The CSCC Special Saloons + Modsports series
Donington had seen a smaller than usual entry list coming so soon after the success of Thruxton. 14 cars went out late afternoon on the saturday , the track now dry after earlier heavy rain had plagued the days other series qualifying and race programe.
Ian Hall fresh from his Thruxton double initially set fastest time in his Darrian until knocked off by Paul Sibley ( Lotus Elan ) who set a full 15-lap session of consistantly fast times. Chris Southcott wound his MG Midget up to sneak 2nd spot by the end. Wayne Crabtree ( Escort ) was 4th , Steven Moss having had a new race diff fitted to his green Anglia after Thruxton made 5th and Craig Percy , growing in confidence at each event was 6th in the Morris Minor V8. Further back David Beatty was exploring Donington for the first time in his other car than the Honda Prelude ,this time in the wonderful Marsh Plant Aston V8 and would start 11th.
Having accepted the offer of BBQ before home we were also treated to a beautiful sunset over the Redgate end of the paddock where the teams had set up camp. A promising day ahead awaited...
A clashing media commitment in Sheffield had forced me to miss race 1 late morning so when we arrived a short time after and asked have we missed anything I was soon informed quite alot had gone off and not much of it was `text book`. Two cars had a coming together at the chicane . That might sound quite normal for a motor race but`s very rare for the special saloon boys to make contact . Chris Southcott had lead lap 1 before Ian Hall used the extra power of the Darrian to get ahead on lap 2. Behind Wayne Crabtree and Paul Sibley were contesting 3rd and going into the chicane ,the 2 made contact. Sibleys left front wishbone was bent in the collision and his passenger door parted company . Crabtree was spun round and beached in a dangerous spot though his right rear was less damaged , just the wheel rim. No driver was harmed.
Lap 5 and 6 passed at race speed with local yellows at the chicane , Steven Moss had inherited 3rd and Tony Ellis in the RX7 4th. Then things got complicated. The Safety car was quite rightly deployed as the beached Escort was a little too close to the racing line for comfort and the snatch vehicle deployed to move it. Unfortunatly the safety car came out of the pit lane just as the `train` was passing ,emerging effectivly in 5th place with the first 4 cars having passed . Thomas Carey in the CRX was the first of those behind the safety car. The lead 4 soon caught up the back of the train as they all circulated round and when safe work on the Escort to retrieve it by the ever efficient Marshalls begun. Now the safety car wasnt able to release those immediatly behind to correct the out of sync field as its job was to control the pace of all cars during a retreval .
Then it got even more complicated and im reluctant to imply any unintential fault by any parties but the `lead` 4 were encouraged to pass by and take their place back at the head of the train to re-sync the field. This was done at a safe part of the track at reduced speeds and although it put the rest a lap down the sequence on track was restored.
Racing resumed on lap 9 for the last couple of laps . Hall lead home Southcott ,Moss and Ellis.
Of course the syncing had not gone unnoticed in race control and under MSA regulation Q appendix 2 - 1:6 `no overtaking under safety car conditions` the first 4 cars were disqualified from the result. Thus Thomas Carey in 5th inherited his first series race win with Craig Percy 2nd , Tim Cairns ( Midget ) 3rd winning class D and Graham Woskett (TR8 ) 4th.
Then things got worse for `the donington 4` as they were excluded from the whole meeting as a result of their breach of the rules and not permitted to start race 2 a little later in the afternoon. Additionlly each would be given 6 penalty points .That news sent a shockwave through the competitors and much was said i can tell you ! The feeling was the penalty didnt fit the crime .There is an appeal process and of the 4 only Chris Southcott made an appeal against the exclusion. Steven Moss was resigned ,admitting he had broken the rule book on reflection with the overtake. I must point out that the appeal process incured a fee of £360 per competitor and there was only a 30 minute window to lodge it.
After a meeting behind closed doors Southcott emerged having over turned his exclusion from the rest of the race meeting and a penalty points reduction to 4 and able to take his place in race 2.
So to race 2 and we had just 8 remaining cars having lost the 3 excluded and the cars of Cole , Burgoyne a rare DNS after his clutch exploded in race 1 and Woskett. Sibley and Crabtree had repaired their cars and took their places on the grid. The front row had an unfamiliar look to it with Craig Percy ( Morris Minor V8 ) on pole for the first time next to class D front runner Tim Cairns ( Midget ). Percy enjoyed his brief moment of glory leading the field round Redgate only to spin at the bottom of the Craner curves on cold tires. He would recover to finish 6th. At the front we had 2 pairs of cars having duels , Southcott and Crabtree followed by Carey and Sibley. The latter pair had a particulary close race troughout and those 4 finished in that order , Carey took 3rd by just half a second. David Beatty`s Aston , which sounded glorious on the over-run at Redgate had a lonely run to 5th but remained one of the stars of the show.
Southcott won by 4 seconds in the end and enjoyed something of a moral victory in the process having overcome his exclusion. This hadnt been a weekend to remember fondly so attention turns to the finale at Oulton Park on October 15th to end the season on a more positive note.