Brands Hatch Superprix
12th July 2014
FISCAR Figures Well in Shared Grid
Brands Hatch dawned to warm but desperately murky unseasonal weather for the first day of the prestigious HSCC SuperPrix meeting. The Grand Prix circuit was as slippery as an ice rink and many drivers returned to the paddock frustrated with their performances having struggled to get the power down and control their steeds as well as they would have liked. The FISCAR representation was evenly spread throughout the field of HRS racers, the best of our qualifiers being Robin Ellis’s Lotus Elite in sixth. Paul de Havilland surprised himself with a strong performance to qualify second in the FISCAR grid, and tenth overall ahead of Neil Hardy’s Austin Healey 100M (eleventh) and Brian Arculus’s Lotus Elite (twelfth). I doubt if anyone would dispute that, on this occasion, our star car was Christopher Mann’s Alfa Romeo Disco Volante which qualified 26th, just behind Nick Matthews (Austin Healey 100/4). FISCAR new boy, Marc Gordon qualified his XK150 29th but was to improve that position considerably in the race. It was good to see Daniel Wood out with us again in the JWF Italia, which despite it's name, is a product of Australia built around Austin Healey 100/4 mechanicals.
Father and son pairing, Ted and Andy Shepherd had qualified their AC’s within a second of each other in fifteenth and sixteenth, age coming with experience, as father, Andy had the upper hand but was not to be confused with the ‘other’ Andy Shepherd HRS entered Lotus 7. Peter Shaw qualified the little Alfa Guilietta 26th, whilst John Tewson, a rather splendid 30th in the even smaller Frogeye Sprite. Nigel Grice qualified his Austin Healey 100M in a rather lowly 34th, a situation which he was to address to great effect in the race. There was no mechanical grumble as all cars successfully qualified and made their way to the grid for the opening race of the afternoon.
As the marshals stood down for their well-earned lunch break, the sun made a welcome appearance, propelling the ambient temperature into the high twenties and drying out the track to significant effect. 34 of the 36 qualifiers took the start, one of those missing being poleman, Larry Kennedy in his Elan S4. At the drop of the flag, Robin Ellis’s Lotus Elite lost a little momentum in contrast to Paul de Havilland’s Jaguar XK150 which launched itself through the middle with vigour but failed to wrest the FISCAR lead from Robin. By lap 3, Brian Arculus, in the other Elite was locked onto de Havilland but having to patiently wait, he eventually nosed ahead at Druids on lap 6. Christopher Scholey was clearly much more comfortable with the return of the seasonal conditions and was improving lap on lap in the XK120 and launched an assault on Christopher Mann’s stunning Alfa Romeo Disco Volante which added a very welcome air of Italian style to our grid. Mann held firm until Lap 3 when Scholey moved to the outside of Paddock Hill Bend and powered away down to Druids.
Good fortune was not bestowing itself on the Shepherd family, Andy’s bonnet was lifting on the long straights, but thankfully not causing any danger, and son Ted, was not matching his morning performance in the sister AC Ace Bristol and was slipping down the order. Nigel Grice’s Healey vastly improved on his morning qualifying campaign and had made up nine places by the mid-way point of the race; likewise Marc Gordon (XK150) who had improved seven places. Peter Shaw tried defiantly to keep his Alfa Romeo Guilietta Sprint ahead of the mid-field pack, but he was eventually swallowed up by Schole’s Jaguar and the Grice and Matthews Austin Healeys.
On the last lap, Arculus tried in vain to close the gap to Robin Ellis, but the flag came too soon and he completed in sixth overall and the second FISCAR racer home a mere two hundredths of a second off the sister car’s bumper. Paul de Havilland fended of Andy Shepherd’s imposing challenge to finish seventh overall and the third placed FISCAR, just under two seconds ahead of the AC. Neil Hardy, according to one observer, drifting beautifully through Paddock Hill Bend, maintained his momentum in the latter stages to secure tenth place in his Austin Healey 100M despite lacking company for a few laps. To take 5 of the top ten places was a great performance against their later HRS counterparts.
Jonathan Abecassis, sitting this race out (after Silverstone accident) noted that John Tewson had a great early race scrap with larger engine Sprites until the manifold gasket blew on the Frogeye which lost power. As John observed after, the car didn’t exactly have a lot of spare power in the first place but his last two lap times indicate that he adapted well to the loss of power and he still managed to complete 9 laps and be classified 32nd. As an aside, he added that Paul (Woolmer) ‘was the usual perfect team host’, so thanks, again, to Paul for his great hospitality unit.
Robin Ellis - Lotus Elite - 11 laps - 21.29.800
Brian Arculus - Lotus Elite - 11 - 21.30.020
Paul De Havilland - Jaguar XK150 - 11 -21.38.259
Andy Shepherd - AC Ace Bristol - 11 - 21.40.158
Neil Hardy - Austin Healey 100M - 11 - 22.02.317
Christopher Scholey - Jaguar XK120 - 11 - 20.43.304
Nick Matthews - A-H 100/4 - 11 - 20.44.722
Nigel Grice - A-H 100M - 11 - 20.45.035
Peter Shaw - Alfa Romeo Guilietta Sprint - 10 - 20.48.974
Christopher Mann - Alfa Romeo Disco Volante - 10 - 21.04.664
Marc Gordon - Jaguar XK150 - 10 - 21.13.561
Ted Shepherd - AC Ace Bristol - 10 - 21.19.949
Daniel Wood - JWF Italia - 10 - 21.32.124
John Tewson - A-H Sprite - 9 - 20.29.704