Race Reports For The 2001 Season.
Donington Park GP, Sunday August 12th, 6 Laps
Eagling spins, Clark wins
Balmy August days in shorts and tee-shirts, bumble bees and butterflies vying for the remains of the year's pollen. It didn't matter that we were the first race at 9.15am on Sunday, because Donington Park in August with European F3000, Boss F1 cars and Historic F5000s on the GP circuit is something to be savoured. Wait a minute - what's happened to the wonderful summery weather we've been enjoying; you mean to tell me that it may bucket down and that the temperature may be the lowest for 200 million years and that the wind may reach gale-force - in August, surely not?
Saturday, 6am. Time to wake up after the previous evening's bon-homie (oooh, my head!). Qualifying at 9am. Weather overcast, spots of rain, but enough wind to keep the threatening rain away. Lots of worried faces peering skywards but no-one willing to put wets on lest they were jeered at! It's OK though; even the sun is making an effort this morning, so off to qualify on slicks with 21 cars. Clive Woodward immediately set the pace with Peter Clark soon swapping fastest laps with Daniel Eagling. Following in these top three aces wake were Peter Richings, Tim Covill, Neil Bevan, Adrian Brown (who held fourth for a time), Stefan Mumm (who had commuted from Sweden to race for the first time in the UK in Chris Hart's Mark 16) and Arthur Dickins who were all covered by 7/10ths of a second. Michael Taylor followed in the ex-Tom Bellamy Phantom with Brian Jordan, John Kelly, Howard Payne - with his engine arguing with its valves, Paul Freeman and Tony Pouyanne all approx 3 hundredths apart from each other. Jamie Champkin gave chase followed by Chris Burnham, Alan Avery, Ian Mitchell - sans a great deal of tank-tape due to his road-car windows losing out to the ramps of a nearby race-car transporter, Marcus Bicknell and delightful new Register member, Nick Bailey in the ex-Dave Roberts car. End of qualifying and the usual "I could have gone 2 seconds quicker" remarks filled the paddock whilst Daniel Eagling quietly stepped out of his car almost 7 tenths ahead of Peter Clark who was just 4 hundredths in front of Clive Woodward.
Sunday, 7am. Overcast and darkening clouds threatened more of the overnight rain with most teams resigned to fitting their wets. With the race at 9.15am, the cars were called to the collection area at 9am, by which time the rain had set in. Stefan Mumm's car refused to start and with Richard Mallock's help a broken fuel pump wire was diagnosed and quickly repaired in time for Stefan to join the other 21 drivers (the extra driver, Mike Luck, had pre-arranged to practice on the previous Friday so he would be allowed to start the race from the back of the grid without having qualified). Two "out" laps because of the rain soaked track, one green flag lap, then onto the grid, 5-second board, red lights, 3,000revs and GO. Peter Richings made a flyer of a start from the second row into the lead, followed by Daniel Eagling then Peter Clark who had bogged down on the startline and had some work to do. The conditions were atrocious with little or no view of anything ahead in the spray from the Avon and Dunlop wets. Peter Clark squeezed by Daniel at Redgate confident that his new Dunlops had an advantage over Daniel and Peter Riching's Avons. These three shot down Craner Curves and the Old Hairpin, then, as Peter Clark lined up Peter Richings for a pass into Macleans, he hit an enormous puddle that had his best car control abilities come into play. Daniel was following very closely with the same thoughts of a pass as Peter and had carried even more speed out of the Old Hairpin. The offending puddle decided that Daniels haste was too daring and threw him into a lurid spin in front of the chasing pack which put him to the back of the field. Meanwhile Clark and Richings ding-donged away at the front with Clark slipping by into the Melbourne loop then Richings outbraking Clark back onto the Pit straight, then Clark slipstreaming Richings into Redgate and taking the racing line into the lead which he proceeded to inexorably increase to 7 seconds by race end. Clive Woodward had started in a circumspect mode considering the conditions and the fact he was driving Barry Webb's car, so he settled for a solid third once he had passed the spinning Daniel with a much improved Neil Bevan revelling in the conditions and holding off the rebuilt engine of a revitalised Howard Payne who had stormed through the field from 13th to 5th in a very short time. Tim Covill followed with noticeably less spray coming from his EB (Enveloping Bodywork) car, then Arthur Dickins having a lonely race but with a fast and furious Daniel Eagling chasing hard behind him. Busiest driver of the day and "Man of the Race", Mike Luck, was next in 9th position having started from the back of the grid after missing the qualifying session and working his way by 13 cars within 6 laps. Following was the "Dice of the Day" between the ever improving Jamie Champkin and John Kelly; these two spent the whole race passing and re-passing each other in a most exciting fashion but in John's words "giving each other the respect that Clubmans drivers are renowned for". Paul Freeman also had a lonely race once things had settled down and was followed by a very careful Stefan Mumm in his first race, in a strange car, in the wet, at a circuit he's never driven before, then Adrian Brown who was suffering from "spinning syndrome" followed closely by Alan Avery. Then first lap spinner, Tony Pouyanne and Brian Jordan who had also had a spin at the Melbourne hairpin. Ian Mitchell kept on the "black stuff" but was probably glad to be in one piece after his expensive road car weekend and was followed by newcomer Nick Bailey improving on his qualifying position by 2 places, then Chris Burnham and an unhappy Marcus Bicknell who in his own words "wasn't with it today". Halfway through lap 7, Michael Taylor spun at the Melbourne loop hairpin and as his car was in a dangerous position (and the race was running late!) the race was red-flagged and final positions declared at the end of lap 6. Considering the appalling conditions and shortened race, most drivers enjoyed their race and were a credit to the formula that all but one car finished.