The CSCC Special Saloons + Modsports series
SILVERSTONE REPORT :
A week after Autosport's Marcus Pye raised concerns over declining grid numbers in UK club motorsport the CSCC enjoyed their record entry hitting 400 driver entries for their return to the Silverstone International to buck the worying trend. Pye had highlighted the CSCC as the exception in his article with the 'catch-all structure looks an inspired model'.
ENTRY AND QUALIFYING :
It was this weekend that the Special Saloon + Modsport boys kicked-off their 4-meet 2018 series now with Wendy Wools sponsorship ,the brand who were BARC's special saloon national championship sponsors from 1978 to 1988. Like last year there were 19 cars entered and like last we were blessed with hot weather again. Ian Hall in the mighty Darrian and the Morris Brothers in the Thundersaloon Peugeot 309 both improved on their qualifying times from 2017 . The latter car now with a very purposeful front splitter with winglets for extra downforce. However both were pipped at the front by Andy Southcott ,father of last year's winner Chris ,in the team's 2-litre car with a 1 minute 8.5 time some 1.3 seconds faster than Hall. These top 3 all from different classes.
There were 7 Ford Escorts ,a record for the series but Matt Moore in his new green RSR Escort mark 1 would be withdrawn due to its driver feeling unwell . Such a shame after coming all that way. His previous orange RSR having been sold to Piers Grange. Wayne Crabtree took 4th in the David Abraham's RSR Mark 1 in maybe its last race before the owners exciting new car breaks cover hopefully at Brands in July. Sadly this car wouldnt make race 1 either after its turbo blew in qualifying. This left a trio of wide arched Mark 2's which proved to be closely matched. The Minton brothers were back with their venerable blue and white version ,a genuine Wendy Wools car from the '80s. Making his series debut was Malcolm Harding in his white Castrol Zakspeed replica version ,both these cars running Tim Swadkin-built 2-litre BDGs and likely to be the fastest class D cars. The 3rd mark 3 was the group-2 arched red and black Zakspeed replica of Mark Freemantle ,formerly of Tony Paxman. This was in class C having a slightly larger engine.
Jeremy Bourgoyne and Tony Paxman completed the Escort set with their 2-litre mark 1s. Other than the 2 RSR turbo cars all the Escorts had dropped down a class due to being steel-bodied.
Rivals to the Peugeot in class were the return of Steven Moss in the unique Anglia Cosworth ,David Beatty in one his two ex-Gerry Marshall Aston Martin V8s and Craig Percy in the equally unique Morris Minor -Chevy V8 ! All 3 crowd pleasers. Moss took 8th ,Percy 9th and Beatty 15th after a cautious qualifying without a working rev counter.
Just 2 class B cars ( 2101cc to 6-litres ) but both monsters. The Ian Hall Darrian T98 ( series driver with most outright wins ) and returning to the series Andy Wilson. Having previously raced both a Starlet and Imp Andy has aquired the ex-Sanger / Harvey-Bailey Ford Falcon. Having modified it along the lines of the old Malcolm Stevens version he remembers from his youthful days at Croft it now pumps out about 660bhp and is sure to be a crowd favourite wherever it races. Wilson setting 5th fastest time.
Mixing it in class C with Freemantle and Southcott were Thomas Carey ( Honda CRX ) and series debutant Alan Breck in the ex-Kenny Coleman Jagermeister Ford Capri V8.
In class D along with the 4 Escorts were Neil Duke ( SHP Anglia-Swadkin ) and Tim Cairns ( Midget ).
Anthony Hayes was the only class E man in the Mini.
RACE ONE :
The race lead was a David v Goliath dice between pole man Southcott ( Midget ) and Hall ( Darrian ). The Midget lead for the first 4 laps before Hall nipped ahead going into the final turn at Club to hold a slender lead for the next laps 8. Southcott took Hall on the inside going into the first bend and just kept ahead to win by 2 seconds. Hall fighting his car on the outside of the last bend at one point and lurching across the track nearly into the pit wall in vain chase. This was Southcott seniors 2nd series win and like that astonishing win from the back at Croft last summer it was a consitantly smooth and fast performance in the nimble Vauxhall-powered machine.
Morris held 3rd throughout losing about 2 seconds a lap to the lead pair but 7 to 10 seconds ahead of the rumbling Falcon until just into lap 11 when Wilson lost the gearbox on the American beast and pulled off. These top 3 all class winners. Carey thus inherited 4th ,Moss 5th just from Dan Minton after a terrific dice 'tho the latter took class D ,Percy 8th the first of the lapped runners. Beatty pipped Freemantle for 8th ,Harding pipped Duke and Cairns for 10th as the pack enjoyed some close racing. Paxman ,the rumbling Capri of Breck ,Burgoyne and the Hayes Mini completed the 16 of 17 finishers.
Fastest lap was by Hall in 1 min 8.19 which lowered his own lap record from 2017 by about 2 and a half seconds.
RACE TWO :
Andy Southcott took the winners penalty of starting 10th for race 2 giving Hall a clear track to head the field ,the Darrian holding the lead for the first 10 laps before the rapid Midget caught and passed to record its second win of the day. This time the gap was 16 seconds at the end both cars having done sub 69-second laps but not quite breaking Hall's record lap from race 1. Again the Peugeot took a fairly comfortable 3rd to win class A from the Moss Anglia. Poor Thomas Carey coasted to a halt just before the bridge on the Hanger Straight on lap 1 and Harding was only the 3rd retirement of the day dropping out of 8th after 5 laps. Behind 5th place Percy was an almost deadheat with Freemantle snatching 6th from Steve Minton and Beatty in dramatic style from the last corner to the line. Cairns followed in 9th and Duke and Paxman diced to 10th . Breck brought the Capri home just ahead of Bugoyne for 12th and the Mini completed the finishers.
The field more spread out this time and it was a shame the Falcon ,Honda and the 2 RSR Escorts wernt able to add to the front runners for the second race but still a pleasure to watch.
So the class winners all won back-to-back races with the Morris brothers ,Hall ,Southcott ,the Mintons and Hayes getting the honours.
The camaraderie in the pit and paddock as mentioned previously is commendable. Such as the Minton team finding their Escort's starter motor wasnt working and a fellow special saloon competitor lent them one so they could get out for qualifying. Neil Duke lending tyres to another shows the spirit between the drivers to help out if possible to put on a great show.
Next round is at Brands Hatch July 14-15th ,World Cup Final weekend !