Round Rounds 13 and 14


3rd September 2017

1st R1: Gary Culver 328GTB / R2: Gary Culver 328GTB
2nd R1: Nigel Jenkins 355 Challenge / R2: Nick Cartwright 328GTB
3rd R1: Richard Cook 355 Challenge / R2: Chris Butler 328GTB
report by William Moorwood
photography by Simon Cooke

The final race meeting of the PFfc race season was held at Thruxton on Sunday 3rd September in very testing conditions. The races had originally been scheduled to take place over two days but the program was revised such that the races were on one day only. As the competitors began to arrive on Saturday evening the forecast was for a 80% chance of rain the following day.  William Moorwood and Peter Everingham took up Richard Dougal’s offer of space under the RnR awning, and what a good decision that proved to be.

Come Saturday the rain started at 9.00am and would not stop at any time during the day. There was a single qualifying session for both races which took place in moderate rain. Gary Culver in his 328GTB comfortably headed the times ahead Nigel Jenkins (355 Challenge) and Pete Fisk (550 Maranello). Fisk impressed the few few spectators with a big moment on the pit straight but he managed to keep the big car on the tarmac without making any contact with the pit wall. Chris Butler headed Group 3 ahead of Peter Everingham both in 328GTB’s. Close behind them on the timesheets were Nick Cartwright (Group 4 328GTB) and Chris Goddard (Group 2 308GTB).

Race 1

Race One was scheduled as the first race after the lunch break. The rain had not stopped all morning, and as there had been no cars on track during lunch there were bound to be new and larger puddles. In the packed schedule the cars left the assembly area and after a single lap were lined up on the grid for the race start with no green flag lap. So there was only a single opportunity to find new track conditions. When the lights went out Culver went straight into the lead with the 355s of Jenkins and Cook trailing in his wake. There was though a Titanic struggle for 4th place and after hearing about it, it seemed best to let one person put forward his view of the race, so here is Chris Butler’s drivers eye view of the experience:

“Anyway if I recall correctly from my row 3 start: Fisk on Row 2 went sideways and I got past him but had to yield to Cartwright and Everingham who got past me on the first couple of corners as I exercised too much caution. Fisk got back past me on lap 2 on the run down to the final chicane which dropped me to 7th place. I followed Everingham a couple of car lengths behind but slowly built up confidence to get closer. We raced wheel to wheel for a lap or two before I finally got past him on the run down to Church. Once ahead I could see Fisk and Cartwright the whole length of the straight ahead of me, but over the next few laps I caught them and overtook them both on successive laps at the same spot before Church. For some reason I could find grip there despite rivers of water running across the track. It was challenging but so rewarding being able to race wheel to wheel, compete, stay on the track and of course have no contact with each other”.

Everingham got past Fisk to finish behind Cartwright. Like the rest of us he relished the testing conditions, but added that when racing very close behind another car he found his windscreen misting up as the ambient air temperature was lifted by the exhaust of the car in front. At the front of the race Culver had no such worries as he was in a class of his own finishing half a lap in front of Jenkins in second place.

Race 2

This was the last race of the day and at 5.30pm the rain was harder than ever and conditions would be very wet indeed. Waiting in the assembly area there was a much wiping of windscreens as everything was misting up very easily. Once on track it was clear there was plenty of new standing water, often in long lines adjacent to the kerbs.

At the start of the race Culver resumed his domination and immediately went into the lead with no challenge from behind. On the first lap Everingham found standing water on the inside of Goodwood and aquaplaned off the circuit. As he slid along the grass he managed to control the car to avoid the barriers until he made gentle contact adjacent to a marshal’s post. Fortunately there was only minor damage. He made his way back to the pits and was the only retirement in the two races. The conditions were such that the more powerful Group 5 cars were possibly at a disadvantage. Nigel Jenkins for a while held on to a distant second place but Cartwright and Butler had the better of Richard Cook and Pete Fisk.

Spectators on the mound by the chicane normally get a great view down the track, but this time all they could see was a great plume of spray which eventually revealed a car in front of it. It was no great surprise perhaps that at the end of lap 5 Jenkins decided that it was just too wet and came into the pits, where Series Co-ordinator Steve Burns was on hand to get his first hand account of the track conditions. Steve is a real asset to the series and amongst other skills he is a qualified Clerk of the Course. Having spoken to Jenkins he went up to race control to have a discussion on safety. The particular concern was avoiding an incident where a driver would aquaplane off the track and end up with a heavy contact on one of the many earth banks around the circuit. Steve and the Clerk of the Course came to the wise decision to halt the race to ensure the safe return of all the competitors. This was done with Culver a clear race winner, Nick Cartwright in a very impressive 2nd place and Butler in third .

At the prize giving the RnR driver of the day went to Nick Cartwright for his two outstanding drives. A word of thanks must go to photographer Simon Cooke who manfully took photos of qualifying and race 1.

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