NISSAN DUO ON TOP AT SUNNY CARFAX
Organisers: Oxford Motor Club When: August 6 Where: Throckmorton Airfield, Worcestershire Championships: Hamilton Classic ACSMC, Subaru WRC Spares ASWMC, CMSG, HRCR ‘Old Stager’, Oxford MC Clubmans. Stages: 10 Starters: 75
A last-stage do or die effort gave Nissan Sunny F2 pairing Carl O’grady and Ellie Williams victory over Tom Barber/anthony Jones in their BMW Compact.
Their five-second winning margin came after a tremendous day-long scrap where the lead went back and forth several times and the result was in doubt until the final test finished.
Oxford Motor Club’s third visit to the former RAF base proved extremely popular with competitors, with the HRCR ‘Old Stager’ series boosting the entry further.
Running first on the road, O’grady reported hitting patches of gravel and he was struggling to find a racing line. But with a cleaner surface for stage two, he overhauled early leaders, Peter Self/ Mike Gray (Subaru Impreza). Barber challenged for the lead immediately: the BMW driver gained a last-minute entry from the reserve list and, despite finishing preparing his car late on Friday night, he took full advantage by taking top spot on stage three. Mark Gamble/steve Link were also straight on the pace. In their fifth outing in their Suzuki Swift, the former BTRDA 1400 frontrunners used the car’s nimble handling to full effect. They stormed into third, holding off challenges from Trevor Keeble/ian Jones, John Oldrieve/nigel Hewett and Barry/ Maria Warman (all Ford Escorts).
Barber held the lead until stage seven when he surrendered it to O’grady after dropping time on a pothole which bent two wishbones. He was not the only one in trouble; Keeble had a time-consuming spin and stall which dropped him out of the top 10, while Oldrieve clung determinedly to fourth despite brake problems.
Darrian T9 driver Ian Sutton fared better; increasing confidence in new co-driver Karen Phelps and a new, reliable gearbox allowed him to push hard and move up to fifth place, which he held to the end.
Tyre wear became a problem in the later stages, as the sunny conditions kept track temperatures high. Among the leading crews, both O’grady and Oldrieve fitted fresh rubber to help maintain grip levels.
But four-wheel-drive machines suffered badly: in particular, Self reported changing his Impreza’s tyres every two stages.
With overall victory at stake, O’grady and Barber started the final stage tied on times. The Nissan driver threw caution to the wind, stopping the clocks five seconds faster than his opponent. At the final control, O’grady said: “I couldn’t have driven any faster.”
Behind Barber, Gamble maintained his strong pace to stay ahead of Oldrieve. Sutton held fifth, while sixthplaced Glynn Cartwright/adam Wilks (Escort) survived a scare when their oil and water temperature warning lights came on. They headed a gaggle of Escorts; father-and-daughter Barry and Maria Warman took seventh, while Nigel Killerby/colin Watson used “every old tyre in the van” for eighth.
Keeble finished ninth despite a minor mid-stage collision with Douglas Utting/adrian Palmer (VW Polo GTI).