2008 Welsh Saloon & Sports Car Championship
The new era begins! (pic by Oliver Read Motorsport Photography) More >
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Rounds 1, 2 & 3 Practice Pembrey 19/4/2008
It was a new dawn on a slightly chilly day with light drizzle, but if the weather was a disappointment, the entry certainly wasnt! We had one of the biggest grids the Championship has ever had with 22 registered drivers & cars actually making it on the track for the one and only practice session of the weekend. Taking part in the weekend was a mixture of newcomers, returnees and familiar faces but as expected Alvin Powell was fastest setting a time of 62.373 secs with the newer of his Mondeos, but he had newcomer John Morris in his Peugeot 205 Supercar alongside with a time of 65.514secs. John was at the head of a 7 car batch all within about 1 second, headed by Rhys Lloyd in new Class C Seat Cupra 3rd, newcomer Nigel Pike and his Class C Marcos was 4th, first returnee Mark Nicholsons Class B Honda Integra 5th, Ken Rattenbury a competitive 6th in the flame spitting turbo Sierra 6th, ahead of Andy Williams non turbo example 7th and Rhodri Jenkins 8th in his familiar Honda Civic who set a time of 66.816 secs.
Defending Champion Keith Butcher was struggling with a misfire in Dave Jarmans Nissan Primera, so was a suprising lowly 9th ahead of Anthony Allitt with his new Honda Civic Type R 10th, Paul Trowbridges Ginetta G20 was 11th. New boy Mark Wright was 12th in his nice sounding Golf VR6. Chairman of the Board, Mike (Frankie) Woods was 13th, 'I couldn't find a clear space for a quick lap there were so many cars out there! 14th and making his debut was Jason Davies who got his Mk2 Escort around in a respectable time of 71.90 secs. Jason, perhaps our newest competitor, was ahead of one of our most revered (i.e old) returnees, Glynne Jones who put some decent laps in his Alfa Romeo 33 and was the first Class A car in 15th. Nigel Bowen was a troubled 16th in his Porsche turbo, which was having it first run in a number of years and needed some more miles on it to iron out the bugs. Yolande Humprhreys was 17th in her Caterham ahead of Adrian Chapmans Striker, Russell Haggerty Peugeot 205 and Geraint Rees Caterham who was 20th. 21st was Stephen Humprhreys in his Caterham, however Stephen never got a real run at it after a half-shaft failure, which pitched him into a big spin at the paddock turn as the rear wheel looked to go on holiday, bringing out the red flags. 22nd was Paul Gibbs, who completed the gird with the Rover 216.
Race 1 15 Minutes +1 lap Rolling Start
Rhys takes the Cup-ra
Whilst most people opted for slicks for practice, by the time of the race the drizzle had strengthened, and its was wets for most people. Added to that was the usual film of oil from the Trucks which made the circuit very slippery in places, especially Hatchets. After a big effort Stephen Humpreys couldnt fix his problem so was missing as was Geraint Rees, making it 20 runners for the first race of the weekend. After 2 laps behind the pace car, the starting-lights went out to herald a new era. With Alvin opting to start from the pit-lane with clutch problems, John Morris was effectively on pole, but there was an inviting gap in front of Rhys, and he emerged from Hatchets with a handy lead. Thats about it as far as Rhys was concerned , as John never quite got the Peugeot on terms and eventually retired to the pits. Adrian Chapman was also an early retirement, taking the Nikki Lauda option after staring on slicks. Nigel Pike, also retired with gearbox problems after looking like he was going well. Nigel Bowen gave us a few moments to remember, in the Porsche that looked a proper handful, with a particularly big spin a Dibeni, before a visit to the pits cut short his race. So Rhys was never challenged during the first half of the race and went on to build up a big lead, and it was a question of waiting to see if Alvin could mount a challenge in the later stages. Alvin meanwhile was quietly carving his way through the field, which became a little strung out after some early battles, Ken and Andy were having quite a tussle after Ken recovered from his spin, Andrew eventually getting into 2nd behind Rhys until Alvin demoted him to 3rd with Ken in 4th
Anthony Allitt was the first Class B runner in an impressive 5h some way back just a second ahead of Keith who was still struggling with a mis-fire. Behind him was were the action really was, with a great tussle for 7th to 11th place between Rhodri, Mike Wright, Jason Davies, Mike Woods and Mark Nicholson. Rhodri initially had a small gap in front of Mikes Golf who was fully occupied with Jason who eventually pushed the RS2000 past, and then started to catch and pressure Rhodri, setting the Class fastest lap in the process, making several attempts at a pass, and definitely keeping Rhodri on his toes! The two Mikes, Wright & Woods were 9th & 10th with Mark Nicholson in close company with Paul Trowbridge. 13th was definitely not unlucky for Glynne Jones who was in charge of Class A, ahead of Yolande Humpreys who did set the class fastest lap on her way to 14th ahead of Russell Haggerty who at this stage was the last runner. Just reaching 2/3rds distance and with Oil smoke drifting across the track from the Truck paddock, the race was entering its final phase.
