Race Reports For The 2002 Season.
Pembrey, Sunday May 12th, 14 Laps
Eagling opens his account
Ten weeks later than our traditional Silverstone season opener, twenty-four immaculate K Sports cars (including six EBX) descended on South Wales. Weeks of frustration and frantic polishing ("Won't be long darling - I'm just going into the garage for a frantic polish!") came to fruition on a sunny May weekend. It was good to welcome several newcomers, including Marc Weyer and Des Andrews, both racing with Glen Eagling Motorsport (GEM). Guy Woodward (not exactly a "new" face!), who is also a member of the GEM team, was given a warm welcome on his return to Clubmans. Ian Crombie in his ex-Phil Barak car TLC'd by Ian Megson, and Adrian Lester in his ex-Phil Weaver car tended by Mallock Sports. Peter Burnham's car was being driven - in his first race ever - by another member of the Burnham family, Kevin, and it was good to see Neil Bevan again, racing of course at his local circuit!
Those who tested on Friday had a good day, other than Brian Jordan busting his diff and having to settle for running an unsuitable one for the weekend, Des Andrews suffering a fairly big spin, and Adrian Lester also having a really big moment when he spun off and wreaked absolute havoc to his bodywork when the middle section of the car split into two. By a great stroke of luck, John Chapman - who now lives near Pembrey - was around and, with the use of much fibreglass and no less skill, managed to repair everything in time for practice on Saturday. Once again, Pembrey provided the venue for yet another example of the Clubmans spirit of helpfulness and camaraderie. Many thanks to John.
Practice was fairly uneventful. A few people reported overheating problems and some had handling problems - only to be expected at the first outing of the year. Mike Luck couldn't understand why his car was handling so badly at some corners until he subsequently discovered that his diff had locked solid, forcing him to use an unsuitable one for the race. Dave (five dinners) Madgwick suffered the biggest problems when a failed thermostat caused his oil to overheat and disperse itself all over the car, a situation not helped by then dropping off a kerb and redesigning his front end - much work was required in the Covill camp to repair the damage. Considering that there were quite a few people who had never driven before at Pembrey, the practice times were very respectable, with Dan Eagling putting in an outstanding 58.9 for Pole (in spite of practising some parallel parking on the grass verge at one point!), Jim Lindley a 59.3, and Peter Clark (driving the old lady of the formula, Chris Hart's Mark 16) with a very creditable 59.9. Needless to say, complaints of, "getting too old for all this" and "arthritis setting in" were heard from the wrinkly areas of the grid - all of which was treated with the usual scepticism!
The race was the next to the last on Sunday, but we were actually on the grid at 4.15 - better than expected. The weather had been beautiful all day, and was just beginning to cloud over as the grid formed up. As rain had been forecast, there were a few anxious eyes cast skywards, but the Gods were with us for once and 24 immaculate cars lined up on the grid. A very brief drivers' briefing had been held just before lunch - probably the briefest ever! - at which Chris Hart had exhorted the drivers to take it easy into the first corner. First race of the year, many newly painted cars with brand-new bodywork, all eager to go, frustrated by the late start to the season and the cancellation of the Rockingham round, greyhounds straining at the leash and all that - but no point in f...ing it up (his words!) on Lap 1. To a man, everyone complied and, "phew", the whole field exited the Hairpin without incident.
Daniel took the lead, Peter Clark made a storming start from third on the grid and took second place, with Jim Lindley close behind. Guy kept his fourth place, with Peter Richings and Mike Luck following. Jim Lindley regained his second place from Peter Clark during lap 2 and, in Peter's attempt to regain it, he had a coming-together on lap with Guy Woodward who unfortunately suffered nose-cone damage and had to retire. Peter lost several places as a result and set about working his way back through the field. Daniel and Jim stayed first and second for the duration of the race, with Peter Richings now lying third. Unfortunately, Mike Luck had to abandon his fourth position and the race when he suffered fuel pressure problems after several laps. (This was subsequently traced to a fire under the bonnet (cause unknown) which had "closed off" his fuel pipes - a clever safety feature?!). Tim Covill was very much in the picture, having started tenth on the grid but ending lap one in sixth spot. Many scraps were enacted behind the leading group, the most notable being between Neil Bevan, Paul Freeman and Tony Pouyanne, and then further back between Jamie Champkin, Brian Jordan, Marc Weyer, Ian Crombie, and Ian Mitchell. On lap 8, Adrian Lester suffered an electrical failure which forced him to retire, and on the same lap a disastrous spin by Marcus Bicknell on exiting Honda spelled disaster for both he and poor old Howard Payne, who was right behind him and had nowhere to go. Both spun out of the race and sustained damage, very severe in Howard's case. Marcus reported that he was enjoying the best race he had ever had - really felt that he was racing properly for the first time - and admitted that he had probably become over-confident. He must be commended for his honesty and humility and his sincere distress about the outcome for Howard, with whom we can only commiserate in the strongest possible way. After all his bad luck last year, this was not a good start to Howard's season, with his brand-new EBX bodywork and high hopes. These were the only incidents of the race, apart from a spin each from Marc Weyer and Dave Madgwick (mega), until the final lap when Peter Clark - having worked his way up through the field to challenge Peter Richings for third place - attempted to win that back at the Hairpin but failed, sustaining some damage to the venerable Mark 16 and having to settle for fourth place. Tim Covill had one of his best races to date, having never driven at Pembrey before, to finish an excellent fifth, with Neil Bevan behind him in sixth.
The race was fast and exciting and a challenging start to the 2002 season. The post-race atmosphere was euphoric, with Ian Crombie still looking like a Cheshire Cat two hours later and Brian Jordan's enjoyment of his race shining from his visage like the weekend's sunshine. Tony Pouyanne, who had been lying an unbelievable (to him) sixth, blew it all away at the last corner on the final lap when a courteous hesitation on his part for a new driver allowed Neil Bevan and Paul Freeman to storm past him, not believing their luck!
Daniel, who led from start to finish, secured fastest lap with a 59.3 and a very well-deserved win, a jubilant Jim in second, and equally jubilant Peter in third.
Roll on the next Round at the best circuit in the UK - Cadwell Park - on 26 May!
(Karen & Chris Hart.)