Thurtle family affair at Silverstone

Arthur and Boysie Thurtle bagged the spoils in their mighty Chevrolet Camaro at Silverstone on Saturday (31 May) in the latest round of the Heritage Grand Touring Car Challenge.

For the third race in a row, victory went to a father and son pairing as Rick Lloyd and Matthew Wurr gave chase in their Morgan Plus 8 as three family pairings packed our the top 10.QualifyingJust 0.316s covered the top five cars in qualifying, although the Thurtles were only fifth fastest. Instead, it was the similar Camaro of Alec Hammond/Graham Hathaway that topped the times sheets by just 0.021s from the Rick Lloyd Morgan Plus 8 which, with regular co-driver Peter Horsman on duty elsewhere, was again shared by Matthew Wurr.

The Donington Park winning Sunbeam Tiger of Chris Beighton and Jon Finnemore was third fastest with solo driver Chris Williams fourth fastest in his Morgan Plus 8.

The Thurtles were fifth ahead of the George Miller/Les Goble shared Aston Martin DBS V8.The McCarthy family MGB GTV8, which would be started by father Roy, was the leading Class C car while the Peter Wheeler/Ben Samuelson pairing in Wheeler’s Aston Martin DB4 were just fractions away and best of the Class E runners.In another giant-killing exhibition, Harvey and Clive Death had their Cooper S in front of some far more powerful cars en route to heading the Class A runners. RaceOn duty first, Arthur Thurtle had a blistering opening lap during which he went from fifth to first ahead of Hammond, Lloyd and McCarthy. Sadly, already missing was the Beighton Tiger. Lloyd ousted Hammond on the second lap and made inroads into Thurtle’s lead.Such was Thurtle’s furious pace, that only Lloyd was able to live with it, but live with it he did and by the end of six glorious laps, they were nose to tail. By now Thurtle, in the much heavier car, was hatching a new game plan.

As he later explained, he felt it prudent to let Lloyd through and then try to keep tabs on him. "I felt that if I pushed too hard, maybe I might spin. I knew Rick’s co-driver wasn’t as fast as him, so I thought that if I could keep things together and then give Boysie the chance to have a go at him, we could still win," said Thurtle Snr.

As the laps unfurled, so Hammond hung on in third spot but came under ever increasing pressure from Williams. For several laps, they ran as one with Williams eventually pushing Hammond into the tiny mistake he needed to snatch the place.

Powering out of Luffield, Hammond slid wide on the kerb and just avoided going into the gravel, but it was enough to hand the advantage to Williams. But it didn’t last and, one lap later, Hammond had reasserted his authority over Williams.

Meanwhile, up front Thurtle became the first of the front-runners to make his pit stop on lap 19. Lloyd now continued to stretch his advantage until pitting after 22 laps. In by this stage for driver changes were the McCarthys and Williams together with Robin North who got the Mustang he shares with daughter Zoe as high as fifth.

On lap 22 the second placed Camaro of Hammond went missing and the presence of the safety car a few laps later indicated that something was amiss. In fact, Hammond had become the innocent victim of a mishap that befell Neil Cunningham (sharing Bob Pepper’s Mustang) at Becketts.

The Mustang’s throttle had jammed open as Cunningham swept through Maggotts and though he managed to quickly kill the engine, he was by now on the grass and heading straight across towards Becketts.

The Mustang shot across the bows of the Camaro, damaging the front of Hammond's car in the process, and with its front suspension broken, the Mustang finally came to rest on the short straight up to Chapel on the Grand Prix circuit, facing the way it had come. "I feel so sorry for Alec, he was the totally innocent party in my incident," said Cunningham.

Meanwhile, the safety car had picked up Wurr rather than the race leader, which was by now, with the lack of a pit stop, Mike Luck’s Jaguar E Type. The field circulated for several laps like this until eventually being waved through to allow the safety car to pick up the E-Type. But Luck immediately pitted as he’d come to the end of the pit stop window and so the safety car had to find Wurr once more.

The safety car duly pulled off with just over thirteen minutes to run and Thurtle Jnr had Wurr in his sights. As they hurtled towards Copse for the 33rd time, Boysie dived past into the lead and soon put some distance between himself and the chasing Wurr.

Williams finished third, one place and 12 seconds ahead of the Class C winning McCarthy family duo. The Luck E Type now driven by Jonathan Edwards was the final un-lapped runner in fifth spot.Miller and Goble rounded out the top six, one place ahead of the Class E winning Wheeler/Samuels

on pairing. The Death brothers bagged Class A honours, and while the other class fastest laps were set early on, Harvey had enough grip left to record his best race lap on the 39th lap. Results – 50 minutes1 Arthur and Boysie Thurtle (Chevrolet Camaro) 43 laps in 50m 33.367s (83.64mph); 2 Rick Lloyd/Matthew Wurr (Morgan Plus 8) +7.646s; 3 Chris Williams (Morgan Plus 8); 4 Roy and Russell McCarthy (MGB GTV8); 5 Mike Luck/Jonathan Edwards (Jaguar E Type); 6 George Miller/Les Goble (Aston Martin DBS V8); 7 Peter Wheeler/Ben Samuelson (Aston Martin DB4); 8 Robin and Zoe North (Ford Mustang); 9 Ian McCallum/Pete Foster (Aston Martin DB5); 10 John Shoesmith/Ray Barrow (Chevrolet Camaro). Class winners: Thurtle/Thurtle; McCarthy/McCarthy; Wheeler/Samuelson; Harvey and Clive Death (Mini Cooper S). Fastest lap: Lloyd 1m 03.608s (92.76mph). Next rounds: Thruxton, 28/29 June; supporting British F3 and British GT.

