The Jon Gross Memorial Trophy
Mort Goodall Cup
Ecurie Bertelli Ltd
Castle Combe Autumn Classic, October 3rd, 2015
The Jon Gross Memorial Trophy Race incorporating the Mort Goodall Cup was first run last year. The background to its instigation can be found in our race report for that meeting. This year the number of Astons entered was a little lower than expected and we again had a small Invitation class and more specifically a Class for Elva Couriers, since Jon had also owned and raced one of those. Indeed Jon's old Elva is now owned by his great friend Chris Woodgate, who was kind enough to enter the car for Sean Kukula to drive. Chris himself was again entered to drive Jon's ex Sebring Aston DB MkIII and it remains a source of delight that Sue Gross and the family have not only retained this wonderful car but have also allowed it to be raced. Unfortunately, Mandie Hadfield who was the sole Elva representative in this race last year was unable to enter due to a certain other historic race meeting at Dijon!
Steve Boultbee Brooks placed his lovely ex Kangeroo Stable Aston Martin DB3S on pole, but two of the Elvas occupied the next two positions, Sean Kukula, most appropriately, sharing the front row with Steve. Alongside, Jonathan Loader in Bruce Chamber's Courier on row 2, was Tim Stamper who qualified Richard Bell's Aston Martin DB2/4 in a fine 4th position. 5th on the grid was the first of our Invitation cars, Geoff Ottley's Jaguar XK120, driven by our sometime scribe, Kevin Zwolinski, sharing row 3 with Martin Greave's Elva Courier MkIII Coupe. Chris Woodgate in Jon's DB MkIII was next up despite some enthusiastic driving that took him over track limits and resulted in certain times being disallowed. However, judging by subsequent race pace, I suggest that both his grid position and the allowed time were representative, so nothing lost! He shared the 4th row with the first of the prewar Astons, Richard Skipworth's Monoposto Speed Model in the hands of the very experienced Mark Gillies. Adrian Beecroft was a sensibly cautious 9th on the grid, in the iconic DBR1/300 with Richard Gane in the Jowett Jupiter, another Invitation car, alongside. The next 3 positions were all 2 litre 15/98 Speed Model Astons in the hands of Peter Dubski, David Ozanne and Robert Blakemore with the final timed grid position being taken up by late entrant Edward Bradley in the only 1.5 litre Aston in the race, his lovely Ulster. However, Nick Ruddell, who does not appear on the qualifying time sheet was to line his DB2/4 up at the back, and was bound to make good progress forward once the race got under way.
Steve Boultbee-Brooks took the Aston into an immediate lead from Sean Kukula in the Elva and had opened a gap of over 2 seconds as they crossed the line at the end of the first lap with Jonathan Loader, just over a further second behind in 3rd place. Martin Greaves had made a great start in the rare Elva Courier MkIII Coupe to pass both the Tim Stamper Aston and Kevin Zwolinski in the XK120 to take 4th, thus all Elvas entered filling the next 3 places behind the DB3S. Nick Ruddell had made a storming start from the back to be in 6th place and an interesting and unlikely battle was brewing between Richard Gane and Mark Gillies, the Jowett Jupiter gaining an initial advantage over the Aston Monoposto.
Whilst Steve consolidated his lead in the Aston, Jonathan Loader closed in on Sean Kukula, the two Elvas circulating together for many laps until a failed overtake attempt dropped Jonathan back a little. Even closer was the battle for 4th for once they had overcome the Elva Courier Coupe of Martin Greaves, Tim Stamper and Nick Ruddell were locked in a titanic struggle for top Aston DB2/4 honours. Chris Woodgate was circulating in a rather lonely 8th but showed great exuberance in the DB MkIII whilst, further back, Mark Gillies took advantage of Richard Gane running wide into Camp on lap 3 to take the Monoposto ahead of the Jowett Jupiter and started to ease away. Peter Dubsky in the Aston Martin 15/98 was not far behind the Jupiter but was never able to quite close the gap despite putting in a faster best lap.
Up front Steve was the model of consistency, lapping the Aston within himself and holding a lead that fluctuated only slightly at around 4 to 5 seconds. The Elvas behind were all but managing to lap as quickly but the closest Sean Kukula got was 3.6 seconds on lap 9 when the leader started to lap the backmarkers. It was that same lap, that 3rd place man, Jonathan Loader, took his Elva round in 1.25.177, the fastest lap of the race but it was to no avail and he remained 3rd until the flag. In fact the gaps between the leading 3 had grown once they had started to lap other cars and Steve B B brought the lovely Aston DB3S home nearly 7 seconds clear of Sean's Elva, with Jonathan a further 6 seconds down. The battle for 4th went to the wire, the DB2/4s tied together for the whole race, Tim Stamper's brilliant defence lasting until lap 11 when Nick Ruddell squeezed ahead to hold on to the position to the end, the two Astons just half a second apart after 14 laps of hard racing. Great stuff!
Kevin Zwolinski brought Geoff Ottley's Jaguar XK120 home in 6th despite at least one quite lurid moment in Camp but had Martin Greaves extremely close behind him. Martin had made a splendid start as noted above but his race pace left him vulnerable to the Astons and the XK, but once passed by Kevin he hung on gamely and the two cars engaged in a lively dice for almost the whole race. Chris Woodgate had not had anyone to race with but clearly enjoyed himself to finish 8th whilst the Mort Goodall Cup was won, not entirely unexpectedly, by Mark Gillies in the Aston Martin Monoposto Speed Model which finished 9th overall. Richard Gane was 10th in the Jowett Jupiter, whilst Peter Dubsky finished 11th less than 2 seconds behind Richard. Robert Blakemore was 12th in his Aston Speed Model and Edward Bradley giving a fair amount of power away to the others in his 1500cc Aston Martin Ulster was last. Despite the numbers, this was an absorbing race with some great dices down the field.
Full results and awards to follow.