Race Reports For The 2002 Season.
Croft, Sunday July 28th, 12 Laps
Eagling of the north.
Championship race meetings in the far north of England at Croft have never been the most popular weekend pastimes for Clubmans - however, the popularity of the MG X POWER K Sports Cup persuaded many to make it a 3-day event with testing on Friday as well.
Qualifying was mid-afternoon on Saturday and 18 cars lined up in a sunny Croft collection area for their annual round in this beautiful part of the country with its technical track conditions and a friendly welcome from officials and marshals alike.
The unsurpassable (so far) Daniel Eagling qualified ahead of Peter Clark by 1.75 seconds (Peter had been given some tips by Barry Webb - the car owner and multiple Clubmans Champion) on Friday about how to make a Mark 23 Mallock go faster, but after a rear axle failure during qualifying, his hoped for increased speed was thwarted). Mark Weyer, Adrian Brown and Daniel had spent the previous weekend thrashing around Spa in a VW Beetle 24 hour race, and the extra track time showed, with Mark qualifying a creditable 12th in between Neil Bevan who was recovering from his 11 hour drive to Croft, and an "on better form" Jamie Champion in 13th. Quickest EBX driver to date, Peter Richings, was 3rd and just 4/100ths of a second behind Pete Clark (how do you measure 4/100ths - a blink of an eye? No, it must be quicker than that - a yard at 80mph?). Fourth, and the surprise of the day was ASCAR interloper Phil Weaver who was guesting in Chris Hart's "Magic" Mark 16. Phil had never driven the car before the 15-minute qualifying period and he posted a time only .25 seconds slower than Peter Richings - Phil's smile when he got out of the car left no doubt as to his enjoyment of being back in a Clubmans car! Ex-Supersports champion Mike Evans was 5th in Mike McDermott's ex-Harry Whitehouse Mark 20, and only 4/10ths behind Mike was Jim Lindley 5/100ths behind Mike. Howard Payne was a further 8/10ths behind Jim followed by an ecstatic, and ever improving (with age!) Brian Jordan, less than 2/10ths slower than his hero. Rover Guru Paul Freeman followed with Peter Burnham, Neil, Mark, and Jamie all covered by just 1 second. Then Tony Pouyanne, travelling from the deep south to see what the natives got up to north of Watford Gap, and Adrian Lester in his wheel tracks, sans Richard Mallock engineering for him. Marcus Bicknell, who'd flown into Teeside airport from a Scandinavian holiday just in time for qualifying (Marcus is leading the unofficial "Non-Testers Championship" to date) followed. Ian Crombie was next up, just 6/10ths behind, and then an "off-form" Guy Woodward who was shaking cobwebs from himself and his car and "just having a relaxing weekend".
Following a balmy Saturday evening's BBQ, Sunday morning dragged on with the race scheduled for late afternoon. Long-needed jobs on cars were completed. Peter Clark's broken axle in Barry Webb's car was repaired, following a wasted, and very speedy trip by Peter to Mallock's workshop in Northampton on Saturday night to collect a new (faulty) one. Cars that hadn't seen polish for years shone and the tension mounted. Eventually the 18 cars lined up on the grid in the sunshine and Clerk of the Course, John Felix, pressed the "green" button. For the first time this year, Daniel didn't lead into the first corner! It was that interloper, Weaver! He'd had a cracking start and dropped the clutch at precisely the right revs resulting in a lead through the first two corners - Daniel and Pete Clark were having none of that and firstly Daniel slipped inside Weaver at the chicane and then Clark at "Sunny". Peter Richings got stuck behind the hard charging Weaver and when he eventually got by had been delayed too much to be able to catch the disappearing Clark and Eagling. Lindley tried all he could to pass Weaver, then a disputed move allowed Evans to get in front. Evans and Weaver's race-long dual took the collective pit-wall's breath away when they touched wheels briefly alongside the signalling area after Evans had a brief loss of concentration when he realised he was on the rev-limiter in 3rd! Meanwhile, Daniel went on his majestic way with the Peters' Clark and Richings following in his wake to 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. Jim Lindley lost his momentum, following Evans into 6th place after his incident with Weaver, and was followed home by the ever-improving Freeman in the pretty Ardmore, only just ahead of Howard Payne, who was followed closely by Peter Burnham and Neil Bevan. Jamie Champion was a little way behind in 11th, tracked by Tony Pouyanne and the alternative Jordan team driver, Brian who had enjoyed a brief spin at the hairpin. Marginally over 1 second behind was Marcus "Wing Commander" Bicknell, closely followed by Mark Weyer, who had spun several places away, then Adrian Lester who'd had a very close dice with Marcus earlier in the race. Guy Woodward pipped Ian Crombie before the race-end with all 18 cars finishing a very entertaining 15 minutes. Justin Foley's record remained intact, some 2 seconds quicker than race winner Dan Eagling's fastest lap, which shows that Daniel has yet to be pushed hard - who will be the first to dethrone "King Dan"?