"The clutch we broke at Brands we had to replace," said McLean, "but this set of clutch plates make it far easier to stall the car, and I nearly did that. I got going, and had so much power that I caught all the cars in front into the first corner. We were three or four abreast and they came across and an orange sportscar hit me and we all spun round.

"From then on I just had to fight my way back, and I didn't know where I was for a while, and when I saw a pit board I knew I was leading the Porsches and knew there was no point in pushing hard. It was hard racing these little cars, it can be difficult to see them in your mirrors."

"On the start I got the clutch out, pulled out to go down the middle," said Johnson, "and saw a yellow flag, so I feathered a bit - and everyone went shooting past me. I saw Paul get caught up with one of the Radicals at the first corner, but he got himself gathered back up and was quick again. He has a really nice car - I need to look in the back of my truck for some turbos I think!"

I had a blinding start, I was ahead of Mike Johnson at one point," said Winter. "Then the quicker cars went flying past and I settled down in seventh overall. An uneventful race with a good result for us."

Race Two

Speed was sharing Winter's 996 GT3 for race two, but stalled on the line as the rest of the field streamed round him. McLean got the GT2 cleanly away and led the Open runners, Livesey initially second ahead of Johnson before a spin sent him down the order.

McLean pitted on lap 13 of the 40-minute race to hand over to Fairbairn, Johnson pitting two laps later, and emerging the leading of the cars who had made their stops, Livesey the leader on the road but yet to make his pit stop. Johnson was then adjudged to have stopped for les than the 35-second minimum time, and the screens indicated a drive thru penalty, only for this to be passed to Mike as a drive-thru penalty, which he took on lap 20, the yellow 996 crawling down the pit lane and back out, losing his 20-second lead.

To add to the confusion, Speed pitted at the end of his twelfth lap, only to rejoin again and pit once more, his stop catching the team by surprise and Winter not yet ready to take the car over.

Johnson closed on Fairbairn, but thought himself a lap behind after having made two pit stops. He went past on his 36th lap, the two cars staying close in the remaining laps, Johnson taking the chequer flag but thinking himself a lap down on the McLean and Fairbairn car in second, which had lost a side window during the race.

"I was counting the seconds for the pit stop to myself," said Johnson, "as I was trying to do it by the book. I thought I was unlapping myself from Peter, as I thought I was a lap down after doing the drive-through. I wanted to chase him down just to have a race - I didn't know I was battling for the lead, it was all a bit vague really!"

"One of the windows fell out," said McLean, "which must have been entertaining for the car behind at the time. I think Mike thought he was a lap down because of his stop-go penalty."

"I was amazed how windy it got in the car," said Fairbairn, "but other than that the car ran well. Mike went past me at Becketts."

Livesey recovered from his early spin to come back through the field, which was becoming a theme for the driver over the day, and was only seconds behind Fairbairn at the end.

"I just needed a few more laps and I could have got second" said Livesey, "I'm learning how to drive the car, and spun early on after I didn't let things warm up - it was a good fun race."

A lap down on the leaders was the 996 shared by Winter and Speed, fifth Porsche home behind the well-driver 997 of Rob Payne, and Class Two winners.

"I made a bad start, stalled on the line," said Speed, "then got the bit between my teeth and came back at them. I came down the pit lane, saw Paul didn't have his helmet on, so I thought I wasn't going to wait for him so I drove back out!"

"We were unprepared - as usual!" joked Winter. "I didn't put the seat far enough forward so I could only just get full throttle. Racing Richard Chamberlain was brilliant - what a star he is!"

"I simply opened a gap and then cruised," joked Tony Brown after his second Class Three win of the day.

Porsche Open, Race Two (21 Laps): 1 Paul McLean (993 GT2 Evo) 21m22.727s (96.59mph); 2 Mike Johnson (996 GT3 R) +20.546s; 3 Paul Livesey (993 GT2 Evo); 4 Paul Winter (996 GT3); 5 Mark Chilton (993 GT2); 6 Zubin Randeria (993 RSR); 7 James Fillingham (996 Cup); 8 Rob Payne (997 Cup); 9 Lajos Varga (996); 10 Paul Howells (993 RSR). Class Winners: McLean; Winter; Tony Brown (964 RSR). Fastest Lap: McLean 58.653s (100.59mph). Pole Position: McLean 59.392s (99.34mph).

Race Two (39 LAPS): 1 Johnson 41m24.589s (96.21mph); 2 McLean / Fairbairn +0.806s; 3 Livesey; 4 Payne; 5 Tim Speed / Winter; 6 Howells; 7 Fillingham / Chamberlain; 8 Brown; 9 Neil Primrose (964 RS);10 Adrian Clark (928).Class Winners: Johnson; Speed/ Winter; Brown. Fastest Lap: McLean 59.605s (98.99mph). Pole Position: McLean / Fairbairn.

Next races: Silverstone Historic GP Circuits, July 26th  / 27th.

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