Championship sponsored by Lackford Engineering
Report and pics by Phil 'Scoop' Broster - email firstname.lastname@example.org
Round 12 - Snetterton - 2 October 2016
Sunday morning 2nd October saw everybody bright and early for the final round in the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge and whatever happens today would see confirmation not only of the overall winner but all the Class battle final results as well. It’s verification of the closeness of Spridget racing that everything has come down to the wire. Not many championships can say that I reckon.
There had been activity in the Paddock during the previous evening when Richard Wildman had set about changing the gearbox of his car. The job was completed before dark with the help of many hands, which as you may be aware involves engine out, great stuff.
There had been some other repairs going on, Dave Weston discovered what was going on with his electrics and it seemed that as he switched his headlights on so it blew something in the fuse box, hence the issue showing up at both the last two wet races. Jim Prior sorted out his temperature gauge which now showed a reading, he hadn’t wanted to risk a possible boiling engine the day before. The only car not here from the day before was that of the despondent Carl Chadwick.
The grid was decided as usual by the second fastest time from qualifying and so was in the order James Dunkley on pole, from David Weston, Ed Reeve, Chris Southcott, Richard Wildman, Stephen Collier, Nick Day, Sam Healey, Andy Southcott quite a way back, Stephen Pegram, Pippa Cow, Nigel Lackford, John Collinson, Ian Burgin, Ed Easton, Martyn Clews, Richard Homer, Jon Simpson and Jim Prior.
So, 10 o’clock was the scheduled start time, and guess what? back came the rain, with the sun out as well, but definitely it was another wet race. At the lights Dunkley and Weston went off as one with Reeve slotting into third with the rest of the field filing through up to the hairpin, we had a spinner in Collinson who was stranded momentarily in the middle of the track whilst Southcott A. was charging through and taking third place from Reeve at the Esses, before everybody was forced to slow as race control had decided a pace car was necessary because of the spinner.
We had a couple of laps before the race could restart with Collinson getting going again and when racing resumed Dunkley once again went into the lead with Weston in second, Southcott A. got ahead of Reeve again with Collier in front of Healey and Wildman who was pushing Day. Next came Lackford, Pegram, Cow, Burgin, Southcott C., Simpson, Clews, Easton, Homer, Prior and Collinson.
There was a great class battle brewing between Southcott and Collier and neither were hanging about, both challenging Weston and getting ahead of he and Reeve. Collier had to finish ahead of Southcott though. More Class front runners further back were Lackford and Cow who were circulating together and doing just what they needed to do to stay in front.
Meanwhile by now the rain had stopped but the track was still wet and Burgin had his intermittent misfire back, after battling with Southcott C. he fell back behind Pegram. Wildman passed Healey and Collinson was making great progress passing several cars finally getting up to fourteenth place.
Just on twenty minutes the flag came out and we had the winner of the race and the Championship in Dunkley. Southcott A. came home in second place with Collier a fighting third, Collier had done all he could and initially with Southcott recording fastest lap it appeared he had just done enough to take the class but on count back and dropping rounds Collier did make it, by one point. Reeve came in fourth ahead of Weston and Day with Wildman ahead of Healey. Lackford finished ahead of Cow, both as mentioned doing enough to win their Classes. Southcott C. was ahead of Pegram from Burgin, Collinson, Simpson, Easton, Clews, Homer and Prior.
So after 12 rounds it had all come down to the last race and for as long as I can recall we had every starter make it to the flag..no retirements!! James Dunkley had won the overall Championship after a convincing season, Stephen Collier had won Class B on his return to racing, Nigel Lackford was Class D Champion after fighting hard all season and Pippa Cow won Class E with some superb performances this season.
It has been a long trek this year with some great battles and this Championship continues to be a crowd pleaser with the usual close racing down the field at every round. Let’s hope this continues next year when hopefully we all meet again.
It just leaves me to personally thank everyone who has supported me this season and to add I do have a few copies of my 2017 calendar available for anyone who may be interested.
To see all the pictures from this and all the 2016 events, click here or click on the Spridget Challenge Gallery tab above. To find all the results and points scored during the season, click points scored by class.
Round 11 - Snetterton - 1 October 2016
A month after the last race at Oulton and only 7 months since our season began the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge had reached its final weekend at Snetterton. The annual M.G. Car Club closing meeting was again scheduled for two days with our championship getting a race on each day with qualifying and first race on the Saturday.
The entry for this weekend is often strong and with 20 cars we weren’t to be disappointed and of course we would see the Champion announced. It was likely to be James Dunkley after a superb season, but its motor racing and anything can happen.
The entries were in Class A, David Weston, Nick Day, James Dunkley, Stephen Pegram, Sam Healey coming over from Cornwall and a returning Ed. Reeve who you may recall has entered every Midget Championship since its inception 50 years ago. He has undergone knee replacement surgery and is fighting fit once more. In Class B we had Andy and son Chris Southcott, Richard Wildman, Stephen Collier and Carl Chadwick who had that accident at Oulton Park. He was not in that repaired car as first thought, but in a spare chassis that hadn’t been raced in 20 years. The running gear was, however, from the damaged car. In Class D was Nigel Lackford, Ed. Easton, Martyn Clews, Jim Prior and Jon Simpson and Class E saw Richard Homer, John Collinson, Ian Burgin and Pippa Cow all eager to do battle.
Rain was forecast for later in the day but the lovely clear sky and early autumn sunshine made that hard to believe as the cars made their way out for qualifying. Dunkley was soon setting the pace and secured pole with Weston not far behind setting a time just over a second short. Reeve showed he had lost none of his speed and was sitting in third place. Chris and Andy Southcott in their Class B cars were next, separated by less than half a second from Day. Wildman was next ahead of Healeys class A by less than 7 thousandth’s of a second with Collier and Pegram both a fraction behind them. Cow was next from Chadwick and Collinson.
Lackford was the first Class D ahead of Burgin, Easton and Clews with Homer, Simpson and Prior completing the order, Prior only completing one lap before returning with a misfiring engine, he would discover a head gasket failure which would be repaired before the race.
By the time our race came around the weather had changed dramatically with torrential rain causing the race before ours to be stopped with a subsequent delay in proceedings. Eventually with the rain subsiding slightly the cars came out for the warm up but even before the race started we had 3 cars into the pits. Prior with a temperature issue, like he didn’t have one, Weston with an electrical misfire and Chadwick with drive train problems. So 17 cars waited for the start which saw Dunkley away in the lead and Southcott A coming from the third row to slot into second and by the end of that lap those two were pulling clear. Reeve was third from Day, Healey, Wildman, Collier, Southcott C, a challenging Collinson, Cow, Pegram, Lackford, Burgin, a battling Clews and Easton, Homer and Simpson who had had a spin to drop him to the tail.
