Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warmup – Race 6 (Part 2)

Whilst Kevin Bird and David Harrison were putting on a great advertisement for German engineering in their Porsches, club newcomer and 20-year army veteran William Ashmore was determined to put his Ferrari F430 Challenge in with the Porsches. Also enjoying some close fighting with Dylan Popovic in his Ginetta G50 and David Griffin in his BMW M3 E90, both cars had already been seen in the day, and are regularly seen fighting each other at various CSCC events in the past. Further back was Harry Petch in the family Ginetta G50, who had an unfortunate moment upon exiting the holding area expecting too much from his cold tyres and ended up facing the wrong way. Petch was engaged in combat with the Andrew & Michael Jordan-prepared Porsche 996 GT3 Cup car of Simon Evans, along with Warren Tattersall in his 350HP Seat Leon Cupra TCR Turbo.

Pitstops and driver changes concluded, Clarke had moved aside Mathew Evans to take over the Lamborghini, but so had Mustill given the Volvo to Dolby, who had set the lap charts alight with purple as not only did he obliterate the fastest lap of the race, he beat his own qualifying time that was already nearly four seconds faster then Clarke in the Lamborghini. With the Volvo being in the new “High Capacity” class, for cars that are expected to be considerably faster than the A1 class that the Lamborghini currently led, this meant that the Volvo had an additional 15 seconds in the pitlane to serve, but by the time that Evans had left the pitlane because Dolby was lapping 10 seconds faster than anyone else on track, the Lamborghini had no answer to Dolby, so much so that the Volvo passed Evans on the outside of Becketts.

Bird and Harrison continued their Porsche battle for the last podium spot, now being joined by the Mark Smith & Arran Moulton-Smith shared BMW M3 Evo E36, a car that is 30 years old and still able to make the modern machinery work, and also adding to the advertisement of German automotive might. Another pitlane visit for Ashmore saw a flurry of activity around the Italian stallion, as the F430 had gone into limp mode, yet the cause wasn’t clear. Ashmore was sent back out but was soon back in the pits with the problem requiring more attention, causing the team to retire the army-built car.

At the flag, Dolby would have victory by over 30 seconds over Evans in the Lamborghini, who was given an additional 30-second penalty for pitting outside of the pit window. The efforts of Clarke and Evans were not undone by the penalty, as they still had eight seconds in hand over Smith, who had not only caught the Porsche battle of Harrison and Bird but left them behind by over five seconds. In the end, it was Harrison that won the duel with Bird but only by a quarter of a second.

The Slicks series was a great way to end a wonderful, if bitterly cold, days racing at the home of British motorsport, which marks the 20th year of racing for the club. Happy birthyear CSCC, we look forward to many more years of exciting club racing.

Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warmup – Race 6 (Part 1)

The final race of the day, the Liqui Moly Slicks Series, is the youngest category in the CSCC portfolio. A home for all saloon, hatchback, sports and GT cars of any age, the series was first introduced in 2020 (ironically the maiden voyage of the Slicks Series was at a wet Thruxton, so they had to run racing wets instead of slicks), and the series has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity in that time. Numerous names through the grid had already been seen in the day, but the lion’s share of attention was drawn to the front row. Starting in 2nd was the first time a Lamborghini had been seen in a CSCC grid, Mathew Evans sharing the Super Trofeo spec Huracan ST LP620-2 with hugely experienced Kevin Clarke. Whilst their efforts in qualifying were amazing, they were still beaten to the pole by nearly four seconds by, of all things, a Volvo. There isn’t much from Sweden on this car, as it houses a seven-litre powerhouse with owner Nigel Mustill sharing the duties with the amazing talent of stunt driver Craig Dolby.

Of the 25 qualifiers, 22 took the start, and with the tyres requiring a lot of work to get into the ideal operating temperature, and the weather, whilst dry, being very cold (and the temperature was dropping by this point), the grid had two rolling laps to conduct, and to ensure that the proper curfew was adhered to, the racing clock started at the end of the first rolling lap. At the end of the first rolling lap saw the first retirement. Chris Everill brought the 6.2 litre Chevrolet powered Ginetta G55 into retirement with electrical issues causing the dashboard to turn into a light show of warnings and flashing lights, and soon afterwards, Dominic Malone was found stranded at the trackside for the second time, as the issues he had from the New Millennium race had reared their head once more, leaving the BMW E90 WTCC trackside once more.

