Donington has always been one of the BRSCC Alfa Romeo Championship’s most popular circuits but looking at the entry list last weekend I was wondering if everyone had gone on holiday!
Happily, as so often happens, the grid numbers have come good at the last minute and we have actually ended with our best entry of the year – plus the bonus of a title decider to whet the appetite!
We have lived in hope of getting the best of our Modified and Power Trophy cars out together all year. Happily, Donington next weekend should give us the chance of seeing some really competitive racing at the front of the field. To begin with, Andy Robinson’s Peak Alfa 156 is now ready to race, complete with supercharged 3.2 litre V6 engine which was producing prodigious amounts of power when it ran on the rolling road recently. Andy’s engine is much the same as that used for some time by Roger Evans and then Graham Seager who won the championship with it in 2015. After taking a race one win at Mallory three weeks ago but having to miss race two with a “wobbly” supercharger pulley, Graham will be back with the black GTV for Donington. Andy and Graham will be joined by Vincent Dubois who, after double wins at Festival Italia in August, suffered extreme misfortune at Mallory with a broken drive shaft in qualifying and then an under bonnet fire after he had qualified out of session later in the morning. Final Modified class entries are the McMahon brothers, Barry and Roger. Barry will be racing his 156 turbo which uses a now well developed version of the Giulietta 1750cc engine that he has been racing with Britcar this year. Roger has entered the 3.2 V6 156 with which he won the opening round of the Championship at Oulton in March and which Alastair Kellett took to a second place and then a win at Mallory. Roger has not been too well of late and if he is unable to drive we imagine that Alastair will take the wheel again.
As in 2016, the Power Trophy has not really succeeded in attracting entries but at Donington we shall have four cars contesting the class. Peak Alfa are out in force at this meeting with two Modified cars, two in the Power Trophy and one Twin Spark. Roger Evans is back with a V6 again, this time a newly built 156 GTA which has its origins in shell that Ray Foley damaged at Assen a couple of years back. Ray himself will be returning in his 147 GTA and hopefully the water loss and consequent overheating problem that has plagued the car all year will have been solved. Ray went well with the car at Donington last year and will be hoping for a strong result this time. However, he and Roger will face strong opposition from Paul Webster who has been a revelation in his ex Clive Hodgkin 156 3.2 and the similarly engined 164 of Ron Davidson. Ron has had rather a miserable season with unreliability issues but is optimistic that these have been resolved. The Modified and Power Trophy cars will be joined in the front starting group by the Invitation class Fiat Punto Abarths of Vince Proto and Chris and Simon McFie whose exploits have included overall wins by Chris and several other podium finishes.
And so to the Twin Spark Cup on which, undoubtedly, much of the attention will be focused throughout the two days. For one thing, this is where the Championship title will be settled with Andrew Bourke and Tom Hill as the main contenders. Andrew arrived at Mallory with a 26 point lead over Tom but sadly his 156 was severely damaged in the first race, a collision with Mike Tydeman’s similar car sending Andrew into the barriers. As a result he was not able to score points but because of the dropped scores rule, and the fact that this was his first retirement of the year, he was able to come away still heading the table but now with his lead slashed to just 11 points. Also, Tom was unable to take more advantage of Andrew’s bad luck as he could only take a 2nd and 3rd place in the two races rather than the hoped-for wins. With his own car not available, Andrew will be racing the black Squadra Bianco 156 normally seen in the hands of Paul Plant. Also suffering misfortune at Mallory was Simon Cresswell. After taking an excellent pole position in qualifying and challenging for a win all through race one, he eventually crashed at the hairpin and had to retire. However, again because of the dropped scores rule he is, mathematically, still just in contention. However, there are several other drivers who could well have a big effect on the eventual outcome and the calculators will be out as the races develop. Firstly, there is Dave Messenger, who took two excellently judged wins with his Darnells 156 last time out at Mallory and then James Browning who was unchallenged in both races at Brands Hatch in his 147. After having something to prove at Mallory after his race one incident, Mike Tydeman was the star of race 2 and only failed to take his first ever win by just 0.059”! Andy Inman (in the fifth Peak Alfa entry) and Jeremy Chilton are likely to resume their Mallory battle while we shall be watching newcomer Riccardo Losselli with interest in the green Bianco renta’ 147. Riccardo has previously sprinted a 4C (!) in Italy and had originally suggested running it here. And lastly, but certainly not least, we are very happy to welcome back Andy Hancock with his Bianco prepared Grove & Dean Motorsport Insurance 156. This may well be his last race in the Alfa Championship as his sponsors look to place him elsewhere for 2018 but we would like to thank him for his support and friendship over the past few seasons, especially with the Grove & Dean Driver of the Weekend Award. And, If all goes well, Andy could be another driver to influence the final Championship outcome.
I am sure we all wish the championship contenders a safe and successful end to the season. Will the title win be a well deserved victory for Andrew Bourke or a hard fought back-to-back win for Tom Hill? Or a seemingly unlikely championship fairy tale for Simon Cresswell after a perfect weekend? The winner of the Twin Spark Cup in the second race on Sunday morning will, in addition, receive the coveted Kevin Griffiths Trophy following in the footsteps of many well known names in the Championship over the years including more recently, Matt Daly, Dave Messenger, Anthony George and, on three occasions, Roger Evans.
We shall be at the Red Gate end of the Paddock. Our Prize Giving will take place after the race on Sunday morning, probably around 10.45. Do come and join us.
PS: Congratulations to Paul Webster (156), Richard Drake (Alfasud), Stephen & Henry Chase (Alfetta GTV) Jim Utting (GTV) and George Wright (147) for winning the Handicap section of the MG Car Club’s 4 Hour Relay at Snetterton (200 circuit) on October 1st and finishing 8th on scratch amongst the 16 teams that started the race.