Another season is upon us in the Midget and Sprite Challenge and it’s the busiest so far with twelve rounds on the schedule including four ‘double headers’. Incidentally the Challenge series is now in its fortieth year, and we have a driver (Ed Reeve) who has raced in every one, quite an achievement.
The series is once again generously sponsored by Lackford Engineering and the first round was at Donington Park.
I’m told that Paul Sibley’s car is in the process of a major rebuild and Martin Morris is due out at Brands, no news on others although im told Richard Perry injured some ribs in a household accident. I’m sure numbers will improve as the season progresses.
Robin Lackfords ongoing misfire has been cured during the winter after what turned out to be a camshaft issue and Peter May had made some improvements to the suspension of the car raced by Richard Wildman. I’m assured of no more wheel lifting antics in the photographs apparently!
But we did have Ed Reeve, James Dunkley, Stephen Pegram and Nick Day in Gil Duffy’s old car entered in Class A. Stephen Collier, Carl Chadwick and Richard Wildman were in Class B. Class D had Tom Walker, John Bridge, Jon Simpson and Martyn Clews and finally Richard Homer, Ian Burgin, Kim Dear, Robin Lackford and John Hilberry in the Healey Class E.
Qualifying got under way and straight off the cars of Dunkley and Reeve looked on the pace, The Class B cars were also impressive and Wildman was shaking down the Peter May car with its new suspension modifications. An early pit visitor was Stephen Pegram whose cars gearbox was seized and would not be sorted for the race, unfortunately an early return home for him.
But other than that it was a reasonably trouble free session with Dunkley coming out on pole with Reeve a second behind followed by Chadwick, Collier and Wildman. Lackford was next in the first Class E car ahead of Day, then came Walkers Class D Sprite in front of Bridge who was a whisper ahead of Dear and Burgin. Hilberry, Clews, Simpson and Homer completed the order.
A minimum of problems in the Paddock, mainly Clews sorting brakes and Homer with ‘car issues’. Chadwick had a little bit more to worry about having had an incident in an earlier race which saw some repairs necessary to the rear of his car but eventually everybody was ready to take to the grid and fifteen cars lined up for the start.
The lights went out and Dunkley and Reeve took off together entering Redgate side by side. Chadwick nipped into third alongside Collier with the rest filing through, Walker ran wide as the pack tightened through the corner.
Dunkley was running away up front but the battle for third between Wildman, Collier and Chadwick would run all race, they were close for most of it and would finish in that order, although Chadwick did get up behind Wildman for some of it challenging hard before dropping back behind Lackford after a quick spin. He would find it hard to get ahead of Lackford but eventually did so finishing behind Collier at the flag.
Reeve had upped his pace as the race progressed and finished a comfortable second ahead of Wildman with Collier not far behind and Chadwick ahead of Lackford to complete the top six.
Walker and Burgin finished less than a second apart with Day ahead of Dear with Bridge not too far behind. Hilberry was next ahead of the fighting Simpson and Clews with Homer completing the order.
Fifteen starters and no retirees, excellent and off to Brands for a double header next.