Race Reports For The 2003 Season.
Thruxton, Sunday October 19th, 10 Laps
Howard Payne ends the year with a win and lap record.
Cast your mind back gentle reader, to a cold day in Northants in April when Howard Payne won the MG XPower Clubmans Cup race from Mike Luck, Matthew Slinn, Barry Webb and Peter Richings. Now come forward in time to a cold day in north Hants in October when Howard Payne won the MG XPower Clubmans Cup race from Mike Luck, Barry Webb and Peter Richings (Matthew not playing having already sewn up the championship at the previous meeting); spooky or what?
Thruxton always seems to produce extremes of weather and this year was no exception with a bitterly cold east wind fresh off the Urals bringing a rosy glow to many a cheek, the up side of this was a bright, sunny day with no hint of rain. There appeared to be two main topics of conversation in the morning paddock; both weather related. From the massed helpers and non combatants the talk was of the cold wind, of hot food and warm motorhomes while those more directly involved with the racing fretted about the correct final drive ratio to use given that the wind was causing the cars to come up Woodham Hill at a speed very rarely attained in MG Clubmans cars; at the end of the day Adrian Lester's data logger had recorded better than 130mph.
A twenty car entry at the last race of the year deep into October says a great deal about the strength of this championship, that at the end of proceedings twenty cars finished the race on the lead lap on a day when a new lap record was established speaks volumes about the standards of preparation and skill we have come to enjoy this year - long may it be so.
Mike Luck darted to pole position with a time of 1:21.700, which hinted that Peter Clark's two year old lap record was possibly under threat. Joining Mike in the 103mph bracket were Barry Webb and Howard Payne while Stefan Mumm, Peter Richings, Adrian Brown, Alex Osborne and Guy Woodward were right up there at better than 102mph. Several drivers were muttering about the length of time they had spent on the rev limiter during the session and some, including Howard Payne usefully warmed their hands by putting a higher final drive ratio in their cars for the race. That done of course they then interpreted every flutter of the flags in the paddock as being a sign of a change in the wind. In truth the wind blew unabated from the same direction until well into the evening.
Webb got the jump at the start and led as Luck and Payne chased. However, Payne was soon on the move and dived ahead of Luck before closing in on Webb. When Payne made his move under braking for the chicane, Webb could not defend and was delayed fractionally as a result, which allowed Luck to grab second.
Meanwhile, Richings had tigered ahead of Mumm after a flat-out side-by-side run around the back of the circuit, and soon closed in the battling leaders. Over the second half of the race, the four cars ran nose to tail and it was only as Webb defended from Richings towards the flag that Payne and Luck pulled a few yards clear.
A real star of the race was young Alex Osborne (Mallock Mk30) on his first visit to Thruxton. The teenager ran fifth for much of the race before a misfire set-in and forced him to drop back, leaving fifth to Mumm. Then, another great battle raged for sixth as Adrian Brown headed Guy Woodward, Adrian Lester and James Lindley.
For Payne, it was a fine victory to book-end his win in the opening race of the season. In between, he suffered a major accident and missed several races, but returned in style and the Thruxton win was well deserved.
Jim Lindley's day, and his chance of contesting the second championship position with Barry Webb, was spoiled by a misfire which consigned him to qualify ninth and finish ninth in the race.
Despite not racing and because of the foibles of a scoring system in which points are dropped, Matthew Slinn finished the day with more points than he had had in the morning.
Thanks to the kindness and enthusiasm of the Covill family, Brian Jordan had his first race since his accident with Howard Payne in round five at Oulton Park.
To wrap up the day, the presentation in the paddock after the race was shared with the MGCC Mayflower Challenge competitors and was supported by a number of senior MG personnel.
(Paul Lawrence & Brian Jordan)