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BELGIAN GRAND PRIX

 WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER THUG

   Max Verstappen needs a large clog up his Khyber Pass, because if he doesn’t get it he will end up with a large F1 car there instead and who knows what the consequences will be. And it’s Charlie Whiting and the race stewards that need to wield the clog – NOW. Don’t get me wrong, I like Max. He is just about everything F1 needs right now. Young, fast, exciting, a demon overtaker who will surely become a world champion if he lives long enough. He just needs to reign in his overly aggressive defensive swerving. Because if he doesn’t, someone will get hurt. Someone will not back off like Kimi did at Spa and when that happens, either Max or that someone will have an almighty accident.

 

  The stupid thing is that what Max did at Spa was almost entirely within the rules as they stand. And the equally stupid rules will probably not be changed by the hypocritical FIA until someone does get hurt – or worse. But those same people who insist on safety cars starts in the (mildly) wet and those abominable bloody halo things are the same ones who refuse to enact certain parts of their own regulations to prevent this upcoming tragedy. The rule that Max hasn’t broken is as follows, Article 27.6 of the FIA's sporting states: "More than one change of direction to defend a position is not permitted. Any driver moving back towards the racing line, having earlier defended his position off-line, should leave at least one car width between his own car and the edge of the track on the approach to the corner." 

Well Max only made one change of direction on the Kemel straight so technically he was within the letter of this law. It’s just that his move was late and on a rapidly closing car that had to brake to avoid an enormous accident. 

  And this is where the stewards should have broken out the clog. Articles 27.5 and 27.8 state in part: "at no time may a car be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person" and "manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as deliberate crowding of a car beyond the edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are not permitted". Swerving late into the path of a rapidly closing car would have to be, in any sane view, considered as driving erratically with an abnormal change of direction in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person and liable to hinder other drivers. Just imagine what the cops would do if they saw you doing this on a highway? It unfortunately seems that the only way to get Max to understand this is to hit him, or any other driver using such odious methods is to hit them with ever increasing penalties. First offence – 10 seconds. Second offence – drive through. Third offence – start at the back of the grid. Fourth offence – race bans. 

  The overriding problem though is the bloody stupid rule 27.6 allowing one change of direction to defend a position in the first place. It was bought in to try to codify what had until that point been the unwritten rule that you did not swerve about on a race track, because you just might kill someone. Those two class A thugs, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher had concluded that as there was no such written rule, they could pretty much do whatever they wanted and receive no penalty – think Senna on Prost at Estoril or Schumacher on Barrichello at Hungary. Sadly they were right, the FIA did bugger all and suddenly every up and coming driver thought it was OK to drive others into concrete walls. So the very badly thought out article 27.6 came into being. And being worded the way it is, it can be read as it is OK to drive others into concrete walls, so long as you only do it with one move. Brilliant….

   The obvious rule that should have been introduced is the one that has been in use in Indycar (and the CART series before that) for many a year. That is you are allowed to take any racing line you like onto a straight or into a corner so long as you do not then alter that line in reaction to an attacking car. Put simply – you are not allowed to block another car from passing you. And do you know why you hardly ever see blocking in Indycar racing? Because the stewards there impose penalties ruthlessly. And they don’t bugger about with small time penalties either. They start at drive-throughs and escalate to disqualification and race bans very rapidly. 

  So Charlie please, enforce your own existing rules regarding dangerous driving and Max, please, go on and win those championships, but please, please, please, we don’t need another thug. 

Sam Snape

 30-08-2016

 

 

 

THE UNCERTAINTY OF FOREGONE CONCLUSIONS

 

  Toyota win Le Mans – Almost. How many times could that headline been written over the past two decades? This time it was particularly harsh for the determined Japanese manufacturer. It wasn’t a middle of the night drama or even a problem with an hour to run. For 23 hours, 53 minutes and 27 seconds the Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi was on course to defeat the defending champions, Porsche with whom they had battled furiously since the start. All four cars from both teams had led and entering the final hour there were just seconds between the two leading cars.

