Britcar At Pembrey, 8 / 9 May 2004
Wyatt Cleans Up the West
Sharing Colin Simpson’s
Marcos Mantis, Jeff Wyatt, who turned 40 on the eve of the meeting,
won both two-hour Britcar races at the weekend, and thus the aggregate
overall honours, at the double-header at the splendid Welsh circuit.
With the professionals
like Rouse, Lockie (at Monza) and Leslie electing not to make the
journey, this was a chance for the gentlemen drivers to shine, and
with some significant new cars entered, it was to be an interesting
well as the above-mentioned Simpson Marcos, Jon Harrison and Andy
Ray turned up with their example (right), purchased during the previous
week. The blue machine had been in the hands of a private collector
for several years, and still bore the “PowerTour" number
driving the Topcats Mantis last month, I decided this was what I
wanted,” explained Harrison. “We’ve sidelined
the Audi A4 (blown two engines in testing), and we’ll be using
this weekend as a shakedown, to give Andy some time in the car.”
was also sharing the similar Topcats car with ex-Porsche racer Rupert
Bullock (above, with the Wyatt / Simpson car, #22), and his time
in his own vehicle, also assisted by the Topcats team, would depend
on how the two races panned-out.
too, for this weekend, was Philip Harris’ shocking-pink Porsche
996, to be shared with Britcar regular Dave Kempton. The Swedish-built
machine is planned to compete the series with Nigel Greensall behind
the wheel, where possible.
The works MG team continued
the trend of placing a personality driver with rising star Fiona
Leggate in the Judd-engined ZR, and this time it was F1 television
pundit Tony Jardine, who obviously preferred pedalling in Pembrey
to beating his gums in Barcelona, and displayed not a hint of regret
as he watched the GP under the MG awning at lunchtime on Sunday.
There was to be just
one qualifying session, race two grid being set by the results of
race one. Rupert Bullock placed the Topcats Marcos on pole, a second-and-a-half
in front of the Simpson / Wyatt car, with the Andy Grant and Del
Delaronde DTM BMW M3 third. The Harris / Kempton Porsche was next,
followed by the impressive Geoff Steel Racing M3 of Peter Knee and
Michael Symons, then Sean and Michael McInerney’s Mardi Gras
Honda Intregra R, and the Leggate / Jardine MG.
Poorly placed, after
a problematical session, were the Foudroyant Porsche of Linus Ridge
and Paul Dishman (Piers Masarati was at Monza), and Andy Allen’s
M3, starting 11th and 12th respectively, just in front of the acclimatising
Andy Ray in the Mantis.
It was overcast and windy
as the pace car released the field for the first of the two-hour
races, and Bullock flew into the lead, but locking-up and spinning
at Hatchetts hairpin, leaving Delaronde’s BMW to take the
lead in the ensuing melee. The silver Marcos rejoined in 13th place,
with some work to do.
lead was fragile, though, and Colin Simpson was soon right with
him, the pair trading first position for several laps before the
number 22 Mantis passed the M3, to maintain a slender advantage.
(on the grid, above) had managed to haul his Integra into third,
but was now under attack from the recovering faster cars, as Andy
Allen, Rupert Bullock, then Harris in the pink Porsche, all powered
past him. The Porsche however, was beginning to smoke, receiving
a black and orange flag. This was the start of an oil problem, which
would see them finish 41 laps down, after constructing and fitting
a makeshift catch tank in the engine bay, and a spin or two to compound
their woes. They would not make the grid for Sunday’s race.
Ray was making steady
progress as he got used to the Marcos, making the first of several
pit stops on lap 22, just before Bullock once more lost it at the
Hatchetts hairpin, as he tried to take Allen’s BMW for third
Porsche marque must have been jinxed this weekend, for Paul Dishman
brought the Foudroyant 996 in for a lengthy stop, and, after a few
further exploratory laps, the car was retired. “We’ve
had everything go wrong this weekend,” explained Linus Ridge,
“The guys drove 800 miles Friday night to get new brake components,
we had problems in qualifying, and now the engine is finished. I’m
frightened to pick my nose now, in case it falls off! “
Meanwhile, the Class
3 lead battle that had been raging between Terry Flatt’s Beetle,
and Fiona Leggate in the works MG, came to an end, when Fiona pitted
with gearbox problems. The car was pushed back into the paddock,
with Mr Jardine maybe now having second thoughts.
Bullock had by now passed
Delaronde for second placed, and as the hour ticked over, the driver
changes started in earnest. Sean McInerney was the last significant
runner to pit, finally handing over to father Michael with just
over 45 minutes to go.
The race re-settled with
Wyatt maintaining the lead in Simpson’s Marcos, with Jon Harrison
in the similar Topcats car second, ahead of absolute beginner Paul
Goodey, who was having his first-ever race in Andy Allen’s
BMW. Despite a spin at Honda Curve, he was able to respond to pressure
from Andy Grant in the ex-Cecotto M3, to maintain third place to
The circuit was taking
its toll on tyres on the smaller cars, the positions being upset
as most of the class-leading cars pitted for new rubber during the
final 15 minutes.
A jubilant Wyatt took
the flag, completing 110 laps, and 21.763 seconds ahead of the following
Harrison. “I just paced myself to maintain the lead that Colin
had built,” said the Milton Keynes stationer.
Harrison was equally
satisfied: “I’m just happy to finish a race for once,
and now I can’t imagine driving anything else than a Marcos.”
