Important info on A11 Closures
Please read this note on roadworks on the A11 near Thetford.
It seems to have been a long time coming (although maybe not for some car preparers!) but at last we are about to go racing again.
Next weekend (April 2nd and 3rd) we shall be at Snetterton for a double header on the 3 mile long 300 version of Jonathan Palmer’s latest incarnation of the track. The Norfolk circuit has always been an important venue for the Alfa Romeo Championship. In 1981 a pilot all Alfa handicap race was organised by the BRSCC, won by 61 year old Maurice Macaulay in his Alfasud Ti. For the following year a 5 round series was offered, sticking to the handicap format, and the first round took place at Snetterton on Good Friday, April 9th. There was a varied field present for the 15 minute race which included unusual race cars such as Peter Cabrol’s Junior Zagato and the Alfetta saloon of Stephen Milne. However, the race was won by Richard Gamble’s 1750 GTV after game pursuit by the Alfetta GTV of Peter Hilliard and Alfasud Ti of Phil Rowley. Since then, the Championship has visited Snetterton almost every year and in 2008 on no less than three occasions! So it is fitting that our first race of 2016 should be there again.
We are arrive at the start of our 35th season with a number of changes. Firstly Alfashop, our title sponsor for the past 10 years, will sadly no longer be sponsoring us. For the moment, therefore, their familiar windscreen sunstrips will be replaced by ones for Alfaracer.com, supporting our highly successful website. Secondly Toyo have relinquished their role as tyre supplier and this will be taken over by Yokohama through their distributor Black ‘n’ Rounds. This is particularly important to the Twin Spark Cup which, for the first time, will be using Yokohama’s well known A048 tyre. Lastly, we have revised the start arrangements for the coming year. After experimenting with a split grid, with three rows between the Modified/Power Trophy cars and the Twin Sparks, we concluded towards the end of last season that this was not producing the desired result of safer racing at the first few corners. As a result of much discussion, there will now be a minimum 5 second/maximum 10 second delay between the red lights “off” start for the Modified/Power Trophy cars and a flag start for the Twin Spark Cup. Hopefully, this will also take away the temptation for some Power Trophy drivers to start from the pit lane.
Good news is that Judith Hibbins has returned as our on-the day co-ordinator. She will probably not be at every meeting but should be at Snetterton. If there any organisational or administrative problems, discuss them with Judith who will be able to take the appropriate action. We shall also be welcoming our new eligibility scrutineer,Kevin Lewis, and it would help him get to grips with the ins and outs of Alfa Romeos more quickly competitors can make themselves, and their cars, known to him.
Next weekend’s entry is dominated by a fine Twin Spark Cup entry (17 cars at the time of writing) and we are particularly pleased to welcome a celebrity entry, “Bake Off” star Paul Hollywood who has been entered in the Bianco renta’ 156 that proved so quick in the hands of Tom Hill at various times. This is a one-off outing to gain signatures in preparation for his GT4 programme in a Beachdean Aston Martin V8 Vantage. To find the last time we had a celebrity driver running with us, you have to go back to Daley Thompson who did two races with us in 1993. It will be interesting to see how Paul measures up to the Twin Spark regulars such as Tom Hill, Simon Cresswell, Andy Hancock and Steve Potts in their similar 156s.
On previous form, we should find Tom Hill – now in his own black and gold car – fighting for pole and at least one race win. He will also be one of those to have tested on the new Yokohama rubber. Simon Cresswell impressed last year, particularly at Brands Hatch, but an accident at Croft meant that his car has had to be rebuilt over the winter. Steve Potts is always someone who you think is going to get that long awaited win but this has so far eluded him. Andy Hancock surprised everyone by starting the first race of 2015 on pole but although he managed podiums at Oulton and Cadwell, his season never quite took off and he will be aiming for better things this year. A serious dark horse at Snetterton could be Gethin Llewellyn’s 156. Gethin was due to debut the car at Brands last August, but a nasty paddock accident saw him in hospital with serious leg damage. Happily that is mostly behind him and we look forward to seeing how he gets on. James Bishop’s championship winning 156 has been sold to Mike Tydeman who last raced in a Fiesta in the mid 80s and he will be joining the other 156s of Andy Inman, Paul Webster and Jeremy Chilton. Jeremy had the accolade of starting and finishing every race last year in his smart black and green car.
It has always been a mystery why the 147 (a championship winner in 2011 in the hands of Emma Karwacki) has not been a more popular Twin Spark Cup car but our only current lady driver, Stacey Dennis, has been testing her example over the winter and we expect her to be more competitive as a result. As last season progressed, James Browning became ever more competitive and he will be hoping that the experience he gained will get him nearer to the podium. His 147 has a “face lift” front for the new season. Joshua Lambert is another who has the potential to make further progress up the field in 2016 whilst newcomer Andrew Fulcher has unfortunately withdrawn, simply running out of time to get the car finished.
Two quick 145s will be on the grid and after Matt Daly’s superb win at the end of last season at Donington, Richard Stevens and Mark Hope know that the car has plenty of potential. Richard raced his throughout 2015 but mechanical disasters at the last two meetings rather spoiled his season. Mark has bought Tom Eastwood’s car after a year racing a Renault 5 Turbo in a Classic Touring Car Racing Club series and taking a race win in the process. Previously he competed in the VW Cup. Mark might well find himself chatting to Nick Anderson who raced a Renault 5 Turbo in period. Completing the Snetterton TS grid, there are single examples of the 146 (Richard Ford) and 916 GTV (Andrew Bourke). You may wonder what has happened to Dave Messenger and Paul Plant. Dave is on holiday in the USA but will return at Silverstone while Paul is racing his WDE Clio in the TOCA package Clio Championship at Brands Hatch – we wish him luck!
Exactly what the final Modified and Power Trophy entry will be was not quite clear as these notes were being written but 2015 Champion Graham Seager will not be present, still awaiting some engine parts for his refurbished supercharged V6 GTV. Roger McMahon was very quick on his two appearances last year at Cadwell and Croft in his 147 Cup car and he will undoubtedly feature again, as will the mighty 3.8 litre 156 of Andy Robinson. Andy’s car broke its gearbox back at Donington and this has now been replaced while the car should also have a new, and more effective, rear wing. Chris Oxborough has entered his supercharged 75 3 litre which we last saw at Croft. By Silverstone (May 8th) we think that the Modified class will be boosted by several familiar cars including the 156 Turbo of Vincent Dubois, 147 turbo of James Nicholls and the 33 16v of Bryan Shrubb. The Power Trophy at Snetterton will be led by the 147 GTA of Ray Foley while a late entry is the 33 8v of Nick Anderson. We had hoped for an appearance by the Power Trophy 75 3 litre of Keith Waite but no entry has so far materialised. Also missing is Ron Davidson whose 164 engine is being rebuilt by Bianco but he plans to be at Silverstone.
Let us hope that the weather is kind to us and that the racing lives up to the standard that we were enjoying so often in 2015.