Next lap through Reeve was caught out by the puddles having a quick spin which dropped himself and Healey, who took avoiding action, behind Wildman and Collier. It was Oulton Park all over again with everyone splashing around on the limit of adhesion. Several cars spun in the conditions including Collinson and Chris Southcott, whose races were spoilt as a result.
Burgin was suffering a misfire which turned out to be a distributor issue. Wildman and Collier were close in combat until the unfortunate Wildman pulled out from a splendid fourth place on the penultimate lap with a broken gearbox leaving Collier to then challenge Day for third which he took on that last lap, earning him ‘Driver of The Race’ from the commentary team.
Up front Dunkley had cruised to victory in the conditions from Andy Southcott with Collier and Day so close at the end. Reeve recovered to take fifth, annoyed with his spin. Healey finished ahead of Cow, Pegram and Lackford all well apart, before Collinson made it back to tenth ahead of Burgin, Simpson who had also claimed some places in recovery, Easton, Chris Southcott, Clews and Homer.
The win had unofficially made Dunkley Champion although it wouldn’t be confirmed until next day when all the Class battles would also be decided.
To see all the pictures from this and all the 2016 events, click here or click on the Spridget Challenge Gallery tab above. To find all the results and points scored during the season, click points scored by class.
Round 10 - Oulton Park - 3 September 2016
The picturesque Oulton Park was the next venue in the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge and there was a good entry of 18 cars for this, round 10, in the Championship. Rain was forecast for later in the day which would make this the first wet weekend of the season for us. A sense of trepidation could be felt in the paddock.
The bad news after Croft was that Robin Lackford’s car was more seriously damaged than first thought with the chassis being knocked back several inches apparently. It won’t be seen again this season. Likewise, Andy Southcott’s car was still under repair but he was here with his spare mount, and Graeme Adams, who’s car was also seriously damaged at that meeting was also absent.
However, we did have in Class A, James Dunkley, David Weston, Andrew McGee, Bruce Carter in a car previously owned by Richard Perry, and a returning Stephen Pegram who has rebuilt his car since his Silverstone demise and given it a new re-coat of white paint. Class B had Carl Chadwick, Stephen Collier, Peter Kennerley, Richard Wildman, and as mentioned, Andy Southcott.
Class D had Tom Walker, Martyn Clews and Jon Simpson and finally in Class E we had Ian Burgin, David Morrison, Richard Homer, John Collinson and John Hughes making an appearance for the first time since this event last year.
All was well with the world until the cars were in the assembly area for the start of qualifying and with minutes to go a few big blobs of rain fell, this instantly turned into a deluge which would stay for the day. It was too late for a change to wet tyres and most were deciding to do a lap before coming in to change, a tough decision with the limited time to qualify. There was also the added problem of a huge oil slick down the main straight from a blow up in the preceding session.
So, everyone trickled out and came through on the first lap but during the second time around the red flag came out. There had been a huge ‘off’ at Druids, a tricky medium fast double apex curve at the back of the circuit. It was Carl Chadwick, he had half spun and speared into the barrier on the inside of the turn. Everyone came into the pits and I found out the popular Carl was perfectly O.K. if a little shaken. The car was not so lucky with the whole front end wiped away, and to add insult a well meaning helper had put a jack through his sump while moving the car!!.
Still, the delay gave most the time to change their tyres, although Kennerley stayed on slicks and looked particularly ‘hairy’ when the session resumed. Changing tyres on these cars is not an F1 experience with one jack, four studs each wheel, and if you lucky, someone to help and when the session reopened there was just 8 minutes remaining, probably enough for 4 laps at most. Morrison had found the tyre chicane at Knickerbrook and spent the delay taping up the front of his car which had been badly deranged.
The session resumed and with a soaking track people were soon getting down to it. The Class A’s and the faster Class B’s got four laps in, except Weston who only managed two before stopping out on the circuit, and Wildman who also got two in and was chuffed to set his fastest time on his first timed lap! Dunkley landed pole, Southcott was second, with Weston and Collier next up. Kennerley next, on slicks remember, then Wildman, Pegram, Carter and McGee. Morrison was next from Burgin, Collinson, Simpson, Walker, Clews, Hughes and Homer.
Not much work was being done in the interval and as we were first race after lunch we didn’t have long to wait. It was really bucketing down now, not a pleasant experience for any of us, still, the grid formed and we were ready for the off.
The lights went out and the field set off, there were no heroics, it was absolutely bucketing down, we had a couple of cars take to the escape road around the back of the circuit and as they came into the last corner to complete the lap Dunkley was in the lead with the advantage of no spray from cars behind. Weston had got past Southcott with Collier in fourth and Kennerley fifth, they were all well spread out.
Behind them came Morrison making ground then Pegram, Collinson, McGee and Simpson, then a whole gaggle including Burgin, Walker, Carter and Wildman alongside each other and Clews. Behind them came Hughes and Homer. On the second lap Weston pulled off with the engine sounding awful, possibly due to all the water spray so next time through Southcott was up into second. McGee was past Collinson, Burgin was challenging Simpson and Wildman was making ground.
Southcott was getting to grips with the conditions and starting to catch Dunkley who admitted to driving through the puddles to throw a bit of spray. McGee came to grief at Old Hall Corner when catching Pegram, aquaplaning when hitting the brakes he got onto the wet grass on the outside and from there was soon to the scene of the accident. He emerged unhurt.
As the race progressed most people were holding station but there was a dice between Collinson and Burgin which lasted many laps with each leading the other until Collinson finally pulled away at the flag. Likewise, Homer was catching Hughes and would also get ahead in that battle. Towards the end Wildman was catching Pegram and other than the unfortunate Morrison losing it, also at Old Hall on the penultimate lap, that was all of the action with most just willing the flag to come out.
So after 9 laps Dunkley took the flag from Southcott who had settled for second place. Collier was some distance down the road in third from Kennerley with a similar gap, in fourth. Pegram finished a second ahead of Wildman. Carter was next from another very close pair, Collinson and Burgin. Simpson, Clews, Walker, Homer and Hughes completed the field.
The final 2 rounds are at Snetterton in a month’s time, championship down to the wire.
To see all the pictures from this and all the 2016 events, click here or click on the Spridget Challenge Gallery tab above. To find all the results and points scored during the season, click points scored by class.
Round 9 - Croft - 6/7 August 2016
The Croft Nostalgia Weekend on 6th and 7th August continued with a second race in the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge. After the early morning first race we were scheduled to be the closing race of the day. So plenty of time to sort most issues and get a sizeable grid organised.
One of the features of this weekend is the 1940’s theme and it attracts a huge assembly of World War two displays involving vehicles, motorcycles, period military personnel and even a working Sherman tank which patrolled the main paddock strip at regular intervals. The participants certainly throw themselves into this theme with unnerving accuracy, I witnessed an enclave of German uniformed ‘troops’ shouting orders and pointing rifles, presumably deactivated, at the tank on one of its ‘patrols’, all in the interest of theatrical reality I hope. There were also a couple of guys in stunt aircraft who gave breathtaking displays during the couple of days.