Clarke was quick to deploy his right foot in the Lamborghini to take the lead from Mustill, the almost angelic notes of the Italian Burro being drowned out by the earth-shattering roar of the Volvo behind. Kevin Bird, bearing the number 1 on his white Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, having formerly raced a BMW M3 GT4 E92 in the CSCC, was locked in an intense duel with fellow Porsche 911 GT3 Cup runner David Harrison for 3rd place early on. The pitlane was soon visited by Open Series winner David Harvey in the Lotus 340R, sounding extremely unhealthy with either a major misfire or an exhaust issue. Soon after the Lunar Lotus was in, Jasver Sapra was in the pits with his troubled BMW. Bryan Bransom had experienced difficulties with the new paddle shift system in the car in the New Millennium race earlier in the day, and now owner Sapra had to retire the car as 5th gear no longer wanted to work. Also found out in the Northamptonshire countryside was the Severs’ new toy, the Ginetta G50.

Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warmup – Race 5 (Part 2)

The only time Alex Taylor lost the lead was during the pitstop phase, as Matt Spark was pitted later than the Tuscan, but normal service was quick to resume in the top three, with Patrick Scharfegger having handed the 3rd place Boxster over to Steve Cunniffe. Throughout the entire race, there were battles everywhere, and post-pitstop this theme was to continue. Stuart Jefcoate in his Porsche 993 was running very similar pace to Raymond Barrow in his Chevrolet Camaro, Luke Plummer in his Ginetta G20 enjoyed the company of the Charlie Fulk and Ben Richardson shared Porsche Boxster, and also making comparatively quiet progress through the field was Richard Harman in his Porsche 944 Turbo, who came 3rd in last years Silverstone meeting on the National circuit, and was looking to repeat the feat as he closed in on Cunniffe.

Tom Barley in his BMW 328i E36 had been part of the group that consisted of the Neal and Hayes cars before their pre-pitstop parlay, and during that time, the Talbot Sunbeam Lotus of Geoff Beale was also in the quartet. With the impact between Neal and Hayes separating this group, Barley and Beale continued their fighting. The Phil Seaman-tuned Talbot has been in the hands of Beale since 2012, and whilst Barley has raced several different BMWs with the CSCC since 2016, this battle wasn’t showing any signs of dispersing, and adding to the mixture was the shared Porsche 911 993 RSR of former army Major David Whelan and Aidan Farrell

The BMW 323i E21 of long-time CSCC member Matthew Irons, shared with grandson Jake Severs, was also always found in a group of cars at various stages of the race, but the BMW veteran decided last year that 2023 was to be his final season of racing, either selling the BMW at the end of the year or returning it to a road car. One of the few, if not only, Grandfather Grandson combinations look set to see the year out in fine style if this race is anything to go by.

As the flag was set to fall, Taylor remained untroubled at the top, with Spark a distant, but still well-deserved 2nd, Harman a lonely 3rd, and as usual, the fighting waged on behind them. Barrow, Plummer, the Fulk & Richardson car and Jefcoate all on near identical pace, and joining that group was David Sharp in his Lotus Elise S1, affectionally nicknamed “ee-or” (the car, not the driver). Cunniffe, Beale and Farrell were almost on top of one another in the closing stages, with Barley looking on ready to pick up any pieces. A suspected fuel leak saw the Warren McKinlay and Chris Pruden shared Boxster retire with one lap to go.

On Taylor’s last two visits to Silverstone with the Tuscan, he had won the race, and he would not be denied this time either, nearly 2 minutes ahead of Spark, who had discovered early in the race that they were down a cylinder, otherwise they were confident they could have made Taylor work harder for the win. With the Modern Classics win going to the Tuscan, it was 3rd place Harmans Porsche 944 taking the Future Classics win. Only eight cars were to finish on the lead lap, such was the incredible performance of the winning Taylor Tuscan.

Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warmup – Race 5 (Part 1)

Race 5 had a little more of a classic feel about it, with the Advantage Motorsport Future Classics catering to cars from the ’70s and ’80s, and the Modern Classics giving a home to cars from the ’90s. These two groups tend to be put together when grids are combined, and this led to another huge grid, this time with 41 cars taking to qualifying, 39 of which took to the grid. The Titanic Taylor Tuscan, in the hands of Alex Taylor, was the pole sitter in the Modern Classics division, alongside former Caterham racer Matt Sparks new car, the Porsche GT3. Taylor and Spark had come together during qualifying, but this didn’t stop the Tuscan from being two seconds faster than the Porsche. The top Future Classics car was long-time Porsche racer Tony Blake in his Tuscan Challenge five-litre monster, starting in 3rd.

