Donington Park race reports - 12-13 April 2008 - Round 2
The Elise Trophy’s 2008 season kicked off in style, with 8 races and 131 cars competing at our first two rounds at Brands Hatch and Donington Park. Paul Quinn, ex Lotus F1 driver Martin Donnelly and Chris Randall already look like being the drivers to beat during 2008 in classes A, B and C respectively, with Donnelly and Randall having recorded 4 race wins apiece.
After the arctic conditions at Brands Hatch we were hoping for some more decent Spring weather at Donington Park for MSVR's Blast in the Park. With 74 entries and 4 races (once again separate races for classes A and B/C) this was going to be our biggest meeting yet!
Qualifying Both Elise Trophy qualifying sessions were early on Saturday and while it was dry the track was pretty slippery.
The class A cars went out first and Paul Quinn was clearly the class of the field, setting a pole time of 1:59.405, over 2 seconds clear of Michael Edwards in 2nd with Marcus Jewell in 3rd. Matthew Bartlett, Stuart Mason and Steve Wentzell made up the rest of the top 6 on the grid.
By the time the class B/C cars went out the track was drying up nicely. With 40 cars on track it wasn't easy to find some space but Chris Randall managed it in his class C car with a pole time of 1:46.512. Andrew Walsh was 2nd with Sean Bicknell 3rd in class C and 4th on the grid. In class B Martin Donnelly was once again the pace-setter, 4th on the grid with a time of 1:48.249. Steve Williams was 5th with Gavin Kirby 7th in his 2-Eleven. Andrew Kell (6th), Ben Pitch (8th), Chris Pearson (9th) and David Alexander (10th) made up the rest of the top 10.
Eleven class A cars were taking part in the class B/C race, with Gary Broad beating several faster class B and one class C car to take an excellent 20th on the grid
Scratch Race - Class A Class A Michael Edwards Paul Quinn Steve Wentzell Ken Savage Russ Treasure Matt Bartlett
The showery forecast proved accurate when the heavens opened about an hour before the first class A race. It was clearly going to be a wet race and with clouds building it looked like there was more rain to come. Off the line it was Edwards who made the better start at the front, leading off the line and for the first lap. Quinn slotted into 2nd with Paul Harding making a great start from 8th on the grid up to 3rd by the first corner. True to form the heavens opened on lap 2, with a spectacular hailstorm making things very interesting indeed! Quinn regained the lead on lap 2 when Edwards went wide at the Melbourne hairpin. Harding also got past Edwards on lap 3, only to throw it all away, spinning out of the race.
By now the conditions were properly slippery and cars were exiting stage right all over the place. Other casualties to join Harding for an early bath included Hans Baumhardt, forced to retire from 9th when his screen misted up and Stuart Mason who was running a strong 6th on lap 3 when a very unconventional route through Craners involving virtually no tarmac and an awful lot of grass put him out of contention. On lap 4 Quinn also lost it through Craners, handing the lead back to Edwards, a lead he held to the end to take a well-deserved victory. Jewell had driven an excellent race to cross the line in 2nd place, but was subsequently disqualified for a technical infringement, gifting 2nd place to Quinn and 3rd to Wentzell. Ken Savage was 4th, with Russ Treasure an excellent 5th from 32nd on the grid and Bartlett 6th.
Steve Owen had a strong race from 18th on the grid, finishing 11th and just 0.5s ahead of Martin Roberts. Other contests included John Townsend and Joanna Hoddinott who had a good battle throughout the race, crossing the line in 19th and 20th, also with just 0.5s separating them.
Race summary – 32 starters, 26 finished.
Race 1 Class B/C Class B Class C Overall Martin Donnelly Steve Williams Gavin Kirby David Harvey David Skeggs Gordon Milner Chris Randall Andrew Walsh Sean Bicknell Andrew Kell Chris Headlam Doug Setters Chris Randall (C) Andrew Walsh (C) Martin Donnelly (B) Sean Bicknell (C) Steve Williams (B) Andrew Kell (C)
At Brands Hatch in March it had dried up nicely for the class B/C race after a wet class A race and Donington Park was the same, the class A drivers must be getting a bit of a complex! The first 5 drivers (Randall, Walsh, Donnelly, Bicknell, Williams) got off the line in formation, with Randall taking a lead he would hold to the flag. Kirby made a good start from 7th on the grid, getting up the inside of Kell at Redgate and passing him through Craners to move into 6th. By lap 3 he was harrying Williams and got past, only for Williams to regain 5th on lap 4. Williams set about catching Bicknell. Meanwhile by lap 9 Kirby was coming under pressure from Kell, who got past him to take 6th on lap 11.
In the end Randall held on to take another comfortable victory, with Walsh 2nd and Donnelly 3rd (1st in class B). Bicknell was 4th with Williams just 1s behind in 5th to take 2nd in class B. Kell 6th and Kirby 7th (3rd in class B). David Harvey had a strong race from 12th on the grid to finish 8th and David Skeggs had an excellent race to cross the line 9th from 22nd on the grid (after problems in qualifying).
In the class A battle Broad held on to take victory, finishing 19th and beating several faster class B cars. Tom Chatterway crossed the line 21st to take 2nd in class, with Savage 3rd in 23rd.
Race summary – 38 starters, 35 finished.