 

  This had been a titanic struggle, the likes of which had never before been seen at the 24 hours and may never be witnessed again. The number 1 Porsche had led early but suffered a long pit delay due to a cooling system failure. The second Toyota dropped back with bodywork damage limiting its speed with about three hours to run. Either team had a chance but as the final hour wore on the number 5 Toyota edged away. The Porsche struggled to stay with Nakajima as the Toyota could run that little bit longer just that little bit faster. With 10 minutes to go Porsche effectively threw in the towel by pitting for fresh tyres and a top up of fuel. Neel Jani was now one minute and nine seconds behind with three, possibly four laps to run. Surely, finally, the race was now a foregone conclusion. Surely, finally, Toyota would break the hoodoo that has hovered over it and win the Le Mans 24 Hours.

 

  But no. With just 6.33 left on the clock came the desperate radio call from Kazuki, “I’ve lost power.” But the Toyota was still moving at pace. Not full pace but still pulling over 180 kph on the Mulsanne straight. If they could at least keep that pace maybe just maybe, they could still limp home. By the time Kazuki got to Arnage forty odd seconds of the lead had disappeared and gloom and disbelief was setting in down in the Toyota garage. As Nakajima entered the Ford chicanes he was now in sight of Jani’s Porsche and with just under three and a half minutes to go the Toyota exited the chicane onto the start/finish straight and ground to a halt right in front of the pits. At 23 hours, 56 minutes and 39 seconds Neel Jani passed the stricken Toyota to begin his final lap giving Porsche its 18th outright win at Le Mans. 3 minutes and 21 seconds. That was all the time that the Toyota needed to keep going for. That’s less time than it took my espresso machine to make this mornings coffee. Less time than you can wait at a red light in the morning crawl to work. It was hard not to be emotionally effected as the disbelief descended into tears of despair at Toyota. This was as harsh and cruel as it gets in motorsport without the inclusion of injury or loss of life. As one commentator said “Someone should make a movie of this”. However as Anthony Davidson pointed out, “If someone made a movie of this, no-one would believe it.”  

 

Sam Snape

 

22-06-2016    

 

A SOGGY PAPER BAG

 

   I never thought it would come to this. Sunday night (in Oz), Monaco Grand Prix. Expectations high after a scintillating qualifying in which Daniel Ricciardo put in another of THOSE laps to take pole. Just 0.066 shy of the fastest lap ever of Monaco. Predictions of rain – just to spice things up nicely. A great battle in prospect with the two Silver Slings and Vettel chasing hard on his tail. You tune in and yes, it is damp but it has stopped raining. There are no huge puddles or rivers streaming across the track. The sun is even starting to peek through. They are all on full wets so will anyone be able to make them last long enough to go straight on to slicks. We all know that passing is a bugger at Monaco so who can do what with their rubber could be vital. A quick top-up of my glass of red and into the comfy chair.

     WTF???? Starting behind the safety car? Just because it’s a little damp? Again, they are all on the “extreme” wet tyres. There is NO standing water. NONE!!! The sun is now out. Drivers are complaining over the radio that they SHOULD be racing. The safety car continues. And then it happens. Having watched every race live since Belgium in ’81, yes even that Indy race, the words “Fuck this” escape my mouth, the TV is off and I am heading to bed to get up early and watch the Indy 500. OK it’s just a sort of one make series race with four left hand corners but at least with Indy, you KNOW they will race. Unless it’s wet, but on an oval at 230 MILES an hour that’s understandable. On a street circuit at maybe 75 miles an hour it’s not. Not understandable. Not excusable.

    And that’s just me. At home. Turning off the idiot box and going to bed early. How do you explain this to someone that has just possibly spent about two or three months wages taking the missus and kids to Monaco to see the greatest drivers on the planet battle it out in what is supposedly Formula One’s Blue Riband event? What happened at Monaco displayed everything that is so wrong with F1 at the moment. There is no thought given what-so-ever to the poor mugs in the grandstands who are forking out ever increasing amounts to be served up shit in a soggy paper bag. The reason I fell in love with this sport is that the drivers were heroes who battled not just each other, but whatever conditions that were thrown at them. Races rarely stopped even for the most torrential rain until the late Eighties, hell occasionally they even raced while it was snowing.

