Donington Park - 17 March 2002
|12||39||C||Simon Orebi Gann||+8||1:26.686||10||7.131||130.82||81.29|
|18||41||E||Adrian van der Kroft||4/4||1:30.160||10||10.605||125.78||78.15|
Donington Park - 17 March 2002
|5||39||C||Simon Orebi Gann||+8||13:31.525||8||56.677||69.46||1:37.330||72.40|
|16||41||E||Adrian van der Kroft||+4||14:03.921||8||1:29.073||66.80||1:39.634||70.72|
|17||71||D||Kelvin Laidlaw||+8||12:37.696||7||1 lap||65.10||1:44.458||67.46|
|18||31||C||Leigh Sebba||+8||12:39.540||7||1 lap||64.94||1:43.397||68.15|
|19||69||B||Phil Hollins||+8||12:44.200||7||1 lap||64.54||1:40.336||70.23|
|20||57||B||James Bellinger||4/4||12:47.524||7||1 lap||64.26||1:43.628||68.00|
|21||55||A||Philip McKelvey||+8||13:01.013||7||1 lap||63.15||1:44.120||67.67|
|22||24||B||Phil Brown||+8||13:02.989||7||1 lap||62.99||1:48.845||64.74|
Donington Park - 17 March 2002
|C||Simon Orebi Gann||+8||1:37.330||8||116.51||72.40|
|E||Adrian van der Kroft||4/4||1:39.634||6||113.82||70.72|
Ahlers and Garland thrill Donington crowd
Donington 17th March 2002
Donington Park was the setting of the inaugural race of 2002 for the fellowship of the Morgan Motor Company Challenge. As the vans, motor homes, cars and trailers rolled in from assorted corners of the land, competitors were united in their quest to win their class, or at the very least to have a good scrap with a near rival/ friend, in the elusive chance of taking home a pewter cup and gaining points towards winning the coveted Collins tray at the end of the season. To this end, during the closed season much time, love and money had been lavished on the cherished beasts which emerged one by one to join the scrutineering queue.
Rick Lloyd was back in business with a gleaming, newly rebuilt car, after last year’s disaster. Simon OG bravely returned to the scene of his all too close inspection of the Old Hairpin armco only a few weeks past. Peter Horsman had treated his car to a new coat of bright blue paint. Some old friends returned to join the fellowship with Chris Dady in James Paterson’s winning car from last year. It was rumoured that Garland was also going to make an appearance and had bought himself some new brake pads for the event. James Edge had even splashed out on some new tyres sponsored by his company. Matthew Wurr was present but without his car and Chris Acklam was patiently explaining that he was making do with his road car while awaiting a new toy. Phil McKelvey was in his slightly modified class B car, which will be a class A car but whose metamorphosis has so far only extended to the wheels, which were very “big”. John Clarke was also still car-less, spending his racing fund on an old Le Mans contender rather than repairing his Birkett disaster.
Scrutineering proved a long and thorough trek, taking up to an hour to pass through. One of the band emerged clad only in his long johns as the scrutineer took exception to his racing overalls and kept them for himself. Happily, in the true spirit of brotherhood, Keith Ahlers lent the hapless Phil Brown his second best set, allowing Phil to slide into his seat and set off for the track. The scrutineers decided that they did not like the way Rover V8s breathed after all these years, but then Mr. Chief Scrutineer thought that it was all OK after all.
In true laid back style Sarge drove to the track, arriving at the last minute, and once he had emptied the contents of his garage from the front passenger side of the car onto the paddock tarmac, drove around the patiently queuing 750 Formula competitors to the back of the last waiting Morgan. They were so surprised, or polite, that not a word was exchanged.
After the usual age and last minute adjustments, practice was called and everyone cautiously drove to the holding area and onto the track where conditions were described as “Murky/Dry”.
