2010 Welsh Sports & Saloon Car Championship Final Rounds preview
Practice & entry Pembery Sat - Sun 16/17 October
There was a sprinkling of returnees and familiar faces making up the grid for the final rounds of the 2010 Welsh Championship on a cold crisp, sunny autumn weekend, unusually without the trucks this year (but they had been with us 3 times already this year). Chris Lofty Everill was on pole with his Ginetta GT4 at a time of 60.339! Jeff Davies was back with his Westfield SE and was also on the front row. Geraint Rees was in 3rd but had Martin Davies in his Sierra alongside. 5th was Keith Butcher in his Ginetta G50. Andy Williams had got the parts he needed for the gearbox on his Nissan Primera and was 6th with Championship leader Russell Haggerty 7th and his closest rival Neil Watts 8th. With the main contenders in different classes this was probably not significant. Craig Freeman was 9th in Mini Cooper S ahead of Nick Jones in his Clio. Roger Dowden was 11th in his historic Davrian Mk6. Phil Bendal was 12th in a loaned Subaru Impreza. With John OShea in Russells Maxda MX5 next. Glynne Jones was 14th in the resurrected Alfa and Kareem was last in the Rover 216Gti on the time sheets, but in actual fact both cars were missing from the grid. Glynne found the Alfa had met its Omega, but Kareem gave his car a heavy hit during Saturday morning testing, and although he tried to see if it could make it; it was un-driveable and sat on the trailer for the rest of the weekend looking battered and forlorn. It was just as well Kareems Class A and 3rd overall had been already tied up. With 3 races in one day, Sunday was going to test man & machine to the limit.
Race Rolling Start 1-15 minutes plus 1 lap
Everyone got away well but Andy Williams, lost control of the Nissan and went head on into the barrier on the outside to Spitfires. With the car stuck in an awkward place and not running the red flags came out. Once Andys car, with a sad looking crease in the bonnet had been towed back to the paddock the grid reformed for a re-start.
Race 1 Rolling Start-re-start-15 minutes plus 1 lap
The race restarted and Jeff took the lead from Chris Lofty Everill. Geraint Rees was 3rd With, Keith Butcher, Martin Davies, Neil Watts and Russell Haggerty next. Nick Jones 9th and our newest member Craig Freeman rounded out the top ten in his new style Mini. Phil Bendal was having a thrash in the rally prepared Subaru ahead of Roger Dowden and the Davrian and John Oshea in the MX5.
The race quickly settled into a tight & gripping contest between Jeff & Chris with the gap only varying as the cars started lapping the back markers. Keith got by Geraint on lap 2 with Martin getting by him a lap later. Keith & Martin then remained locked together with Martin keeping Keith honest. The pace at the front was getting frenetic with Jeff diving past Phil Bendall and the paddock turn as Lofty took the conventional line on the outside. Suddenly by lap 8 it was over as Loftys Ginetta headed for the pits with a broken rear cv joint. This left Jeff with a big lead over Keith & Martin and he looked to be cruising but suddenly it was Keith in the lead as Jeffs Westfield disappeared on the run down to Brooklands. After in the paddock, as Jeff & Pierre applied huge strips of tank tape to the damaged bodywork, Jeff confirmed "I just lost concentration!" Keith was now leading from Martin, but as they reached 10 laps Martins car now started to make some odd noises and he pulled off on lap 12 with a stripped 3rd gear, putting paid to his weekends racing! Nick Jones also exited about that time, becoming the 4th & final retirement when his fuel line came off.
Keith Wins! (all action shots thanks to Chris Morris)
So Keith scored a win that seemed unlikely at one stage, Geraint Rees was 2nd with Neil Watts 3rd. Russell Haggerty was 4th and made 100% sure he could not be caught for the 2010 title
Russell - double champion
Craig Freeman was 5th, Phil Bendall 6th Roger Dowden 7th and John OShea 8th and the last finisher.
