After a week of record breaking temperatures across the UK, the HITEK Electronic Materials Alfa Romeo Championship headed to the dramatically picturesque Anglesey Circuit for rounds 5 and 6 faced with a weather forecast that seemed quite unbelievable, two days of very strong winds with the potential for heavy rain, particularly on the Saturday. With some competitors testing on Friday and a good number arriving on Friday evening, the weather appeared to be fine and settled and everyone was optimistic that the weekend may not be quite as rough as we thought.
For the second time, we were taking part in the Ferrari Club Competizione Weekend hosted by the Ferrari Club of Great Britain and were pleased to have been asked to be part of the weekend’s planned sporting activities on the track. An interesting departure from the norm was the fact that two different circuit configurations were being utilised, the 2.1 mile International GP circuit on Saturday and the familiar 1.55 mile Coastal circuit on the Sunday each with their own qualifying session.
A couple of late entries had boosted the numbers racing up to a reasonable 15, with all 4 classes being represented for the first time this season. Making his first appearance of the year and a welcome sight back in the paddock was George Osborne in his splendidly turned out Alfa 75, this time entered in the Modified class. The V6 class had Championship leader Tom Hill out in his 3.2 GT together with fellow Revs Italia runners Graham Seager in the 147 GTA and Andy Inman in the 156 GTA. Dave Messenger returned to the action in his Darnells Engineering 156 GTA after missing the last rounds at Croft, and it was great to see that Gabriele Iaccarino had managed to rebuild his GT after his Croft incident and would be able to complete the class.
It was the first time this year that the Power Trophy had been represented and we welcomed newcomer Gary Holman in his Alfa 33. This car has a 16 Valve Brunswick engine, an Omex ecu and coil pack, AHM springs and Koni dampers. Gary reckons it’s all fairly standard and produces around 150 bhp. Returning to the paddock after a few years, it was good to have John Griffiths back in action in the Alfa 147.
A familiar group of Twin Spark cars provided a good grid of 7 entries, with Bianco Motorsports providing support to most of the entries including class leader Andrew Bourke. Jon Billingsley was in his customary 147 and James and Richard Ford had brought along their familiar 156s. Toby Broome had been due to go out in the Rent a Car 156 but a last minute acquisition of the smartly turned out ex Tom Herbert 156 saw a change of car and number for this meeting. Robin Hall was in his 156 and Andy Winterton was making a second appearance of the season in the ex Dave Messenger 156.
Qualifying: International GP
When Saturday morning dawned, it was obvious that the predicted weather had arrived. A mild but quite rough southerly wind had brought a fair amount of rain and the drivers gathered in the Assembly Area with the sky overcast and a wet track. First out as always was Tom Hill who immediately was on the pace with a 1:50.927. This was followed by the first of two consecutive sub 1:50 lap times that would secure the pole for his Alfa GT. George Osborne in his 75 was always likely to be close to challenging for pole but a run of steadily improving lap times in the slippery conditions would result in a time of 1:50.429, second to Tom so good enough for a spot on the front row for race 1. Dave Messenger secured third spot with a 1:51.607 on lap 4 with Graham Seager alongside with a 1:53.029 on lap 6. The next three fastest times were set by Twin spark cars, followed by Gabriele Iaccarino, getting the feel of his rebuilt car as he secured fifth spot on the front part of the grid with Andy Inman alongside. Andy had also been setting times in the midst of the twin sparks but on lap 5 had to pull up at the bus stop near the pit lane entrance with his car giving off what would turn out to be oil smoke from a split oil cooler pipe. On lap 6, Richard Ford also pulled off the circuit after the banking on the first hairpin and managed to get the car sufficiently off the circuit for the session to continue.
The Power Trophy cars of Gary Holman and John Griffiths made up the fourth row of the front section of the grid with Gary holding the initiative with a time of 2:08.957 until John put in a time of 2:08.195 on his final lap.
Early pacesetter in the Twin Sparks was Jon Billingsley, recording successively improving fastest laps over his first four laps ending up with a blistering lap time of 1:56.009 which would prove to be the pole lap by over 1.35 seconds. Andrew Bourke looked to have secured second spot with a 1:57.366 on lap 5 while the other TS runners were lapping in the 1:58s with Toby Broome in third. James Ford put in his quickest lap by over a second on his last lap, his time of 1:57.400 was enough to take third spot but just fell short of overhauling Andrew. Richard Ford had set a best time of 1:58.873 on lap 4, before later retiring and ending up 5th. Robin Hall and Andy Winterton would line up 6th and 7th respectively with times in the 2:03s.
Andy Inman’s car was returned to the paddock where the Revs Italia team quickly diagnosed the problem and got the car repaired and ready for the race.