Of course, against this backdrop we had some typically close HSCC races for Classic Saloons, Formula Ford in various guises, Classic Clubman, Sports/GT cars in a Guards Trophy and our very own Midget/Sprite races which the HSCC seem very keen to promote.
And having had our first race it was time to see what had transpired in repair and preparation for the late second race. Well, we had lost Dave Jenkins with clutch, Peter Kennerley and John Hilbery both unable to repair their diff issues, Darren Harman and David Morrison with drive train issues but on the plus side Martin Morris had replaced his drive shaft and Andrew McGee, whilst unable to find a suitable replacement tyre in the paddock, was going to start on his wet weather tyres and call it a day before they were lunched! Everyone else would make it including John Tewson who managed to rearrange his bonnet fixings once again. So we still had 21 starters, a good number for the second race.
The next thing to consider was that the grid was to be formed by the finishing order of the first race which would mix things up a bit with a couple of fast cars, particularly Morris and McGee and possibly Stanton right at the back, with Cow a little closer to the front, but not by much.
The grid order was Dunkley on pole, Adams, Weston, Collier, Wildman, Day, Lackford R., Southcott, Walker, Bridge, Burgin, Chadwick, Lackford N., Cow, Easton, Tewson, Laskey, Homer, McGee, Morris and Stanton.
We were the last race of the weekend and there was a feel of rain in the air late afternoon but it remained dry as the field filed through on the green flag lap to form on the grid. As the lights flashed to signal the start it was similar to the first race with Adams, Dunkley and Weston taking off as one and battling to the first corner but disaster struck further back as several cars came together with the result that two cars retired on the spot, with others being delayed.
The two cars were Andy Southcott’s, which suffered damage to the front nearside corner, and series sponsor Robin Lackford who came off worse with the complete front end of his car destroyed and serious chassis damage suspected. Fortunately neither driver was seriously hurt other than bruising, and the incident explained the gap in the field as the cars came through to complete the first lap.
Adams held a tentative lead as Dunkley dived down the inside to challenge with Weston keeping a watching brief. Collier was up to fourth with Day and Walker next up, Morris was flying and was already up to Walker and taking sixth place as they swung through the complex.
There was a gap to Chadwick, Bridge and Cow who had Burgin right with her followed by Stanton making ground, Easton, McGee, Wildman, Lackford N., Tewson, Homer and Laskey.
Adams held that lead for most of the next lap but by the time they came to the complex Dunkley had once again established himself in first place with Adams being closely followed by Weston. Day was looking to pass Collier on the back straight and he would come through in fourth with Morris charging up to fifth. Cow was pushing Bridge and McGee was also making rapid progress already up to Burgin. Chadwick was being pushed by Wildman, unfortunately having a couple of spins to drop him down the field.
On lap three, Laskey came through pouring smoke and oil onto the circuit at the hairpin with a comprehensive blow up slowing every body down and effectively stopping any further challenges at that part of the track.
Meanwhile, Weston had got ahead of Adams and these two would battle and swap places in a close tussle while Day was again experiencing that intermittent electrical problem which would eventually see him retire from that fourth place. Morris was another to be in trouble and was going backwards down the field having made such good progress, it transpired he was stuck in fourth gear.
All this meant that Collier was back to fourth and McGee, rather than retiring on those wet tyres, had the bit between his teeth and was now ahead of Bridge, Walker and Cow in fifth. There was a great dice between Chadwick, Stanton, Lackford N. and Easton at one point but there was more drama on what was the penultimate lap.
Going onto the fast back straight in the distance Adams was ahead of Weston when I suddenly saw the white car slew sideways with the maroon car of Weston right with it, as I said, it’s fast there and the two disappeared behind trees with me fearing the worst. I saw yellow flags come out but no activity from the rescue crews so maybe it hadn’t ended quite so badly. Weston came through with a bit of front end damage but no Adams. Later in the paddock the two drivers shook hands, it was purely a racing incident but Adams’s car had all four corners badly damaged.
The flag fell and Dunkley was first with Weston a little delayed but still in second. Collier was a splendid third, this putting him in the overall lead in the championship with just three rounds to go. A delighted McGee was fourth, then came Cow, Walker, Morris, Bridge, Burgin, Stanton, Wildman, Lackford N., Easton, Tewson, Chadwick and Homer.
The incidents and damaged machinery cast a bit of a cloud over the whole weekend and being the last cars in the paddock it seemed a lonely place. All concerned were phlegmatic although there are one or two doubts over people seeing the rest of the season out.
Next round, the wonderful Oulton Park, hopefully it will be well attended, let’s see what happens.
Round 8 - Croft - 6/7 August 2016
The first weekend in August saw what has become the annual Croft Nostalgia meeting with racing organised by the HSCC. The Robin Lackford Midget and Sprite Challenge was once again invited to run two rounds of the Championship. With 26 cars entered it was easily the best attended meeting this year with many opting to make a long weekend of it with testing on the Friday.
The entry was in Class A, James Dunkley, David Weston, Martin Morris, Nick Day, Graeme Adams and Andrew McGee who was hoping for better luck this time out as he had been at Silverstone but issues had contrived to keep him out of the race. In Class B we had Steve Collier, Richard Wildman, Carl Chadwick, Peter Kennerley, Andy Southcott and Darren Harman. Class D saw Nigel Lackford, Ed Easton, David Jenkins, Tom Walker, John Tewson, Dean Stanton and John Bridge. Finally Class E had Robin Lackford, Ian Burgin, Pippa Cow, John Hilbery, Neville Laskey, David Morrison and Richard Homer.
Qualifying was to take place late on Saturday evening with both races scheduled for the next day. After a long wait our cars finally took to the track and the session went well for most. The battle for pole was as enthralling as any F1 qualy with Dunkley, Adams and Weston fighting it out, first one then the other was fastest until eventually Dunkley came out on top with Adams and Weston behind, all within seven hundredths of a second. Fourth went to Morris with the fast class E car of Morrison next up ahead of the class B of Collier. Just behind was Southcott from Kennerley, Wildman, Cow and McGee all separated by less than a second. Burgin, Lackford R. and fastest class D Lackford N were next. Bridge, Stanton, Chadwick, Hilbery and Easton came after them. Tewson, Harman, Laskey, Homer and Jenkins completed the order with Day and Walker not getting chance to post a time, both with electrical issues.
There was a splendid barbeque lined up for later, courtesy of Andy Southcott for which we were all grateful but before that could get underway there were several issues which needed sorting. Weston had a leaking rocker cover gasket, Morris had a catch tank issue, Lackford N had a leaky shock absorber, Tewson was sorting a broken bonnet mounting after a little grass excursion, Walker managed to find a replacement battery, the cause of his issue and Day hoped he had found his ignition problem.
