The CSCC Special Saloons + Modsports series
The Mallory 2018 season finale may well have been the series' finest hour yet with extraordinary variety of cars putting on a great show having overcome the adverse weather of saturday. Add in a world circuit debut of a near-mythical, long lost Supersaloon from 40 years ago to wow the crowd it all made for a very memorable weekend indeed.
QUALIFYING AND ENTRY :
The big news was the entry of Ric Wood in the lost Super Saloon 'Mega Bertha' for its world circuit debut 40 years after its conception as the repleacemant for the famous Baby Bertha ( also on the entry ). The project had been shelved by DTV after being photographed only in mock-up form. The body had languished for 4 decades with various owners until Wood bought the project last year and using his expertise built a fantastic race car complete with 8.4 Chevy Can-Am engine and period parts. The body is best described as that of a Vauxhall Cavalier Coupe ( Opel Manta ) but alot wider and lower than any distant relation to a road going cousin.
In complete contrast another car making its CSCC debut was the 1980s Ben Bowlby-built little Suzuki SC100 with Kawasaki bike-power. Bought off Ebay at the start of the year it was having only its second race in the hands of Paul Turner. Also making their series debuts were the Sierra RS500 of local man Paul Mensley ,son of Thundrsaloon builder Jim Mensley. Mensley senior saying it was his son's own new build but this was a shakedown as it was so new .Sadly the team had a few new-car problems and struggled all weekend. Next year... Fourth debutant was David Morrison in his rapid white MG Midget ,a front runner in the 'Lackford Engineering Midget + Sprite Challenge'.
In all 22 cars set times in what was the most unpredictable qualifying session of the season.
The Mallory skies were grey and steady rain were still making track conditions tricky.
The 'big bangers' were all taking qualifying very carefully and aware of the quicker cars on track kept to the outside line to prevent their 'rooster tail' spray from effecting visiblity . Craig Percy ( Moggy V8 ) was 10th ,lap record holder Ian Hall ( Darrian ) set 14th ,Ric Wood ( Mega Bertha ) 16th ,Piers Ward in dad Joe's Baby Bertha 17th and David Beatty ( Aston Martin ) 19th. Wood did 5 laps and had to come in with his windows completely steamed up. When asked how his first ever laps in Mega with 600 bhp in the wet were like he replied 'Terrifying' ! Wood ,Hall ,Ward ,Steven Moss ( Anglia ) and the Peugeot of the Morris brothers ( with no wets ) all decided independently to forsake that afternoon's race due to the high risk of damaging their cars ,mindfull too that a good crowd was expected the next day with sunshine forcast.
By contrast some of the cars were loving splashing through the water. Tony Paxman in the Escort mark1 had the best set up and set pole with a 60.3 second best time. All 4 Midgets entered qualified in the top 8 with debutant David Morrison 2nd overall ,Andy Southcott 3rd ,Tim Cairns 5th and the Staines+Griffiths car 8th. The light cars noticably quicker going into and round the first corner than the big cars.
RACE ONE : Escort trio Paxman ( blue mark 1 ) ,Dan Minton ( mark 2 ) and eventual race winner Wayne Crabtree ( behind ) mix it with the Modsport boys...David Morrison ( 45 ) ,the Ian Wilson TVR and the rest head into the first corner.
RACE ONE :
By saturday mid-afternoon the rain had thankfully stopped and looked alot safer for Race 1. With the 5 'big' cars sitting this one out 17 cars started and the first lap showed the track still had some slippery parts. Pole man Tony Paxman led the pack rounds Gerrards and onto the back straight only for the back end to step out and spin the Escort gracefully off onto the grass on the right . Tony rejoining dead last and began a race long fightback up the field.
Class rival David Morrison thus led on his first ever CSCC SS+M lap with the white Midget. On lap 2 Wayne Crabtree blasted passed into the lead along the back straight in the RSR turbo Escort and would hold the lead to the end in a controlled drive. Behind Morrison lead Southcott ,Minton and Wilson as the field quite quickly spread out with some taking it steady. The Sierra was an early casualty and the Suzuki came in after a few slow laps.
There were 2 cars on climbs to entertain the brave crowd on such a damp day. The TVR of Ian Wilson became a suprise challenger given its a converted road car chasing a turbo-charged race Escort. The white wedge held 5th some 5.5 seconds down in the train but as the race wore on moved up to second as Morrison,Southcott and Minton fell away. By the end Wilson was only 1.4 down at the flag and delighted by his highest ever placing in a race.
