After the excitements of “Festival Italia”, we are back to some kind of normality as we make our way to Donington for rounds 13 & 14 of the Championship this coming weekend (August 27th/28th).
Donington has always been one of our favourite circuits but a number of factors has meant that the entry is lower than we had been hoping for. Whether it is only having a two week gap following Brands, a number of damaged cars, lack of budget, holidays, weddings, whatever the reason, we shall be looking at a thinner grid. Of the four Modified cars that ran at Brands, none will be at Donington, so we have a new cast to entertain us. Bryan Shrubb makes a return with his 33 16v, while Graham Seager (GTV) and Andy Page (Giulietta 116) are back having only appeared so far at Oulton. Graham did win race 1 there and should be the favourite to win again despite retiring with a suspension problem in race 2. Bryan’s 33 had a stuck open throttle in race 2 at Castle Combe after winning race 1 but will always be a contender. Andy Page’s car broke its propshaft at Oulton but heroic efforts earned him two podium finishes by the end of the day. Sadly, the most successful of this year’s Modified drivers, Andy Robinson, is having to miss Donington as his engine suffered a head gasket failure at Brands. Ray Foley (147 GTA) was re-invigorated by his last two races and will be joined in the Power Trophy by Ron Davidson (164) and David Lambourn, having his first race since 2015 in his 33 1.7 16v.
Tom Hill didn’t manage to open a large enough points gap over Simon Cresswell at Brands to take the Championship but still comes to Donington with a 79 point lead. If he ends the weekend 44 points or more to the good, then the 2016 championship title is won. His biggest rival last time out was David Messenger and with the two Brands victories under his belt Dave is now in a battle of his own to take away third place in the championship from Andy Robinson, or even the runner-up spot from Simon Cresswell. This will be one of the more intriguing stories to follow at Donington. But Tom, David and Simon will all be keeping a close eye on James Ford (who is making his first appearance after the arrival of his and Gemma’s daughter in July. Many congratulations!) James won at Oulton last time out and can never be discounted even if, like this year, he only makes occasional appearances. His brother Richard will also be in action and has now bought the Bianco renta’ that he raced so effectively at Zolder back in June.
Mike Tydeman is a driver who has improved considerably as the season has progressed although the stiff “James Bishop” set-up of his 156 doesn’t perhaps do him any favours but he took a fourth in class at Brands. Andy Inman continues to perform well but was unlucky to have a puncture on the first lap of race 1 at Brands. Jeremy Chilton was delighted with his races there and should find himself battling again with Andy Inman, Andrew Fulcher’s 147 and the returning 156 of Paul Webster. The real wild card in the Twin Spark Cup at Donington is going to be double champion Roger Evans with his long awaited 145. We all remember how strongly Matt Daly performed last year to win race 2 in a similar car and there is no reason why Roger shouldn’t be at the sharp end this time. And a last minute entry is Paul Plant with his 156. Talking to him on Thursday afternoon, the car still had no engine but they work wonders at Bianco don’t they!!
Scrutineering and Qualifying will take place on Saturday afternoon and after Andrew Bourke’s accident at Brands, safety is going to be a subject of discussion between competitors and scrutineers. Our Eligibility Scrutineer Kevin Lewis will be assisted by panel member David Thomas on Saturday. The races are on Sunday at 10.35 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. both over 20 minutes as usual on the 1.98 mile National circuit.
Shall we leave Donington with a new Champion? See you there to find out.