But all would be sorted before the evening barby when many made great efforts to attend in period dress. In my mind the most outstanding were Peter May, Richard Wildman and respective partners dressed as ABBA, very fetching they were too. Martin Morris dressed as a 60’s racer from the set of ‘Grand Prix’ attracted my attention.
Bright and early the next morning everyone was ready and raring to go and the grid formed to await the start. The lights went out and the race to the first corner saw Adams, Dunkley and Weston three abreast as they headed to the chicane at Hawthorne. By then, Adams was in the lead with Dunkley just ahead of Weston followed closely by Morris and the fast starting Morrison. Southcott was next from Wildman and Kennerley fighting with Collier. Just behind, Cow lost traction and spun ahead of Chadwick who had made a lot of ground at the start, and Burgin who had the misfortune of running to the outside in avoidance and being badly delayed.
McGee and Lackford R. were next up with Stanton and Lackford N side by side, Tewson, Bridge, Day, Hilbery, Easton, Harman, Walker, Laskey, Jenkins and Homer all scrambled through as Cow recovered and set off after the field.
Next time through the first four were fighting hard with Weston just ahead of Adams, Dunkley and Morris all pulling clear of Morrison who had a gap to Kennerley, Southcott, Wildman and Collier. There was another gap to Chadwick, McGee and Lackford R. before a huge gaggle consisting of Lackford N., Bridge, a recovered Burgin, Walker, Day, a charging Cow, Hilbery, Harman and Easton. There was a tail end battle between Jenkins, Laskey and Homer. We had lost Tewson after a clash with Lackford N., and Hilbery fell foul of a diff failure. Kennerley went with the same problem on lap four, not surprising as I could hear the mechanical pain the cars were going through as they clunked, bounced and ground through the dips in the surface at that chicane.
It wasn’t long before Dunkley found his way to the front, Adams and Weston scrapping for second and swapping places until Adams finally claimed the place through to the flag. Morris had got ahead of Weston but ran a little wide at the first turn, he too would retire with diff/driveshaft failure late in the race. Meanwhile Chadwick dropped back with a spin after a battle with Lackford R., and that terrific mid field fight was keeping us entertained. Walker would finish only just ahead of Bridge who won out in his battle with Burgin who had recovered so well after that first lap. McGee’s spirited drive ended with tyre failure, Jenkins had a clutch failure which ended his battle. Last to retire was Stanton, overheating on lap 11, after battling with Southcott for a while. Collier got ahead of Wildman who was fighting understeer and Day was struggling with that intermittent ignition issue returning, just holding off Lackford R by the end.
So at the flag, Dunkley was ahead of Adams by over 10 seconds from Adams and Weston. Morrison kept out of all the squabbling to finish fourth well ahead of the Class B cars of Collier and Wildman. Day and Lackford R finished ahead of Southcott and Walker, with Bridge and Burgin close behind. Then Chadwick, Cow, Harman and Easton followed with Laskey and Homer finishing a lap down.
What a terrific race we had witnessed, a great advert for Spridget racing and one which shows the popularity with this series. More to come in race two.
Round 7 - Mallory Park - 3 July 2016
Following on swiftly after Cadwell the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge found itself at Mallory Park in Leicestershire. This popular little circuit is enjoyed by most with the extremes of its tricky fast first turn and slow uphill hairpin adding variety. Seventeen entries wasn’t too bad a turnout with most of the regulars in attendance. In Class A we had James Dunkley, David Weston, Martin Morris and Graeme Adams to fight the honours. Class B had Carl Chadwick, Stephen Collier and Peter Kennerley. The Healey Class E cars were represented by Ian Burgin, David Morrison, John Hilbery, Richard Homer and John Collinson. Finally the Class D entries were Jon Simpson, Dean Stanton, John Tewson and Jim Prior.
We should have had Andy Southcott out as well, but his car had fallen foul to the mandatory noise test and despite efforts to put it right it was still deemed to be over the noise limit, not by much, but despite Andy’s protestations he wasn’t allowed to take part in the event. Understandably angry, Andy returned home to Southampton, a long way back and considerably out of pocket.
Lots of repairs had been made since Cadwell although Chadwick had decided to postpone fitting the new front to his car for at least another race, I suggested he should at least remove the magnets from under the wings. Homer reclaimed his car after loaning it at Cadwell and Hilbery was back for the first time since Brands. He had discovered that a broken shock absorber mount had caused his demise at Paddock Hill Bend and he hoped that repositioning stronger mounts and new shocks would help the car handle a little better.
Once qualifying got under way it wasn’t long before the Class A cars stretched their legs and we had Weston, Adams and Morris circulating together from the off. Morris only lasted for 3 laps before pulling up with what turned out to be a head gasket failure, but not before he had set a decent time. Another to only complete a handful of laps was Kennerley, who pulled in with front end braking/steering problems and Prior who had what turned out to be a terminal engine issue.
Meanwhile Dunkley, circulating alone, was fast enough to take Pole followed by Adams, Morris and Weston, all of them less than half a second apart. Chadwick was best of the rest and first Class B runner from Morrison Class E, Collier, Burgin, Collinson, Stanton Class D, Simpson, Hilbery, Kennerley, Tewson, Homer and Prior completed the full grid order.
And so, after the usual fettling and with no other major concerns other than all hands helping Martin Morris sort his head gasket and Peter Kennerley's guys sorting his handling issues we were ready for the race. I took position up at the Hairpin and the grid completed the green flag lap. We had 15 starters because of Prior and Southcott’s absences. With a lap taking well under a minute we were going to get around 18-20 laps in our allotted time.
At the lights the front row took off as one and they were all jostling for position, as they arrived at the Hairpin Dunkley had got clear of the fighting and was out front. Adams was in second from Morris and Weston as they all fell back in order. Behind, Morrison dived inside Chadwick with Collier close. Collinson and Burgin were next then a gap to Stanton, Simpson and Kennerley, then another gap to Hilbery, Tewson and Homer.
For the next couple of laps the order stayed the same but Weston was pushing Morris hard and Collier had got ahead of Chadwick. There were other battles forming further back between Simpson, Dean and Hilbery but it was up front that things were warming up.
Weston was past Morris and Adams was catching Dunkley rapidly and was soon right on his tail, and then Morris was back ahead of Weston before they swapped places again, eventually Morris would start to fall back as his engine was again giving trouble and Adams too would drop back behind Weston as his brake pedal began to get a little soft, not before he posted fastest lap of the race and not before both had provided some great entertainment for several laps, however Adams did manage to stay close to Weston to the end.
Meanwhile the scrap between Collier, Morrison and Chadwick was getting interesting until Chadwick got ahead of Morrison but faltered briefly out of the Hairpin allowing Morrison to run into the back of him. After that, Morrison lost pace and although Chadwick would chase Collier for the rest of the race they would all eventually finish some distance apart.
