Originally posted on Startline
Simon Davey looks back at a classic season of Monoposto Racing
That was quite a season: excellent racing and it was busy out there - racing membership was up 22% on 2009, with an average entry of 54 for the 13 round Championship, and the final rounds at Silverstone hitting 64. The Club experimented with three grids at Mallory, which seemed to work very well for everyone although 12 track sessions in 2 days was pretty hectic. There were also two high profile non-championship races at Spa and BritCar Silverstone, both of which were sell-outs, plus a smattering on other races at Mallory. These included a lightly attended Motors TV event which went out live, and was very much enjoyed by those taking part (“Hello Mum!”).
2000 The season-long duel between Jeremy Timms and Tristan Cliffe in Mono 2000 justifiably made it into Autosport’s “ten best” list. This was high class racing: close, fair and very quick, with the protagonists taking 6 new lap records between them. Tristan took the title with a very determined second half to the year, having recovered well from a mid-season low point at Mallory when problems with the car’s injection caused a non finish at the critical point. In truth though it could have gone either way: Jeremy is quick, consistent and very hard to beat. An aborted experiment with injection on his Dallara also cost him a result at Mallory, and he was incredibly unlucky at Croft when a steering arm simply fell apart on the warm up lap. Pivotal point was probably at Oulton, when Tristan orchestrated a joint spin with Jeremy at Cascades: the fuel injected Dallara’s engine restarted, but the Webers on Jeremy’s car fluffed it…
Often right behind these two, Richard Purcell really moved his Dallara on during the season, taking a much deserved win at Mallory before a frustrating engine failure at Oulton caused a stutter. The team put in a tremendous amount of effort during the year and the car is clearly getting there: Richard is going to be a major force to be reckoned with. Similarly Malcolm Scott visibly developed his Van Diemen during the year, also taking a brilliant win at Mallory. His season then suffered a major set-back at Croft when Malcolm quite badly injured his shoulder while helping to push start some else’s car. Daughter Jennifer ably took over the Monoposto duty, but the real concern was whether Malcolm would recover in time for the critical last race in the Formula 4 Championship. He did, and took 750MC’s flagship single seater title in fine style. Malcolm is a very popular presence in the Monoposto paddock, and it’s going to be very interesting to see his title challenge in 2011…
Graham Read and Tony Bishop both had consistent seasons, in very different cars, and both deservedly nudged onto the podium. Tony in particular did well in his first season of racing, and was the only person to mount a sustained campaign in a BARC-spec Formula Renault. Tony Cotton missed the first couple of rounds, but then appeared resplendent in a gorgeous Ray Rowan-built Dallara, sporting a very unusual but obviously effective bike carburettor set up. Considering the size of the step-up from a Vauxhall Formula Junior Tony went really well, and then broke everyone’s heart (and his wallet) by being the main victim of atrocious weather at Silverstone. The car suffered badly after aquaplaning into the wall on the main straight, but hopefully will be back to grace the grid in 2011. There were also multiple appearances by Kevin Mason -whose urgent overtaking bids at Silverstone frightened the life out of the back-field commentator, Adrian Holey – who went well and will do more in 2011, and the Harrison brothers - always a force to be reckoned with. Ray Rowan and Steven Griffin both made very welcome appearances, the latter also enjoying a foray to Spa; and right at the end Yunus Amiere also made the move into Mono 2000 with a very smart BARC-spec Renault.
Mono Classic 2000 was just that in 2010 – Classic. It was the best supported class, and delivered some breathtaking racing – notably at Mallory where the opportunity to take an outright win encouraged the front runners to repeatedly attempt the turn-in to Gerards while four abreast – it was like watching a 150mph Formula Ford race. Jeremy Goodman campaigned his venerable Ralt RT3 to good effect to take the title, showing both speed and consistency everywhere. However at the midseason point the result was certainly not a foregone conclusion with Francis Phillips, Russ Giles Geoff Fern and Terry Clark all mounting serious challenges. Geoff Fern was the first to blink. He had a very sudden accident at Mallory, going off at Gerards while not quite avoiding someone’s spin. Sudden is the right word here – the car hit the tyres almost head on and stopped from over 100mph in about 2 feet. The chassis took the impact surprisingly well, and – thanks to a Hans device – so did Geoff, although he then raced again in his Mono 1400 with a very painful chest. This incident was a bit of a salutary reminder for everyone: motor racing is, in fact, dangerous. At the subsequent Oulton meeting a coming together between Francis and Jeremy saw Francis’ Reynard sustain enough damage to rule out a run at the next round as well, letting the wily Russ Giles into second place in the title stakes. Oulton also saw Terry Clark’s bid falter, and at the same time Kevin Otway started a run of very impressive results, nearly overtaking a resurgent Lou Watts on points – all of which bodes well for next year for the brace of yellow Formula Vauxhalls.