Rhys had a big gap to Alvin, and the stage was set for an Alvin charge, but it looked a tall order, even after he set the fastest lap of the race. However it was not to be after the red flags came out after Ken Rattenbury suffered the horrors at Honda Curve, crashing out of 4th and hitting the barrier head on! Luckily the barriers were covered by Rectel padding which lessened the impact a bit and Ken was able to get out unharmed. The same could not be said about the front of the car, however! For a moment it looked more serious as the Rectel padding was squeezed over the barrier, but Ken was ok. I was coming into Honda and put the brakes on and turned the wheel but it went straight on. I could see the marshals scattering as I came across the grass, but once youve got on the grass youre a passenger" Everyone from 3rd down moved up a place as a result, however there was no doubt that Rhys deserved his first win.
"I didnt see anybody, but its nice to win" Anthony Allit was the Class B winner. Rhodri held off Jason to finish 2nd in class, and quipped He was pushing me hard, a bit too hard!, but Jason did get the extra point for the Class B fastest lap and the Driver of the Day trophy to make it a special day for the Davies family. Glynne Jones took the Class A honours "What a comeback!" which is also what can be said about the championship too, with plenty of action still to come.
Race 2 Sunday 20/4/08 15 mins + 1 lap
There was a delay due to some heavy truck damage to the tyre barriers that needed rebuilding, but that at least allowed the sun to come out briefly. It was dry and the MGs went to clear away some of the gun first. The grid was minus Nigel Pike, Keith Butcher, Geraint Rees and Paul Gibbs. Jason Davies was giving up a nice grid slot having done his first race on Saturday, but was away doing his first rally on Sunday. John Morris was starting on row 8 and Alvin from the pitlane, so that left Rhys Lloyd on his own on pole. Coming around Hatchets Rhys was followed by Andy Williams, Anthony Allitt, with John Morris already up to 4th by Dibeni, and up to 3rd at the end of the first lap. Behind them there was a moment of mayhem as Rhodri of all people looped his Honda on the exit of Dibeni, with Mark Nicholson almost collecting him. "I backed off to avoid running into the back of Anthony but as soon as you lift in a front wheel drive car youve had it. I was going backwards at 80 mph and Mark was going 80 mph in the other direction" explained Rhodri. Mark said "I thought, Oh no, hear we go again
Fortunately they missed each other, but Rhodri was left with a long recovery drive. Rhys was still in the lead but Alvin was on the move and went from 4th to 2nd in one lap, getting by Johnny Morris Peugeot at the Paddock turn as JM run wide and kicked up some dust on the entry to the corner. There was now a long gap back from Andy Williams in 4th to Anthony Allitt who had a recovering Mark Nicholson hot on his tailgate, and then a gaggle of Mike Wright, Paul Trowbridge & Nigel Bowen, who was sensibly really letting his tyres warm up before making some moves. Then after another gap Glynne Jones, the recovering Rhodri, Adrian Chapman who was doing well after starting from the back, Yolande Humphreys, Steve Humphreys, and Russell Haggerty in the road-going spec Pug. Mike Woods was also in the mix trying to hang on to the rest of the class B runners. By lap 5 Rhys & Alvin were close after Alvin had set the fastest lap of the race at 60.994 secs, and on lap 6 Alvin passed Rhys for the lead and pulled up a 3 second lead. John Morris was now a few seconds behind Rhys, so all 3 were in touch but out of reach. Andy Williams was on his own in 4th, but behind him it was all action. Mark Nicholson had Anthony Allitt under pressure and then slipped past, and Paul Trowbridge passed Mike Wrights VW. Just approach the 10 minute mark Mike Wood had made his was past the Class A pack and closed on Class A Leader Glynne Jones, shaping for a pass as the came to the paddock turn. In what you call a racing incident, when you are not involved in it, the cars touched, each car bouncing off the other. Glynne continued but Mike looped around for a spin, ended up stuck on the grass, just off the racing line. "I couldnt restart the engine, or I would have continued" With the car where it was, the organisers had no choice but to bring out the red flag, ending the race at the 8 lap mark. After Alvin was happy "Theres life in the old dog yet, from time to time, but Rhys and that Seat are good" Mark, Rhodri & Anthony also were all smiles "It was Mirror to Mirror racing"A.A said and Mark concurred "It was good clean stuff" Rhodri commented "And a different winner" "Well thats what we want" Later Mike Woods found his tyre was going down as dirt and grass had been forced between the rim and the tyre wall Its just as well I didnt get going again or the tyre might have gone down while I was driving
Race 3 - 15 mins + 1 lap Rolling start
So for the final race of the new triple-race weekend, Alvin should have been on pole, but as he would have been unable to lead them around on the Green Flag lap without a push, had to start from the pit lane again, and then start at the back. This left Rhys on his own on the front row with John Morris and Andy Williams on the 2nd row.