Further back, Burgin was keeping Collinson at bay and Simpson and Hilbery were in combat but the fight for second place had allowed Dunkley to pull further ahead and it was he who took the flag after 20 laps. Weston finished just ahead of Adams with Morris coming home fourth. Collier and Chadwick completed the top six with Morrison, Kennerley, Burgin, Collinson and Hilbery next classified a lap down.
Stanton was next, initially shown as DNF but a timing error accounted for that, with Simpson, Tewson and Homer completing the order. No retirements, not had that for a while, some repairs before Croft but a bit of a breather after the last hectic few rounds.
Round 6 - Cadwell Park - 19 June 2016
With two rounds on the same day in the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Championship at Cadwell Park the day was a little rushed for everyone to be ready for the second race. We had lost a number of cars in the first race but most would repair in time for race 2.
Amongst the more simple issues were Morrison’s rotor arm replacement and Morris finding a replacement screw for that carburettor. Kennerley’s helpers set about changing both the diff and clutch of his car, something they would easily do in the four hour gap.
Adams was unfortunately out for the day as was Walker after their issues in the first race. We still had 17 ready to restart by race time though.
The grid would form up in the finishing order from race one, so we had Weston on pole from Dunkley and Southcott, we should have had Wildman in fourth but the weight issue saw him demoted to the back of the grid. Cow was next on row three with Dear. Collier and Chadwick were alongside each other on row four, then came Lackford N., Burgin, Bridge, Storrar and Tewson. Perry, Morrison and Morris were at the back by virtue of their retirement order from race one with Kennerley bringing up the rear. Adams and Walker were, of course, absent.
However, we did have quite a few potential front runners at the rear of the grid and it was going to be fascinating seeing how quickly they could possibly make up ground and get up to the front.
So the grid formed and waited for the lights to start the race.
Weston took off into the lead followed by Dunkley with Southcott slotting into third around the back of the circuit and as the leaders came up to take The Mountain they were still in that order. Cow was next up with Chadwick followed by the first car making ground in the shape of Perry. Collier was next and then Morris, also taking places and making ground quickly came through. Morrison was next up from Burgin who had Lackford, Tewson, Bridge and Kennerley for company followed by Storrar and Wildman completing the order. Dear hadn’t made it unfortunately.
Next time through, Weston was building a sizeable lead with Dunkley seemingly unable to stay with him, while Southcott was in a steady third ahead of Cow. Perry was now fifth but had the fired up Morris right on his tail. Collier was next but coming under pressure from Morrison. Chadwick had had a misdemeanour and came through with a damaged wing just ahead of Lackford who had Wildman in his mirrors and making ground rapidly. Kennerley was ahead of Tewson and Bridge.
The order was the same on the next lap except for Morrison ahead of Collier and Wildman now in front of Chadwick, however there was drama at the mountain as Chadwick’s front wheels suddenly went in two different directions and he braked hard and pulled over. With a broken steering arm he was stranded by the Paddock entrance and we had yellows slowing everyone down while the recovery crews did their job.
The race got under way again and Morris got ahead of Perry, he would quickly make his way past both Cow and Southcott to make it into third by the flag, some distance from the winner but a great result coming from the back of the grid.
Morrison was also going for it and had got right on the tail of Perry. We witnessed several laps of these two fighting for position with Morrison just failing to find a way through by the flag. He did manage to take the class lap record though and was one of only two runners who I saw take off at The Mountain, the other being Dunkley, quite an achievement.
We lost Kennerley after eight laps with more drive train problems and as the race wound down after twelve laps out came the chequered flag.
Weston was first, ten seconds ahead of Dunkley from Morris, Southcott and Cow. Perry and Morrison next, just over a half second apart with Wildman’s charge getting him to eighth. Collier was next from a lonely Burgin. Lackford held off Bridge after a race long class duel saw them finish one hundredth of a second apart with Storrar bringing Homer’s car safely back ahead of Tewson.
A great race, not so much up front, but certainly further back with those charges through the field and those class battles between Perry and Morrison and Lackford and Bridge.
Mallory next, another interesting circuit lets see what that holds.
Round 5 - Cadwell Park - 19 June 2016
The rounds in the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge are coming around fast at the moment with Sunday 19 June providing a ‘double header’ at the HSCC organised Wolds Trophy meeting at the picturesque Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire. This circuit provides a mix of fast sweeps and twisty slow corners through a lovely wooded section, getting it all together is tricky for the drivers.
Nineteen entries were to do battle, it would have been twenty but the out of luck Robin Lackford hit more problems testing on the Friday when some poorly manufactured engine parts let him down and scuppered his weekend. He stayed on though to support the drivers, who include his son Nigel, in the series he so generously sponsors.
The entry this time included David Weston, James Dunkley, Martin Morris and Graeme Adams in Class A who had all sorted their issues from Silverstone. Class B had Andy Southcott, Steve Collier, Richard Wildman, Carl Chadwick and Peter Kennerley. Class D entries included Nigel Lackford, John Bridge, John Tewson and Tom Walker. The Healey Class E group were Richard Perry, Kim Dear, Ian Burgin, the on form Pippa Cow and David Morrison who had undertaken a mammoth rebuild of his car after Silverstone with a new axle, wheels and tyres, springs and all the associated bits and pieces. Series coordinator Tim Storrar was out once again in a borrowed car, this time generously loaned by Richard Homer, he was in the invitation class.
I arrived on Saturday morning to find qualifying over and Richard Perry hard at work. The securing strap had broken on his fuel tank which had been dragged some considerable distance around the track. Fortunately the aluminium tank was quite thick and there was no spillage of fuel. Dodgy moment though! Adams was bleeding his brake system, Bridge was changing a coil and others were sorting minor issues.
Qualifying had left Weston on pole ahead of Dunkley by almost two seconds from Morris another second behind, with Adams just behind him in fourth. Southcott was fastest of the B class cars from Chadwick and then came Morrison in his Class E car ahead of Wildman. Cow was ahead of Perry with Kennerley and Collier separated by three hundredths of a second. Dear was ahead of the fastest D class Lackford jnr, Burgin, Walker, Storrar, Bridge and Tewson completed the order.
Our race was first after lunch because we had another later in the day, much later, in fact, the last race.
The grid formed and we were ready for the lights to start the race, as the field sped off unfortunately Walker crawled off the line with a broken drive train.
At the front Weston took the lead from Dunkley and Adams. Morris was to pull up and retire with a carburettor problem and another casualty of drive train failure was Kennerley, so we had three out and not even the first lap completed.
As the cars came up over the mountain the first three were the same, Southcott was next from Chadwick, Morrison, Perry and Wildman. Cow, Collier, Dear, Lackford, Burgin, Bridge, Storrar and Tewson completed the field.
Next lap and Adams was up to second ahead of Dunkley, he would pass Weston for the lead before dropping out with a broken rear axle mount. Perry was ahead of Morrison and these two would have a monumental battle until they both went out after ten laps in unconnected incidents, Perry with self confessed concentration loss resulting in a spin at the Mountain and Morrison with a broken rotor arm. Chadwick had a quick spin dropping him back. He would pull back up to eighth at the end.
