Race Reports For The 2001 Season.
Thruxton, Sunday October 14th, 10 Laps
Lap record pillaged by Clark - Scandinavians divide and conquer.
Four Swedish and one Danish Clubmans driver made the 2,000 mile round trip to join 23 UK cars in the final round of the K sports Championship at Thruxton. The grid of 28 cars was evidence of the increasing popularity of this fastest front-engined formula in the world.
The arrangements for the Scandinavians didn't start to plan! "Aj fan!" The agreement with the BARC to give the visitors extra track time (on their first ever racing visit to the UK) was refused the week before the race, which was too late for them to cancel ferries. Their journey through Sweden and Denmark, then across the North Sea, and a substantial drive across the UK for 15 minutes qualifying and a 14-minute race seemed to carry enthusiasm for racing too far! Even first time visitor to Thruxton, and proud owner of his own Mallock, Marcus Bicknell, had been practising reading the labels on his IKEA furniture all week in an effort to disguise himself as Swedish, and be able to take advantage of the extra track time! Meantime, the usual Clubmans camaraderie came to the fore when Michael Mallock entered the race with Dad's (Ray) Mark 18. He only had the "old" Dunlops and was reluctant to buy the 2001 Avons for the one race - enter Peter Clark, who promptly lent Michael his spare set already mounted on suitable wheels.
After a warm and sunny Saturday evening BBQ in the paddock, Sunday morning mist grounded the flights from the adjacent airfield, and fleeces were the order of the day. Rain was forecast for later in the day and a sense of urgency prevailed in the Clubmans paddock to get the race over before wets had to be mounted. Qualifying started at 10.24 in dry but damp conditions and it became obvious that whilst the Scandinavian cars with their mildly tuned Ford Zetec 150 bhp engines were more powerful than the Rover K Sport, the drivers were also having to learn the track amongst 23 other cars, and were tripping up some of our quicker guys in the crowded conditions. Nevertheless, visitor Peter Johansson qualified on pole, 7/10ths in front of Daniel Eagling with Peter Clark just over 2/10ths behind and Michael Mallock 8/10ths from him. Pete Richings followed in Michael's tracks within 7/100ths, then Howard Payne less than 2/100ths behind, pipping Jim Lindley by just over a 1/10th - the top 9 UK cars were covered by less than 2 secs. Adrian Brown was a welcome addition to the grid in 9th with Keith Whyman guesting in Chris Hart's diminutive Mark 16 and an "off-day" Clive Woodward in Barry Webb's Mark 23. Jan Nordgren sandwiched Paul Freeman's pretty Ardmore and Tony Pouyanne's Silver Phantom, then Mike Luck in the gorgeous Dart (or is it the gorgeous Mike Luck?). K Sports' webmaster, Brian Jordan, led Ian Mitchell's IM Mark 3, then "Arfur" Dickens being chased by a down on power Dave Madgwick in only his third outing in the Covill EBX car. Club Chairman, Jamie Champkin, followed within 6/100th's of Dave, chased hard by Peter Burnham, then Mats Lundquist in his unique Bodola Mark 5 and Marcus Bicknell, in his last outing in Ian Megson's Mark 18. Brendan Herd was able to join the grid for this race from his work abroad, and kept ahead of Anders Andreasson, of the Phantom manufacturing company, and Alan Avery in his self-built Avalan, then Simon Kelly and Chris Burnham covered by just over 1/10th. Parc-Ferme had complaints from some drivers about the quicker straight-line visitors being slow in the corners, thereby adversely affecting lap times. However, after a constructive meeting with the visitors, it was agreed that they would start from the back of the grid so as not to interfere with the final championship placings outcome.
With dark clouds gathering, the grid was formed up without Madgwick, who'd discovered bent valves within half-an-hour of the start. The visitors looked to be along way away from the start lights, and with Eagling and Clark now on the front row together, the grid formed quickly on the green flag lap. The red lights saw the wonderful sight of 27 cars streaming into the first corner, and for once, Eagling got a good start alongside Clark, but was joined by Mallock into the entry to the complex as all three of them continued abreast towards Church - phew! Following in their wake were Richings and Lindley with Whyman using the Mark 16's unique starting abilities to their best effect. Payne was tucked up behind Whyman with Woodward and a fast starting Freeman closing. By the end of lap one, Johansson had passed 11 cars and was pressing Freeman for 9th place. Brown led Luck and the rest of the field towards the chicane whilst Eagling out-braked Clark to lead, with Lindley doing the same to Richings to move into 4th. Meanwhile Payne had passed Whyman only to be tagged under braking for the chicane, culminating in Payne retiring one lap later with chassis damage, and Whyman coming into the pits for the removal of his damaged nosecone. Clark re-established the lead at the chicane on the next lap, leaving Eagling and Mallock to battle and exchange positions almost every lap at the chicane. The following pack had close racing throughout, and a knowledgeable commentary from Ian Titchmarsh was able to keep a good crowd of spectators informed of the many place changes that were happening down the field. On lap 9, Clark had established a 2 sec lead over the looming Johansson, from the umbilically connected Eagling and Mallock, with Lindley and Richings leading the pack by a further 5 secs. The last lap saw Johansson close to within 1.4 secs of Clark, with Eagling lead Mallock over the line less than 4/10ths apart. Lindley stumbled over back-markers coming out of the chicane, which enabled Richings to out drag him across the line for 5th, and confirm his final championship position of 3rd behind Eagling. Woodward followed, chased by Brown and second and third visitor placings, Nordgren and Sode, less than I sec apart. The remaining 13 cars streamed through, to complete a cracking race to end the K Sports championship season. Congratulations to the new Champion, Peter Clark, who has never finished lower than 3rd this season, and finished on a high with an emphatic win and new lap record for Thruxton that beat the 5 year record held by Malcolm Jackson by 1.396 seconds. Not only that, but Peter's average lap
race speed of 102.49 was faster than the single lap
old record speed of 102.48! Who will beat Clark in 2002?