with Ransford making good and reducing his time to the 69s.  Pauline also got to work and chopped six seconds off her first run time, putting in a very decent 64.92, with Phil Whitehead (355) hacking away almost 11 seconds from his.  Tomlin and Allen were in the 63s with Allen also going for the 'noisiest tyres through Triangle corner' award.  Prior, Taylor and Butler were pushing hard around the 62s but could not close in on John  Marshall in the awesome 430 Scud or Mineeff leading with a storming, and brave, 61.06s.

Lunchtime was a social affair at an excellent cold buffet provided by the team from the Albright Hussey Hotel where most of us would be staying that evening.  This meal was interrupted by another rainstorm that sent a few drivers scurrying back to their cars to close windows. Not nice driving with a wet seat on a wet course!

First on the track for the competition runs was a large rainstorm that made the going tough for all that followed. Tracey Haynes had a little more than a sideways moment braking down the hill into Triangle but recovered well and just got round it.  Ransford was visibly cautious here but got a time on the board and Holman entered far too wide but got safely round. Swifty was treating the course with respect and put a run in the 78s following the news his car had won maximum points in the Paddock Cup competition.

Mineeff was visibly rapid and put in a storming 70.29 (great, considering the storm) and Allen appeared to be equally fast here but then things went very wrong for him through the fast kink on Cedar Straight.  He lost control of his 355, he thinks due to cutting the infamous kink and taking too much wet grass, spun and disarranged a tyre wall.

Out came the red flags and off stormed the ambulance (much to the consternation of the PFHC crowd) but after a long wait Richard and car ambled down the hill into the paddock.  The car had only suffered a few cosmetic scrapes but Mr Allen had been forced to wait until a full body check had been performed on his person by the paramedics.  He eventually got away by explaining that any aches and pains present had already been there when he had arrived that morning!

Competition started again with the remaining drivers on a drying track, they thanked Mr Allen for arranging this for them.  At the end of play Taylor took the lead on 68.53 with Prior and Mineeff close behind – Butler 'having a moment' into the first bend but still managing fourth fastest despite a short excursion onto the grass.

After a good break to watch everything from Sevens (of both the Austin and Caterham variety) to bandaged lunatics on motorcycles it was time for the second timed run – now on a dry course but without  Allen who was away having his rear tyre refitted to clean out the grass that had impacted during his 'off' .  All others were keen to get to business.

Early in the field Tracey Haynes put in a tidy line through Triangle and finished with a 69.31 – just ahead by 12 hundredths was Doyle, which probably ensured he will never be offered a drive in her car again.  Pauline Goodwin could not beat her best practice time and took her frustration out on the posts at Fletchers Dellow, clipping them hard on exit. 

Brian Jackson, deftly held a squirming 'Bob' (308GTB) into Triangle and stormed on to a creditable 65.49.  Marshall was still learning how to get the Scud's power down at Loton and managed a reasonable sixth scratch position whilst Prior managed fourth despite applying a little too much power on the exit here.  Mineeff put in a neat and aggressive run giving him third whilst Taylor pushed hard to pip him into second. 

Tomlin entered Triangle far too early, bumping up onto the inside kerb,  losing him time that pushed him down to fifth.  Butler pushed, almost too hard, through this bend but his car floated beautifully on through Keepers, up Cedars Straight to a tidy Fallow and on to first place with a time of 60.78s.  Gooders finished our set of runs with a flourish in
Lucy that gave him eighth.

So, after application of the PEPS equalising percentage,  Taylor took the 20 points with Butler and Prior on 17 and 15 – this means that Taylor stretches his small championship lead over Prior to seven points but everything is still to play for.

A day of battling with the weather, as well as each other, saw the competitors finish the day by discussing their various experiences over a shandy at the course bar – all hoping the weather forecast, and its promise of sun, was to be proved right for Sunday's event.


Click here for the (unofficial) results and points.

Click here for the (unofficial) Championship positions.


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pics by Andrew Holman, CMdigicams & Graham Easter

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