    They were gladiators in brightly coloured cars with enormously fat slicks and big wings that had way more power than grip. Power slides were still one way to get around quickly. Screaming flat & V12s, rorty V8s, squealing steel brakes and the smell or burning oil and rubber. And then came the turbo age. Bugger 1000 horse power that the powers that be are wanting sometime soon. BMW and Honda were churning out over 1500 in qualifying trim. You could always tell when Piquet was on a qually lap because you could see the plume of black smoke that was from the burning rocket fuel that was rapidly destroying yet another BMW engine block well before the car came into sight. Having to manage all that grunt coming in at once with just one hand on the steering wheel because the other one was being used to change gears. Yes, they still had gear levers. And clutch pedals. They had to be bloody miracle workers just to keep these beasts on the black stuff let alone race.

    Now it seems to be rule making by knee jerk. It was put ever so well once in Yes Minister. “Something needs to be done. This is something. We must do it.” A prime, and pathetically stupid, example was paraded at Monaco. A new rule was to come into force whereupon a driver was no longer allowed to dispense with his visor tear-off strip by tossing it away from the car. Why?? Whatever or whoever could have decided that this practice was in any way harmful and had to be eradicated from the spectacle of motor racing? Then after coming across some criticism from various sectors, including drivers pointing out that it may be dangerous having those used visors rattling around the cockpit, the rule was dumped before it was even introduced. The current head protection issue is also a prime example. The great and mighty have decided that the “Halo” concept is to be introduced for next year as the best way of avoiding head injuries. Really? The best way? OK it would prevent errant wheels and other large objects from striking a driver but probably not any smaller ones which can cause just as much head trauma. Just ask Felipe Massa. The Halo would not have stopped the spring from hitting him if it was horizontal. A few drivers opined that the Halo would have protected Jenson Button if the flying piece of gutter cover went any higher than it did during practice. Again not if it had been horizontal. It just would have gone straight through the gap and the effects would have been catastrophic. The Halo is not just stupendously ugly but fatally (??) flawed. The only device that would provide full protection is either a canopy or the screen that Red Bull tested in Russia. These could conceivably carry their own dangers though in the event of an overturned car or fire etc. But hey – Head protection – something must be done. The Halo is something. We must do it.

    Despite decades of fan feedback almost universally demanding a reduction in aerodynamic downforce to improve the actual racing, what do the great and mighty come up with? Something must be done to improve the racing. More grip and downforce is something. We must do it. Not one team manager thinks this will improve close racing or overtaking. The wider cars will create more drag and disturbed air. With the cars being more aero-dependant they will less able to be close enough through corners to aid overtaking on the straights. But this is what we will get in 2017. It’s almost impossible to overtake at Monaco as is (or Catalunya for that matter), so won’t it be so much better with wider cars that can’t get as close as they currently do? Can’t wait.

    So watched the Indy 500 which was typically American. Tons of overtaking. Some silly driving and cars into the walls. Bad driving vigorously punished. Forget five second penalties, bad boys go to the back of the field or do a stop-go in the pits. No stupid grid penalties for the next race, you get whacked immediately, just as it should be. Brilliant placement of TV cameras so that the impression of speed was given even on TV. There’s something else F1 could learn from the Yanks. Varying fuel strategies resulting in some very late “splash and dash” pit stops a few laps from the end. The winner was the occasional Manor driver Alex Rossi who took the lead with just three laps to go and running on fumes in the fuel tank. He ran out of gas coming out of the final corner but had enough momentum to coast across the line to win his very first “500”. A great fun spectacle that had you in doubt as to the winner until the flag dropped. The exact opposite of Monaco.