Once again, the field contained an eclectic mixture of cars and engines, from a six-litre Jaguar XJS of the Coppock family to a 1.8-litre Ginetta G20 piloted by Roger Hamilton, from a newer Jaguar S-Type to a somewhat outgunned MG B Roadster, the variety of the grid perfectly demonstrates what the CSCC is all about, motorsport for all ages and almost any kind of car. With the lights out, the roars and screams sang their symphonies to signify the start of the race, but it wasn’t long before there was trouble, and it again involved Taylor’s tail, this time it was Blake that had damage (somewhat ironic as Blake offered to help with the repairs to Taylors Tuscan following qualifying). Taylor was able to continue, but the reshaped Tuscan of Blake was to retire at the end of the lap, as was the Norfolk-based fast Ford collector Martin Reynolds with his Mustang Mach 1, being brought straight through to pits and on to the trailer with electrical problems.

As Taylor was confident that his mighty Tuscan, complete with body restyling, was behaving, he would continue unchallenged up front, with Spark unable to answer but keeping his new Porsche strong in 2nd place, with a superb start from fellow former Caterham racer Patrick Scharfegger, putting his Porsche Boxster into 3rd. The podium trio didn’t have too much to worry about in the early stages of the race, but behind them, it was a busy battlefield, consisting of various-sized groups from two to six-car battles for positions all through the field.

One of the more unusual entries was the Powerbell-run Jaguar S-Type, driven by Paul Last. This is the equivalent of a pool car you would be given when you take your car to be serviced, this S-Type has been seen in the hands of several Powerbell customers. We normally see Powerbell boss Colin Philpots Jaguar XJS doing battle in this group, but sadly he was not out to play. Whilst Last didn’t live up to his name, the big cat sadly retired after three laps. The next car to park was the Porsche 911 964 of James Neal and Neil Harvey, James bringing the car into the pits at the end of lap six with significant rear left damage requiring more than “gentle persuasion” to get back into shape. Richard Hayes in his Toyota Celica GT4 turbo had some damage to the front, and with Neal marching over to Hayes to have a chat during the pit stop, it was easy to deduce the cause of the collision. Hayes was able to continue in the race, the Porsche however did not fare so well.

Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warmup – Race 3 (Part 1)

The third race of the day combined three series together to form the biggest grid of the day. Co-Ord Sports continue its support of one of the most popular series in the entire CSCC, the Tin-Tops. Lohen are a new sponsor on board to support the Turbo Tin Tops this year, with the third category being the Puma Cup. A near-capacity 52 entries took to qualifying, of which 46 would take the start, and the pole spot was taken by six seconds over the second fastest time. You might think that this was a Turbo Tin-Top on pole, but six of the top seven qualifiers were naturally aspirated Tin-Tops. Again, a mixture of fresh faces joined the racing aces for the monster grid ready to do battle.

Danny Cassar was the man responsible for the blistering pace at the top, with fellow Honda pilot Manoj Patel alongside him. The fastest Turbo Tin-Top was in third place Phiroze Bilimoria in his VW Scirocco, and the best Puma was Luke Johnson starting in 36th place. There were some drivers who had just completed the previous race in the New Millennium class, pole sitter Cassar being one of them, having just jumped out of the 2.3-litre Integra into the Tin-Top spec two-litre car. Patel retired from the aforementioned race but did manage to take the start of this race.

As Cassar & Patel led the field to the lights (the back of the field can’t actually see the lights turn green, such is the length of the grid), it was clear that not all was well with Patels Civic as he was soon plummeting through the field, and retired the car, unable to downshift. Cassar extended his lead from anywhere between four to nine seconds per lap over the rest of the field, and no matter where you looked on the circuit, there were groups of cars all arguing for position.

Adam Brown, who had shared the other of the Nigel Ainge owned Civics in the previous race with Cassar, now in his own Fiesta ST, was battling hard for 2nd place with Russell Hird in his Honda Integra, and with the Turbo Tin-Tops leader Bilimoria, the three of them displaying excellent punch and counter-punch moves repeatedly in each lap. In fact, it would be possible to write a university dictation on the amount of battles going on. Very few cars didn’t have a playmate, either through a mistake or retirement, though there were a couple of cars that were simply out-gunned in this field, the works-liveried MG Metro of Ray Kershberg and Daniel Goldberg in particular. Though they were lapped quite early in the race, this didn’t stop them pushing the little Metro to it’s limit, and they are just as welcome in the CSCC as the top guns.