Race 2-Rolling Start-15 mins + 1 Lap
Jeff leads Chris - it was close at times
Race 1 winner Keith was faced with a conundrum as he was also due to race his Nissan Primera in the Classic Thunder Championship which book-ended the WSSCC race 2 "Its going to be too much of a change in styles to run the 2 cars so Ill miss this one" Keith was leading Class A in the Classic Thunder Championship. Jason Davies was also leading class D in the Classic Thunder Championship and had a mathematical shot at the title too. Anyway with Keith not starting, Geraint Rees was on pole from Neil Watts. Russell Haggerty was 4th alongside Craig Freeman. With Lofty, Jeff, & Andy all starting from the back, the big interest would be how far they could get and how soon. At the lights Geraint Rees took the lead, but at the end of lap 1 Lofty Everill was only a few lengths back, powering into the lead on lap 2. Russell Haggerty also got by Geraint. Russell was then lying in 2nd place if only for a few laps as by lap 5 Jeff was into 2nd place and began to chase Chris Everill down, getting past the Ginetta on lap 8, in a stirring performance that saw tyre smoke coming from the rear on almost every corner. In the meantime Russells 3rd place had became more secure as Geraint pulled off with mysterious loss of power, but then Russell too retired to the paddock with a mysterious aliment, elevating Neil Watts to 3rd, Andy Williams was 4th and Craig 5th. Andy then disappeared back to paddock for the final time, leaving Craig in 4th place.
Back at the front Chris Everill was keeping the pressure on Jeff with barely a few 10ths between them. Late in the race Neil trailed slowly into the pits with another broken throttle cable, elevating Craig Freeman into 3rd place that became 2nd on the very last lap after Jeff Davies crashed out of the race at the Senna Esses, bring the race to an end with a red flag. Chris afterwards "I was putting the pressure on Jeff but he just went off on his own" Jeffs car was looking very secondhand, but at least he was able to walk to the ambulance for a check up. Chris was happy to take the win, Craig a wonderful 2nd place, giving the full weight to the adage "If you want to finish 1st (or 2nd) -first finish" Phil Bendall also profited to reach 3rd place.
Race 3-Rolling Start-15 mins + 1 Lap
Despite the brave efforts of their respective support teams neither Andy or 2010 champion Russell Haggerty could make it out. So for race 3 Chris Everill was on pole with Craig Freeman in 2nd place. Keith Butcher, Neil Watts & Nick Jones were the back row starters, but Chris was left on his own as Craig dived into the pits for a minor running repair and joined the pack last. Geraint Rees retired without turning a lap At the front Chris Everill was able to built himself a comfortable lead from Keith Butcher & Neil Watts who made their way up to 2nd & 3rd and put on an exciting duel for most of the race. Nick Jones settled into a quiet but distant 4th place, whilst some hard driving saw Craig Freeman rise as high as 5th . However Roger Dowdens Davrian was sounding sicker & sicker and began to trail oil smoke, eventually dumping the contents of the sump on the way down to Hatchets, Craig was unfortunately the next car up, and un-aware of the oil, spun and gave the Armco a resounding sideswipe. He limped up to the escape road to collect his thoughts and his car. The rest of the grid had the benefit of Yellow and Oil Flags so were able to slow and pick their way through the corner. Craig did get going again but retired after a few slow laps at the back. A sad end to a potential great weekend for our newest member. Keith & Neil kept us amused whilst Chris stroked his way to his 2nd win of the weekend. Nick Jones was 4th Phil Bendal was 5th and "John" (or was it a mystery guest driver) was 5th and last in the Mazda MZ5. This must be the one with rotary chassis rather than the rotary engine, as there were certainly a few spins every now and again.
Afterwards, Russell Haggerty the 2010 Welsh Champion, gave thanks to all the paddock team that helped him, saying "Its their success not mine" Hear his comments as Russ & the team bask in the sunshine
So thats another Championship year over. It certainly had its moments with some cracking racing at times. Lets hope 2011 can be another vintage year. Full details of the 2010 Awards Night are on this link. See you then
Race results http://www.tsl-timing.com/