Race Reports For The 2001 Season.
Mallory Park, Sunday August 19th, 15 Laps
Pit babes are all very well; they look beautiful, have legs up to their armpits and I'm sure the very sight of them increases the sales of Buzzin' Hornets fags and Fosters beer. Pit babes, however, have nothing on the K Sports ladies. How many of them could carry two rear wets and a trolley jack onto the grid in a torrential thunderstorm? Unlike our ladies, none of them! The circumstances of our ninth round brought out the famous clubman's spirit in a quite unexpected way and we loved it.
After the weather frustrations of Silverstone and Donington, we really didn't deserve another day of looking up at the clouds and second guessing which tyres to fit but, much as the forecast had predicted, patchy rain in the morning lead to the now familiar anxiety before qualifying. Fortunately the early morning soaking had dried by the time our session started and we eagerly awaited the battle for pole between Dan Eagling and Pete Clark. It wasn't to be, on the first lap Clark's nose frame collapsed in showers of sparks and he manfully limped around for six laps to qualify a lowly tenth on the grid. Dan romped away with virtually unopposed pole time of 47.97. Clive Woodward, Jim Lindley, Pete Richings and Howard Payne filled the next four places. K Sports newcomers upset the form book with Michael Taylor (7th) Dave Madgwick (8th) Simon Kelly 11th and Marcus Bicknell 13th all serving notice of their future intentions.
The afternoon of racing progressed as the storm clouds gathered. As the cars left the assembly area on slick tyres the first flashes of lightning lit up the black background and, as they assembled on the grid, the heavens opened. The Clerk of the Course delayed the start and, presumably assuming that we all had ranks of eager uniformed mechanics and technicians just waiting for such an opportunity, announced that tyres could be changed on the grid. Enter the aforementioned K Sports ladies! While all this was going on, Pete Richings had limped back to the paddock with a failed fuel pump and, having administered a few blows with a blunt instrument, repaired it sufficiently to start, still slick shod, from the pit lane. Five minutes into the delay the rain had stopped and the sun came out. Tony Pouyanne elected to stay on slicks and Mike Luck bravely changed his mind and went back to dry tyres. Jamie Champkin sheared a wheel nut whilst on the grid and sadly had to withdraw from the race.
We had instant drama at the start as Jim Lindley selected neutral and stood still on the grid as the rest of the field managed to miss the back of his car. The real sensation followed immediately as Clarke alone decided to ignore the treacherous conditions and scorched down the pit straight and around Gerrards to overtake nine competitors. It was a fabulous and brave manoeuvre that gave him the lead and ultimately the race. After the first few laps the rain came again and this time it was torrential. As visibility diminished and the surface water increased we began to lose cars. Pete Richings slicks finally surrendered and sent him into the barrier at the Esses. Brian Jordan, who was gaining fast on Dave Madgwick, spun at Gerrards and clipped wings with Marcus Bicknell. Simon Kelly arrived at the incident with no grip to brake and nowhere to go and headed for the tyre wall. Tony Pouyanne and Mike Luck both pulled out of the race with their tyres aquaplaning although Luck returned to complete the race. Dan Eagling secured a controlled second spot in front of Howard Payne with Michael Taylor and Jim Lindley in 4th and 5th spots despite both recovering from earlier spins.
With rivers of water running over the track at the Esses and the Devil's Elbow, this is a race that probably should have been stopped early had the marshals communication system not failed. Clive Woodward said that these were the worst race conditions he had ever experienced and Paul Freeman's comment about the Clerk of the Course and a long scaffolding pole is probably best not reported.
 We later discovered that poor communication between the CofC and other personnel was because a lightning strike had briefly taken out all communication systems, including the PA system, througout the startline dramas. [BJ]