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 segments.

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.

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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.

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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.

Driver changes, 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.

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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 13.

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 Caterham.

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 avoiding action.

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 race.

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).
STEVE WOOD

Aggregate Result (over 2 races of 2 segments each)
Britsports
1 42 Leighton / Taylor Radical 165 laps
2 45 Newman / Sinclair Jade 140 laps
3 21 Gomes / Hopkins Radical 136 laps

Gold Arts
1 10 Thomas / Chilton / Harris Ariel Atom 156 laps
2 46 Booth Caterham 154 laps
3 11 Starkey / Salmon Caterham 154 laps.

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