2008 Welsh Saloon & Sportscar Championship Rounds 13, 14 and 15
Pembrey 13th & 14th September
Rhys sweeps the board - goes top!
In Front - Apart from a few laps Rhys was dominant all weekend
Race 1 Practice & Entry
With the new Championship format officially described in the programme as "resurgent" there was another excellent entry with 25 cars starting practice on what turned out to be a super sunny weekend, which was a welcome change from the largely wet and miserable summer. There was the usual mix of regulars and new faces, but one notable absentee was Alvin Powell. Unfortunately Alvins wife Glynis, was suffering from a bad back, and his car was still suffering from the Anglesey trip. Also missing, but present was returnee Jeff Davies. Mr Personality (well no one else has a job as flamboyant as his) was out after his Westfield suffered heavy damage after being rear-ended in practice, the impact being large enough to bend one of the half-shafts, and it turns out the axle too, so Jeff and Pierre, his spanner man, spent the rest of the day repairing the damage. Also out was Nigel Bowen, although he did practice before finding he had no 5th gear, and he elected to miss the race to repair the gearbox.
Rhys Lloyd stitched up pole with a time of 62.43 but was followed by 2 visitors, Neil Phillpotts, who with a reputed 500bhp on tap, was one of the quickest Mitsubishi Starion turbos anyone can ever remember seeing, and likewise Joss Ronchetti and his Talbot Sunbeam Lotus, although he did not start. Keith Butcher was next with his revitalised V8star Audi with Geraint Rees an excellent 5th place and on the Class B pole with his Westfield. Nigel Bowen would have been 6th but he couldnt get 5th gear and so missed the race trying to fix the gearbox. Paul Trowbridge (Class B) was 7th and felt he was on a roll having taken his first outright race win in the Ginetta Festival at Mallory Park the week before. Graham Hollis was making a guest appearance in 8th and having just come back from holiday bought the sunshine with him, as well as his hi-tech RS2000. It was sideways most of the time too, as usual. Rhodri Jenkins was the quickest of the midfield Class B runners in 9th, but he had Mark Nicholson, Jason Davies, Anthony Allitt, Alan Davies (Guest) and Mike Woods all in very close company. Stephen Humpreys was the first Class A runner in 15th but he had Andy Williams alongside him. Andy was a long way from his usual grid place after clutch problems in practice. Ken Rattenbury was next with his re-shelled 3 door Sierra. Next up was the first of our special guests Lucas Ordonez in a Nissan 350Z. Both Lucas and his team-mate Lors Scholmer are the winners in a Playstation and Nissan competition to turn on line gamers into International drivers, and were driving identical Nissans run by RJN Motorsport. The plan was for them to collect experience & signatures and they were refreshing additions to the series, with plans to do the October races as well a part of the programme (more on that later). Adrian Chapman, Glynne Jones, and Russell Haggerty were sandwiched between Lucas & Lors. The final newcomer was Roger Pearce from Cardiff with his yellow Porsche 968 CS who had Chris Morris and Phillip Bendall for company, Phil being the 25th and last starter
Race 1 Saturday 13th September 2008 - 15 minutes + 1 Lap Standing Start
Although on the face of it Rhys was a hot favourite as the lights changed it was Neil Phillpot in the Starion who made the better start and held Rhys at bay for several laps, before Rhys asserted himself. Keith Butcher settled into a solid 3rd place followed by Graham Hollis. Paul Trowbridge was leading Class B and the rest after Geraint Rees had spun out. Also spinning and making his way from the back was Mark Nicholson "trying too hard on cold tyres". Andy Williams was also on the rise, eventually making it past Graham after a mighty battle "Hes so sideways there isnt much room to get by. In the end I had to grit my teeth and close my eyes!" Late in the race Graham began to drop back and eventually stopped on the last lap with a misfire which would trouble him for the rest of the weekend. Unfortunately Ken Rattenburys Sierra woes continued as he ran over something solid which damaged his steering, and he became the races only retirement.
There was plenty of taking and overtaking throughout the field and late in the race Keith Butcher passed Neil Phillpotts for second place. Was he getting used to the car again I asked "No" replied Keith, "I was trying as hard as I could. That Starion is mighty quick in a straight line!" Neil took Driver of the Race for his performance, lets hope he comes back soon! Andrew Williams made up to 4th . Paul Trowbrige was 5th and won Class B, but had Geraint Rees on his tail after a great comeback drive. Rhodri was 7th Jason Davies was 8th, Graham Hollis was classified 9th. Visitor Alan Davies was 10th Mark Nicholson recovered to 11th. Steve Humphreys was 12th and first in Class A after having had a great battle with Anthony Allitt who was 13th Mike Woods 14th. Lucas Ordonez was 15th but had Adrian Chapman in close company throughout the race. Russell Haggerty made it 2 Raw Strikers in a row in 17th with Lars Schlomer. Glynne Jones was 19th, with newcomer Roger Pearce 20th, Phillip Bendall 21st and Chris Morris 22nd.