    Watched the recording of Monaco after Indy and what a contrast. The first ten percent of the race was behind the safety car. Snore. The rest was fairly processional. Hamilton couldn’t get past Rosberg despite the latter being slowed with brake problems until team orders were issued. After the pit stops, in which Red Bull made a monumental cock-up of Ricciardo’s tyre change which cost him a certain win, no-one else of note successfully overtook. Ricciardo was stuck behind Hamilton. Vettel was stuck behind Perez. Everyone was stuck behind everyone else. It was at about the 40 lap mark that the fast forward button started being used extensively because you knew nothing was going to change except in the case of some stupidity. Kyvat and Magnussen for example. Or the Saubers. Just what a team struggling with financial issues needed, its two drivers taking each other out while dicing for last place. Good grief Charlie Brown.

    Here’s an idea. If we have to put up with Monaco with its lack of passing as a Grand Prix circuit, and I don’t mind it once a year as it is very different from all the other Tilkedromes, how about an F1 oval race? I like the idea of F1 cars racing on all types of circuits and the one glaring omission is an oval race. A Grand Prix at Indianapolis, Michigan, Rockingham or the Lausitzring? Or even Motegi? Could be fun and some of the teams that are not usually in the running could be dark horses. How fast are the Manors in a straight line for example? Or Williams and Force India? Red Bull and Mercedes would be hard pressed to beat them around an oval.

    Then again I like the idea of a mixture of engine types, bugger-all aero downforce, steel brakes, manual gear changing, my heroes racing in the rain, engines that occasionally detonate and a bit of doubt as to just who will win any given race. Maybe that’s why I spend way more time at historic racing these days. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper and a hell of a lot more fun than going to Monaco and seeing them troll about behind the safety car.

    For them wot are interested the ARDC/HSRCA are putting on a pretty good historic meet at Eastern Creek on the June long weekend. I know where I’ll be – getting great value for my money. And not a soggy paper bag of shit in sight.

 Sam Snape

 31/5/2016

 

LAPS OF THE GODS

 

  There are those brief moments in time when a great driver (or rider) gives free reign to their otherworldly talent and produces a lap, or in a very few cases, a series of laps that enter into folk-law. One of THOSE moments that if you were lucky enough to witness – even on telly – you and others will talk of through the ages. These are the Laps of the Gods. Gilles Villeneuve in torrential rain on a Friday afternoon at Watkins Glen. True the lap was 25 seconds slower than Alan Jones’ dry morning session time, showing just how thoroughly wet the afternoon was, but Gilles was just under 10 seconds quicker than anyone else in that session. A time of 2’01.437 against 2’11.029 set by team mate Jody Scheckter, who you will recall had just wrapped up that seasons championship. Jones, in the stunning new Williams FW07 could only muster 2’37.742. Just wrap your head around that. Jones, who had won four of the past five races in what was now by far the best car, was 36.3 seconds slower than Gilles.

 

  Not that Gilles’ lap there was the (or his) only example. Take Bernd Rosemeyer. The Eifelrennen race at the Nurburgring (the real one) started with rain and at half distance Rosemeyer was 18 seconds down on Nuvolari who was leading. The rain increased and by the start of lap 7 Bernd took the lead. The next time around he was 15 seconds to the good. And only then did he show what he could really do. By the beginning of lap 8 the fog began to set in. It is said that it was so thick that the pits were not visible from the grandstand. So understandably the drivers slowed down. Except Bernd. Lap 8 was 40 seconds faster than anyone else, Lap 9, 41 seconds and lap 10 a mere 36 seconds for the final lap of the race. The final winning margin over Tazio Nuvolari – one of motor sports true greats – was 2 minutes and 12 seconds. Rosemeyer had pulled out 1 minute and 57 seconds in just three laps of the fearsome Nordschleife in fog that brought down the visibility to about 15 metres. The Nordscheife seemed to engender these moments. Fangio overhauling the Ferraris to win his final race in 1957 and Jackie Stewart winning by over 4 minutes in torrential rain in 1968 surely must count as examples of the topic.

