2014 Race Reports – Lackford Engineering Midget & Sprite Challenge

Round 1: Donington Park – 29 March 2014

Words and Pictures by : Phil (Scoop) Broster. mail : phil_scoop@hotmail.co.uk

Another long winter and before we know it we meet again for the first round of the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge. There are over twenty five potential entrants in the series this season and most had entered for this first weekend, although early season problems prevented one or two from turning up.

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Amongst those entered but not here were front runner Paul Sibley, Dean Stanton, Stephen Pegram and, intent on returning this year, one time Healey campaigner John Hughes. Not entered but coming out this season are series sponsor Robin Lackford, and son Nigel. New this season are Richard Wildman in Peter May’s old car and Darren Harman.

Qualifying went well for most with minor teething issues for some. Major issues befell Andrew Actman and James Dunkley, with terminal engine and gearbox problems respectively. Paul Campfield’s car was overheating and John Tewson, in his FIA frogeye had electrical issues.

What was unique for a club race here was the use of the full Grand Prix circuit, taking in the Melbourne Loop and the climb up to Goddards before rejoining on the Pit straight.

But for the race we had Weston on pole with Reeve and Morris all within a second of each other. Sam Healey had his best qualifying to date to post fourth ahead of Campfield in the first Class E car. New Champion Neat was next, ahead of a group of class B runners, Pratt, Watkins, Southcott and the unfortunate Actman. Pippa Cow followed from Wildman and Walker in his Class D entry. Harman, Dunkley, with problems, Chadwick, Homer and Tewson completed the field.

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There was the usual fettling in the intervening period before the race but everyone would be ready for the start, except for those mentioned. Drama as the grid formed, Walker pulled off track with a broken drive train after warming his tyres near the line. The lights flashed the start and into Redgate Weston took the lead with Morris on his tail, Reeve bogged down and was running behind Neat, Campfield and Pratt. As they ran on that first lap the leaders made it round but at the Melbourne loop there was chaos as Cow amongst others got into a kerfuffle…

Result…Red Flag, no major damage to anyone but with cars blocking the track probably the best decision. Only Cow didn’t make the restart, we were down to 13 starters, and as they set off again this time Reeve got a better start and was into second spot at the Loop behind Weston out front. Morris was third and in a splendid fourth place was Healey.

Campfield was next from Neat, Pratt, Watkins, Southcott, Harman, Chadwick and Homer. We lost Wildman in the early stages.

After two laps, Morris had passed Reeve to take second and was pushing Weston. Reeve was coming under pressure from Healey who was being pushed by Campfield. Behind there was a great battle forming between Neat, Pratt and Watkins, and they turned up at the hairpin swapping places for several laps. Eventually they pulled up to Campfield, who joined in the fun, and there was a memorable moment as he resisted, arriving locked up, scything across with the others in a cloud of tyre smoke gathering it all together.

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Meanwhile, Reeve was closing on Morris and with two laps to go arrived in second place which he held to the end. Neat eventually won the fifth place battle from Pratt just behind who was left to play with Campfield until the frogeye slowed with lack of fuel allowing Watkins to get ahead.

The race had only run for six laps because of the earlier issues and was really a super sprint. At the flag Weston was in the lead by four seconds from Reeve just ahead of Morris. Healey took a deserved fourth, and then came Neat ahead of Pratt, Watkins and Campfield. Southcott was just behind him with Harman, Chadwick and Homer completing the order.

It had been an exciting race, depleted numbers, and not many laps, but it had been all go from the start. Another race the next day, lets see what that brings.