Richard’s car had to be carefully recovered from the circuit with gearbox issues and a diagnosis by the Bianco Motorsports team determined that a replacement gearbox was required. The full awning to the truck had not been erected due to the windy conditions but they had still managed to put up a cover to provide some protection from the elements and set about replacing the gearbox. They did a great job in getting the work completed in difficult conditions and the car was fit to join the grid for the race.
Race 1: International GP
As the time approached for the cars to make their way to the Assembly Area, the question on everyone’s lips, at least those in the leading group, was slick tyres or wet tyres? The rain had started to fall more heavily over the lunch period although there were signs that it could ease off at any time. For the majority of drivers it was wets that went onto the cars, but Dave Messenger, sensing there may be an advantage here as long as he could keep the car on the track in the early stages, opted for slicks and the cars proceeded to the Assembly Area. The Ferrari drivers had just been out on track and their clear message was that wets were the order of the day. With that, Dave decided that caution may be the better option and a set of wet tyres went on to his 156 at the last minute. No such concerns for the Twin Sparks with their Yokohama control tyres!
As the lights went out, Tom Hill got a good start and took an early lead from George Osborne with the rest of the leading group crossing the line at the end of lap 1 in grid order. When the flag went down to signal the start for the twin sparks, Andrew Bourke got a flying start to take the lead from pole sitter Jon Billingsley, with the rest of the field settling in behind in grid order. Gary Holman was out for the first time in his Alfa 33 and was overtaken by the Twin Sparks over the course of the 1st lap. His fellow Power Trophy competitor, John Griffiths in his 147 had returned to Alfa racing after a break and took a cautious first lap, with the leading Twin Spark trio of Andrew, Jon and James all having passed as the cars began lap 2.
Tom and George were starting to pull away at the front but the leading Twin Sparks were lapping quicker than the other V6 cars on lap 2 with the changeable conditions contributing to the levelling up of the times. By the end of lap 2, the two Power Trophy cars, affected by the same grip issues as the V6s, had been overtaken by the Twin Sparks and were circulating at the rear of the field.
George had never been far behind Tom and on lap 3 he had a good run out of the hairpin and took the lead of the race into the Bus Stop at the end of the International loop. Graham Seager, who had eased past Dave Messenger on lap 2, was in third, with Gabs Iaccarino, who had rebuilt his GT following his Croft excursion, going well in fifth followed by the leading trio of Twin Sparks who had all got past Andy Inman on lap 3. As the cars started lap 4, Toby Broome and Richard Ford were right behind Andy and had closed the gap on Jon and James, with Andrew out on his own with almost a five second lead. James managed to get past Jon at the hairpin on lap 4, meanwhile Toby Broome had got past Andy Inman and had joined the battle for the top three.
At the front, Tom was never far from George but was unable to get close enough to challenge for the overall lead. Nevertheless, he was in a comfortable second and was leading the V6 class ahead of Graham, Dave, Gabs and Andy, who gradually dropped behind the Twin Sparks as his tyre wear took its toll. As the cars took the chequered flag it was George Osborne’s 75 that took the top spot, with Tom and Graham taking the other podium slots. Tom took the V6 class win with Graham second and Dave third, all of them glad to get to the finish nursing wet tyres that showed considerable signs of having being punished on a surface that quickly became more suited to slicks as the laps unfolded. In the Power Trophy class, it was John Griffiths who took the victory from Gary Holman who had an enjoyable debut drive in his Alfa 33.
In the Twin Sparks, Andrew had pulled out an 8 second lead by lap 5 and put in the fastest lap of the race, a 1:50.111 to consolidate his position. James, however, now in clear air was also lapping in similar times and for the second half of the race would continue to set a succession of times in the 1:50s to keep some pressure on Andrew. Behind the front pair, Jon was coming under increasing pressure from Toby and on lap 7, the two cars came together at the hairpin, unfortunately resulting in damage to both cars. Toby had front wing damage but moved into third and was able to continue. Jon had clearly suffered some rear suspension damage and although he was able to continue and finish sixth, his problems were reflected in his subsequent lap times. Andrew took the chequered flag almost 8 seconds clear of James in second, with Toby taking the final podium position. Richard was fourth, Robin Hall completed a fine drive to fifth, Jon was sixth and Andy Winterton seventh.
Race 1 Results
|Power Trophy||John Griffiths|
|Twin Spark Cup||Andrew Bourke|
Day Two – Qualifying: Coastal Circuit.
The forecast for day two was much improved in terms of rain but there were still very high 40 mph+ winds likely. After a night of high winds and driving rain that unfortunately put the dampers on the Ferrari Owners Club’s paddock festivities, Sunday morning dawned bright and a drying track for qualifying looked promising. Sunday’s track action was on the familiar Coastal circuit and those that had tested on Friday had the chance for sessions on each circuit layout.
Andy Inman was a non starter on Sunday having had to return home for personal reasons so only 14 cars would take to the track.