 

   Keke Rosberg set the first 160 mph average lap in Grand Prix history at Silverstone in 1985 (before they started butchering it with chicanes) in a Williams Honda, with a deflating rear tyre. And then hopped out and had a ciggie. Michael Schumacher’s series of “qualifying laps” to win the Hungarian Grand Prix in 1998. Moss holding off the Ferraris at Monaco in 1961. Alessandro Zanardi’s last lap lead grab at the corkscrew at Laguna Seca. But not all are laps that produce victory. Some are just stunning because of the performance of the car is transcended. Take Monaco in 1984. And no, I’m not talking about Senna. In ’84 everyone had Turbos except Tyrrell who generally struggled to qualify with their ancient Cosworth V8s. Lap 27. Stefan Bellof overtakes Rene Arnoux’s Ferrari at the Mirabeau – on the footpath - for third place. What would have happened if the race hadn’t been red flagged? Senna was catching Prost but Bellof was catching Senna even faster. Of course we’ll never get to find out and sadly of the three, only Alain is still with us.

 

   I bring this topic up because so far this year there have been some stonking laps that have sadly not been given the prominence that they deserved. For me it started with the Moto 3 race in Argentina. I’d never heard of Khairul Pawi, at just 17 the junior team mate to Hiroki Ono at Honda Team Asia. He had qualified well for the team and lined up 7th on the grid. On dry tyres while most of the field was on intermediates as the track was still wet. You will notice that wet weather often plays a part in these matters. That he led the first lap by a second was superb, but then he proceeded to pull away from the field (again – on DRY tyres) by 3 seconds a lap so by lap 5 he was 13 seconds in the lead. By lap 7 he was 20 seconds in front. In Moto3. Bloody unheard of. From there he started cruising so at lap 18 he was only (gee only) 26 seconds in front. Will he ever reproduce such a performance? We’ll see if they put him on a real front running bike and then some of Marques’ Moto2 and Moto3 heroics may just be relegated from the front rank. Most of the press were rightly enraptured with the dominant performance by Valentino Rossi and his early lap mastery in Spain. Not that I want to down-play that, it was a super ride, but the old dog(ter) is on the best bike and in the best team in a field with really only three competitive teams. Moto3 is vastly more competitive and rarely does anyone even in one of the very top teams put a gap of even 1 second on the field over the course of a race. On drys, in the wet, not on the best bike for the best team, 3 seconds a lap….ye gods.

 

   Nico Rosberg has also pulled out one this year, and again not all that much has been said about it. Most of the talk after the Russian GP was that Hamilton was robbed of a chance of a win due to his water pressure problems. Total and Utter bollocks. True, while Rosberg was dealing with some energy issues of his own and some traffic Hamilton got the gap down to 7 seconds from about 14 and set his best race lap of 1’40.266 on fresh tyres on lap 36. As if to say to Lewis, “wouldn’t have mattered” Nico bunged in an astounding 1’39.094 on knackered tyres on the second last lap of the race, some 1.7 seconds quicker than Hamilton on fresh rubber. That qualifies. Daniel Ricciardo has also transcended his Renault hampered Red Bull twice in qualifying so far this year. Both in China and Spain he produced stunning laps to start 2nd and 3rd respectively, almost half a second quicker than his team mates on both occasions. That’s a lot these days and both times Kvyat and Verstappen were right on the cars ultimate pace. That Max beat Ricciardo to the win in Spain is a great story, but one that owes as much to strategy calls by the team as outright pace. Which Max has in spades. Undoubtedly Max will soon be adding his own legendry moment to this conversation but that’s for another day.

 

 

 

Sam Snape

 

 

 

16/05/2016

 

 

 

HEAVEN AND HELL

 

74th Goodwood Members Meeting

The hunt

 

  The Goodwood Members Meeting on the weekend of March 19-20 was a mix of stunning highs unfortunately punctuated by near catastrophic lows. Where the qualifying and first two races on Saturday ran like clockwork, the racing on Sunday was repeatedly truncated by safety cars and two enormous accidents.

