MG Trophy – 6th April 2016
12th April 2016
Donington Park 3rd April 2016
We’d not opened our season at Donington since 2013 when we had 17 on the grid, how times have changed. With the continued resurgence in the championship and a PR push on the 160 class boosted by John Gil’s overall win in 2015 all the classes except the 190 cars have seen more drivers join up. The main change this year agreed at the drivers meeting was to try the 160 cars on the same Direzza tyre being used by the 170 cars to make them a bit faster without adding too much to their running costs. This did mean a change to 16” wheels which don’t look so good but it enabled the 170 guys to pass down part worns. All the class letters also changed so we now have classes A, B & C, this has been accompanied by new sun-strips in different colours to help identification. We have also dropped the ‘dull’ green and adopted the MG Motor ‘rounded’ octagon.The sad news was the recent unexpected loss of our awards presenter John Horton, all the cars displayed memorial stickers.
There was a test day on the Friday where only one Trophy car was present however the track day on the Saturday saw quite a few Trophy cars in evidence with many having their first pre-season shakedown and the remainder re-aquainting themselves with the circuit.
New drivers joining us for the first races of the season were, in class B, Patrick Booth in the ex Ross Makar car now converted to 170 spec., Lee Sullivan, ex MGOC winner in a new car and Finlay Hutchison, signature hunting for a start in single seaters in the Finishline hire car. In 160’s we had William Payne and Gianni Picone in 4G cars looking to start their tin top careers, we wish all our new drivers the best of luck.
The 30 entries were reduced to 27 with Mike Harris, Tim Martin and newcomer Dave Heasman unable to get their cars ready in time. Due to the noise restrictions the cars were noise tested in the pit lane before going out onto a damp track as track sweepers at 09:05. Some chose ‘wets’ all round some ‘wets’ just on the back and a few stayed with the Direzza’s all round. Ian Boulton had an early ’off’, the order after two laps was Bray, D Cole, Sullivan, Roberts, Luti, Walker and Campbell. At the low end of the table the 160’s were in the order Payne, Gil, Picone, Bryson and Webber. At 5 laps the front runners were Bray, D Cole, Luti, Sullivan, Roberts, Campbell and J Cole, in class C the order stayed the same. Bray popped in a 1:29.624 on lap 6, most of the others appearing to ease off. Bray continued to improve with faster consecutive laps eventually posting his pole time of 1:27.617 on lap 8, the only one to crack the 80mph lap time, D Cole claimed the number 2 slot. Roberts claimed the 170 pole on his last lap of the session with an excellent 1:30.500 with Luti 2nd and newcommer Sullivan 3rd. In class C the honours went to Payne with a very quick 1:44.851, Gil was next up with Bryson 3rd.
There were no qually dramas and all 27 cars took the start of the first race of the day at 12:06.
Bray held his pole position into Redgate with Cole hot on his heels, the leading class B cars in very close contention.
Cole’s persistence paid off and he briefly moved into P1 but Bray retook the lead. This pair battled literally inches apart, regularly swapping places, Cole lead at the end of lap 10 only to lose it a lap later but regained the lead as the red flag halted proceedings prematurely. Walker finished a distant 3rd.
At the start, a squeeze on Wheatcroft Straight saw Marsh off onto the grass rejoining in last place, avoiding action by Boulton and Bellamy saw them drop places. Luti got the jump on Roberts to take the lead into Redgate with Sullivan in close contention. Ferguson failed to complete the first lap. Roberts took an early drive-through penalty losing him places prior to retiring on lap 3. At this point, Sullivan took the lead from Luti which he held till lap 8 where Luti resumed the lead. Cole was in after six laps with gearbox problems. Savage’s race was over with a retirement after seven laps. Campbell gradually closed the gap on the leading pair helped by waved yellows and moved into 2nd as Luti lost the lead to Sullivan. Ray visited the gravel at the Old Hairpin minus a wheel and brought proceedings to a premature halt with a red flag after twelve laps.
Newcomer Picone took the initial lead, ahead of several class B cars, which he held for the first five laps but second placed Payne chipped away to take the lead on lap 6, a position he held to the finish. Behind them 2015 champ Gil recovered from an early off at the Old Hairpin to take 3rd, Bryson 4th, Webber 5th.
Fastest laps Class A was Cole with a 1:21.888 on lap 6. Class B was J. Fraser-Burns with a 1:24.822 (n/r) on lap 12 and Class C, Payne on lap 8 with 1:29.229 breaking the previous record by 3.11 secs.
Driver of the Race Fergus Campbell
In the interval, Ferguson’s team replaced the cylinder head. Roberts’s problem was due to a blocked cat, which was soon sorted. James Cole’s early demise was due to a lost gearbox plug and Savage’s retirement was due to a blown head gasket. Ray’s team attended to the damaged front end and broken hub in time for race two. Doug Cole changed his gearbox due to gear selection problems in the latter half of race one.
Savage decided not to race and Bellamy discovered he had a cracked cylinder head, leaving 25 starters for race two at 17.11 some 9 minutes ahead of schedule.
Bray held his race two pole for one lap and then succumbed to the on-form Cole, the duo raced side by side at times putting on another excellent display of very close/clean driving much in accordance with the new driving standards agreement. Cole took his second win of the day with Bray 5.7s. adrift at the end, Walker did somewhat better finishing 3rd in class and 5th overall.
Roberts lost his class B pole and it was Luti in the lead at the end of lap 1 with Sullivan in 2nd and Roberts 3rd. Kennon drove into the pit lane but rejoined almost immediately in last place. Campbell moved into 3rd on lap 2 dropping Roberts to 4th and moved up ahead of Luti to take P2 on lap 5. Luti reclaimed his second spot on lap 9 but Campbell kept up the pressure to snatch 2nd back on lap 13 only to lose it a lap later. At the flag it was Sullivan from Luti with Campbell 3rd, Roberts 4th and returnee Byrne in 5th.
Payne stamped his authority on class C taking an immediate lead with Picone in 2nd and Gil 3rd at the end of lap 1. Gil moved up a place on lap 2 but had to take avoiding action dropping him several places handing P2 back to Picone. Gil lost more places failing to recover initially but got back up to P3 at the flag. Webber was 4th, Bryson 5th.
Fastest laps Class A was Cole 1:21.525 on lap 13, Class B, Luti 1:24.309 on lap 3 (n/r), Class C, Payne 1:26.563 on lap 9 knocking a further 2.7s. off his race one record.
Driver of the Race Doug Cole
Driver of the Day Doug Cole
Track Days / Test Days / MotorsportDays.com