To the assembled supporters it seemed only yesterday that they had been gathered together watching Morgans power themselves around assorted race-tracks, rather than the six months it actually was. True to form, Keith was first out gliding around Redgate, this time followed by the newly attired Peter H. The supporters familiarized themselves with cars, drivers and numbers again, whilst fiddling with their stopwatches and biting their nails. A familiar, slightly battered but strangely shiny blue car, bearing the number 8, appeared sliding around Redgate, the first confirmed sighting of the intrepid Garland after an absence of an entire season. The rumours were true.
Once again Sarge was nearly late, joining the holding area only after everyone else was already on the track (that’s one way of getting a good run).
Practice was mostly uneventful with everyone finding the surface slightly slippery and tentatively trying out all their new gizmos. Billy nearly put an end to both his own and his father’s racing when he spun in front of Jack, who had to employ all of his skills to avoid taking them both out. As Jack was later to be seen under the car with Billy, further less fraught father/son bonding obviously took place.
Mary was out in a new hard hat in an effort to distinguish herself from all of those other red cars or perhaps to make herself more visible to her quarry.
Adrian Van Der Kroft, as the sole representative of class E, managed to annoy all of the three class D drivers by qualifying in front of them.
As Garland bedded in his brakes, he too got the bit between his teeth qualifying less than three-tenths of a second behind Ahlers.
Next came Horsman ahead of five class A cars as well as those in his own class. His plastic surgery was obviously effective as, although he afterwards professed himself to be disappointed with his times thinking that he was a second slower than the class lap record, he later discovered that in fact he was ¼ second quicker. Simon McDermott was next quickest, followed by Lloyd and Edgerton with Paterson a mere whisker behind. (James Paterson’s Moss box was found to be slightly faster than the time recorded there by Peter Horsman in his Moss box. Or maybe it was James which was faster and not his car).
Andy Green in 11th place out-qualified Simon OG by four-tenths of a second who was closely followed by Paul Chaveau, who was clearly undaunted by his new paintwork to be considerably quicker than last season. Jack Bellinger led class D but was behind Adrian. Kelvin, Jack’s main rival last year, was three places behind but in front of Phil Brown who brought up the rear. Adrian too was hoping for a lap record as his times were only fractionally outside the lap record.
All the drivers were surprisingly reticent with their excuses after practice, perhaps wishing to refine them further before unveiling them later on in the season when they would be undoubtedly needed. Your scribe had the distinct impression that they were just revelling in driving again after the long winter break. And at Donington too. A favourite track. Most amazing of all was that any problems were attributed to “driver error”.
The next quest to be completed was one devised by Mark Aston involving carefully selected drivers lining up one by one and driving onto some weighing apparatus to ascertain the legality or otherwise of their car’s weight. Your scribe found this to be an excellent method of capturing drivers in their cars for those comments without which she is unable to pen this remarkably informed and incisive commentary, and will be strongly recommending to Mark that he brings it to every race particularly if you are all going to insist on parking all over the paddock as if you had had some enormous falling out. She will also be putting forward some names for him to capture on her behalf. Beware, next time she may resort to naming and shaming you.
After weighing the drivers began (missing comma error ?) complicated calculations involving the weight of a litre of petrol, and working out how to fix a container, filled with water, safely into the body of the car, or how many non essential parts of the car could be shed before they were left driving a beach buggy and so contravened the rules in a different manner. Anyway such activity helped to pass the hours until the race was called.
And when it was, to the horror of many but the delight of some, the rain, which had been threatening all day, began to fall as the drivers were waiting in the holding area. As conditions were so different from the morning practice two green flag laps were given.
As the lights went green, most cars at the front of the grid found that the thing in the shortest supply was grip as rev limiters cut in but the cars went seemingly nowhere. Drivers were consoled only fact that most others were in difficulty too. Peter Garland first found grip and hurtled into the lead into Redgate with Keith Ahlers almost attached to the side of his car.
Next to find grip were James Edgerton and Simon McD as they pulled ahead of Peter Horsman. The only driver who did not find the lack of grip an impediment to progress was Chris Williams who, on the fourth row of the grid, dumped the clutch and promptly stalled his motor. Fortunately Phil Hollins, who was directly behind Chris Williams, avoided him, as did Simon OG and Leigh Sebba, just.
