Report by Richard Murtha, photos by Ken Carrington.
The first rounds of AROC Racing Challenge 2012, sponsored by Mangoletsi, the Cheshire Alfa dealer who have such a long history with Alfa Romeo, faced a lot of competition on Sunday 6th May.
There were many other events so for an initial event, a field of 11 (including two“invitation class” cars) that was not too bad and I understand from Sally, the entries co-ordinator, that there is more interest in the forthcoming Brands rounds, so it is looking positive.
I did not arrive in time to see qualifying and I am sure the tracktemperature was a bit low first thing, but for most all went well, with Roz Shaw starting as she meant to continue, setting a fastest time of 1:12.458 to lead the grid by more than a second in her glorious GTAm, with Dave Messenger in the 75 3.0 (Invitation Class) in second – though finishing the session with a broken exhaust, necessitating classic fettling with cut-down tin cans and jubilee clips before the first race.
Others with gremlins were Richard Merrell (MRS for forum users!) whose car rewarded his enthusiasm in trailering it all the way from Inverness by developing ignition maladies – cured with the help of parts borrowed from fellow competitors including Roz, and Johan Denekamp, who only managed six laps before his 1750 GTV developed a misfire and then cut out.
Richard Merrell (who had never competed at Silverstone so was learning the circuit) was able to get a couple of laps “out of session” qualifying, so that he could start from the rear of the grid, whilst Johan’s car couldn’t be sorted for the first race, although sterling work by Will Dick in particular before race two converted the car back to standard distributor and points after which the car burst into life.
The first race was entertaining as Roz, despite confessing to nerves as she had not done a standing start for about five years, held her lead from start to finish, although Dave Messenger (having only remembered to put some fuel into the car on the way to the holding area, necessitating a dash for a jerry-can and a top up whilst in the queue) kept her under pressure until distracted by Richard Merrell, who had worked his way from last to third by lap seven, and began dogging Dave closely until the last time into the Brooklands complex, where a brave overtake on the last bend netted him second place by 0.25 seconds.
Dave claimed that he had lost some power because of his exhaust woes. – (Racing Driver’s Book of Excuses page 16, para 3). Bob Trotter in his smoky Alfetta GTV finished a fairly comfortable fourth, having deposed Jonathan Griffin’s previously immaculate Giulia saloon on lap 9 – there had been contact between Bob’s NSF wing and Jonathan’s OSR door, but I think it was regarded as a “racing incident”.
Jonathan felt that his tyres had been “going off” and had a major tank-slapper as he exited the complex onto the pit-straight – I was holding my breath until he got it back on the island, and Jonathan confessed that he hadn’t been able to twirl the wheel quickly enough!
Farmer Will Morton – who had been feeding lambs before setting off for the circuit that morning – had a fairly quiet race in his Alfetta GTV into sixth, whilst Will Dick seemed to be having fun in his very standard looking GTV, apparently with TS power, but interesting levels of body-roll! – on his way to seventh.
A lap in arrears was Ralph Ledamun in a plain grey Alfetta GTV, followed by Justin Wilson in his 2000 GTV, who
I think had had a spin. Ken Lark’s GT Junior also had issues, unfortunately suffering gearbox problems and he recorded a DNF after 10 laps whilst running sixth and wasn’t seen for the rest of the day.
Various bits of fettling ensued before race two, with Dave Messenger’s team performing rather more permanent repairs to the exhaust, Will Dick as said breathing life back into Johan’s car, and Will Morton experimenting with a change to Avon ZZs tyres.
As far as I could tell, Roz’s team’s main preparation was eating some rather tasty-looking crumpets, though Roz claimed not to be partaking herself!
With Ken Lark missing, 10 cars took the grid for race two – this time in the finishing order from race one. On the first lap Richard got the advantage from Roz , and managed to build and hold around a 1.5 second lead – looking very “classic” as he went through Brooklands with his inside front wheel cocked in the air.
Bob Trotter pitted on lap two as apart from his smoke-laying – oil from an undetermined source hitting the exhaust – he developed serious transmission maladies. Also suffering from this a lap later was Dave Messenger, who charged hard on the first lap in third, before losing third gear.
He pitted on lap three and resumed, only to lose fifth also, so he toured round slowly to retire. With the lead pair pulling away at about three seconds a lap, Will Morton and Jonathan Griffin were having a good battle, with Jonathan getting past into third spot on lap four, after which he proceeded to pull away at up to two seconds a lap, whilst Will Dick could match Morton’s pace, but not make much impression on the seven second gap between them, so had a bit of a lonely race.
At the back Justin Wilson, Ralph Ledemun and Johan Denekamp were having a great squabble, separated by between one and three seconds, and swapping places regularly, and doubtless having a great time: It is not just about winning if you can have a good race!
However this battle may have been decisive, as on lap 10 when the lead pair caught the back three, Roz was able to choose the better line to clear the tussle, and passed Richard to take first spot and although Richard gave chase, keeping within a second for the next three laps, Roz took the flag for a second victory of the day!
The battle of the back-markers was settled by a narrow margin in Ralph’s favour over Justin, whilst Johan dropped 14 seconds over last two laps for unknown reasons.
Overall, two great races with keen competition pretty much throughout, and excellent performances from Roz, and of course the muchtravelled Richard, who surely felt that his long haul South had been well worth it!
Unsurprisingly this pair shared fastest lap honours, with Richard holding the title in Race 1, but Roz putting in a time almost 1.5 seconds faster in Race 2 – possibly as the track warmed up and rubbered in givimg more grip, or maybe Richard was just pushing her harder!
Congratulations to all who took part.
There was a great atmosphere in the garages, and at the awards presentation almost everyone got to take away at least one trophy, although Ralph who nearly missed the ceremony, professed himself “embarrassed” to take two class awards pots!
Commiserations to Justin, Johan and
Ken Lark who didn’t win anything.
Better luck next time.
Jun 2/3 Brands Hatch BARC
A (d), B (s), C (s)
Jul 28/29 Mallory Park CTCRC
A (d), B (d), C (d)
Aug 18/19 Thruxton BARC
A (d), B (d), C (d)
Sep 8/9 Cadwell Park BARC
B (s), C (d)
Sep 22 Oulton Park BARC
B (s), C (s)
Oct 13/14 Pembrey BARC
B (d), C (d)
(s) = single race event (d) =
double race event
Category A – Classic Alfa Romeo
Category B – Post Classic Alfa
Category C – Alfa Romeo Thunder
Approved AROC Racing Series
Regulations are available on the
BARC website – www.barc.net
AROC Contact: Nick Wright
Entry details: Sally Langley
Regulation details: Mike Bedwell
CTCRC Contact: Peter Edwards
Quote from Michael Sheraton: CTCRC
“Was a fantastic race meeting, loved it.
The Alfa boys were a welcome addition
and I can’t wait to be racing with them
and seeing all these cars out again!
back in the car
after eight years.