The session started slightly ahead of schedule and Tom Hill was again straight on the pace, setting what would turn out to be the pole lap on only his second tour with a time of 1:18.284. After a couple more laps on a similar pace, he settled into a more cruising mode, for Tom of course! Graham Seager had also settled into an early rhythm and set a time of 1:18.723 that would put him firmly on the front row. Unfortunately for Graham, that would be that as his car pulled off the track at School with what was later diagnosed as a damaged gearbox. Dave Messenger set the third quickest time on lap 5, a position that he held until the last lap when George Osborne managed a 1:18.995 to just pip him. Gabriele Iaccarino put in a series of consistent times mid session and was fifth, fourth in class with a sub 1:21 time.
In the Twin Sparks, Andrew Bourke had set a couple of quick times after Jon Billingsley had gone quickest on the opening lap, before James Ford set fastest times on laps 4 and 5. James’s time of 1:24.177 would hold until the last lap when Andrew snatched the pole back with 1:24.078. Jon was third about 4/10ths adrift with Richard Ford a further 4/10ths adrift. Toby Broome and Robin Hall both made times in the 1:25s with Andy Winterton a further second behind. The two Power Trophy cars of John Griffiths and Gary Holman were 13th and 14th with times of 1:28.355 and 1:30.452 respectively.
When Graham’s car was recovered it became clear that he would be unable to continue and the field was further reduced to 12 participants as Toby Broome also had to travel back home for personal reasons.
Race Two: Coastal Circuit
As the race start time of 14:10 approached there were no issues this time with tyre choice for the leading group. All went out on slicks, which is just as well as there had been some well worn and destroyed wets return to the paddock the previous afternoon!
Tom Hill was starting from pole but Graham Seager’s absence had meant that George Osborne was starting from the second row with Dave Messenger alongside. Gabriele Iaccarino and John Griffiths were on row three with Gary Holman on row 4.
George managed an excellent start as the lights went out and went down the inside of Tom to take the lead into turn one. At the end of lap 1, he had maintained a slender lead over Tom with Dave Messenger third, Gabriele Iaccarino fourth and the Power Trophy cars of John Griffiths and Gary Holman fifth and sixth.
In the Twin Sparks, Toby Broome was missing from his fifth place slot and as the flag went down all cars got away well and by the time they had rounded Church to enter the back straight the order was the same as on the grid and they completed lap one in those positions. By the end of lap two, Andrew, James, Jon and Richard had all eased past Gary Holman’s 33, on lap three they had all passed John Griffith’s 147 whilst Robin Hall and Andy Winterton, both going well in their 156s had also gone past Gary’s 33. Robin went in front of John’s 147 on lap four with Andy going past on lap five, by which time John had pulled out a 9 second advantage to lead the power trophy duo.
Aside from this, there were very few overtaking possibilities, but the outcome of the race was far from settled as the leading cars in each group contested a fascinating race long battle. At the front, Tom was never more than a second away from George apart from when they were caught up in back markers, but the sheer pace of these two had steadily pulled out a comfortable gap over Dave Messenger, third overall and second to Tom in the V6 class. There had been a little rain fall about halfway through but it was never enough to seriously cause problems and the chase carried on unabated. Tom, of course, never gave up and by the chequered flag crossed the line only 0.392 seconds behind George with a fastest time of 1:18.742 on lap 5 that would eclipse Paul Webster’s previous lap record time. It was a similar story in the Twin Sparks. Andrew Bourke had led from the start but James Ford stayed with him and at one time had managed to get alongside going into Rocket. However, Andrew hung on and crossed the finish line immediately ahead of George Osborne’s 75 and Tom Hill’s GT with James crossing the line next. James Ford’s fastest lap of 1:23.889 had been eclipsed by Andrew Bourke’s 1:23.787 but this was not enough to threaten Tom Hill’s existing Twin Spark lap record of 1.22.157 so the four time champion holds the lap record in two classes on the Coastal circuit.
Behind the leading pair, Dave Messenger finished third overall and second in the V6 class with Gabriele Iaccarino third in the V6 class. In the Power Trophy, John Griffiths took the win from Gary Holman who had a fine first outing in his Alfa 33.
In the Twin Sparks, Jon Billingsley held on to third despite exhaust problems developing later in the race, with Richard Ford bringing the 156 home in fourth, Robin Hall in fifth and Andy Winterton in sixth.
Race 2 Results
|Power Trophy||John Griffiths|
|Twin Spark Cup||Andrew Bourke|
The driver of the weekend award went to Gabriele Iaccarino in recognition of his perseverance and enthusiasm in getting the car track worthy after his excursion at Croft and completing a solid weekend with a reliable performance and a class podium award.
The consensus at the end of the day was that it had been an enjoyable two days as part of the Ferrari Club Competizione weekend and despite the poor weather, the track surface was always driveable and some competitive racing was provided. Thanks to everyone at Anglesey Circuit and the Ferrari Owners Club, and also to Paul Stone who took some excellent photos that are available on Alfaracer.com