At the end Rhys, although looking hot & sweaty, had a handy lead and never looked under threat, having set the races fastest lap at 61.985 secs whilst making his break away from the Starion, making the most of his Joker . "Well it was a bit cat and mouse for a while and it was a squeeze to get by, but it had to be done, and then I went for it to build a gap. After that it was plain sailing"
Come back soon!
Neil Philpotts picked up Best Guest for his efforts
Race 2 Sunday 14th September 2008 - 15 minutes + 1 Lap Standing Start
Sunday mornings grid saw Rhys Lloyd on pole with Keith alongside. Neil Philpotts Mitsubishi Starion was missing so Andy Williams was effectively 3rd. Class A runners Paul Trowbridge and Geraint Rees were side by side as were Rhodri Jenkins and Jason Davies, but with the spectre of Graham Hollis lurking behind them. A super battle was in prospect, especially if a change of spark plugs had cured Grahams misfire. In the event it hadnt and he pulled off after one lap, a duff injector being the next suspect. Starting from the back of the grid was Jeff Davies and it was going to be interesting to see how far he could go in his hopefully straightened car. When the lights changed Rhys got the Seat Leon into an immediate lead he never looked losing, eventually drawing out to win by almost 40 seconds! Behind him Keith Butcher settled into an equalled unchallenged 2nd place. However behind then it was anything but settled as initially Andy Williams was 3rd with a small gap to Geraint Rees, which he held until Jeff Davies started to loom large in Geraints mirrors, having cut his way through the field in an impressive manner. Geraint responded by reducing the gap to Andy and entering the final laps Andy, Geraint and Jeff were nose to tail. Jeff got by Geraint and tried to pressure Andy, who wasnt giving up easily. Going into the final lap Jeff tried one more time but left a gap which Geraint filled- retaking the position, with the 3 cars covered by a handkerchief on the line. Andy took 3rd by a 3/10ths from Geraint with Jeff only a few 100ths behind him, in an incredibly close finish. Behind them in 6th place came Jason Davies after storming drive that had the crowd, or at least the Davies family, dancing up & down! After a quiet race on Saturday when he lost out to Rhodri early on; Jason was like greased lightening at the start tucking behind Paul Trowbridge, shutting Rhodri out and leaving him to dice with Mark Nicholson. Paul Trowbridge pulled a gap to Jason early on, but Jeff Davies was making his way through the pack, and as Paul & Jeff began to scrap Jason began to close in, eventually starting to attack Paul, once Jeff had found a way past and began to zero in on Geraint.
Paul & Jason duke it out - Rhodri gets a grandstand seat
Entering the final laps, taking advantage of some lapped traffic, Jason made some determined efforts to pass Paul & his Ginetta, running side by side into the paddock turn. With the red Escort on the inside line Paul had to yield, allowing Jason to pull a couple of seconds lead on the last lap. Rhodri came in 8th ahead of Mark, ruing the fact that his newly repaired passenger side door had only lasted 20 minutes before reverting to Anglesey mode i.e with a big dent. Mark had some damage too, after the two Hondas got too close for comfort.
Finishing 10,11 & 12th Anthony Allitt, Lucas Ordonez and Stephen Humphries had a race long dice. Steve lost out Lucas early on, but harassed him to the end. Anthony began to draw away from them late on and then began to close on Mark, finishing only .5 behind him. Lars Sholmer was 13th, Adrian Chapman 14th. Russell Haggerty was 15th after a race long dice with Glynne Jones who was 16th. Roger Pearce, Chris Morris & Phillip Bendall had a real race for the final places, meaning there were dices to watch all thorough the field. Mike Woods did not finish after some grassy moments late on "The radiator came loose and it sounded bad so I pulled off". Nigel Bowen appeared for the last 10 minutes to get some laps in.
At the end Rhys stroked it home, dipping down to 61.989 late on to keep his concentration up. "I thought Keith would be a lot closer" There were lots of happy drivers in the paddock afterwards. Geraint and Jeff were happy chappys; Jeff remarking "Not too bad, The car was all over the place, its handling like a pig, but that was a great race" Geraint echoed that saying "That was a lot of fun- fun for all the family" Jason and Paul also had happy words to say to each other. "I thought I had enough to keep Jason behind me but when I got impeded lapping some traffic, it gave him an opening" Jasons grandstanding gave him the Driver of the Race.
