UBS Aston Martin Classic Championship Race Report

2nd July 2007

AMOC UBS Aston Martin Championship Race Reports
(Post-1960)

30th June, Snetterton

Dull, overcast and with a threat of rain was the weather forecast for the fourth round of the UBS Championships at Snetterton on Saturday, 30th June. Dull, however the racing in this championship never is, in fact, I cannot recall a single race that been anything other than exciting. A dry qualifying, a damp and greasy race start with a constantly changing track – how could it fail to be exciting?

When Darren McWhirter put his striking DB4 GT Zagato replica on pole just a tenth ahead of Charlie Kemps DB4 Lightweight, we knew it was going to be anything but dull. Lightweights may have claimed the front row but the heavyweight V8 of Chris Scragg took third place on the second row with the returning Nicholas King joining him. Nicholas car was still being repaired after it’s massive accident at Brands Hatch on May Bank Holiday and had therefore missed the Silverstone round.

John Goldsmith and Pete Foster claimed the third row with the fabulous N24 Vantage of David Scott making it’s second AMOC racing appearance on the fourth row alongside Jeremy Cooke’s more traditional DB4. Paul Hipwell was the second V8 to grace the grid with series sponsor James Wenyon alongside, he too having missed the Silverstone round for the same reason as King.

Club stalwart David Such in his much campaigned automatic V8 had Robert Rawe alongside him with the final row being occupied by the v8’s of Geoffrey Lewis and Martin Wright.

The UBS Classic race being the first of the day, there was much discussion in the paddock at lunchtime as to what the weather was going to do and therefore what tyres to use. General consensus was that the rain was due to stay with us for the afternoon. Accordingly, the field were given two warm up laps in order to familiarise themselves with a track now somewhat different to that they had qualified on.

The instant the lights went out, our eyes were arrested by the sight of Pete Foster making one of his now legendary flying starts. He quite literally shot out of the blocks and simply made a gap between the surprised pair of King and Scragg to claim third. Neither of these men, nor indeed to the two on the front row had made bad starts, it was just that Foster had excelled.

McWhirter got the drop on Kemp who in turn nearly, very nearly had the audacious Foster up the inside into Riches for the first time. Foster had to back out that one, allowing McWhirter and Kemp to head towards Sears unthreatened.

King was not happy about where he now found himself and got a great run out of Sears to claim third back from Foster who simply had no traction exiting the tight right onto the Revett Straight. Most of the field had made it through the first corners ok with the exception of Paul Hipwell who spun the mighty V8. Frustrating though this doubtless was for him, the potential of him fighting back through the field added an extra element of anticipation.

Kemp was able to squeeze ahead of McWhirter before the end of lap one and was also able to start to pull out a small lead. Mcwhirter meanwhile was soon going to have a hard charging King on his tail, King having successfully relieved Foster of third. Chris Scragg, in a car that I thought would surely shine on the long straights of Snetterton was sitting in fourth.

Scragg soon demonstrated this theory by hammering up to Foster on the Senna Straight with every intention of taking the place into Riches. Foster, however hasn’t been racing this car for thirty two years without learning a thing or two and therefore very cleanly took the racing line making sure that if Scragg really wanted it, he was going to have to work a bit harder than that.

McWhirter meanwhile was keeping Kemp honest maintaining a half second gap to the leader. Paul Hipwell was starting his anticipated climb back through the field. David Scott’s N24 was running a strong sixth.

Scragg meanwhile had found a V8 sized gap alongside the DB4 of Foster and was through but most definitely not away. John Goldsmith had qualified the DB6 well in fifth but was having a nightmare race running a lowly ninth.

Meanwhile back at the front, Mcwhirter was starting to look for ways around the young Kemp whilst maintaining a constant half second gap. Both the hunter and the hunted here had their work cut out as the track was ever changing lap by lap as the predicted rain never fully materialised.

Hipwell was now ahead of Lewis and Rawe and had more scalps firmly in sight. Kemp meanwhile was making masterful use of the back markers, lapping with ease for himself but making McWhirter really fight to stay in touch.

Series sponsor, James Wenyon had missed the Silverstone round but was back with a vengeance at Snetterton. He had propelled his rebuilt Class B2 DB4 way up the order, leaving his usual nemesis and good friend Robert Rawe to his own battle.

With minutes to go, Mcwhirter had a huge moment on the exit of Coram entering the Russell chicane and whilst it may or may not have frightened Darren it certainly got our attention in the commentary box. The reason for this became clearly when McWhirter was seen forlornly limping pit bound on the very next lap, drivetrain problems putting paid to this exciting challenge.

