GEARING AND COWLEY BENEFIT
The Pither Rothery Special (PRS) 1b is possibly the quickest car in the everfascinating 750 Formula arena but since co-creator Ed Pither’s double victory in Britain’s oldest club racing championship’s openers at Donington back in March, reliability has been its Achilles heel.
Following a dramatic halfshaft failure at Brands Hatch last month, defending champion David Bartholomew was uncatchable in both Silverstone rounds last Saturday before a broken battery mount gifted victories to Robin Gearing and Bill Cowley in diverse chassis.
Despite a poor start in the opening leg, Gearing (Darvi P88) won by a country mile from Cowley in his eponymous MKIV. Cowley reversed the order second time out, helped by his rival losing downforce when he damaged his car’s nose. Spurred on by a supporters’ club at the venue, four-time champion Peter Bove (Darvi Mk4/5) was a combative third both times – the Hertfordshire man rising from sixth on the grid in race one, before engaging Gearing in heady combat later – thus closing to within a point of third-placed Chris Gough (CGR2 Evo) in the table.
Gough, the perennially competitive Bob Simpson (SS/F), the on-form Rod Hill (Mystic T4) and Bove squabbled over fourth on the road for much of the opening salvo, but a last lap clash at Luffield between Gough’s clover pink ‘flying saucer’ and Simpson left the latter stranded backwards in the outer margins. Andrew Lake (ex-dick Harvey Darvi 91D) was the man to beat in Class B but Stuart Cleevely in the venerable Ingham gave him a fright, forging ahead before the track improved in race two.
Bouncing back from an engine blow-up at Donington’s seasonopener, Marcus Ward (Ford Fiesta XR2I) won his maiden Classic Stock Hatch race and was romping away with its sequel when the red car expired without warning. Triple champ Lee Scott benefited, the first leg chaser moving clear of Martin Cayzer in the second. Matthew Stubington (Peugeot 205 GTI) and Martyn Fowdrey (XR2) grabbed thirds, the latter having dived through a bomb burst at Becketts for a great result. Derek Rozier twice finished ahead of son Matt, the defending champ finding his success-ballasted 205 GTI just a little too heavy under acceleration.
Star of the reinvigorated Hot Hatch show was Alice Hughes, who drove one of the Tom Bell Racing Ford Fiesta STS beautifully to catch and overhaul top qualifier Matthew Howarth (Vauxhall Astra GSI) and finish on the bootlid of the more experienced Alistair Camp first time out. “Alice was quick. I couldn’t get her out of my mirrors,” said Camp.
Alas a broken gearbox mount precluded Hughes from starting the later race in which Camp broke, leaving top qualifier Howarth – who revelled in a sharp shower mid-race – to beat Bell in one of his less powerful Class B hire cars. Alice’s consolation was that her lap record survived as Kelly Williams improved to fourth in race two.
Nick Thornton-jones blitzed the Citroen Saxo-rich Stock Hatch split in the opener, making his escape as teenaged rival Ryan Polley (grandson of short oval legend George Polley) locked horns with Adam Read’s ‘Hot’ BMW Compact.
Thornton-jones’ Blast Power car ploughed into the gravel at Becketts later, whereupon Paul Jarvis seized the initiative and held off Polley.
The BMW M3 of Rory Hinde/ Owen Fitzgerald controlled the Roadsports enduro, although Tim Gray – starting his Nankang-shod Tegiwa Cup-spec version – kept Hinde in sight until the multiple club champion was tipped into a spin at Brooklands by early leader Eugene O’brien, guesting in Simon Phillips’ bewinged Toyota MR2 Roadster. Jamie Sturges (SEAT Supercopa) outran circuit neighbour Anthony Jones (MR2 Roadster) for second, with Oulton Park winner Alec Livesley’s Jensen-healey in his wake.
