Donington Park: 30th September 2001
Donington Park was where Ayrton Senna scored one of his most impressive victories in the wet at the first European Grand Prix. Following the encouraging performance in the wet at the last race at Castlecombe, we have been practicing all types of rain dances and other magical methods of ensuring rain. It seemed to work, we arrived at Castle Donington to an overcast morning and for our practice it was raining and the track was wet.
This was the first race with our new dampers, these replacing the Konis which we have been racing up to now. Other than sporting some www.lanciaracing.co.uk stickers, this was the only major change to the car since the last race.
Everyone started gingerly, soon finding out which parts of the track had to be treated with caution. Many had raced at Donington before as the first race of the season was held here, but that was the race we missed because the car wasn't ready in time, so this was our first time here. We qualified ahead of the two Ginettas of Peter Bornhauser and Michael Richings, but still second in class behind the Triumph Spitfire of Barry Blakely who seems to like the wet as well. Most people had a number of dramatic moments - Peter Jones his TVR Vixen gracefully pirouetting his car a number of times and Julian managing to get the car sideways in between Redgate and Hollywood, before managing to end up in a gravel trap at about 80mph shortly afterwards trying to hard through the Cramer Curves (this captured on video by Emma!) and having to be towed in after the session ended. A dry line was appearing and most cars seemed to be going quicker towards the end of the session, it was a shame that our early exit meant we couldn't take full advantage of this.
Tyre pressures and damper settings were tweaked slightly as Julian was complaining of excessive oversteer.
The other Fulvia in our series, that of the much more experienced driver, Cliff Brindley, who hasn't raced with the HSCC since Oulton Park in early June came in the hope of being allowed to race, but a late entry meant that two other people had to drop out of the race before the start or not turn up Although he was very rapid in practice, he was not allowed to race. Chris Gawne in his Lancia Aurelia B20 made his racing debut here qualifying at the back of the grid, having posted a very respectable time.
In the 70's Roadsports there were five Lancias on the entry sheet, but Richard Thorne's Montecarlo and Ian Conway's Fulvia 1600 didn't turn up. Louise Kennedy's Fulvia has been retired from competition following her engine problems at Castlecombe and Jason's Beta 2000 is being rebuilt following its hefty shunt at the same event. Both Jason and Louise came and cheered.
Jai Sharma's Fulvia 1600 is performing much better since a quick trip to Omicron who made a number of adjustments to the car since Castlecombe and qualified second in class behind Gordon Russell's Beta Coupe. Graham Hall took pole for class E, although this was inevitable as he was the only entrant for this class.
For the racing the rain stopped, probably due to me applying 'Rain-X' to our car. 70's were the first race and Jai had an good race, overtaking a number of cars to finish 13th overall (started 17th), almost, but not quite catching a Porsche 914, also class D. Graham Hall in his 1300 started 22nd, and finished 22nd, but overtook a MGB who had out qualified him. A rapid Ferrari 308GTB which had problems in qualifying started at the back of the grid, but scythed its way through the field to finish 7th. Gordon Russell had an excellent race and finished class winner and also 6th overall.
For our race in Historic Road Sports we knew it would be hard to keep ahead of the Ginettas as they are much quicker off the line, and sure enough Peter Bornhauser managed to outdrag Julian from the line. Julian did managed to get ahead once, but was unable to maintain this position. However the other Ginetta of Michael Richings was some way off and it looked as if a 2nd in class was going to happen, but as Murray Walker is fond of saying "Anything can happen in motor racing, and usually does". A spin at Cramer lost Julian valuable time (again captured on video), and then about 5 other racers followed a sick TVR into the pits thinking it was the end of the race. Those racers, realising their mistake screamed out of the pits, but valuable time was lost. Julian finished 3rd in class, felt sheepish and understandably annoyed. Chris Gawne finished his first race and hope to see him in the paddock again soon.
It is another race finish, another signature on the race license and also more experience in the wet on unfamiliar circuits. We are going to do more testing on suspension rates, and hopefully our race cams will be ready in time for the season's climax at Silverstone in two weeks time.
Donington Park PRACTISE (wet) RACE (damp in places, but dry) Julian Peirson (Fulvia 1300) 1.49.598 1.38.729 effectively drying Jai Sharma (Fulvia 1600) 1.49.458 1.46.364 damp but drying Graham Hall (Fulvia 1300) 1.54.843 1.49.930 damp but drying Gordon Russell (Beta 2000) 1.45.999 1.43.140 damp but drying Chris Gawne (Aurelia) 2.07.711 1.58.970 effectively dry Cliff Brindley (Fulvia 1300) 1.47.2 DNS
© 2001: Andrew Cliffe www.lanciaracing.co.uk