Donation Time Donation Time After the awards ceremony, in the break between races, competitors in the Welsh Saloon and Sportscar Championship gathered around as Rhodri Jenkins, on behalf of BARC Wales and the Welsh Championship, presented a cheque for £800 to Circuit Manager Phil Davies towards the installation of new Marshals Huts at Pembrey. The new units in green will give the marshals some welcome protection from the elements in between races and will include communications. Chief Marshal Ernie Preece confirmed "They will be lovely. The huts we had were outdated" Later the BRSCC South Western Centre followed our lead and also made a donation. Click here for pics and report
Lucas heads down to Honda
The welcome inclusion to our series, newcomers Lucas Ordonez and his team-mate Lors Scholmer Lucas in the RJN Motorsport Nissan 350Zs are part of the innovative Sony + Nissan GT Academy highlighting the new Playstation 3 game which runs under the banner "Think you can drive? Prove it. From Virtual to Reality" Click here for in depth report and links.
Race 3 15 minutes + 1 lap Standing Start
Rhys was on pole for the 3rd race in a row, with Keith beside him. Andy and Geriant were on row 2, with Jeff Davies behind them on row 3 alongside Jason Davies, who has settled in so well its easy to forget how young and relatively inexperienced he is. Part of the M&S Academy. Risers this time would be Nigel Bowen and Mike Woods who started at the back but Graham Hollis was missing having not been able to source the parts needed to fix the misfire.
As the lights changed Rhys front drive Leon bogged and he was out-dragged into Hatchets by Keith with Jeff and Geraint snapping at his heels. Keiths led the first lap but was under threat immediately and Rhys was through and away to stretch out to win by 25 secs. Keith was equally untroubled in 2nd, but behind them there was plenty of action. Jeff was 3rd initially but Geraint got by and the 2 Westfeilds had a mighty dice until Jeff got by again in lap 8 and was then able to build a gap to finish 3rd, not bad with a car that was far from straight. Andy Williams was 5th with Paul Trowbridge 6th and was quite busy fending off Jason Davies. Rhodri was 8th with Mark Nicholson for close company once Mark had passed Anthony Allitt. Nigel Bowen was a charge and began to split the Hondas on his way up to an eventual 5th only just a second or so behind Geraint Rees Westfield at the end. Jason made a big effort to pass Paul getting well sideways at Dibeni which allowed Rhod & Mark to close in. Nigel was now past Paul & Jason and had Andy Williams in his sights, getting by on lap 8 leaving Andy to deal with a closing Paul & Jason. Paul had a grassy moment and began to drop back eventually finishing 9th behind Rhodri after Mark (7th) got by Rhodri late in the race. That gave Jason a clear shot at Andy who was struggling a bit but still determined to hold on to his place. A chip of the old block he may be but Jason is carving his own reputation as a true competitor and fearless over-taker given the chance, and eventually Jason forced his way through down at Brooklands "I could see Andy get a snake on so I dived for the inside but he straightened up and it was a squeeze. I was on the grass and up on two wheels!" Jason picked up some battle scars but was through. "Andy did ask me if I wanted my paint back afterwards!" Andy was left to run out the finals laps in 7th place but suddenly pulled off after a major engine failure with a bizarre cause. Surveying the damage later Andy found that his radiator had dropped down inside the engine bay and pinched the oil cooler pipe. This meant that the oil pressure gauge was showing plenty of pressure but the engine was being starved of oil, eventually it gave out with two connecting rods puncturing the block! Mike Woods unfortunately came up on some oil, possibly from Andys engine, and found himself launched into the tyre barrier opposite the paddock. Mike was ok but the damage to his car will keep the Honda body spares department busy again. Glynne Jones had also retired early on but fortunately the yellow Alfa was still running.
Adrian Chapman, had also made an exit with a flat tyre but found his sump dumping all its oil in the paddock. "I went over the outside rumble strip at Brooklands and lost the nearside rear tyre. Presumably the sump damage occurred at the same time, but I came straight in and left no trail in the process- it was only after the car had stood by my trailer for a few minutes that it suddenly started to"pump ship" Shame really as I had been passed by Mike -and repassed him- at least 4/5 times and was determined to get by again......intention outweighed ability I am afraid, but that, and the Saturday race were still two of the most enjoyable ever!!" Cheers Adrian
Lucas Ordenez finished 11th with Stephen Humphreys again doing a David in his tiny Caterham, to Lucas big Nissan. Lors Scholmer in the other Nissan was 13th. Roger Pearce, Russell Hagerty & Chris Morris had a real race for the final places.
But with all the ontrack dramas happening behind him, almost unnoticed, Rhys eased to the chequered flag for the 3rd time in 3 races to head the points table. However Steve Humphreys has moved to 2nd place behind Rhys after taking three Class A wins and is now only 12 points behind. So Rhys cant afford any slips, as the championships builds up to another thrilling climax
Later Phil Davies dropped by at the final presentation to pass on thanks from the Clerks of the Course to the drivers for a well behaved set of races. "It was real cracking racing" In actual fact almost unnoticed we had completed 3 competitive races without red flags and precious few yellows.
Rhys has plenty to smile about as he picks up his award Missing Alvin hear Rhys describe his weekend
Lets hope the final races on October 11/12 are just as exciting. Thanks to Steve for the photos
Big riser Steve Humphreys up to 2nd