If you can imagine how busy the track was, it was organised chaos in the pitlane when the pitstop window was opened, yet the well-disciplined drivers of the club were able to navigate everything and everyone without incident. A few cars had fallen by the wayside, the Guntons Ford Focus ST225 didn’t make it to the pitstop, Robert Chittocks Polizia liveried Alfa Romeo 147 returned to the paddock, and the Warburton VW Golf GTI didn’t last very long after it’s stop before grinding to a halt.

Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warm Up – Race 3 (Part 2)

The Cassar crusade continued unabated after the pitstops were concluded, the three-way resumed between Phiroze Bilimoria, Russell Hird and Adam Brown, who were all passed during the pitstops by James Slater in his Honda Civic by about eight seconds. Biliomoria was given a 30 second penalty for an unsafe release during his pitstop, which then put Peugeot specialist Carl Chambers into the contention for class win, however his bright yellow 208 GTI was to visit the pits another couple of times with a suspicious engine noise. The crew couldn’t see anything out of place in the pit lane, but Chambers didn’t risk pushing the car too far, and decided to retire.

Tom Oatley in his turbo Renault Clio was battling with Andrew Marson, one of the three Marson Fiat Abarths in the race, and the former Smart car races Simon Horrobin & James Palmer shared Ford Fiesta ST180. Husband and wife pairing of Toby Harris & Lisa Selby were next to fall, as their Ford Fiesta turbo was struggling in with low oil pressure, so Toby took the wise decision and cut his stint short to save the engine from detonating.

Battles and potential battles were difficult to read due to numerous groups of cars not all being on the same lap, but a group that were similar in pace in the closing stages of the race was James Joannus Renault Clio turbo, Richard Marsons Abarth, Adrian Matthews in his new and unusual toy, a Volvo C30, and long time Peugeot racer James Wilson. Another duel that formed in the closing stages was the newly recoloured BMW Mini R56 of John Wyatt, and CSCC newcomer Mark Carey in his Honda Integra Type R. Whilst they may not have been battling for class position, as Mark is in Tin Tops, whereas John is in Turbo Tin Tops, this doesn’t affect how close their fight was and hard hard they would make it for each other.

The flag fell after 17 laps, Danny Cassar would claim the win by over a minute from the Turbo Tin-Tops victor Phiroze Bilimoreia, who was chased home by Russell Hird. Sadly for Slater, he was hit with a post-race penalty which denied him 2nd place. Only seven cars were on the lead lap, such was the colossal performance of Cassar. Winner of the Puma Cup, sadly away from the limelight somewhat with so many cars and battles on track, was the Alain Menu Super Touring Mondeo coloured car of Luke Johnson, finishing in 28th place overall, just shy of 50 seconds ahead of the next Puma of Jon Glover.

Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warmup – Race 2 (Part 2)

With the pit stops done, the field had only lost two of its BMWs, the Sapra & Bransom car, and Klaas Kooiker had pulled off early in the race with more smoke than was healthily emanating from the car. After 10 laps, Tommy Grouts E36 had decided that enough was enough, having run as high as third at one point, adding the third BMW to the list of retirees. Despite this, there was still plenty of action to be enjoyed out on track, Dave Harvey’s incredible progress was incredible, Dominic Malone was back into 2nd place, now being kept honest by relative newcomer Chris Murphy in his M3 E46, over a minute behind the leader.

Other battles through the field included the thunder from down under Dave Griffin in his E90 trying to get past the pink accented E36 Evo of Mark Smith, with another pair of Amspeed prepared cars behind them of Ashley Muldoon and Alex Heynes, and the Petch family Ginetta arguing with the Interceptor racing E92 of Mark Wyatt & Russell Humphrey. Joining the Heynes & Muldoon dance was racing veteran Nigel Greensall, having taken over the E46 from racing debutant James Collins by lap 12. A lap later, another addition to the now Greensall-led parade was one of several CSCC new entrants, that of Mark Lee in his Ginetta G55.

