Beighton on top in Norfolk

Charterhouse Heritage Grand Touring Car Challenge

Chris Brighton’s potent Sunbeam Tiger exploited the long Snetterton straights to secure two very comfortable victories in the latest races in the Charterhouse Heritage GT Challenge at Snetterton (20 July). Beighton won twice, with a helping hand from experience GT racer Nigel Greensall in the two-driver contest.

Boysie Thurtle reacquainted himself with his former mount, now raced by Chris Scragg, and chased after the leader in race two, but an exhaust problem on the Aston Martin V8 blunted his efforts just as a thrilling contest was building up.QualifyingBoysie Thurtle hustled his Chevrolet Camaro around to convincingly clinch pole position in qualifying on Saturday, but moments later a trail of smoke spelt trouble. "The timing chain has broke," explained his father Arthur. "It’s a great shame as we love this place, but it’s never very kind to us." The team withdrew the car and headed home.

That left Beighton to start the Sunbeam Tiger from pole, and Chris did admit to a grassy moment at Coram but was also spotted spinning at the Esses. "Understeer," was the excuse. "Brilliant car," was the reaction of Greensall on his first competitive experience of the Tiger.Peter Snowdon set the early pace with a rapid pace in the Aston Martin DB4 he was sharing with Steven Byrne. Scragg was only just behind. "It’s an interesting experience comparing the old and new V8 Astons as I’m racing the N24 in the GT Cup event," said Scragg. The only problem he had was with the Aston's exhaust.

Charlie Kemp had to back off the throttle half way down the long Revett Straight as the DB4 he was co-driving with Conor O’Brien was fitted with the wrong gearbox. "I don’t want to blow the engine up," explained the young charger, who was confident their race pace was competitive.

John Bussell/Ian McCallum had a "reasonable" run in their DB5 to qualify just ahead of the Robin/Zoe North Ford Mustang, which was pulling 147mph down the back straight. "This track suits the car. Drifting through Coram at over 90mph is a wonderful feeling," explained Robin.John Shoesmith/Ray Barrow had a good run to clinch what became seventh place on the grid followed by the John Dickson/Miles Castaldini AC Cobra, both drivers pleased the rebuilt car was performing well after a major accident at Donington Park.

A newly rebuilt engine in the Porsche 911 helped Andrew Chalmers/Colin Davids to ninth while the Rover SD1 of Chris Williams/Williams followed, but then left for home after breaking a driveshaft. Tony Lees looked comfortable in his Morgan while the Cooke pairing had no problems to report with the Aston Martin Vantage.

Richard Masters was trying to convince his crew that a change of tyres, from testing, was the reason he dumped the Jaguar XJS in the gravel at Riches. "The Hoosiers were supposed to be two seconds quicker - they are not!"

Will Goff was getting a hand this week from Oliver Bryant and the pair lined up 13th as a result while Martin White was finding his feet on his first visit to the track with his Morgan Plus 8.

Martin Melling led the rest of the field from Robert Rawe in his Healey 3000, just ahead of the Triumph TR7 V8 of David Falkingham. The Tim Glover/Rikki Cann Escort was working well; "we just need a bit more power," was the only wish from the pair.

The Bob Godbold/Anthony Matthews BMW 2002 stopped at Coram with fuel surge. "I'm going to go back to the workshop and pick up another tank to cure the problem," said Godbold. Instead he fitted a complicated filter system, which did the job.

Piers Townsend’s Daimler SP250 and the smoking Ford Cortina 1600E of Kate Bennington/Eve Tate brought up the rear of the field.Race oneBeighton used all his British GT experience to lead the pack into an orderly rolling start, which allowed him to comfortably be first into Riches. Scragg followed the leader and started chasing the orange machine, which paid off as he slipped ahead on the third lap at the Esses. Meanwhile Robin North had taken third and, while not quite on the pace of the leading pair, could comfortably out pace the chasing pack, which secured the Mustang racer his first ever podium visit.

Beighton soon got back into the groove and retook the lead at Riches, which steadily grew to 4.5 seconds. Traffic then allowed Scragg to close but the only time Beighton looked vulnerable was when he clipped Pat Cooke’s Aston Martin Vantage at Russell. "It was the only time I was troubled," admitted the winner afterwards.

"I think he was playing with me. I had half a chance when he clipped the Aston otherwise he was just too quick," was Scragg’s assessment.North’s third place had looked briefly under threat from John Dickson, who had to start the Cobra from the pit lane. "I’ve got air in the clutch hydraulic system and didn’t want to take any risks in the middle of the pack," he explained.Dickson quickly dealt with the lower order and by the fifth lap was in fourth place, chasing after the Mustang, but just as he got into a threatening position the engine started to misfire and he settled for what he had already achieved. Sadly the problems saw the team go home before race two.

After Dickson had relieved Byrne of fourth place the Aston driver had his mirrors full, first with McCallum, then Shoesmith after he had pushed his Camaro past McCallum at Riches. Cooke then got past McCallum with Tony Lees also demoting the DB4 on the 12th lap. A large cloud of smoke spelt trouble at Sear with Masters' engine blowing up and coating the track in oil, nearly catching out several drivers. Lees used the opportunity to unseat Cooke to finish right on the tail of the Camaro.

