Race Reports For The 2002 Season.
Silverstone National, Saturday August 24th, 12 Laps
All records broken at Silverstone.
August bank holiday weekend at Silverstone brought out the largest grid in the formula's history - of the 33 cars entered 32 qualified and made the grid and Dan Eagling broke the lap record - only the second time that a 'Dunlop' record has been beaten on Avons. Dan also continued on his total domination of the season taking yet another 'maximum' score with apparent ease. Peter Clark took second to consolidate his second place in the championship after a hard race with Mike Evans and Peter Richings. As usual there was battling throughout the field to provide a great spectacle and enjoyment for the drivers.
Not only was the entry size impressive but the day also brought an unprecedented influx of new or returning drivers and a bevy of ex champions was in attendance, although not all competing. This gave us the opportunity for some impressive (we hope) photography of the entire field (cars and drivers) and the assembled ex champions - Barry Webb, Alan Webb, Clive and Guy Woodward, Richard Mallock, Tony Pouyanne, Mike Luck, Mike Evans, Peter Clark, Glenn Eagling and Peter Richings.
The day was basically dry and warm, but there were ever present clouds and as the impressive field lined up for qualifying the cumulo nimbus was building ominously. After I had told various people very sagely that Avon tyres were a second a lap slower than Dunlops around Silverstone blow me if Dan Eagling didn't go and lap a couple of tenths under the old lap record, clocking 1m 1,585s. This is the first time that a Dunlop record has been bettered on Avons. The rest of the field, however, was true to prediction and at least a second adrift of the old record! They were led by Peter Richings who managed a 1m 2,826s to record his best qualifying performance this year and the best by an EBX. Peter Clark was third, claiming he could have taken Copse flat if he'd been testing on Friday, from Mike Evans, who put in a late lap to pull himself up the grid. Fifth was a very impressive performance by Alan Webb after a 22 year lay off and having a one off drive in Tony Pouyanne's Phantom. Guy Woodward just pipped a much improved Dart (Mike Luck), which was benefiting from a Reynard derived rear wing and Jim Lindley who was happy to have his favourite rear wing again after missing it at Snetterton.
Brian Jordan took ninth and again demonstrated his renewed confidence in his car, while tenth was excellent for John Palmer - first time out this year and first time on Avons. Other notable performances were Stuart McNally, having only his second race ever (first if you don't count a 2CV!) in his newly acquired ex Bellamy, ex Taylor Phantom. Stuart is a race engineer for Jordan F1, which is very interesting for the formula as he will bring a different perspective in some areas. Hopefully, he'll also find that K Sports is a great deal of fun and really competitive on track! Dick Mallock was having an outing in Adrian Lester's EBX and was enjoying every minute of it, Glenn Cantello was another new face in Glenn Eagling's Mk23. Glenn is an ex 250 Kart racer and was learning to be smoother with his driving style and not hurl it at the corners. He's got some good coaching available in that team and is planning to do the rest of the season. Last, but by no means least, was our good friend and long time K Sports supporter, Caterham racer Sheila Marshall, having an outing in Chris Hart's Mk16 and loving it.
About 10 mins into qualifying the weather decided to intervene and after a few drops of rain then threw it down in a real downpour effectively curtailing play early.
By race time the weather looked set fair, so any fears of a heavy storm were forgotten. At the green light Eagling got an absolute flier and led easily into Copse after which he pulled away to a clear win, breaking the lap record on his way. Another haul of 32 points under his belt - the championship looks likely to be sewn up at his home track, Snetterton, on Sept 8th. Behind, Richings initially led the chase but a territorial dispute with Clark at Becketts saw him out on the rough stuff on the runway as Clark used up the entire road. Alan Webb inherited third but Richings was back past a lap later. Webb subsequently had a quick spin, dropping down the order and later went off at Copse and crunched the nose against the Armco. Not quite in the script, but the smile on Alan's face all weekend confirmed how much fun he was having. Tony Pouyanne, by comparison, looked like an expectant father! Richings continued to chase Clark and was in turn caught by Mike Evans. Mike managed to slip through at Becketts towards the end of the race, but neither quite made their way past Clark. It all got pretty fraught with a couple of laps to go when the three caught Chris Karn to lap him approaching Copse. Unfortunately the yellow flag was out and Clark (not seeing the flag) sailed past Karn. Evans and Richings dutifully waited until the green at Maggotts before following through, both expecting Peter to get his knuckles rapped (at least). Clark was lucky on this occasion, as it seems that the Observers didn't spot the indiscretion (unlike the majority of the crew on the pit wall).
Jim Lindley was happier in the race and worked his way up to 5th ahead of Guy Woodward. Neil Bevan had worked his way up past Guy, but spun it away on lap 10, dropping well down the field. As it was John Palmer continued to show good form on his come back and kept Woodward in sight to the end ahead of a happier Howard Payne, Arf Dickens and Adie Brown. Nick Bailey headed the next bunch, which consisted of a slightly defused Paul Freeman, John Kelly, Marcus Bicknell, Brian Jordan and Dick Mallock. Stuart McNally made a bad start, suffering from clutch slip, but worked his way up well and recorded a very respectable best lap of 1m 3,9s. He'll be worth watching in the future.
Mike Luck should have been a significant feature of the race but managed to tag his front wing on the back of Guy Woodward's car on lap two, necessitating a quick pit stop, but then ran very quickly recording the third best lap of the race.
Ian Crombie showed good speed with his car now set up better but had a moment on lap 11 dropping himself down to 25th behind the recovering Neil Bevan.
So, an excellent event for the formula, and with every prospect that the fields at the next few races could be just as healthy. Roll on Snetterton, Brands, Mallory and Thruxton!
Pete (Sven) Richings