As the closing stages of the race began, almost all the aforementioned battles were still raging on. Greensall had (some would say inevitably) broken away from his pursuers, and trouble was to befall the Tom Gannon-built “Gannon Cannon” Honda Civic of Manoj Patel. He won the Tin Tops race on the previous visit to the Silverstone GP circuit in 2021, but alas the car was to experience trouble and retired from the race. He didn’t have long to fix the issue, as the Honda was due out in the very next race.

The next victim was the green Petch family Ginetta. Petch senior Chris has been with the CSCC since 2005 in a Triumph TR5, and his boys Harry & Max often share the big G50, but this time the car simply lost drive. Chris was able to limp the car back to the garage for the team to work on before the final race of the day, in which the Ginetta was due to reappear.

Motorsport, at all levels, can provide many memorable moments, both of joy and despair, and the final non-finisher of the race was about to remind the spectators of exactly this, as on the final lap, the pole sitter Malone was found stationary at the side of the track. From pole and fastest lap, looking set to secure second place, but sadly the renowned German engineering of the BMW failed him this time. Like the Petch crew, Malone had time before the car was on parade again to get the E90 back on song.

David Harvey and his lunar Lotus 340R would not be denied the top honours of the day, winning by over 30 seconds, even with a post-race 20-second penalty applied for the Code 60 infringement. Chris Murphy secured second, with Dylan Popovic bringing his snarling Ginetta home in third, all three of the podium sitters from the Open Series category. As for New Millennium, the winner of that category was Mark Smith, very narrowly from Dave Griffin, and the Collins & Greensall shared car in third.

Classic Sports Car Club Winter Warm Up – Race 2 (Part 1)

The second race of the day was the WOSP New Millennium and Verum Builders Open series. CSCC welcomes Luke Wos’ performance tuning business, which has taken the title sponsorship role for the New Millennium category, catering for post-2000 production cars and their racing variants, as well as Rob Hardys Wiltshire-based Verum Builders company continued support of the Open series, which provides a home for all production saloon, hatchback, sports & GT cars of any age, as well as some kit cars.

In contrast to race 1 which focused on the Lotus 7-inspired design, this combination attracted 33 entrants to take to qualifying, of which 30 made it to the grid. No less than 10 marques were represented through the field, with neither the New Millennium nor Open series holding dominion over the other, as the first three rows had one representative of each category.

A familiar face secured pole position, that of bath-based dentist Dominic Malone in his BMW M3 E90, previously raced by Sir Andy Priaulx MBE. Right next to him was the lead Open Series car of Dave Harvey in his moon buggy-esque Lotus 340R, reportedly the only one racing in the UK. Throughout the grid were some amazing driving talent, along with debutants, such as James Collins who was taking part in his first-ever race, partnered up with racing veteran Nigel Greensall in a BMW M3 E46.

With Malone & Harvey leading to the field to the green light for the first 40-minute race of the year, the various roars and screams of the hugely varied engine notes kicked in and the race began. As the lights went out, so did Malone’s momentum as Harvey stole the lead through Copse. Behind them was a superb start from Bosnian-born Dylan Popovic in his Chevrolet-powered Ginetta G50, demoting Malone to 3rd. It wasn’t long though before the race was neutralised, this time by a code 60, caused by Warren Tattersall who had buried his Seat Leon TCR into the gravel trap at Copse. He was recovered by the ever-hardworking marshalls and was allowed to continue, but a lap down from the rest of the field.

As the code 60 concluded, curiously Harvey was nearly a minute ahead of Popovic, who in turn was about 12 seconds ahead of Malone, after which point there was a flood of competitors, a 5-way BMW battle going on for 4th, a 3-way fight for 9th that was led by the first non-BMW outside of the podium contenders, and various clusters of cars all arguing for their own segment of Northampton real estate.

The first pit stop of the year belonged to the BMW owned by the class champion in the Kumho BMW championship Jasver Sapra, whom this time was sharing the car with usual playmate Bryan Bransom. It was Bransom who brought the car in, and there they remained for what felt like an eternity for them as the new paddle shift system was being checked over, this being the first race the car has had with this system in place, however a lap later, Sapra brought the car back in and into retirement. The pitlane was a hive of activity as the next few laps progressed. Mark Smith, whose son runs the Amspeed outfit that looks after a number of the BMWs seen on the CSCC grid, stalled trying to get going from his stop, requiring a push start to get himself going again.

Continued in part 2

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