7, Jul, 2016
It was billed as America’s 51st state for the week-end and even mixed weather with heavy rain showers couldn’t dampen spirits at the American SpeedFest at Brands Hatch on 11/12 June.Yet it probably did influence the outcome of some of the 15 races run over the Indy circuit. And that certainly includes the three Bernie’s V8 events which featured the TVRs of Boss Racing hotshoes Dean Cook and Tim Davis.
The weather was distinctly iffy on Saturday afternoon when the cars arrived in the assembly area for the first race. Dean Cook had qualified his slinky red Sagaris third with Tim Davis right behind him. But his red Tuscan retained the dry settings it had worn for the preceding Allcomers’ race and there was no time to do more than change the tyres to wets when the heavens opened. The two TVRs were on treaded road tyres which meant they were at a disadvantage compared to the winning Ford Mustang of Steven Wood. Even so, Tim finished fourth and Dean fifth.
The second race was also wet but Dean was on particularly fine form. He finished second just behind the winning Mustang and set fastest lap. Tim was fifth in a car which he’d just sold and was now driving with appropriate circumspection. Conditions were dry for the third and final race when Tim seemed to have put aside his earlier reservations. Either that or he was intent on showing the car’s new owner that he’d made a good choice. From fifth position on the grid he burst through to take the lead on the fourth lap, holding it until the sixth when Dean took over.
He led until lap 12 when the inevitable happened and the Mustang assumed a lead it wasn’t to lose. But it was close at the flag with Dean just over a second adrift. Tim was eight seconds further back. Dean again set fastest lap. Under the circumstances both drivers had done very well but I couldn’t help thinking that if Dean had been using slicks he’d have been two seconds quicker and lapping around the 49-second mark.
Tim and his Tuscan were having a particularly active week-end. Besides the three V8 thrashes they also lined up for the two Allcomers’ races. Also taking part was the ever-improving Rob Grant with his Caterham C400. He qualified seventh, with Tim eighth, and finished fourth with Tim sixth.
We gambled on the third race being run in dry conditions but by the time the cars were on their warm-up lap the rain had started. We called Tim in for more suitable rubber but changeable conditions meant further stops were required and by the time the flag fell Tim had managed only eight laps and wasn’t therefore classified as a finisher. I’ll have to admit it: weather forecasting probably isn’t my thing!Rob Grant, on the other hand, was able to put in a solid performance to net another fourth place in which Caterhams and Radicals shared the track with saloons and road-going sports cars.
Our next event is the Classic Sports Car Club’s meeting at the Spa circuit in Belgium. So we’re busy preparing the two TVRs and four Caterhams we’ll be taking to this wonderful classic circuit. Can’t wait! See you when we return.
7, Jul, 2016
BARC CHAMPSIONSHIP DAY, MALLORY PARK, 29 MAY
Devil’s Elbow is a good name for it, I reckon. Mallory’s famous downhill off-camber left-hander certainly caught me out in the first of the two Sevenesque races at the East Midlands circuit at the end of May.
Rob Grant and I went to the Midlands circuit together with our Caterham C400s and were joined there by Peter Hargroves with his SLR. Peter qualified sixth with me second and Rob fourth on the grid.
Things were looking good for the race but on the 14th of 17 laps, when I was enjoying a good scrap with Rob, I had my little bit of trouble at Devil’s Elbow. I’d tagged the home-built Hart sports racer of eventual winner David Tilley and spun. A loose nose cone earned me a black flag and the resulting pit stop to have it fixed cost me a lap. I finished seventh and last. My only compensation was setting the second fastest lap of the race.
The others did notably better: Rob was third and Peter fourth. Of course, last-place also put me at the back of the grid for the second race. That meant a fight-back through the field which was something of a challenge. But then there were only six other runners!
Still, I was pleased to finish second with Rob and Peter again third and fourth.
CLASSIC AND SPORTS CAR CLUB BRANDS HATCH BONANZA, 5 JUNE
The month’s first meeting at our local circuit certainly proved to be a bonanza for Boss Racing runners.
We might have been there for only one of the two days but it was certainly a busy time for us. Some of our cars were based in the pit garages with the remainder in the paddock which didn’t exactly make things easy for Team Boss. I wasn’t racing which was probably just as well as there was a lot to do with so many cars running.
The two TVRs, the 4.5 litre Sagaris of Dean Cook and the red 4.500 Rover-powered car of Tim Davis, were competing in the New Millennium series race. This 40-minute thrash also involved a pit stop. Tim’s car had been troubled with a persistent miss-fire, but as mentioned in my last blog, we’ve now managed to sort this.
The race certainly provided confirmation. Tim qualified third with Dean starting from pole and dominating the early stages. In fact, with Tim quickly working his way up to second it was looking as though we were in for another instalment of formula Boss.
But it all went wrong for Dean after the pit stops. A misunderstanding between the two drivers meant that both TVRs were rumbling down the pit lane one after the other instead of coming in on different laps.
Even so, Dean was soon back up to second and closing on the leading BMW. But then he went off at Clearways. The treaded tyres specified by the regulations in place of the slicks he normally uses caught the Wickford flyer out. He also stalled his engine and it took a while to get it fired up again.
