Britsports At Pembrey, 8 / 9 May
Races of Attrition
For the time being, the
Britsports races are combined with the Gold Arts series for Caterham-type
cars, and a small but interesting field turned-up at Pembrey for
two races, that would themselves each be split into two 45-minute
segments, the result of each segment being used to set the grid
for the next. There would be a 10-minute refuelling break between
The works Jade
of marque owner Tony Sinclair was on pole, though co-driver Doug
Newman would take the first stint, beating the Prosport LM3000 of
Mike Millard / Ian Flux by 0.392 seconds. Then came the second Jade
of Mike Roberts, followed by the Radical of the company test driver
Nick Padmore, partnered by Angus Duke.
The Gold Arts
pole went to Bruce White’s Caterham, followed by Andy Huxtable’s
Westfield, and the Caterham of ex-Britcar stalwarts Nick Starkey
and Ben Salmon. Also present were the unusual Ariel Atoms (that's
one above - any relation to the Ariel that faded away in the sixties?
Ed.), the factory running two cars to be shared by motorsport
journalists Mark Hosken, Chris Chilton, and Bill Thomas.
Race 1 started with Millard
leading into the first corner, but then immediately slowing, cruising
round to retire with a broken gear linkage.
This left Newman’s
Jade at the front, but a yellow flag infringement meant he was hauled
in for a 10-second penalty, handing the lead to Padmore’s
Radical. Newman then spun whilst attempting to recover, relinquishing
his second place to Roberts, though not for long
Nick Starkey had taken
the lead of the Gold Arts class, but this was now being vigorously
disputed by Bill Thomas in the Ariel Atom, who would eventually
come out on top.
Millard re-emerged a
few minutes from the end of the first 45 minutes, the problem fixed,
and a grid slot for the second segment assured.
Thus the first half of
the race finished Padmore, Newman, Roberts, Hopkins, with Thomas
leading the Gold Arts class, in front of Starkey, Jones, and Booth.
where applicable, were effected during the 10 minute break, except
for Padmore, who was going to hand over to Duke at a suitable moment
during the second half.
The pace car released
the field, and Padmore got the jump on Roberts and Sinclair, but
there was now more drama for the works Jade, since it had joined
the pace lap at the back, and threaded through the field to it’s
correct slot. Another black flag, another 10 second penalty.
Padmore pitted to hand
the Radical to Duke, which dropped them to an un-recoverable 12th
position. Ian Flux made his thrash through the field, as expected,
with a few grassy moments on the way, to finish second behind Roberts.
Sunday morning, and Race
2 began with Roberts taking an immediate lead from pole, with Millard
snapping at his heels, though sadly, this was not to last long.
As they crossed the line to end the first lap, Millard slowed, letting
Newman’s Jade past, then cruised around to pit, with a broken
drive shaft. Roberts then came under attack from Newman, and relinquished
the lead on lap three. Nick Padmore was also on the move from his
low grid position, and used the traffic to his advantage as he,
too, took Roberts. Again, this spirited drive was to be short-lived,
and the Radical was parked-up at Dibeni with a blown engine on lap
As if that wasn’t
enough, Roberts then retired the multi-coloured Jade a few laps
later, leading Doug Newman’s white car to cruise to the flag
with a two-lap advantage over the Gomes / Hopkins Radical, and the
similar car of Leighton / Taylor. Bruce White led the Gold Arts
brigade, ahead of Chris Harris’ Atom, and Bruce White in his
The grid re-assembled
after the 10 minute break, and Tony Sinclair, having relieved Newman,
took a lead which would last barely half a lap, as he became the
latest retirement statistic. Keith McKenzie ploughed his Radical
straight on at the hairpin, and on lap 2, Gary James and his almost
clutchless MG pace car were deployed for two laps, while the mess
was cleared up. Such was the attrition, the midfielders were close
to being the back-markers, and there was a vigorous Gold Arts struggle
for sixth place, with Graham Booth and Ben Salmon’s Caterhams
trading places at each corner - with the Atoms of Harris and Hosken
- to the delight of the reasonable crowd, and the consternation
of the officials. It had to end in tears, and after seven laps of
wheel to wheel racing, Booth overdid it coming out of Honda Curve,
spinning onto the grass, causing Ben Salmon to take some drastic
Such was the drop-out
rate, that the Caterham of Bruce White was now up to third, though
he was soon displaced by the recovering McKenzie. But was he, for
soon, McKenzie was pitbound with a clutch problem !
And then there were seven.
But not for
long, as, with 31 laps on the board, and just under a quarter of
an hour to go, Hopkins spun the leading Radical at Hatchetts, it’s
left-hand rear wheel neatly tucked under at 90 degrees. At this,
the officials decided they had seen enough, and red-flagged the
A quick flick
through the Blue Book confirmed that “any car not running
when the red flag is shown will not be classified” (rule J455,
apparently), so Simon Leighton found himself the surprise winner,
followed by White, then Andy Huxtable in his Westfield.
The aggregate results
revealed that the Leighton / Taylor duo had won the Britsports race,
with the Autocar trio of Thomas, Chilton and Harris taking the Gold
Arts honours in the works Honda-engined Ariel Atom.
Next Britsports race
is at Snetterton on Bank Holiday Monday (no Britcar that day).
Result (over 2 races of 2 segments each)
1 42 Leighton / Taylor Radical 165 laps
2 45 Newman / Sinclair Jade 140 laps
3 21 Gomes / Hopkins Radical 136 laps
1 10 Thomas / Chilton / Harris Ariel Atom 156 laps
2 46 Booth Caterham 154 laps
3 11 Starkey / Salmon Caterham 154 laps.