 

 

  For once Lord March was unable to come to an agreement with the weather Gods and Saturday began under a grey sky with an artic breeze that forced many of the crowd to huddle around the fire baskets thoughtfully provided between the on track activities. And the amount of on track action was, as usual for a Goodwood meeting, absolutely packed in. You could never complain about value for money, if anything there was too much value. If you wanted to catch all the action on track there was very little time for all the other activities to be enjoyed.

250F

  And the Goodwood team always provide some very odd things to keep you amused. Have you ever tried to herd ducks for example? Or race ferrets?  These were just two of the funnier member activities in which the spectators could earn points for their teams (all spectators are allocated a team for the weekend to which they and all the teams and drivers can score points for an overall team win). You could play darts, billiards, kick rugby goals, fight out a tug of war or race pedal cars as some of the saner events but they all just distracted from the main focus of the weekend. Although I did miss the Martini making competition of two years ago. My Martini may not have scored too many points but it certainly had some judges gasping for breath.

  The Members Meeting is sort of a mini Revival meeting without the fancy dress and run with a wider spectrum of cars. Whereas the Revival restricts itself to the type of races run when the circuit was operating in period (1948-66) this weekend allows for racing from other periods as well such as the Gerry Marshall Trophy for 1970s touring cars, late 60’s Formula 3 cars and what must have been everyone’s favourite race this year, the S.F. Edge Trophy for Edwardian era cars in which the youngest were 1923 Alfa Romeos and Bugattis and the oldest, a 1903 Mercedes. None were more energetically driven than the 1905 Isotta Franschini Fiat of Mike Vardy, who’s engine was so long that Mike was sitting above the chain drive, BEHIND the rear wheels. To witness this fire breathing monster performing opposite lock power slides out of the chicane had to be the racing highlight of the weekend. This unlikely event also produced the closest finish of the weekend with just two tenths of a second separating the victorious Duncan Pittaway in a 1921 GN Curtis from Mathias Sielecki’s 1923 Delage. Julian Mazjub’s 1916 Sunbeam Indianapolis was just a further 1.8 seconds back. To show just how hard they were trying, Pittaway’s fastest race lap was seven and a half seconds faster than his qualifying time and six seconds under Mazjub’s pole position time.

Isotta

  Possibly the best race was the one hour Alan Mann Trophy for Ford GT40s which ran into Saturday’s twilight. Any one of four or five cars might have won before Steve Soper took the flag. Initially Rob Huff led a squabbling pack before his brakes cried enough after 13 laps. Rob Hall and Mike Jordan then scrapped furiously until the pit stops for driver changes where Andrew Jordan swept past Hall’s co-driver, Scott Walker. The Hall/Walker car then dropped down the order as the Jordans, who had started down in 14th, looked set for a comfortable win from the Ellerbrock/Stippler car which ground to a halt just one lap after setting the race’s fastest lap. With just 10 laps to go though, the leaders suffered a wheel bearing failure handing the lead to Soper who had the Phil Keen/Oliver Bryant GT40 right on his tail. Unfortunately this dice was only to last another three laps before Keen’s oil warning light stayed resolutely on and he retired that car to avoid any engine damage.  That left Soper to cruise home in the dark to take a 22 second victory from Tony Wood/Martin Stretton with Joaquin Folch/Simon Hadfield a further 14 seconds back in third.

GT40

  Unlike the first of the revived Members Meetings a couple of years ago the “high speed demonstrations” were exactly that. After a lap behind a pace car the drivers are let off the leash to circulate as quickly as they are comfortable with. This made for a far greater spectacle for all concerned. In the demo for Group 5 sports prototypes the sight and sound of no less than seven Porsche 917Ks and six Ferrari 512s on full song was worth the price of the trip from Sydney all by itself. It led to one rather dapper elderly gentleman to lean in close to me and whisper, “You know, my dear fellow, this could just make a chap unseemingly aroused.” It was impossible to disagree with his sentiment.