A late safety car interlude meant that Tim had just five minutes to make the most of the TVR’s power. But at the flag he was just 8.6 seconds behind the E36 M3 of Mark Smith and Arran Moulton-Smith. He would probably have been closer had it not been for the pit-top mix-up. Dean was 16th, three laps down but had the consolation of setting the fastest lap of the race.
Even more exciting, though, was the Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens 40-minuter. We had six cars running in this event: the Superlight R400 of Graham Charman in class D, the C400 of Hugh Coulter in class F, the R300 of Richard Carter and the C400 of Colin Watson in class G and the CSR of Christian Pittard in Class H. Making a guest appearance for Boss was Gary Tomlinson whose Supersport ran in class S.
Christian’s bright orange CSR was a newly-built car which incorporated such relatively new features as paddle-controlled gear-change and launch control. He made good use of it in qualifying, placing it second on the grid with Richard fourth, Graham fifth, Hugh sixth and Colin seventh. Gary was 23rd.
Christian took a narrow led from the second lap and after the pit stops managed to work his way back to the lead. But he was being stalked by C400-mounted Peter Radcliff who’d started from the pit-lane.
By lap 32 Christian had dropped to third but was back in front five laps later but with Radcliff closing fast. Going into the last lap Christian got a bit sideways in his anxiety to stay ahead and lost the lead. But he got the better of the traffic to set up a nail-biting finish. As they swept out of Clearways Christian had the advantage and crossed the line just ahead.
Commentator Mark Werrell put the difference at half a car’s length but I reckon it was even closer than that! Officially, the gap was 0.079 seconds. Our other runners also did well, particularly Richard Carter (third), Graham Charman (fourth) and Hugh Coulter (eighth). All were class winners. Gary Tomlinson was 21st but Colin Watson had spun out and wasn’t classified.
An eventful day’s action closed with the (almost) anything goes Meteor Open Series race, a frantic 30-minute thrash complete with pit-stop. Richard Carter qualified third and finished second to the flying Radcliff. Gary Tomlinson was tenth.
So that was it: a pretty good meeting I’d say. And we’re back at Brands on 11/12 June for the American Festival. Should be good!
7, Jul, 2016
It’s been a long winter for us at Boss Racing but spring is here, the daffs are out and so are we! And already we’ve had three successful outings this season, at Brands Hatch, Snetterton and Silverstone.
Since the end of the last season we’ve been flat out – as usual – at our Longfield base near Brands Hatch preparing for 2016. Lots of customer race cars have been in to be prepared for new season and we’ve added a new car, a Caterham SV with wider cockpit, to the track-day hire side of the business.
But before going on to talk about the way we started 2016 I’d like to thank those of you who voted for us to receive the MotorsportDays.com team trophy. You’ll forgive me, I hope, if I repeat a few of your kind words: “Well organised, friendly, high quality work” and “Excellent preparation, friendly towards other competitors, and support for many different cars and series.” The website itself noted: “Without doubt, this team leads by example.”
We also won the British Automobile Racing Club South East’s Twosome’s team trophy. It was a great honour to receive these prestigious awards on behalf of the team at the BARC awards evening in February. It was also very humbling because I’m only too well aware that it couldn’t have happened without the hard work of the whole team. Thanks, guys for making Boss Racing such a successful team in 2015.
So on to 2016. And it looks like being another great season. Our first meeting, over the Easter weekend, was at our local track, courtesy of BARC SE. We had cars running in several championships at Brands’ Indy Circuit, including the Intermarque and Quaife Motorsport News saloons.
First on track, though, were the Cannons Tin Tops. Up to that point it had been dry despite an overcast sky but shortly after the green flag dropped to start the opening qualifying session the rain came down. As ever, Rod Birley, now in the Peter Bevan Honda Integra which had been set-up by Boss Racing, was one of the first out.
The track was still dry when, on his fourth lap, Birley stopped the clocks at 1:00.834 to secure pole by over two seconds. Chris Whiteman could only manage 1:03.58 with his refreshed Honda Civic Type R to secure fourth spot.
The two Hondas weren’t the only cars on the grid to benefit from set-up work by Boss Racing. Ken Angell was 20th and third in class with his BMW 328i, while Kelly Dann emerged from her first-ever qualifying session 27th overall and 12th in class in her VW Golf 2000.
Both Rod and Chris made great starts in the first race, completing the opening lap at the head of the field. But on the third lap the positions were reversed. Chris held the lead to the flag, using his oval track racing experience to thread his way through the backmarkers and open a gap to Rod who finished second. Ken Angell was ninth and second in class, while Kelly Dann also advanced to finish her first race 24th and 10th in class.
Battle was joined again in Race 2. Chris and Rod charged over the line to end the first lap first and second again but this time Chris succumbed to pressure from the hard-charging Birley. He spun off on lap three, re-joining 10th just as the yellow flags were being waved following an incident. Five laps later, the green flags provided the signal for Chris to set about chasing Rod.