Meanwhile, at Redgate, Peter H slithered round to retake third from Simon and Edge. The class A cars of Edge and Rick Lloyd slowed so much that a queue began to form, allowing Garland and Ahlers to get right away with Peter Horsman not far behind, keeping a watching brief and waiting to step in if they made a mistake.
Orange cleared Redgate and made a concerted attempt on Peter Horsman as they straightened out and an early exchange of paint seemed possible as Peter held his line. As they turned and went down the Craner Curves, Peter put on the power and left Orange behind.
As Orange came out of the old hairpin on lap 4 he found a rut in the infield and spun into the wall, injuring his front wing and putting himself out of the race. James Paterson, who was behind Orange by this time having finally overtaken Rick and Edge, who had been holding him back, set about catching up with Peter Horsman, but he proved too far ahead and too fast.
Keith Ahlers overtook Peter Garland at the Old Hairpin holding the lead with Peter Garland all over him until lap 4, when Peter found incredible grip and took him down the pit straight, gaining 6 lengths before Redgate. Keith then piled on the power to do further battle, while Peter Horsman eased off to hold 3rd place.
From lap 4 onwards some class B, C and D drivers, led by Simon OG, began to overtake first Lloyd and then Edge. For Simon OG, Andy Green, Jack Bellinger and Sarge, this represented the pinnacle of their racing careers so far.
Chris Williams had managed meanwhile to get his car going and began to use his power to some effect as he made his way through the grid, making up 11 places by the end of the race.
Simon OG overtook Andy Green on the second lap and led his class from then onwards, while Paul Chaveau managed to keep Mary behind him, and his new paint job intact, despite a brief skirmish when she passed him on lap 7. Others were not quite so fortunate. Phil McKelvey, on the first lap, and on Mary’s track, got kissed by her and was left with a small scratch and a remodelled back bumper. This must have unnerved him, as he later had a lonely spin at the Old Hairpin, fortunately avoiding the wall, but convincing him to forget about his class A wheels and to stay at the back of the grid pretending to be a class E car instead.
Chris Williams and Mary had a close encounter later in the race, clipping each other, when Mary tried to prevent him passing her in a case of mistaken identity. She thought he was Kelvin attempting to overtake.
The real Kelvin was finding the going very slippery and gave up any thoughts of catching his old foes on the first lap. Instead, he and Billy had a little dice, which ended with Billy swooping off the track and spinning up the Melbourne loop the wrong way, emerging somehow in front of Kelvin but without any bodily contact being made.
Adrian V der K found that he had grip and put it to good use staying in the middle of class D and having a good dice with Chris Dady with whom he constantly changed places. Chris managed to stay ahead on the final lap to take the flag ahead of Adrian, although they both tried to outbrake the other to the line and both slid luridly, with Adrian claiming the victory but the timekeepers awarding it to Chris. Both were agreed that their scrap was great fun, although Chris was not quite sure how much of his winning car was on Noddy along with the wings.
As Peter Garland powered down the pit straight for the 8th time, the man with the chequered flag suddenly began to wave it and the race was over after 8 laps instead of 10. After his paternity leave Peter was once again receiving the garland. Keith came in 4 seconds behind and in a very generous manner conceded that Peter had (on that day and in those particular conditions and on that track at that time of year) been the better driver.
In third place came Peter Horsman, some 13 seconds behind Keith, and the class B winner. James Paterson was next in 4th place and 13 seconds behind Peter. Simon OG was proudly in 5th place and the class C winner. Jack was 8th and took class D, while Adrian was 16th and, as the sole contender, won class E.
Of the 23 drivers who began the race, 22 finished, which was a good result on a slippery track. Although Phil Brown came in last, he thoroughly enjoyed the race but his borrowed overalls were rather surprised and perhaps relieved to find themselves travelling at a rather slower speed than usual.
In true MMCC fashion the first round of the championship was very exciting, with the rain and slippery track producing some most surprising results. But the main plaudits were reserved for Peter G who, as Driver of the Day, showed that you can never lose good racing skills.