Wildman benefited from all this and went into fourth ahead of Cow. Further back Lackford and Burgin were fighting tooth and nail and would finish in that order. There was an incident mid race when Bridge found the leaders come up on him at the Hairpin in the woods. He gave them room but still found himself being forced to take to the grass, a nasty slide almost saw him in the barriers, it's very narrow down there.
Meanwhile out front Weston was resisting challenges from Dunkley but suddenly there was a huge gap between them. Dunkley had had a spin at the back of the circuit, lightly hitting the barriers deranging the front end, he was able to continue and would eventually take the flag 25 seconds in arrears, that came after 12 laps. Southcott finished a strong if lonely third.
Wildman finished fourth on the road but there was controversy after the race when the car was weighed and found to be a few kilos underweight. There was no chance of appeal and the car was disqualified but would be allowed into the next race if the issue was rectified.
Finishing in fifth was Cow ahead of Dear and Collier. Although a lap down Chadwick recovered to eighth with Lackford and Burgin, tied together, next up. Bridge came home next and Storrar enjoyed his drive in Homers car to finish ahead of Tewson who completed the order.
A close race up front in the early stages and a few battles down the field kept the interest of the spectators but there were a few issues to be dealt with if we were to have a full grid for the second race.
Round 4 - Silverstone - 4 June 2016
Silverstone on 4/5th June was the venue for the next round of the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge organised by the MG Car Club in the annual MG Live meeting. Our race was to take place on the Saturday with qualifying in the morning. There were 24 entries, a good number. Could this race match up to the last one at Brands?
As is usual at this meeting, our race was to be incorporated with an MGB race which included a joint grid, not the best of situations according to some.
Seven entries in Class A with Martin Morris appearing for the first time, Graeme Adams, James Dunkley, Ed Reeve, Stephen Pegram, David Weston and someone we haven’t seen for a while, Sam Healey. Class B had Andy Southcott, Carl Chadwick, Richard Wildman, Stephen Collier, Peter Kennerley returning in an ex Peter May car, and Darren Harman in the ex yellow Southcott Midget.
Class D had just four entries with Jon Simpson, Dean Stanton, Martyn Clews and John Tewson and finally Class E entries Richard Perry, Pippa Cow, Ian Burgin, Richard Homer, John Collinson, Kim Dear and new this year David Morrison.
So, 24 cars took to the track for qualifying, it was cool and cloudy but dry and it wasn’t long before they were mixing it with the ‘B’s’. Adams looked fast and Morris was shaking down his red car looking quick through Copse. Dunkley had a scare with a sudden tyre deflation sending him gently into the barrier knocking off his front spoiler but fortunately no serious damage. Weston only completed 3 laps before his gearbox packed up.
At the end we had Adams on pole with Morris just half a second behind. Healey showed his absence hasn’t slowed him by finishing third fastest. Dunkley had Reeve just behind him with Southcott the fastest Class B car in amongst the A cars and ahead of Pegram and Weston. Wildman was just ahead of Chadwick, Morrison Kennerley and Dear. Cow, Collier, Perry were two hundredths of a second apart with Burgin, Stanton, Collinson, Clews, Tewson, Homer, Harman and Simpson completing the line up.
As well as the issues with Dunkley and Weston we had Reeve with an oil leak from the rocker cover and Perry changing his diff having started with the wrong ratio. More worrying was a brake caliper leak on Wildman’s car and with no available spare parts it was wisely decided to pull the entry. Weston’s plan was to change his gearbox by getting a replacement 1500 box from base, and Sarah was sent back to Leicester to collect it. With help from willing hands the engine was out, box replaced and everything back together in the four hours interval to the race start, a heroic effort and one that deserves special mention.
Other than that, with the usual fettling we had 23 starters roll up to the grid, that was just our cars because we had a similar number of MGB’s mixed in. A massive 50 car line up. The logistics of starting this number was an issue and the start was aborted, off they went for another green flag lap with Reeve unfortunately not getting away with a broken diff and having to be wheeled off the grid. The second attempted start had an MGB stall but fortunately everyone got away without hitting it and the race was on.
On that first lap Cow ran into the gravel trap, she was able to resume some distance back, and as the leaders came through to complete that lap it was Dunkley from Adams with Morris and Healey right behind. Weston was next with Morrison having had a great start and Pegram and Southcott right with him and Perry not far behind.
Mixing it amongst the ‘B’s were Chadwick, Dear, Collier and Burgin. Kennerley, Stanton, Clews, Collinson, Simpson, Cow, Harman, Tewson and Homer completed the order.
Adams had taken Dunkley to end lap 2 in the lead and Healey and Weston were third and fourth. Then on lap 3 came a full course yellow followed by the pace car. There had been a collision out in the country. To find what had happened depended on who I spoke to and I’m certainly not going to apportion blame unless I witness the incident. However, what was certain was that we had 2 cars badly damaged, that of Pegram and Morrison who had been T boned and pushed sideways towards the barrier, Morrison did tell me he thought he was going onto his roof and could only get out of the car through the passenger door which fortunately wasn’t up against the barrier. Kennerley came around with a damaged front wing and went into the pits to retire, he had been involved in that accident.
But whatever, it was a nasty incident which took some clearing up and meant we had the pace car out for almost the rest of the race.
In fact the pack toured around and crossed the line after the full distance had elapsed but talking to the officials later they told me they decided to allow one last lap under race conditions ‘to give the field a chance to sort out a result’. And sort a result they did. We had lost Morris with a blown head gasket and Dunkley had a recurrence of that tyre issue during the pace car period, Stanton too had disappeared but onto that lap Adams, Healey and Weston took off together.
Then as they came into the Luffield complex Healey had taken the lead and swept to the flag just half a second in the lead. He was overjoyed, his maiden win, and the first for a Healey family member for some time. Adams was second from Weston whose gearbox change had paid off, Southcott was an excellent fourth from Perry, Chadwick and Dear. Collier and Burgin finished close together with Cow recovering from her first lap misdemeanor. Clews, Collinson, Simpson, Harman, Tewson and Homer completed the running.
After the excitement of Brands this had been a bit of a non event, an opinion shared by many although everyone was pleased that the incident hadn’t caused any injuries.
Round 3 - Brands Hatch - 1 May 2016
Sunday morning and round 3 of The Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge was eagerly awaited in the two day MG Car Club meeting at Brands. After the trials, tribulations and excitement of the previous day it would be interesting to see if this could be bettered or indeed if any of the previous days retirees had managed to sort their problems.
Well, we were obviously missing Stephen Pegram who went home the day before, Nick Day with his gearbox issue and sadly sponsor Robin Lackford with his broken engine but how had everyone else faired in sorting their problems. Dean Stanton had sorted his clutch, Graeme Adams had a couple of new fan belts to replace the ones wrecked the day before, although he was concerned that there was something about the pulley wheels that was tearing into the belts.
