Race Reports For The 2006 Season.
Donington Park National, Sunday May 7th, 12 Laps
Osborne does it again.
It was day of ups and downs for Silverstone winner Alex Osborne, when after securing pole for the second round at Donington Park, he was stripped of his times and received a licence endorsement. But the penalty only served to fire him up even more, taking a stunning victory despite spinning at the Old Hairpin.
With Osborne destined to start from the back of the grid with a 10 second penalty, Guy Parr inherited his first pole. "It was still difficult to get a good lap in qualifying I thought," he commented.
Paul Gibson is rapidly getting used to his new Mallock Mk30 and was only 0.026s slower than Parr. Mike Evans headed row two, where he was joined by Howard Payne. "We made changes, I am not saying they were wrong, but they didn't make any positive difference," said Howard. Paul Freeman's Ardmore was fractionally behind, but declared "no real problem" after the session. Adrian Brown was delighted to be sharing the third row in his Mallock. "I gave my all in that session, the car was just brilliant. Great set up and some was more luck than judgment brilliant, but I didn't have time to fear the corners," he explained. "Much better, the changes I made to the aerodynamics after Silverstone made it much smoother," said seventh place Adrian Lester. Des Andrews was eighth quickest despite having collided with Mark Cousin after he spun. "Only the sidepod was damaged," said Des. Peter Richings had no explanation for his lack of pace, putting him down in ninth. It's very serious, I am much too slow, but wish I knew why. I think I must have Webbitus," he reckoned.
Despite his spin, Cousin was still able complete the top ten. Clive Fidgeon was "back in anger" for the first time in eight months. "I just tagged onto Adrian Lester and followed him, he explained. Chris Hart's now conventionally bodied Mallock was 12th best, followed by Peter Burnham, who reckoned his Mallock was "better than Silverstone." Marcus Bicknell was down in 14th, followed by Gareth Salter's Mallock, Phillip Allen's Phantom, Richard Gilmour's Mallock and finally Jamie Champkin's Phantom. "A sleeve on a wheel nut was loose, so the wheel wasn't torqued up and it was undriveable. I pitted twice and lost most of the session," said Jamie.
All 19 cars survived qualifying and lined up on a damp track with increasing cloud overhead. Fidgeon managed to spin off exiting Coppice on the green flag, but apart from a case of embarrassment he escaped unscathed. Champkin also pitted straight away, after being covered in fuel due to a loose filler cap.
Poleman Parr was first off the blocks, but he spun straight into the Redgate gravel, leaving Howard Payne nowhere to go. Evans emerged in the lead as they charged down the Craner Curves, but he was soon swallowed up by Gibson. Freeman snatched second into the chicane, while the relegated Evans was followed by Richings, Lester, Brown and the recovering Parr. "I gave it my best shot, there was just no grip and I overcooked it. I was determined to have a flyer though," said Parr.
As Gibson started to extend his lead on the second lap, Richings began to close on Evans for third. Behind though Osborne was already up to fifth at the chicane. With Burnham already out, Bicknell pitted after losing a hose and Payne was forced out with damage from the first corner. "When Guy spun I couldn't avoid him. It damaged the nose and forced it onto the tyres and through the radiator," he explained.
Despite the track getting greasier, Osborne continued to pull out all the stops, taking both Richings and Evans to move into third on lap three. A lap later Freeman was forced to surrender second and suddenly Gibson's dominant lead was being eroded. Parr had succeeded in taking Brown. Lester and Richings by the end of lap four, only to fall off for good at the Old Hairpin. Brown had a couple of exchanges with Lester for seventh, after Fidgeon had taken them both and set off in pursuit of Richings. But Osborne's challenge was thwarted with a spin at the Old Hairpin on the fifth lap. "I put it into second, spun and got beached," he explained. Gibson was back in a commanding lead and Freeman briefly reclaimed second. Evans and Richings were both running solo in fourth and fifth, while Fidgeon was being caught again by Lester for sixth, after Brown had pitted. "I was driving on my own oil slick," said Brown.
With two laps to go Osborne was on the limit and Gibson was back in his sights. Fidgeon's response in shaking off Lester took him past Richings into fifth at Redgate. "After I got past I was too late on the brakes and lost out," said Fidgeon. Osborne's charge was finally rewarded when he slipped down the inside of Gibson into McLeans a lap from home and emerged with the lead. "There were a few sideways moments, but I had to go for it," said Osborne.
"In a few races I will be filling Alex's mirrors", promised Gibson after securing second. "We are still developing the car," he added. Freeman retained third, "I just kept it clean, but needed more wing," he said. "There was just no grip or heat in the tyres," said fourth placed Evans. Lester just held off a charging Andrews for fifth on the last lap, similarly Fidgeon kept Richings at bay for seventh. "My car was undriveable in the damp," confirmed Richings. "Mine was great and I seemed to find grip where others didn't," replied Andrews.
Hart was just behind Richings in 10th and despite doing his best to spin, Salter completed the top ten. "I softened the car too much, had the wrong gears in most places and kept outbraking myself," he confirmed.
Despite a couple of spins Cousin held on for 11th, with Gilmour and Allen completing the finishers.
Issued by Peter Scherer for the Clubmans Register on May 8th 2006.