This left Kemp to an unchallenged run to flag and simultaneously promoted King to second. Foster was now keener than ever to relieve Scragg of his position – something he was able to do with quite literally, seconds left on the clock.

Charlie Kemp it was then that took another, very well and hard earned victory in his DB4. Nicholas King staked his claim to his imminent arrival on the top step of the podium with a strong run to second and irrepressible Foster claimed yet another podium.

Scragg’s V8 was fourth, with Scott’s N24 fifth once again and it’s worth noting that albeit in damp conditions, these three very disparate cars, DB4, V8 and N24 Vantage were only just two seconds apart at the flag.

Wenyon was virtually a lap ahead of seventh placed Cooke, so sixth was certainly safe but such was his pace that he was just over a second off the boot lid of David Scott brand new N24.

Darren McWhirter can head back to Scotland with head held high and pride intact along with the knowledge that he claimed fastest lap of the race.

With three rounds left, who can stop the steam roller that is Charlie Kemp and his DB4? Next round at Castle Combe in August may give us a clue?

Words: Peter Snowdon
Photo’s: Linzi Smart

AMOC UBS Aston Martin Championship Historic Race
(Pre-1960)

Snetterton

In contrast to the preceding three rounds, the fourth round of the UBS Historic Championship at Snetterton on the last day of June attracted a small grid. Just ten cars qualified for the race with notable absences being Adrian Beecroft’s DBR1, Martin McGlone’s DB3S and the rapid DB MkIII’s of John Gross and the Baldwin family.

A quality field was however headed by the glorious DB2 of David Reed, although his pole position time of 1:31.108 looked ominous to say least, being 5.5secs clear of fellow front row man Nicholas Ruddell. Ruddell, as outright championship leader was doubtless relieved to have to little opposition from his usual nemesis.

Jim Campbell had his fabulous MkII into third, thus upholding Pre-war honours. Douglas Barkers DB2/4 MkI was alongside Campbell. Mark Campbell and Kelvin Robinson occupied row three with former AMOC Chairman Keith Piper and Douglas Barker making up row four and Christopher Scott Mackirdy rounding off the final ten.

As the field formed up we were sadly lacking the pole sitting car of Reed. A clutch problem that had arisen in testing the previous day had obviously not prevented it that stunning qualifying time but after that it was elected to retire the car rather than cause more damage.

Championship leader Ruddell therefore became pole man de facto with the advantage of no-one alongside to beat at the lights. Or so he thought.

Campbell, Jim it was that had a fantastic initial start nearly taking the lead but Ruddell was able to out drag him into Riches and was even able to initiate a three car length lead. Douglas Barker settled into third with Mark Campbell taking fourth. Barker however pulled off a lovely maneuver slipping ahead of Jim Campbell at The Esses whilst Ruddell continued to eke out a margin at the front.

Whilst Ruddell extended that lead to three and a half seconds, Barker had Campbell and initially Piper in tow. Campbell was now no longer in immediate touch with the leaders but had pulled away from Piper.

Douglas Barker was the now the man to watch, indeed marvel at as he set as furious pace in his A1 class MkI. Barker had clearly found his comfortable pace and now set a time that was two seconds faster than the race leader. Having now closed the gap, Barker was determined to make the most of the favourable conditions. He challenged time after time for the lead into Russell Chicane but was never quite able to make it stick however, losing out each time on the straight before making it all back again through Coram on the next lap. Frustrating this must have been for Barker, but fabulous racing it was for those watching.

The order stayed the same further down the field and at this stage the sensible money would have bet on Barker pulling off a move on Ruddell. However, with just a couple of minutes left, Barker appeared to drop back to virtually ten cars lengths giving the impression that his challenge was at an end. Looks can indeed be deceptive and on the very next run through Coram he made what can only be described a monumental lunge, again nearly taking the lead.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite able to carry it off, although if there were an award for sheer effort, Barker deserved it.

Ruddell therefore took the flag, Barker ultimately settling for second 2.4sec behind. Jim Campbell took third and the first Pre-war car home completing the podium.
Mark Campbell took fourth in his A1 Class car, a result that now puts him at the head of the overall championship. He was followed by Graham Barker. Scott Mackirdy took sixth and the second Pre-war car home. Keith Piper, Kelvin Robinson and Colin Campbell finished the order.

Despite an unusually weak grid for these car and competitors, they put on another fine display of close, clean and exciting racing. Castle Combe in August should hopefully see a return to the fuller grids we are used to from the UBS Historic boys.

Words: Peter Snowdon

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