Barry Webb weathered a strong challenge from Paul Freeman to take his fifth and sixth wins of the season at Croix-en-Ternois.
In qualifying Webb was forced to give best to Freeman's flying Ardmore FR95B in damp conditions by just 0.087secs, with the majority of the 16-car grid completing the session without major difficulties. Peter Richings and Howard Payne, second in the championship heading to Croix, shared the second row.
Despite starting from pole position, Freeman was unable to hold off the fast-starting Webb on the run to the first corner and settled into second place. "He only got away first because I had the wrong diff in," explained Freeman, still chasing his first Clubmans victory. Freeman was unable to challenge Webb for much of the race, but began to close in again from lap 10 when the leader eased off with overheating worries on his Mallock Mk23/03. Then on lap 15, Webb lost time lapping Marcus Bicknell's Mallock Mk 26/27 at the fast left-handed Courbe de Croix, allowing Freeman to close onto his tail. A last lap challenge at the l'Epingale hairpin ended with Freeman getting sideways at the exit, allowing the relieved Webb to take the chequered flag.
Payne earned valuable points for third place after getting ahead of Richings, while fifth place had seemed set to go to Alex Osborne before he ran wide at Virage du Pont an slipped down to 10th. From there he recovered to eighth place, one place behind driver of the day "Luciano Gofastio", who reported no problems during the weekend except "just old age!". Of the 16 drivers only two failed to finish, with Des Andrews suffering a broken throttle pedal and Ian Crombie ending up in the gravel.
Webb again led from start to finish in race two, which ran over a shortened 12 laps after Alex Osbourne caused the first running to be red flagged by going off at the l'Ecole hairpin on lap two. Although Freeman improved on his start to the first attempt, which saw him slip behind Lester at the start, he was unable to make a serious challenge to Webb's leading. He did keep him honest to the end, finishing just 1.309secs adrift.
"I was trying to get ahead of him but the times just weren't there," said Webb of his attempts to drop Freeman. "I again had a good start, and it was nice to see dry weather in the races, but there wasn't as much grip out there as I expected."
"You only beat me because I've got the wrong diff in,' laughed Freeman, who was nonetheless pleased with his performance. "My car just doesn't get off the line." Payne again took third to hold second in the championship, this time ahead of Richings and Osbourne, who was extracted from the gravel and allowed to take the restart. The most fierce battles of the race took place down the field, with Guy Parr recovering from spinning to last place at the first corner to 11th after some bold overtaking moves.
Peter Scherer for the Clubmans Register.