Dave Weston had repaired that broken battery lead and Andy Southcott had established there was nothing untoward after his ‘off’, nothing a wash and polish hadn’t cured, and Phil Attwood was pondering his cars misgivings, the consensus being that it’s a rotor arm issue shorting out once the engine gets hot. He was going to have a go though and see how far the car went.
The second fastest qualifying time once again decided the grid for this race and Weston had pole again from Dunkley. Day was out so next up was Reeve with Adams, Perry and Cow, another gap with the missing Pegram before we had Southcott and Campfield. Chadwick, Collier, no Lackford R., Stanton, Harris, Burgin were as the day before, then came Lackford N ahead of Hilbery, Attwood and Walker. Easton, Homer and Jenkins completed the order. We still had 20 starters then!
So, after lunch our grid formed and the talk was of the anticipated battle between Dunkley and Weston with both quietly confident of the win, quite a buzz in fact, we haven’t had that for a couple of seasons.
As the lights went out the front row took off as one, but it was Dunkley who made it first into Paddock. As they swept up the hill to Druids Weston was in a close second with Adams right with them, Perry was ahead of Reeve with Campfield, Collier and Chadwick. Southcott, Cow, Walker, Harris, Stanton, Lackford N., Hilbery, Burgin, Attwood, Homer, Jenkins, Easton completed the order.
Into Paddock to start the second lap the order at the front was the same but further back Hilbery’s car let go right in front of Lackford N and Burgin, young Lackford must have felt some de ja vue after his car was written off a couple of years back in a similar incident, he managed to miss the spinning car as did Burgin but Ian was unlucky in his avoidance which took him into the gravel along with Hilbery.
This incident brought out the pace car as both cars were deemed to be in an unsafe position and it took several laps to drag them to a safe place with the field meanwhile trundling around. A similar situation to last year’s race you may recall. Homer pitted feeling his car had a puncture, it hadn’t and he rejoined.
Eventually we were racing again and as the leaders came into Druids it was a three car battle between Dunkley, Adams and Weston, with Perry and Reeve close behind. Reeve would get past Perry on that restart lap with Perry eventually coming under attack from Campfield to renew their previous day’s battle. Attwood’s atrocious weekend continued as he was once again sidelined with his electrical issues.
That three car battle up front would soon become two as Adams fell foul to that fan belt issue once again, but the fight between Dunkley and Weston was to become the best we have seen in a long time. They would enter Paddock alongside each other on several occasions with Weston incessantly on the attack.
Meanwhile there were more battles throughout the field, Perry and Campfield, Southcott and Chadwick, Walker and Harris, all providing the usual entertainment as lap after lap they would squabble for their respective placing's. Southcott pulled alongside Chadwick but failed to make it stick, he was subsequently penalised for exceeding track limits at the end of the race. We also lost Stanton with gearbox problems and Homer was out on lap 14.
Then suddenly the lead changed with Weston having taken over around Clearways, however, Dunkley had the inside at Druids and the pair went into Graham Hill Bend alongside each other with Weston holding the inside line to keep the lead.
A lap later and Dunkley was back in front but now it was Weston who dived up the inside at Druids to retake the lead once more, great stuff!
Then suddenly Dunkley was out in front on his own, Weston’s car had jumped out of gear at Clearways and he had spun, James was on his way to the win or was he? Into Clearways and so close to the flag his car faltered, it was a blown fuse and suddenly Weston was there and through to take the flag. What a race, what a finish, a movie script couldn’t have come up with that one.
Reeve took a comfortable second from Perry and Campfield who just couldn’t find a way through. Chadwick was ahead of Southcott with Cow next, not quite as close as the day before. Collier came next from Walker and Harris after their epic battle. Lackford N, Easton and Jenkins completed the order.
What a great weekends racing we had witnessed and with Silverstone up next the A class cars should be able to stretch their legs on this power circuit. Lets see!!
Round 2 - Brands Hatch - 30 April 2016
It was the Spring Bank Holiday weekend and with it came the annual MG Car Club two day meeting at Brands Hatch. There were to be two rounds in The Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge over the weekend and there was a good entry in place with 23 cars. We had qualifying on Saturday, with a race on the same day and the second race on the Sunday. As is usual, the second fastest qualifying time decided the grid for the second race.
Brands always seems to be a place where people gather whether racing or not and it was nice to see Sprite racer Brian Bedford who hasn’t raced since the accident here last year and Pat Harris with his lovely wife. Pat hasn’t been seen for a while but he was racing this weekend. Paul Baker the Healey web master was here and one or two other faces were around including Martin Morris who had entered but due to work pressures just didn’t have the time to finish his car. Someone who was racing was Dave Weston who had Richard Wildman on hand for support and spannering!
The rest of the entry had James Dunkley, Graeme Adams, Nick Day, Ed Reeve and Stephen Pegram in Class A. Carl Chadwick, Andy Southcott, Stephen Collier, Phil Attwood in Class B, Nigel Lackford, Tom Walker, Edward Easton, David Jenkins and Dean Stanton in a lovely new blue Frogeye in Class D and finally, Richard Perry, Pippa Cow, Pat Harris, Paul Campfield, Robin Lackford, Ian Burgin, Richard Homer and John Hilbery in Class E.
Qualifying was mid morning and with a dry and warm track times soon started tumbling. The Class A cars looked fast and with lap times well under a minute for most and with 23 cars on track the action was constant. Weston and Dunkley were quickest and swapping times constantly, pole going to one and then the other as each went faster, this appeared be setting the tone for the weekend.
Indeed, pole went to Weston just two hundredths of a second ahead of Dunkley, Adams, Day and Reeve weren’t far behind. Perry was fastest Class E ahead of Pegram, Cow, Southcott and Campfield, all these less than a second apart. Chadwick, Lackford R., Collier and Stanton came next from Harris, Burgin, Hilbery, Lackford N., Walker, Attwood, Homer, Easton and Jenkins.
It hadn’t gone well for some. Pegram was out with the recurrence of the gearbox issue from Donington despite having fitted a new box. Adams had pulled off with the temperature gauge in the red, turned out to be a thrown fan belt which would create more problems during the weekend. Lackford N had experienced a clutch issue but bleeding the system in the interval cured that problem. Perry had stopped short on petrol, that caused some hilarity around the paddock, but on top of that he had a differential seal leak which required attention. Collier was busy un-modifying some alterations he had made to the car's suspension since Donington which he felt hadn’t worked. Attwood was generally unhappy with his car's performance but suspected something was not right with the ignition timing. Otherwise, just the usual fettling taking place all round, but interesting information from Gil Duffy about the car daughter Pippa races in that some suspension mods and a different rear brake material made the car handle much better than previously.