  In another demonstration event for ground effect Formula one cars, unofficial timing suggested that the lap record had been well and truly shattered by Rob Hall in the stunning (both in looks and sound)  Ligier Matra JS17 while Dario Franchitti announced that it would be “impolite not to have a go” in the unique, twin chassis, Lotus 88B. Amongst others, Classic Team Lotus showed up with an example of every ground effect Lotus built although sadly the glorious Martini Lotus 80, in original no wing, all skirt, configuration, was just a static display. In all there were over 30 F1 cars involved including examples from Tyrell, Williams, Brabham, Fittipaldi, Arrows, Shadow, a pair of V12 Alfa Romeos and Gilles Villeneuve’s 1980 Ferrari 312T5.

JS17

  Sunday’s racing got off to a potentially disastrous start with an almighty accident involving Stephen Bond in a Lotus 18 which was clipped by the spinning Cooper T51 of Richard Wilson at the end of the first lap. This sent Bond’s Lotus into a series of barrel rolls which ended with the car plunging into the pedestrian under-pass. Amazingly Bond suffered just a broken collar bone but even more fortunately, no spectators were even slightly injured. (a link to a video of the accident follows  -http://www.speedcafe.com/2016/03/22/video-miracle-escape-in-goodwood-f1-crash/ ) Bond was assisted from his car by one of the lucky spectators using the tunnel at the time and there was a 40 minute stoppage as the mangled Lotus was recovered. The Brooks Trophy was then reduced to a ten lap sprint in which Barry Cannell in another Cooper T51 just held off Nick Adams in the four wheel drive Fergusson P99.

  Thus began a series of races that were interrupted by safety car periods and accidents, the number of which I have rarely seen at Goodwood. The Derek Bell up for Formula 3 cars managed just a handful of laps after some early incidents and was won by Andrew Hibberd in a 1966 Brabham BT18. After the Edwardian leviathans managed to complete their race uninterrupted the Graham Hill Trophy for 60’s GT cars was also blighted by a safety car period after Karsten le Blanc pranged his AC Cobra heavily at Fordwater. After a final three lap sprint James Cottingham held off Andrew Smith for a Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe 1-2.

  Things seemed to be getting back on track after Grahame and Oliver Bryant in a thundering Chevy Camaro doggedly chased down the Rover 3500 SDI of Chris Ward and Gordon Sheddon with just three laps to go to win the Gerry Marshall Trophy. Then followed the days second almighty accident when Dutchman Michael Smits comprehensively demolished both his Lola T70 Spyder and the tyre barriers at Woodcote nearing the end of lap one of the Bruce McLaren Trophy. With a delay of more than an hour while Michiel was extricated and airlifted to hospital and repairs made to the barriers the race was eventually abandoned with just two laps in the books. Happily although Michiel suffered multiple fractures, including several vertebrae, he is reported to be in a satisfactory condition and expected to make a full recovery.

T20

  From then on the remaining races were all reduced to 10 lap sprints and even then the final race was run in ever increasing darkness. The Parnell cup went to Will Nuthall in a Cooper T20 from the similarly equipped Eddie McGuire and Mark Valvekens Gordini T16. The Whitmore up ended in a Lotus Cortina 1-2-3 won by Richard Meaden while the final race of the event went to the thunderous Cunningham CR4 of Ben Shuckburgh from an entertaining battle between Steven Boultbee Brooks in an Aston Martin DB3S and the energetically driven HWM Cadillac of Richard Woolmer.

  So as night descended over the South Sussex dales we departed the scene delighted once again with the amazing programme and array of historic racers that are always provided by Lord March and his team, even though there were so many interruptions on the Sunday, but also a little anxious, as the condition of Bond and Smits was at that time unknown. Every time I leave Goodwood I wonder how the GRRC can outdo itself again and every time I turn up, I find out.

Sam Snape

22-03 2016

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