Round Rounds 4, 5 and 6

Val de Vienne

2nd & 3rd June 2018

1st R1: Alberto Donati (308 Gr4) / R2: Alberto Donati (308 Gr4) / R 3: Alberto Donati (308 Gr4)
2nd R1: Tris Simpson (355/Ch) / R2: Nigel Jenkins (355/Ch) / R3: Tris Simpson (355/ Ch)
3rd R1: Lee Moulden (355/Ch) / R2: Tris Simpson (355/Ch) / R3: Nigel Jenkins (355/Ch)
report by William Moorwood
photography by Val de Vienne Photographer and William Moorwood

Sport et Collection at Val de Vienne seemed to be even bigger and better than our visit two years ago. The weather certainly helped and we had our own paddock area with plenty of space not only for PFfc cars but also for other cars which were present to take account of the abundant track time available. One of these cars was the immaculate F40 of David Edge which had plenty of admirers in the paddock and on track as David took it out a number of times. It was a pity that after some late withdrawals there were only 11 cars from the UK so there would be 12 cars on the grid for the PFfc races as we were joined by Alberto Donati in his 308 Gr4, his name for a highly modified 308 GTB, which had come from Switzerland.

The circuit is quite a challenge with a number of complex corners so it was not surprising that all of the cars took advantage of the free track time on Thursday and two dedicated free practice times on Friday. This was followed in the evening by an excellent dinner organised by the very hospitable French FOC and even after the dinner there was more track action as the track is open until midnight with the track open after dark. Richard Dougal took our scrutineer, Andy Bush, out for a few laps in the dark which were truly enjoyed.

Andy was still smiling the following morning at the start of the qualifying session which took place first thing on Saturday morning. Vance Kearney had been hoping to do well in qualy and match his Oulton performance but it was not to be as his 355 Challenge car sat stationary in the pit lane as neither Vance nor Lee Moulden were able to be at the track on time. With the two long straights the track appeared to suit the 355s and so it proved to be with Tris Simpson and Tim Mogridge who were first and second in their 355 Challenge cars. As it was the first visit of these two to the track the times reflected their extensive testing. After being closely matched at Oulton Park Chris Goddard in his Group 3 308GTB appeared to have the better of Peter Everingham’s Group 3 328 GTB. Richard Fenny who had been out in his 360 earlier could only complete one lap in his 308 GT4 before the throttle cable broke leaving him an interested spectator at the start of the long straight.

Race 1

As the cars pulled out of the pit lane there was an immediate problem for Nigel Jenkins as he pulled off the track with an electrical problem. As the race started Tim Mogridge made a good start but was overtaken on the outside of the first bend by Tris Simpson who stayed ahead for the rest of the race. There was plenty for the many spectators to enjoy as Alberto Donati was doing well and it was soon apparent that his position in qualifying did not do him justice as he worked his way up the field to take the lead. Similarly Lee Moulden, starting at the back, worked his 355 Challenge up to third place and for the last few laps the front five were all running in close order. Richard Fenny, complete with new throttle cable was getting the better of Len Watson’s 308 GTB and as the race developed the 308 GTB developed brake problems and Watson was only just ahead of William Moorwood’s 308 GT4 at the end of the race. 

Race 2

Race two was in the late afternoon and by now the track and cars were very warm as it was a brilliant hot summer’s day. Nigel Jenkins’ 355 was now running well but it was Len Watson’s turn to have a problem on the green flag lap as his engine developed a big misfire so he pulled into the pit lane before the start of the race.

At the start of the race Tris Simpson took the lead only to be passed by Jenkins after two laps and both were passed by Alberto Donati as he repeated his performance of the first race. In the middle of the field there was by now a clear pecking order established as Gary Culver in his Group 4 308 GTB could not quite keep up with the 355s, similarly the Chris Goddard 308 was able to keep ahead of Peter Everingham and these two were in turn tracked by David Edge in his 355 Challenge.

There was some close racing at the back as William Moorwood kept Richard Fenny behind him for a couple of laps and later in the race found that Len Watson was catching him after starting from the pit lane. Len Watson caught William Moorwood at the end of the long straight and then had a big moment as the disparity in braking performance between the Group 1 car and his Group 2 car became overly apparent.

Still all was fine at the end of the race as it was straight off to the French FOC tent for the prize giving and a reception with some truly excellent champagne which proved to be just the thing to restore a driver after a very hot race. 

Race 3

The grid positions were set by the times set in race 2 and this allowed Alberto Donati to lead the race from the start and finish with a clear win. The second place was taken by Tris Simpson, deservedly so as he had been the pick of the 355 drivers all weekend. Richard Fenny had had to leave early so he did not participate and Len Watson did not get to the start due to his recurring misfire.

The 10 cars which did participate were well received by spectators and it is sure that all the drivers enjoyed the experience. At the prize giving it was good to see that the race commentators chose David Edge as the driver of the weekend for his very consistent performances in the three races. The whole event is superbly organised with everything happening on time from dawn to dusk with hundreds of spectators both enjoying the event and making a massive contribution to a cancer charity. There was a fantastic variety of cars to enjoy and all this taking place at a really good venue with testing race circuit which is a pleasure to race on.


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