On to the race and drama before it even started, with Weston out on the warm up lap with a broken battery terminal Dave later commented that had this issue occurred on the first lap around Paddock or up to Druids there would have been carnage with everyone following.
The rest of the grid formed and as the lights went out Dunkley made best use of the empty space beside him and shot into the lead. Perry made a superb start and followed into Paddock challenging Adams for second place. Day was fourth. As the pack streamed through the first corner Lackford R pulled onto the infield with what turned out to be a broken crank, fortunately the damage was confined internally without the often compulsory venting through the block that goes with this event.
Meanwhile at the end of the first lap it was Dunkley out front from Adams, Perry, Day and Reeve next. Then Campfield, Cow, Southcott, Chadwick, Collier, Stanton, Burgin, Hilbery all together, then Walker, Harris, Lackford N., Attwood, Easton, Homer and Jenkins.
Next lap through and we had lost Adams, later found to be the same issue as in qualifying, and Attwood succumbed a lap later. Dunkley was pulling clear but Reeve was catching Day, Southcott had got ahead of Cow, but Pippa would get back ahead around the outside at Paddock and stay there to the frustration of Southcott. Their fight was the entertainment of the race. There was another great battle going on between Burgin, Stanton and Hilbery with Harris and Walker close behind.
Around half distance we lost Day to a gearbox issue and Stanton fell out of that fight with a broken clutch. So Reeve was now chasing down Perry and would move into second spot once his tyres came on song, meanwhile Perry came under attack from Campfield and these two would hammer it out to the flag. In his efforts to get ahead of Cow, Southcott had his car break away with a quick spin at Paddock, followed by it under-steering straight on at the same corner a few laps later, the gravel did little to halt progress with the car hitting the foam barrier fortunately with no real damage. The fight further back had Walker now ahead of Harris with Burgin also having a quick spin at Paddock.
Cow could relax a little, although Chadwick wasn’t far down the road and Perry and Campfield were pulling back up to Reeve.
As the clock wound down with twenty two laps run, out came the flag. Dunkley won by an eight second margin from the steady Reeve. Perry wasn’t far behind with Campfield in tow, before Cow took the flag ahead of Chadwick and Collier. Walker finished ahead of Harris, Burgin, a lonely Lackford N., Hilbery, Easton, Homer and Jenkins.
An exciting race right down the order, Perry given driver of the race and we had more to come next day.
To see all the pictures from this and all the 2016 events, click here or click on the Spridget Challenge Gallery tab above. To find all the results and points scored during the season, click Points scored by class.
Another season is upon us in the Midget and Sprite Challenge and it’s the busiest so far with twelve rounds on the schedule including four ‘double headers’. Incidentally the Challenge series is now in its fortieth year, and we have a driver (Ed Reeve) who has raced in every one, quite an achievement. The series is once again generously sponsored by Lackford Engineering and the first round was at Donington Park.
As is usual at the start of the season we had a hiccup in attracting entries, there were nineteen entered but no shows from Paul Campfield, Graeme Adams, Richard Perry and Peter Kenneley and an addition of Stephen Pegram left the final number at sixteen.
I’m told that Paul Sibley’s car is in the process of a major rebuild and Martin Morris is due out at Brands, no news on the others although I’m told Richard Perry injured some ribs in a household accident. I’m sure numbers will improve as the season progresses.
Robin Lackford’s ongoing misfire has been cured during the winter after what turned out to be a camshaft issue and Peter May had made some improvements to the suspension of the car raced by Richard Wildman. I’m assured of no more wheel lifting antics in the photographs apparently!
But we did have Ed Reeve, James Dunkley, Stephen Pegram and Nick Day in Gil Duffy’s old car entered in Class A. Stephen Collier, Carl Chadwick and Richard Wildman were in Class B. Class D had Tom Walker, John Bridge, Jon Simpson and Martyn Clews and finally Richard Homer, Ian Burgin, Kim Dear, Robin Lackford and John Hilbery in the Healey Class E.
Qualifying got under way and straight off the cars of Dunkley and Reeve looked on the pace, The Class B cars were also impressive and Wildman was shaking down the Peter May car with its new suspension modifications. An early pit visitor was Stephen Pegram whose car’s gearbox was seized and would not be sorted for the race, unfortunately an early return home for him. But other than that it was a reasonably trouble free session with Dunkley coming out on pole with Reeve a second behind followed by Chadwick, Collier and Wildman. Lackford was next in the first Class E car ahead of Day and then came Walker’s Class D Sprite in front of Bridge who was a whisper ahead of Dear and Burgin. Hilbery, Clews, Simpson and Homer completed the order.
A minimum of problems in the Paddock, mainly Clews sorting brakes and Homer with ‘car issues’. Chadwick had a little bit more to worry about having had an incident in an earlier race which saw some repairs necessary to the rear of his car but eventually everybody was ready to take to the grid and fifteen cars lined up for the start.
The lights went out and Dunkley and Reeve took off together entering Redgate side by side. Chadwick nipped into third alongside Collier with the rest filing through, Walker ran wide as the pack tightened through the corner. Completing the first lap, Dunkley was well ahead with Reeve second and Wildman who had moved ahead of Collier and Chadwick. Lackford was challenging Chadwick with Day, Bridge was next after a great start, then Burgin, Walker, Hilbery, Simpson, Clews, Homer and Dear who had spun, at the tail.
Dunkley was running away up front but the battle for third between Wildman, Collier and Chadwick would run all race, they were close for most of it and would finish in that order, although Chadwick did get up behind Wildman for some of it challenging hard before dropping back behind Lackford after a quick spin. He would find it hard to get ahead of Lackford but eventually did so finishing behind Collier at the flag.
Earlier Lackford had enjoyed a fight with Day, swapping places before Day began falling back with what sounded like gear selection problems but not before Lackford pulled the move of the race going around the outside on the limit at the Craner Curves. Dear would work his way back up the field before once again testing his cars limit of adhesion in Redgate.
Walker and Burgin were locked in conflict swapping places with Burgin ahead for a while although they would finish with Walker ahead at the end. Clews and Simpson were another pair to fight tooth and nail with Simpson pulling a late braking move into Redgate to secure his place ahead before the flag.
With Dunkley now some 16 seconds in the lead he took the chequered flag for what had been an easy victory. He was satisfied but felt it would have been nicer to have gauged it against the absent Sibley. Reeve had upped his pace as the race progressed and finished a comfortable second ahead of Wildman with Collier not far behind and Chadwick ahead of Lackford to complete the top six. Walker and Burgin finished less than a second apart with Day ahead of Dear with Bridge not too far behind. Hilbery was next ahead of the fighting Simpson and Clews with Homer completing the order.
Fifteen starters and no retirees, excellent and off to Brands for a double header next.
To see all the pictures from this and all the 2016 events, click here or click on the Spridget Challenge Gallery tab above. To find all the results and points scored during the season, click Points scored by class.Top of page