Donington Park, 5th April 2009
Round 1 HSCC- Millers Oils, Historic Formula Junior Championship for rear engine Classes C, D and E.
Warm spring sunshine bathed the season’s opening race and thanks to civil works involving Donington’s alterations in order to hold the British GP the paddock was temporarily larger than previously. Unfortunately elsewhere the civil works creating a tunnel under the track near Coppice had encroached on some runoffs and this caused a short section of the circuit to become an MSA mandatory “yellow flag” zone and so no overtaking was permitted here.
Historic Formula Junior seems set to defy the economic climate in 2009 if the entry lists for the first races are any indicator. Twenty five class C, D & E cars qualified here at Donington whilst the A & B cars competed at Mallory Park, such is the ongoing support of FJ and gaining yet more new drivers this year.
Jon Milicevic, defending FJ Champion, has swapped his allegiance to Cooper for 2009 and in his ex Stuart Rolt T59 he took 2nd grid place just 0.162 secs behind Sam Wilson’s pole setting 1:20.215 driving Roger Daniell’s similar car again this year.
Caruthers and John Fyda made the long haul down from Scotland, reporting that the glaciers were at last receding and John put the Lotus 22 into 3rd spot.
James Claridge placed Geoff Richardson’s ex Pico Troberg Lola 5A ahead of experienced racer Stuart Tilly new to FJ in Paul Smeeth’s pale green Lotus 22.
6th place was secured by late entry Andrew Hibberd, Lotus 22, with Simon Armer, Cooper T59, close behind despite lack of sleep in the household due to new baby daughter Emily ~~ we send her and mum Cathryn all our best wishes. Friend and rival Cooperiste Steve Smith was next in his T59 just ahead of Michael Hibberd’s best time set on lap 6 but unfortunately David Crowther spun his Lotus 22 off at the bottom of Craner Curves and Michael was unable to avoid the resultant collision leaving both of the cars subsequently unfit to race.
HSCC had 9 races on the card and FJ was the second of these starting at 2pm.
It seemed to your scribe that the grid shuffled up in places, which may have been due to the absence of Hibberd’s Lotus and also the Cooper T56 of Chaz Jones, who although completing 10 qualifying laps did not race the car.
Despite a couple of cars appearing to be quite close together as the grid stilled waiting for the red lights to extinguish the start was clean and everyone was safely away. Unfortunately for Wilson he stoked on too many revs and amid a huge cloud of tyre smoke he was out dragged by Milicevic and Fyda although he retook Fyda almost immediately only to loose the place again on lap 2 but was back ahead of the Scotsman on lap 3. Milicevic took advantage of this bickering and drew out a decent lead over Wilson and Fyda behind him in that order. Wilson did not give Milicevic any peace though and harried him continuously during which time he set the best lap at a stunning 1:19.701, which may be the record time for a Formula Junior car. However even this was not enough and although the yellow zone played occasionally to Wilson’s favour when back markers were met with, Milicevic finished 2.6 secs ahead of Wilson with Fyda taking 3rd place nearly 7 secs behind winner Milicevic.
Whilst these three steamed away into the distance Andrew Hibberd made it past Tilley and Claridge into 4th place which he then maintained. Armer and Smith had been battling closely until Armer’s coil failed on lap 5 and he pulled off, sadly. Claridge had a spin on lap 7 and despite some spirited driving to regain his position he couldn’t get past Smith and they finished 6 & 7th respectively, behind Tilley who was well away in 5th. Unfortunately John Boyes retired his Lotus 22 on lap 7 after a good midfield start. Restoration legend Sid Hoole had at last managed to bring his Brabham BT6 to the track after its many years of hibernation and he finished 8th. John Hutchison was well off the pace during qualifying but having started last on the grid he disposed of Rudolph Ernst, Lotus 22 and Alex Morton, T3Ausper and John Dowson’s Elva 200 only to loose out to Ernst and Morton as the race progressed. Meanwhile Pete Morton again impressed with a good drive in the Lightning Envoyette and despite midnight oil being burned fixing a clutch concern he finished 9th ahead of new to FJ John Rees in his ex Michael Waller Lotus 22. The last of the unlapped finishers was Peter Anstiss, Lotus 22 who finished 11th still dreaming no doubt about his race win on the New Zealand leg of the FJ 50th anniversary world tour which has recently concluded with the three South African races in January.
David Hall, Mk2 BMC and Peter Mullen, Kieft had been close in qualifying but Mullen prevailed in the race whilst new to FJ Lance Whitehead’s 18th grid place in his previously Paul Davis owned Lotus 20 gradually dropped to the back overtaken by Andrew Robertson, Crossle 4F on his way to finish 14th despite a suspect battery discovered only shortly before race start.
Unluckiest but also luckiest man was Steve Futter whose Lotus 22 died without warning in the exit of the chicane, out of fuel on lap 10. He was so very nearly collected by an extremely fast approaching Claridge who made a phenomenal avoidance onto the outside grass with great skill and then continued unabated.
After this very exciting race Col Bob Birrell addressed our assembly and announced the worthy winners who received their trophies from your scribe.
Col Bob welcomed the drivers new to FJ and also reminded us that although there might be some advantage in having races for classes C, D & E separate from classes A & B the fact of the matter is that the Beer, so kindly provided by Crispian Besley, goes where A & B goes ~~ as does Derek Walker’s equally welcome homemade Flapjack ! However when Crispian’s Cooper T56 has been made race ready by Dave Abbott then maybe things will be different.
1st overall and 1st in Class E ~~ Jon Milicevic, Cooper T59 1:20.095
2nd overall and 2nd in Class E ~~ Sam Wilson, Cooper T59
3rd overall and 3rd in Class E ~~ John Fyda, Lotus 22
1st in Class C ~~ Peter Mullen, Kieft 1:27.585
2nd in Class C ~~ Andrew Robertson, Crossle 4F
3rd in Class C ~~ John Hutchison, Lotus 18
1st in Class D ~~ David Hall, BMC-Huffaker Mk2 1:27.906
2nd in Class D ~~ Alex Morton, Ausper T3
3rd in Class D ~~ Lance Whitehead, Lotus 20
Inaugural winner of the “One Litre” plaque ~~ John Hutchison, Lotus 18
Peter Jackson, the “Cooper Cockpit Correspondent”. 6th April 2009