Byrne had a late spin at Russell trying to lap Rawe’s Healey 3000, which dropped him behind eighth-placed McCallum while Chalmers rounded out the top ten.

White had an uneventful run to 11th, while an early spin dropped O’Brien from sixth to 13th and then he had a high speed grassy moment at Coram when trying too hard, which slowed him down a little to finish 12th.

Rawe was a class winner in 13th after a long battle with Melling, who’s run was spoilt when the diff broke driving back to the paddock. Godbold, Goff, Jeremy Cooke and Townsend completed the finishers while Bennington didn’t take to the grid after an electrical gremlin hit the Cortina just prior to the start.Results – 20 laps1 Chris Beighton (Sunbeam Tiger) 25m54.392s (90.41mph); 2 Chris Scragg (Aston Martin V8) + 3.703s; 3 Robin North (Ford Mustang); 4 John Dickson (AC Cobra); 5 John Shoesmith (Chevrolet Camaro); 6 Tony Lees (Morgan Plus 8); 7 Pat Cooke (Aston Martin Vantage); 8 Ian McCallum (Aston Martin DB5); 9 Steven Byrne (Aston Martin DB4); 10 Andrew Chalmers (Porsche 911 RS). Class winners; Lees, McCallum, Robert Rawe (Austin Healey 3000); Bob Godbold (BMW 2002). Fastest lap: Beighton 1m 15.913s (92.56mph).Race twoBeighton again blasted away from the rolling start with Scragg close behind, while Zoe North was taking a leaf out of dad’s book and looked very comfortable in third place.

Lees was showing well in the Morgan but was soon shovelled out of fourth place by Shoesmith who had Cooke right in his wheel tracks. Meanwhile McCallum and Byrne were disputing the DB4 honours. Chalmers rotated at Russell on the tenth lap, which prompted him to pit and exchange with Davids. McCallum then followed and handed over to Bussell while Shoesmith exchanged with Barrow at the same time as Snowdon climbed into Byrne’s car.

The leader pitted for Greensall to take over with Scragg exchanging with former owner Boysie Thurtle, who powered away in determined mood to catch the leader. This left Zoe in the lead until she allowed dad back behind the wheel.

When the North’s exchanged, Boysie was left to close in on leader Greensall but just as he was poised to strike the exhaust fell off the Aston and he headed for the pits, where an extinguisher was used to quell a small fire under the car. "Boysie had a real chance," said Scragg afterwards, determined to sort out the exhaust before the next race.

Shortly afterwards White brought the Morgan into the pits and a brief engine fire started under the bonnet, which also needed putting out.A few laps later the Cann Escort lost a wheel at Russell, when a halfshaft broke, and moments later Bussell and Rawe collided exiting Coram which saw both spear off in different directions. With the track partially blocked the race was rightly halted.

Bussell had no idea what had happened at Coram to put him out and had to rely on Rawe’s view. "I signalled John to pass me on the inside of Coram but as we exited the corner his back wheel and my front wheel touched. It threw the Aston high in the air and spun me off towards the inside of the track. I thought he was going over," said Rawe. Both drivers put it down to a racing incident.

With the pressure off Greensall had coasted home to victory. "It’s a brilliant car to drive," said a happy winner.

Robin North brought the Mustang home in second place and another podium finish. "Zoe did a great job, all I had to do was keep going," explained Robin as Zoe’s grin could hardly have been wider.

Third went to Snowdon after a quick stop and a very determined drive, to win the class and secure Byrne’s first podium place in his debut season of racing.

Kemp was some distance back in fourth place in O’Brien’s car.The Shoesmith/Barrow Camaro was fifth for a second time. "That’s very pleasing after all our disasters," said the cheerful drivers.Lees was just as pleased with two class wins and a second sixth place finish while Davids brought the 911 home in seventh place. Richard Cooke brought dad’s Vantage home in eighth, the first time he had driven the car for a year. "Dad put in a great first stint which had seen the car as high as fourth during the pit stops," said a beaming Richard.

Goff was delighted with ninth, heaping praise onto Bryant after the pair had jumped the Healey in the pits, with the BMW taking tenth place having never missed a beat on its debut. Townsend and the Bennington/Tate Cortina completed the runners.Results – 26 laps1 Chris Beighton/Nigel Greensall 34m 14.955s (88.90mph); 2 Robin North/Zoe North + 2m20.581s; 3 Steven Byrne/Peter Snowdon; 4 Conor O’Brien/Charlie Kemp (Aston Martin DB4); 5 John Shoesmith/Ray Barrow; 6 Lees; 7 Andrew Chalmers/Colin Davids; 8 Pat Cooke/Richard Cooke; 9 Will Goff/Oliver Bryant (MGB); 10 Bob Godbold/Anthony Matthews. Class winners: Byrne/Snowdon; Lees; Godbold/Matthews; Piers Townsend (Daimler SP250). Fastest lap: Beighton 1m 15.720s (92.80mph).Next rounds: Silverstone, 16/17 August.