The HUGE garages in the Silverstone “Wing”
No changes to the car over winter as I was too busy working on my house and the car was stored with my brother in Newmarket.
As with last year, I did a trackday at the nearby Castle Combe circuit just before the season started to shakedown the car and, more importantly, the driver. And, just as last year, I found a couple of significant problems. A huge clunk as I went to noise check and the following search for the source, uncovered a large crack in the body where the Watt’s linkage nearside turret mounts. I took the car back home, whipped out the tank and welded up the crack and added a makeshift brace. I got back to Combe for the quiet end-of-the-day period and built up some laps. The car felt good.
On the warmdown lap, the brake pedal went long. When I finally got the chance to look, I found that the bearing shrink-ring had slipped on one of the halfshafts and the disc had rubbed against the brake caliper. The caliper had overheated and boiled the fluid. New calipers and Alfaholics “race” halfshafts fixed the problem. Ready for the season ahead
I later found that the Watt’s “T-bar” cross-member was also cracked in 3 places. I’ve welded that up too
Silverstone National - HRDC Classic Alfa Challenge First race of the year. Quali went badly (as it has in the past at this circuit) and the engine stopped on the first lap. I didn’t have the chance to find a problem before the marshals ushered me away. When i got back to the car immediately after quali had finished, I found the LT lead off the coil! I had to qualify out of session and started at the back of the grid. The race was fun, moving up through the field. I finished second to Chris Snowdon and first in class.
Second again at Silverstone
Silverstone International - CSCC Swinging 60s This time qualification went without a hitch and I was 4th on the grid. The race was challenging with rain in the middle. The complex before the start-finish straight is incredibly slippery in those conditions (not helped, I found later, by a dragging handbrake on one side). I also had quite a “race” with a Giulia I was lapping. Inevitably, as Ian Pleeth had predicted before the race, a car spun into the pit wall in the challenging conditions and the race finished under the safety car. I was placed 3rd on finishing but later promoted to 2nd after the 2nd-placed car was penalised for a pit stop transgression. It seems I always finish 2nd at Silverstone if the car is running right - regardless of who I’m racing against.
Up the inside at Copse on the National (photo Ian Pleeth)
Thruxton - HRDC Classic Alfa Challenge I’d been doing a bit of work on my lines at Thruxton so I was hoping that my second visit to the circuit might be a bit quicker. Sure enough, my fastest lap in quali was 0.5s quicker than my fastest lap last time out. I qualified 2nd to Chris Snowdon’s Alfetta GTV. The start of the race was fun with Chris and I swapping the lead several times in the first 5 or 6 laps - our two cars being strong in different places. I was building a little bit of gap when I came across a slow back-marker entering the chicane. Picking my line to get a good exit, Chris made an ambitious dive to my right and collided (relatively lightly) with the side of my car but pushing me off line. I was then 3rd but managed to get back past Alex Jupe’s Alfetta and back to Chris. Then the rain started and the Alfetta’s better weight distribution comes into its own - especially on a circuit like Thruxton. Alex passed me back and I finished 3rd, though, on a drying track, I put in the fastest lap of the race by 1.5s.
Pots from Thruxton
After 25 years of trying, I finally bought back my grandfather’s BSA FW32 car. It’s a riot to drive
My grandfather’s BSA that I’ve bought back
Anglesey International and Coastal - CSCC Swinging 60s Return trip to Anglesey and a dounble-header. On Saturday we did the International. Didnt qualify well - especially because the track was very crowded due to two series qualifying together. The race was pretty good and i took a class win, finishing 3rd overall. Sunday and the Coastal circuit and I kept the two leading Minis in sight before the stops. After pitting, I had a pretty clear track and, with all stops done, I was leading by a healthy 18s. I got a slight hesitation at the top end of the circuit and, next time around, my engine died. It turns out that a low voltage wire had fallen off the coil. Subsequent checks found that the nearside engine mount had failed, allowing the engine to rock and work the wire off.
Thruxton - CSCC Swinging 60s Second visit of the season to Thruxton with some of the lessons I’d learned last time out - in particular, braking later for the hairpin. I qualified 4th and was around 5th after the start in a closely-matched line of cars with a growing gap behind me. After the stops, I could see Charles Tippet’s BMW 2002 some way up the track. I closed the gap with him until I ran a little wide at Church (catches your attention) and caught a slow Cortina at the chicane. I worked to close the gap again until the penultimate lap, a late-braking overtake (with a very unstable rear) got me past into the chicane. On the final lap, Charles was on my inside on the run to the chicane so it was a battle on the brakes. Charles outbraked himself and went straight on allowing me to cut back and finally take an outright win in CSCC.
Taking the chequered flag at Thruxton (Photo Michael Stallard)