After 15 years of Formula Vee competition, Steve Ough drove his pristine 9 Sport Crossle-zetec 9S retro-racer faultlessly for a memorable lights-to-flag first victory in the Classic Interseries race, which also embroiled Sports Racing & GT and Bernie Chodosh’s V8s. Tim Davis (TVR Tuscan) hounded down the Sunbeam Tiger of Chris Beighton/jon Finnemore, snatching second when a sticking throttle spooked the latter.
Mechanical failures put 750 Trophy front row starters Christian Pedersen (Austin Monoposto) and John Slatter (Centaur) out before Copse, thus a surprised Helen Gilfillan (Centaur) led on her first outing since 2014. Despite his Austin 7 Monoposto being stuck in top gear from soon after the start, Bernard Atkinson jostled the low aluminium-bodied machine back past Lyndon Thruston (DNC) and Gilfillan to win.
After runaway leader Slatter’s engine blew a core plug out, Atkinson doubled-up from the pitlane in the programme-closer. He was unable to drop his rivals however, Gilfillan sneaking back round Andy Schultz to grab second by 0.01s on the line.
Duncan Williams’ polesitting Juno had harassed Graham Cole’s Jade Trackstar from the start of the first OSS race and, when the latter’s car cut out at Brooklands on the sixth lap, Williams went clear to take the win.
Mike Jenvey’s Jenvey Gunn had briefly pushed for second place too until he overheated on lap nine. That promoted Josh Smith’s Radical PR6. Cole recovered third place on the last lap, aided when Paul Spencer spun his Radical SR8 at Brooklands.
Cole got his reward in race two. He surged ahead of Williams into Copse on lap three. With his rival making a quick pitstop, Smith and Spencer moved into podium positions after Jenvey had retired again from an early third. But Williams surged back to retake second on the last lap, with Spencer spinning again at Brooklands as he challenged Smith too.
Cole built a good early lead in the third race but Smith kept him in sight and, when Cole tangled with a backmarker at Becketts with a lap to go, Smith had the lead as his rival stopped with a broken gear linkage.
Jordan Sanders had taken over Williams’ Juno and started from the back, but his rapid progress needed one more lap, as he sealed second a lap from home and took the flag 0.642s away from victory. Graham Hill’s Radical PR6 completed the podium.
Before Andy Robinson visited Silverstone, he hadn’t had a win in the Alfa Romeos and now he has two. Barry Mcmahon’s 156 headed Robinson’s similar car in a first-lap break and they continued to run in close combat. Robinson got ahead on lap 13, and a couple of laps later Mcmahon’s car cut out. That handed a distant second to Ron Davidson’s 164 after Ray Foley’s 146 GTA lost power and retired too. Tom Hill’s 156 was third after a race-long duel with James Browning.
Robinson was a lights-to-flag winner in race two, but had Mcmahon inches behind until fuel surge ended his race prematurely again. Davidson was second again, while Hill and Browning continued their fight until Browning suffered late engine woes and lost out to Andy Hancock.
Both Honda Vtec races had threeway battles for the spoils. Mark Bennett’s S2000 led from the start but Paul Waddington’s Civic edged him out on lap two. Adam Jones’ Civic had made a trio and split his rivals a lap later. As they caught backmarkers into Brooklands, Jones surged into the lead and managed to retain his tenuous advantage over the remaining eight laps to take his maiden victory over Waddington and Bennett.
The second race was similar but Waddington had the early lead before Jones took charge from lap two. It remained close throughout and on the final lap Waddington grabbed the win into Luffield, leaving Jones to fend off Bennett for second. Martyn Clatworthy and Alan Palmer shared the concurrent 4two Cup victories.
Zachary Anderton snatched late wins in both Formula Jedi races. Paul Butcher led most of race one until Anderton caught him napping at Brooklands on the last lap while Dan Clowes looked on. But it was Clowes to the fore in race two until Anderton shot ahead through Copse on lap 16 of 22, while Butcher completed the podium.
Dean Cook’s Sagaris was a double TVR Challenge winner too, but had to chase Nick Cresswell’s guesting Caterham initially in both races, taking his second win on the last lap.
Cowley and Gearing fought in two fascinating 750F races