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.

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