Silverstone on 4/5th June was the venue for the next round of the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge organised by the M.G.C.C. in the annual M.G. Live meeting. Our race was to take place on the Saturday with qualifying in the morning. There were 24 entries, a good number. Could this race match up to the last one at Brands?
As is usual at this meeting our race was to be incorporated with an MGB race which included a joint grid, not the best of situations according to some.
Seven entries in Class A with Martin Morris appearing for the first time, Graeme Adams, James Dunkley, Ed Reeve, Stephen Pegram, David Weston and someone we haven’t seen for a while, Sam Healey. Class B had Andy Southcott, Carl Chadwick, Richard Wildman, Stephen Collier, Peter Kennerley returning in an ex Peter May car, and Darren Harman in the ex yellow Southcott Midget.
Class D had just four entries with Jon Simpson, Dean Stanton, Martyn Clews and John Tewson and finally Class E entries Richard Perry, Pippa Cow, Ian Burgin, Richard Homer, John Collinson, Kim Dear and new this year David Morrison.
So, 24 cars took to the track for qualifying, it was cool and cloudy but dry and it wasn’t long before they were mixing it with the ‘B’s’. Adams looked fast and Morris was shaking down his red car looking quick through Copse. Dunkley had a scare with a sudden tyre deflation sending him gently into the barrier knocking off his front spoiler but fortunately no serious damage. Weston only completed 3 laps before his gearbox packed up.
At the end we had Adams on pole with Morris just half a second behind. Healey showed his absence hasn’t slowed him by finishing third fastest. Dunkley had Reeve just behind him with Southcott the fastest Class B car in amongst the A cars and ahead of Pegram and Weston. Wildman was just ahead of Chadwick, Morrison Kennerley and Dear. Cow, Collier, Perry were two hundreths of a second apart with Burgin, Stanton, Collinson, Clews, Tewson, Homer, Harman and Simpson completing the line up.
As well as the issues with Dunkley and Weston we had Reeve with an oil leak from the rocker cover and Perry changing his diff having started with the wrong ratio. More worrying was a brake calliper leak on Wildmans car and with no available spare parts it was wisely decided to pull the entry. Weston’s plan was to change his gearbox by getting a replacement 1500 box from base, and Sarah was sent back to Leicester to collect it. With help from willing hands the engine was out, box replaced and everything back together in the four hours interval to the race start, a heroic effort and one that deserves special mention.
Other than that, with the usual fettling we had 23 starters roll up to the grid, that was just our cars because we had a similar number of MGB’s mixed in. A massive 50 car line up. The logistics of starting this number was an issue and the start was aborted, off they went for another green flag lap with Reeve unfortunately not getting away with a broken diff and having to be wheeled off the grid. The second attempted start had an MGB stall but fortunately everyone got away without hitting it and the race was on.
On that first lap Cow ran into the gravel trap, she was able to resume some distance back, and as the leaders came through to complete that lap it was Dunkley from Adams with Morris and Healey right behind. Weston was next with Morrison having had a great start and Pegram and Southcott right with him and Perry not far behind.
Mixing it amongst the ‘B’s were Chadwick, Dear, Collier and Burgin. Kennerley, Stanton, Clews, Collinson, Simpson, Cow, Harman, Tewson and Homer completed the order.
Adams had taken Dunkley to end lap 2 in the lead and Healey and Weston were third and fourth. Then on lap 3 came a full course yellow followed by the pace car. There had been a collision out in the country. To find what had happened depended on who I spoke to and I’m certainly not going to apportion blame unless I witness the incident. However, what was certain was that we had 2 cars badly damaged, that of Pegram and Morrison who had been T boned and pushed sideways towards the barrier, Morrison did tell me he thought he was going onto his roof and could only get out of the car through the passenger door which fortunately wasn’t up against the barrier. Kennerley came around with a damaged front wing and went into the pits to retire, he had been involved in that accident.
But whatever, it was a nasty incident which took some clearing up and meant we had the pace car out for almost the rest of the race.
In fact the pack toured around and crossed the line after the full distance had elapsed but talking to the officials later they told me they decided to allow one last lap under race conditions ‘to give the field a chance to sort out a result’. And sort a result they did. We had lost Morris with a blown head gasket and Dunkley had a recurrence of that tyre issue during the pace car period, Stanton too had disappeared but onto that lap Adams, Healey and Weston took off together.
Then as they came into the Luffield complex Healey had taken the lead and swept to the flag just half a second in the lead. He was overjoyed, his maiden win, and the first for a Healey family member for some time. Adams was second from Weston whose gearbox change had paid off, Southcott was an excellent fourth from Perry, Chadwick and Dear. Collier and Burgin finished close together with Cow recovering from her first lap misdemeanour. Clews, Collinson, Simpson, Harman, Tewson and Homer completed the running.
After the excitement of Brands this had been a bit of a non event, an opinion shared by many although everyone was pleased that the incident hadn’t caused any injuries.