Handicap Race - Class A Class A Stuart Kirkbride Graham Walsh David Willey Paul Pattison Adam Fletcher Tess Howell
The first handicap race of the season was always going to be a challenge for the handicappers, with so many new drivers on the grid. To make things even more difficult the class A cars had qualified in damp conditions and raced in a hail storm on the previous day. They were about to do a handicap race in the dry, something that would penalise the quicker cars who will always find it easier to make up time in wet conditions. Getting the handicaps right really was going to be mission impossible, good news for some of the drivers and bad news for others, this really was going to be a race that anyone could win!
The cars set off from the grid in 6 drops, with 105secs between the 1st and 6th drops. Off the line there were a few sharp intakes of breath as the 6th group got away just as the front-runners in the 1st group exited the last corner!
Handicap races can be a bit confusing if you don't know what's going on (and sometimes even if you do!), but basically it's the opposite of a scratch race (where the field start together and then tend to spread out) in that the field starts spread out and theoretically closes right up at the end of the race.
The faster drivers in the first drop (Quinn, Harding, Jewell, Baumhardt & Edwards) were a lap down on Graham Walsh who started in the same drop. To make up a whole lap was always going to be a challenge in the dry and so it proved. In fact Walsh drove a fine race and held the lead until the last lap, when he was passed by Stuart Kirkbride, who took a clear victory by over 7secs. Walsh held on to take a well-deserved 2nd place, with MSVR's Competition Secretary David Willey 3rd after an eventful race in which he was passed by both Paul Pattison and Simon Deacon, who both had spins to allow him back past, the three of them crossing the line with less than 1s separating them. Pattison and Hamilton-Fletcher finished 4th and 5th, with Tess Howell 6th.
Several other good battles and close finishes through the field included:
Simon Deacon and Roberts who crossed the line in 8th and 9th, separated by just 0.4s; Damian Murray and Martin Rumble, 10th & 11th, separated by 0.6s; Keith Hurford and Broad, 12th & 13th, separated by 0.8s; Owen & Savage, 14th & 15th, 0.5s; Wentzell & Townsend, 21st & 22nd, 0.9s; Treasure, Baumhardt & Bartlett, 23rd/24th/25th, with less than 2s separating them. Hoddinott was running 16th and was on target for her best result yet, when an oil leak in her engine bay caught fire and she was forced to retire on the last corner of the last lap.
Race summary – 32 starters, 27 finished.
Race 2 Class B/C Class B Class C Overall Martin Donnelly Steve Williams Gavin Kirby David Harvey David Skeggs Gordon Milner Chris Randall Andrew Walsh Sean Bicknell Andrew Kell Chris Headlam Doug Setters Chris Randall (C) Andrew Walsh (C) Martin Donnelly (B) Sean Bicknell (C) Andrew Kell (C) Steve Williams (B)
To liven things up a bit the first 10 places on the grid were reversed for the second class B/C race. This should have put Alexander on pole, unfortunately a mechanical failure meant he didn't start the race. This left Chris Pearson effectively on pole, with Pitch and Kirby behind him.
Mechanical problems took Pearson out of the running pretty early on, while Kirby had a flier off the start and was leading into Redgate. After a reasonable amnount of jossling at the end of lap 1 it was Kirby followed by Randall, Donnelly, Walsh and Williams. Randall and Walsh got past Kirby and by lap 3 had moved clear. Bicknell, from 7th on the grid, got past Kell on lap 2, Williams on lap 3 and Donnelly on lap 4 to move into 4th. Donnelly returned the favour on lap 5 to push Bicknell back to 5th. Meanwhile Kell had caught Williams and they fought it out for 5 laps, swapping places several times before Kell finally got past the wily old ocelot for good on lap 8. For 2 laps Bicknell, Kell and Williams scrapped over 4th place, Bicknell finally crossing the line just 0.5s ahead of Kell, who in turn was just 1s ahead of Williams. On lap 7 Kirby was running a strong 3rd when he span coming into the Esses, dropping him to 10th and out of contention for the podium positions, eventually finishing 9th.
Randall held on to take his 2nd class C victory of the weekend, with Walsh and Bicknell once again 2nd and 3rd in class. Donnelly again took the class B victory, with Williams in 2nd and Pitch an excellent 3rd.
Notable battles further down the field included Doug Setters and Rob Beves, who finished 16th and 17th. Beves tried for pretty much the whole race and got past Setters' more powerful class C car several times, but in the end couldn't make it stick.
In the class A battle Broad once again held on to take victory, finishing 20th and again beating some class B cars. Baumhardt crossed the line 22nd to take 2nd in class, with Deacon 3rd in 23rd.
Race summary – 38 starters, 33 finished.
Conclusion Another fantastic weekend's racing with the Elise Trophy, with almost 70 drivers taking part. Congratulations to race/class winners Michael Edwards, Stuart Kirkbride, Martin Donnelly and Chris Randall. The top 10 grid reversal that we tried out in the second class B/C race for the first time was a great success, an approach we will almost certainly use again.
Look out for television coverage of Elise Trophy races on Motors TV. The first transmission of the first round at Brands Hatch is on Friday 7th May at 7pm. For further details of our television coverage and to see a short promo, please check out the Race Television web site.
We’re back at Brands Hatch, supporting A1GP on the GP circuit on 2-4 May. With a full grid of 44 cars (plus up to 8 reserves who will qualify) and front-running class C drivers Randall & Andrew Walsh racing class B cars, it should be a cracking weekend’s racing, with around 9 cars likely to be competing for the outright win.