Mark Nicholson and Anthony Allitt were next with Nigel Bowen and Paul Trowbridge on row 4. Mike Wright and Rhodri were on row 5. Glynne was on the Class A pole but Adrian Chapman had bagged himself an really useful starting spot alongside on row 6. Steve Humphreys, and Russell Haggerty occupied row 7. With Yolande Humphreys, and Mike Woods completing the grid (apart from Alvin hovering in the background).
However it was Rhys who emerged from Dibeni in the lead, but with John again in close company. Andy Williams was 3rd holding a wild slide then Nigel Bowen had Alvin in close company. Mark Nicholson had Anthony in close company, whilst Rhodri, Paul and Mike Wright were also hooked up. Adrian got the drop on Glynne who had Yolande, Steve & Russell on his heels. However Alvin and Nigel were closely contesting 4th place when the Honda hoodoo struck for the weekends second time. As Alvin went to brake and turn in his front tyre went down and came off the inside rim catapulting the Mondeo into the Porsche of the unfortunate Nigel, pitching the car onto the bank! The red flags came out immediately, but thankfully after a tense period, both drivers emerged unharmed, and although the back of Nigels car did look the worse for wear, Nigel himself seemed ok.
Race 3 The Restart
Everyone but the unfortunate Nigel was able to make the restart, Alvin with a new wheel & tyre, but this time John Morris emerged from Hatchets ahead of Rhys with Andy 3rd , Anthony, Mark, Paul, Rhodri, Mike Wright, Alvin, Mike Woods , Glynne, Stephen, Adrian, and Russ. However Rhys soon passed John for the lead, with Alvin up to 3rd in 2 laps. Andy was now 4th and Mark was back in the lead of Class B, Anthony had Rhodri on his tail, as Paul was shuffled back to 8th before a broken throttle cable put paid to his fun. The two Mikes were next up, and then Glynne with Yolande, Adrian and Steve close behind. At the front Rhys was still in control although John & Alvin were getting closer together, until they both went for the same patch of tarmac and spun each other out. John got going again, but Alvins day was done. Andrew got up into a distant 2nd place as a result, but eventually John hauled himself back into 2nd place, but Rhys was long gone. However behind the leaders the race was now breaking up into a few intense dices, in particular the Class A battle. Whilst Glynne and Yolande where fighting each other, Adrian Chapman slipped by to take the lead, eventually pulling out a safety cushion, as the battle of the sexes continued. Yolande got herself ahead of Glynne, who when he saw Rhys come up to lap them, seized his chance and began to monster the little Caterham all through the infield section. However in a spirited piece of driving, Yolande not only resisted, but pulled a cars length or so away from the pursing Alfa by the time they came round again. The matter was resolved after Glynnes yellow Alfa disappeared up the escape road at Hatchets in a big plume of smoke! Knowing Glynne it could have only be one of two things, and on this occasion it was a engine blow up with plenty of oil left at Hatchets for the trucks to deal with! A lap later the chequered flag came out giving Rhys his 2nd race & Class A win of the weekend. Mark Nichloson won Class B with Rhodri second. Anthony Allitt and the two Mikes were stuck together throughout, but Mike Wood made a big effort on the last lap to pass Anthony only to spin and leave Mike Wright to chase Anthony home. Adrian Chapman was impressive in winning Class A on merit, finishing 9th overall ahead of Driver of the Day Yolande. Hubby Stephen was next and Russell Haggerty last, but he wont be there long once his proper race car comes on stream. So all in all a successful, if at times fraught, debut for the new regs. Lets hope weve had all this seasons red flags & racing incidents all at once, and we can concentrate on the racing next time out in May .http://www.tsl-timing.com/