Two other front runners did not attempt full seasons. Peter Venn brought out David Dudley’s iconic Anson SA4, looking the business in a smart Yale livery, and with the master-butcher himself in close attendance. More of those sausages if you please sir! The car ran three times and was never beaten, but then suffered a season-ending engine failure at Oulton. Everyone was very pleased to see Nick Anstruther come out in mid season, and he promptly won three of the last four rounds in the Bowman. Hopefully he’ll be able to put a complete season together in 2011 as it will be a mighty duel with the Venn-Dudley Anson; they didn’t meet this year.
As well as those already mentioned there were 18 other Mono Classic 2000 points scorers. There isn’t just isn’t time to mention them all: Ian Hughes had a frustrating time with his “Just Plain Sexy” liveried Van Diemen when it developed a total-loss lubrication system, Mark Smith had a much better year than in 2009 in his neat Renault and now moves on to a Dallara for 2011, and Richard Snuggs also came out late in the year – promptly going very quickly in the turquoise Ralt F3 car.
The fact that the top three in Mono 1800 were the same as in 2009 by no means tells the full story of the busy Mono 1800 class. Peter Bragg did not seem willing to be beaten in his well developed Mygale and, among the regulars, only Rupert Reader managed to do this, with an excellent winning drive at Snetterton which took full advantage of a clever tyre choice. Peter took eight wins. He was headed by John Loebell at Anglesey, but elsewhere saw off strong challenges from Martin Byford and Martin Short; Peter deploying some impressive race craft against this experienced opposition. To everyone’s delight the other notable Mono 1800 winner, at Mallory, was the tremendously popular Jock Sergison who drove an absolute stormer to take the first win in a long career. In the pits son Ewan was just about fit to burst during the last couple of laps.
Second place in the title race went to Jim Timms, who overcame an early shoulder injury and delivered a consistently impressive season, always there or there-abouts. His only non finish was Mallory when the car mysteriously turned about-face in the braking zone for the hairpin – although there was no sign of contact and no-one was owning up…Michael Dale was third in his smart FF2000 Van Diemen. Michael imperturbably led the title race for some time, until the Bragg Mygale got up to speed; and was Mr Consistency, losing second on the Championship podium to Jim only on dropped scores. The aforementioned Rupert Reader just missed out on a Championship podium, and it’s worth noting that this means that four different types of car occupied the first four places; the Regs seem to have the balance about right in Mono 1800. This group, together with a hard-trying Phil Nicholson enjoyed some excellent close racing which also mightily entertained the watchers.
Another feature of the Mono 1800 grids was regular participation by “standard” Zetec FF racers, including John Whitbourn, James Chapman, Julian Hoskins, Mark Edwards, Marcus Sheard and Chris Helliwell. These guys always went well, and were a very competitive and welcome addition to Monoposto grids – more please! Right at the end of the year we were all very pleased to see Bill Janson’s return, finally back after a very heavy start-line shunt at the end of 2009.
2010 saw Mono 1600 introduce an impressive new racer to the Club. In his first season Nigel Davers had 7 wins in a full house of 13 finishes to take the Class title straight off. Admittedly he enjoyed having the use of the Team Fern Racing’s well sorted Van Diemen RF88, but it was never-the-less an outstanding debut season. David Parkinson’s Reynard had a major bodywork revamp from Team Avit during the off-season, but even with Avit’s aero Parkie couldn’t quite stay with “T’ut lad”, although he ran both quickly and consistently all year. He did however take an excellent win at the last round and was heard to be muttering something like “that’ll show the young mumble mumble mumble…”. Richard Evans definitely stepped up his performances to take the third podium place, and it was always a pleasure to watch the immaculate black Renault in action. Even so he was perhaps fortunate to beat fourth place Henry Fryer, another young driver who is starting to find real pace, but who suffered several bouts of bad fortune at critical points during the year. It will be interesting to see how he fairs in the new Mono 2000 Renault. The initial signs are very promising. In fifth place Eddie Guest was the last of the consistent point scorers in his cute FF Lola. Eddie kept just missing out on the race podium all season and he’s now seriously searching for that bit of extra power to keep him clear of Joe Venor’s similar car.