– Race 1
1 1 22 Simpson / Wyatt Marcos Mantis 110 laps
2 1 12 Harrison / Bullock Marcos Mantis 110
3 2 40 Allen / Goodey BMW M3 E46 106
4 1 27 Grant / Delaronde BMW M3 DTM 106
5 3 62 McInerney / McInerney Honda Integra R 105
6 3 68 Frick / Flatt VW Beetle 104
7 4 89 Armstrong / Barnes Honda Civic R 103
8 3 86 Reynolds / Field Honda Integra R 103
9 4 91 Hammersley / Hammersley MG ZR160 102
10 3 75 Gillatt / Fletcher Vauxhall Vectra 101
Sunday morning was dry and bright, and some teams had burned a bit
of midnight oil to get their cars fit for the afternoon’s
A new gearbox for the
works MG had been shipped down from Longbridge, and the Geoff Steel
team, after their BMW had thrown a rod in race 1, was prepping the
“T Car”, having removed the “for sale” signs.
The gearbox from the Grant / Delaronde M3 had been removed and shipped
to Simpson Engineering in Lydney. “You can’t shim-up
these gearboxes,” explained Del Delaronde, ”so they
had to machine-out the housing to fit the new components.”
All in a night’s
In the main, Saturday’s
starting drivers were reversed for Sunday’s race, with Harrison
also due to take over his own Marcos when he’d finished his
stint in the Topcats car. Andy Allen elected to take the first stint
in the BMW again.
Wyatt took the lead into
Hatchetts hairpin, with Harrison very twitchy as he tried to go
round the outside. He recovered quickly, taking Wyatt half-way round
the lap, and blasting across the line in the lead, with Wyatt on
'' I must admit...I wasn't
expecting that, but frankly I simply did not want to lock up with
my brand new pads at the hairpin and flat spot my four new tyres
and ruin them for the next two hours,'' commented Wyatt, of that
Andy Allen took advantage
of the squabbling Marcos pair, and himself grabbed the lead on lap
3, taking Wyatt with him.
Harrison, desperate to
get back with the leaders, spun onto the grass at Honda Curve, letting
Grant’s BMW, and the rapidly improving Andy Ray through.
Ray and Harrison then
embarked on an epic dice that raged for several laps, until Ray
eventually secured a tenuous advantage. Meanwhile, Wyatt had got
to grips with Allen as the pair hit a patch of traffic, taking the
lead on lap 15. At the same time, Grant’s BMW slowed dramatically,
and crawled into the pits with a blown engine.
Sean McInerney was once
more the best of the rest behind the leading quartet, followed by
Tony Jardine’s MG. “I really got my money’s worth
today,” said the media man later, “Congratulations to
everybody involved, this is a great series.”
MG, refettled overnight, and now running sweetly, was trading the
class 4 lead with Neil Armstrong’s Civic, a lap-by-lap battle
that would only cease when the driver changes came about.
It was around half way
when most cars elected to pit, the exceptions being Sean McInerney
once more, and, unsurprisingly, Andy Allen.
Allen thus inherited
the lead when the major players had settled back, and Ray, who had
stopped in the early stages for what seemed to be a drink and some
advice, pitted once more, for fuel, and to hand-over to Harrison.
Lack of a dry-break fuelling system meant that the Marcos had to
be pushed out of the pit lane onto an access road, where series
boss James Tucker hurriedly prevented them from re-fuelling immediately.
“You have to let it settle and cool for about three minutes
before you pour the fuel in,” he explained to the pit-lane
Andy Allen finally relinquished
the lead with just over half an hour to go, leaving Goodey to emerge
in third place. “After 45 minutes, I concentrated on conserving
tyres and fuel, and I’ve told Paul not to fall of,”
By now, Simpson was back
in the lead, with a lap over Bullock, and thus it stayed to the
end. The three Marcos, now running line astern, threw away the chance
of a formation finish, and crossed the line 100 metres apart.
So, a good weekend if
you had a Marcos then. Andy Ray had confided earlier in the meeting
that racing GT cars wasn’t really the direction he wanted
to be moving. By Sunday evening, his comment, “This is where
I want to be,” accompanied by a broad grin, said it all.
What a difference a day
Donington, next Saturday,
May 15, for the next round, when a full grid is promised.
– Race 2
1 1 22 Simpson / Wyatt Marcos Mantis 110 laps
2 1 12 Harrison / Bullock Marcos Mantis 109
3 2 40 Allen / Goodey BMW M3 E46 108
4 3 62 McInerney / McInerney Honda Integra R 106
5 3 80 Leggate / Jardine MG ZR Judd 105
6 3 86 Reynolds / Field Honda Integra R 105
7 1 21 Ray / Harrison Marcos Mantis 103
8 4 91 Hammersley / Hammersley MG ZR160 103
9 3 75 Gillatt / Fletcher Vauxhall Vectra 101
10 4 93 Collins / Cutts Proton Coupe 96
Results – Races 1 +2
1 Simpson / Wyatt (right) Marcos Mantis
2 Harrison / Bullock Marcos Mantis
3 Ray / Harrison Marcos Mantis
1 40 Allen / Goodey BMW M3 E46
2 38 Knee / Symons BMW M3 E36
1 62 McInerney / McInerney Honda Integra R
2 86 Reynold / Field Honda Integra R
3 75 Gillatt / Fletcher Vauxhall Vectra
1 91 Hammersley / Hammersley MG ZR160
2 93 Collins / Cutts Proton Coupe
3 95 Hands / Fulljames Ford Fiesta.