Birley kept his cool, though, and held the lead until the end. Despite setting the fastest lap of the race in 54.55 seconds, Chris could only manage third, 1.5 seconds behind Rod. But a nine-second penalty for a yellow flag infringement dropped him to fifth. Ken was eighth and second in class, but Kelly suffered engine problems and dropped out of her second race.
Paul Adams was driving his Mercedes SLK look-alike in the first of the two Scapco Intermarque races. Although the rain had stopped, the track was wet, leaving the team uncertain about which tyres to use. Paul opted to start the qualifying session on wets but on his third lap changed to slicks. The pressure was now on Paul to make his slick-shod laps count in the 15-minute session and he did well to secure 12th slot on the grid.
But his first race didn’t go to plan. On the fifth lap several cars, including Paul’s, spun at Paddock on coolant dropped by another competitor. This brought the safety car out but Paul had stalled his engine and wasn’t able to carry on.
As a result he had to start Race 2 from the back of the grid. But as the cars gathered in the collecting area the havens opened and there was no time to change to wets. Consequently, it was a slower race than usual with many other cars spinning off. Paul kept his head and came home in 14th place.
By Sunday afternoon when the Motorsport News saloons went out to qualify the weather was more stable. Rod Birley was able to take advantage of a dry track and put his familiar black and blue Ford Escort Cosworth second on the grid. And on Easter Monday the West Kingsdown man duly converted his front-row position into two more victories, proving that the Boss Racing-applied set-up was working well.
Snetterton’s 300 Circuit was the venue for our second meeting of the season on 10 April. At this Classic and Sports Car Club event, Boss Racing was supporting Tim Davis in his TVR Tuscan and Hugh Coulter who was driving our number 93 Seven in the Magnificent Sevens series.
In his first outing in the car Hugh managed to qualify ninth and first in class E, while Graham Charman was outstanding to lead class D in fifth spot. In the race, run on a dry track late in the afternoon, Hugh pitted for his mandatory stop on lap nine from 10th place, with Graham coming in a lap later from sixth. By the end of the stops, Hugh was ninth, while Graham was now sixth. At the flag Hugh had moved up to eighth and head of the class, but fuel surge problems dropped Graham down to seventh and second in class.
Tim was out in his 4.5 litre Rover-powered TVR This car had proved troublesome last season with an intermittent misfire but over the winter it was treated to a new wiring loom, switches and fuel pumps. But after positive tests at Brands we were confident we’d got the mighty TVR running to its full potential.
But, guess what? After one lap of the Snetterton 300 circuit the misfire was back and as bad as ever. Yet Tim managed to put it into to sixth spot on the grid and second in class but the return of the elusive misfire left Tim depressed about his chances for the race.
Again the team went to work on the car and after an hour or so we found a filter dislodged inside the fuel swirl pot. Although Tim was still not confident as he took his place on the grid, a couple of laps we were getting an emphatic thumbs-up from the TVR’s cockpit as it growled past the pits. Tim moved up the field to be third by the time of his mandatory pit stop. But the gremlins struck again as the car left the pits. The red TVR slowed to a halt at the exit from the pits with no drive to the rear wheels: the gearbox was jammed. Massively frustrating but Tim was ecstatic that we seemed to have banished the misfire!
I had my first race of the year at the BARC SE meeting on 23 April at the Silverstone International circuit.
We set out with Peter Hargroves, Rob Grant and the number 93 hire car, and as none of the drivers had experience of the International circuit, we all opted to take advantage of the Friday test day. All three cars performed well and by the time qualifying started we all reckoned we knew which way the circuit went.
Which was just as well for, with the Sevenesque cars sharing the track with the Scrapco Intermarque machines, it was going to be busy. All three of us made it to the front of the queue in the hope of some clear laps. After 15 minutes I managed to be eighth fastest overall and second for the Sevenesque race, while Peter was 14th and 4th Sevenesque and Rob Grant was 19th and 7th Sevenesque.
The two races were to be run concurrently with a split grid enabling the Intermarques to start first and the Sevenesques 10 seconds later. Ian Conibear and myself shared the front row of the Sevenesque grid but Ian had the better start and led in to Turn 1. With a good run through the last two corners, I passed Ian on the second lap. But my lead was short lived. Ian’s Class 1 car had too much power on the long straight for my Class 3 car.
On lap seven, the Class 1 Seven of Gary Bate breezed past me on the straight but two laps later I got a run on him through Turns 1 and 2 just as Gary was trying to pass Ian. Gary re-joined the racing line at Turn 3 but that un-sighted me. I took to the grass and swung into a 360-degree spin. So with just two laps left I had to settle for third. Rob Grant made it to fourth and Peter was sixth.
It was a top seven reverse grid for Race 2, which put me fifth for the start. Peter was on the front row in second and Rob was fourth. I made a great start but Gary’s was even better. By Turn 2 he was leading with me second. We changed places several times until, on lap 10, I managed to put a back-marker between us and break his tow on the back straight. That left me clear to win. Peter was fifth but Rob was classified as a DNF due to a misunderstanding with a flag.
I learned later that I was voted man of the day. Great stuff!