Paxman with good rain tires on his blue Escort mark 1 made a tremendous recovery from his off and picked off a car each lap until catching and passing class rival Dan Minton for 5th overall having overturned a 19-second deficit on the mark 2 version. Class winners were Crabtree ,Wilson ,Carey in 7th and Morrison.
RACE TWO :
By Sunday midday for Race 2 Mallory Park was a different place with welcome sunshine to greet the fans. This would be a fascinating race with race winner Crabtree starting 11th due to the 'winners penalty' plus Ian Hall ,Steven Moss ,Piers Ward and Ric Wood all starting from the back on a dry track. The Peugeot non-starting with a hub issue.
Ian Wilson was on pole having finished 2nd in Race 1 ,alongside Chris Southcott. There were early casualties though. Crabtree had a slight coming together and glanced a barrier causing him to pull off with slight damage to the bodywork. The Harper Triumph and again the Sierra had problems and both pulled off into the 'bus stop' up from the Hairpin.
Southcott established an early lead as Wilson soon slipped to 7th on his grooved tires. The very busy mid-pack was spectacular through the hairpin as ever but poor Neil Duke got tagged and turned round becoming a stalled and unintentional extension to the hairpin. Waved yellows became a full course safety car to allow the good Marshalls on track to do there work to get Duke and the Anglia to safety.
Paul Sibley had his Elan working well again and charged from 12th to 2nd by the 3rd lap in persuit of Southcott. Biggest climber was the mighty Darrian of Ian Hall which went from 18th through the pack and eventually took Sibley for 2nd by the finish. Hall relinquishing his fastest lap record to Southcott as the Midget driver put in a superb drive to win ,setting a new best time of 46.315 , 3/10ths under Hall's best from the 2015 race. Entering the hairpin quicker than anyone else and taking the outside line and camber to slingshot out. Sibley took his class from next man Thomas Carey ,Dan Minton claimed class D and Steven Moss from 20th won class A in 6th.
What of the 'big bangers'? Well they were all stacked up towards the back behind the frantic mid-field. Percy 11th ,David Beatty in the lovely Aston 12th ,Ward in Baby Bertha 13th and Ric Wood 14th. Beatty actually having a great 'David v Goliath' dice with the tiny Suzuki that despite being 3 laps down had found its pace. A meaningless dice yes but somehow showed exactly what the series is about ,great variety and races within races.
The 2 ex-DTV Bertha cars however stole the show without trying. Ward led Wood around in convoy and made both a great sight and sound. Mega Bertha in particular under accelaration from the hairpin surely the best sounding car the series has ever had. Both drivers staying out on track for photos during the break and full of smiles. Yours truely privileged to sit in the extraordinary cockpit.
With Neil Duke stranded in the Anglia race winner Andy Southcott ( Midget ) closes up on Ric Wood in Mega Bertha around the hairpin.
RACE THREE :
So by 5 o'clock we came to the series' last race of the year and many fans had stayed on during the pleasant afternoon to watch the spectacle. As it worked out it was a bit of a disappointment after what had gone before.
Ian Hall inherited pole having finished 2nd in race 2 with Southcott starting 11th. 19 cars took the start ,the Peugeot of Ricky Parker-Morris back but now with Mega Bertha ( not risked after running so hot in the last race ) ,the Sierra and Tim Cairns ( Midget ) all missing.
Hall blasted off to gain as much ground as he could knowing Andy Southcott would be chasing him down ,as at Thruxton. Paul Sibley held on to 2nd until almost inevitiably Southcott caught up to go 2nd by lap 5.
Then 2 of the Midgets had a coming together coming into the hairpin and Rob Griffiths in the blue version hit the hard wall on the inside damaging the car. Yellow flags were soon turned to a saftey car to get the stricken car removed. The safety car came out and not ideally split the field into 2 with the first 7 getting away.
up front Hall ,Southcott ,Sibley ,Carey ,Moss ,Minton and Morris all held station as Hall dictated the pace letting the safety car and the reamining 11 cars technically behind them circulate in their own train.
Lap after lap the 2 gaggles circulated .With a recovery truck on sight the expected green flag never happened as the Chequrer was dropped early and Hall declared the winner ,his first all season.
So ended overall a great weekend for the series with a great grid , exciting cars and 2 of the 3 races being fascinating to watch.