Among the less frequent contenders, the very experienced Nigel Smith started the season with high hopes, and took a good win at the first round at Brands, but then had an unhappy meeting at Thruxton and didn’t appear again. One-off wins also went to Thruxton specialist Pat Blakeney; the quick Ben Edwards, who was a very welcome visitor at Oulton, and to Ken Parkinson who enjoyed a weekend with Mono at Anglesey. Michael Wilkinson was a regular in the Milton Keynes College Renault, but the team’s season was interrupted when they became entangled in health and safety issues. Interestingly Martin Byford, a Mono 1800 visitor at Croft, who is also run by a college team, likewise commented on the difficulties caused by this type of regulation. Sara Hughes enjoyed several runs in Ray Dackombe’s Agent DR1, although Ian kept nicking the drive when his Van Diemen conked out. The final races at Silverstone saw Dane Catanzaro’s successful racing debut, as well as 17 year old US Formula Ford racer Austin Kimberley who was very unlucky to be knocked off while leading the class on the last lap of his first ever race.
The Mono 1400 field again showed real quality, if not quantity, with three cars and four drivers. Everyone had Hayabusa power this year, and the cars were clearly quicker than in 2009. Geoff Fern won it in the seriously slick looking JKS/TFR09, on which he focused after the Mallory Classic shunt. Peter Whitmore’s Van Diemen was impeded initially by drive train problems, but once this was sorted the car started to turn in some very quick performances, although after a mid season mishap took it took a couple of rounds to get the car sorted out. Gary Hill brought a very pretty OMS out, and the car immediately showed real pace. Son Chris Hill then had his debut race at Mallory in the car and stunned the combined Mono 1400/1000 field by leading his first race off the line. However Chris’s debut drive, and the car’s progress in general was hampered by a mysterious late–race misfire which took an age to diagnose and cure.
In some ways Mono 1000 had a curious season. Initially Arty Cameron, Dax Ward, Stephen Brooks, Stuart Digby, Darren Freeman and Chris Woodhouse all looked to be super quick title contenders. But Arty missed a couple of early rounds, and then the Cameron team had a pair of major engine failures at Mallory. The team rapidly focused on fixing the problem but it definitely disrupted their season. Chris Woodhouse got distracted by trying to get his new Dallara running – which took an awful long time but should be quick in 2011. Dax Ward was an infrequent, although always rapid, visitor. Stuart Digby and Darren Freeman had to concentrate on pressing work commitments (er in Darren’s case, this included winning the Formula 1 World Championship with Red Bull – the lad obviously needs to get his priorities right..), and Stephen Brooks started the season late. The upshot was that Len Turner’s consistent performances put him into the title lead for the majority of the season.
However as the season wound towards the final rounds it became clear that the Cameron team had sorted the engines, and Arty was going like stink. Chris Woodhouse was in with a shout and Dax Ward and Adrian Wright joined the fray. The result was some fantastic end-of-season races, with the whole thing coming to boiling point at Silverstone, and one of the best races ever seen in Mono, with the first 3 separated by around 0.2 seconds at the end. Excellent, excellent racing; completely fair and hugely enjoyed by everyone involved. Arty deservedly took the title, with Chris Woodhouse just pipping the dogged Len Turner for second place. Len had a really good season, slightly marred by an unfortunate shunt at Snetterton mid year.
There were numerous notable performances by others during the year. Peter Collier returned after his heavy Mallory accident in 2009, and Mike Reed’s son, Jonathan had an excellent debut as did Karl Davidson in the KD Racing Jedi. Paul Heavy came over from Ireland and had a good run at Silverstone after several previous mechanical misfortunes. Adrian Wright came out a couple of times, and was a key player in the end-of-season action at Silverstone where he always goes well. He has a new car on the blocks for next year, and it looks very impressive. John Rawlings was a new face in the paddock, and went well once initial problems with the car had been sorted. Father and son Tim and Dave Cameron also appeared, but played a supporting role to Arty’s storming performances – he really was spectacularly quick, especially on a damp track.
In addition to the championship rounds there were a couple of major non-championship events. The Spa Summer Classic was tremendously enjoyable, with the Mono field residing in comfort in Spa’s F1 pit complex and enjoying boiling hot weather at one of the best race tracks in the world. The club also ran on the Silverstone Bridge GP circuit as part of the BritCar 24hr support card. The circuit was great and the weather was (mostly) terrible – one of those meetings where it’s so wet you can’t even see the instruments, never mind the track. As recorded above Tony Cotton was the most unfortunate victim of the conditions, everyone was just lucky.
So that was 2010 that was. A very good year where the Club ran many rounds for the first time with MSVR. The chemistry was good, and we hope that this relationship will flourish in the future.
So as they say in the Wild West – Here comes 2011 – Cowboy Up!
…and Happy New Year to all Monoposti.