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Round 5 – MGCC Silverstone International – 11 July 2009

The opportunity to race at the biggest MG meeting of the year, and the rare chance to drive on the International circuit, brought a large grid of 39 out for qualifying, with a further 3 unable to attend the Friday session but registered for the race.

ZERO EXHAUSTS THOROUGHBRED SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
Race Report – 11 July 2009 – MGCC Silverstone International – Round 5

Round 5 of the Zero Exhausts Thoroughbred Sportscar Championship was hosted by the MG Car Club at their annual extravaganza, this year rebranded as MG Live.  This event is arguable the biggest and best attended meeting on the Thoroughbred’s calendar and has gone from strength to strength, seemingly bigger and better every year.  The opportunity to race in front of such a big crowd, and the rare chance to drive on the International circuit brought a large grid of 39 out for qualifying, with a further 3 unable to attend the Friday session but registered for the race.

Rain had fallen earlier in the day, and indeed would fall at various points throughout the weekend, but qualifying was mostly dry for the Thoroughbreds session.  Drivers reported one or two sections that felt a bit greasy but for the most part grip levels were good.

Qualifying

Chris Acklam surprised no-one by taking overall and class D pole, his time one second clear of the field – prompting Ladbrokes to slash the odds on a race victory to 2/5 on.  Philip Goddard, Andy Green and Jon Emberson made it Morgans on rows one and two, with Class C leader and Championship contender Jerry Knight first on row 3.  Former champion Mike Hazlewood put his TR4 in 7th position overall and Class B pole, separated from Russell McCarthy by the Class C Morgan of Simon Orebi Gann.

In Class A, Peter Hiscocks MGA Roadster took pole from Brian Playford’s MGB.  Special mention to Dennis Bron who brought his lovely MGA Twin Cam Coupe FIA all the way from Holland to take part.

On the morning of the race, contrary to weather reports, there was a period of reasonably heavy rain, and dark clouds on the horizon.  This prompted a scramble to get cars onto wet tyres in time for the race.  With the previous race including a number of slick-shod cars, the clerk of the course delayed the start to allow these cars to swap on to wets, in turn delaying the start of the Thoroughbreds race.  By the time they were ready to go out, the rain had subsided and the track had dried, prompting another scramble back onto the original dry tyres for those who had swapped onto wets.

The race

From the start, polesitter Acklam got away cleanly, with Tony Lees storming up from 6th position to pass a number of cars through Copse and the entry to Maggots.  Shortly afterwards, he found there was still some moisture on the track and went straight on under braking for the right-hander onto the International straight and ended up heading out onto the Grand Prix Circuit!

At the end of the first lap the first three came through in qualifying order, followed by Jerry Knight hot on the heels of Jon Emberson.  Mike Hazlewood was away and cleanly leading Class B, with Russell McCarthy hot on his heels, and a hard charging Spencer making up 3 places on the first lap, and briefly passing Russell on the second before dropping back a couple of spots on lap 3.  With so many cars in the grid the race was shaping up to be a real cracker.  On Lap 4, from Barry Holmes in 12th position, to Peter Barnard in 25th, just over ten seconds separated 14 cars dicing for position.  From the back of the grid, father & son team Max & Neil Cawthorn were making up positions at a regular rate in their MBG and MGA respectively.

Unfortunately as a few drops of rain began to fall, what looked to be an exciting race was called short as a full course caution came out on lap 6 due to a large and spectacular accident involving Andy Green and Jerry Knight.  Green came out of Copse corner pushing hard and ended up in a long power-slide out of the exit on the corner, and unable to fully contain it, darted right in the direction of the slide.  He managed to catch it before hitting the right hand grass but speared back across the track and straight into the path of Jerry Knight who was travelling well over 100mph and was left with no-where to go.  The impact was huge and sent Jerry careering across the grass into a big, big impact with the wall; tearing the bonnet off the car and sending it flying through the air along with a radiator full of water and various debris.  Tensions were high as Jerry was kept in the car for some time, but when he eventually emerged with no major injuries everyone was very relieved.  Andy Green crossed the track to check on Jerry and the two had a quick hug to show there was no hard feelings about what was just an unfortunate racing incident.

In the paddock post-race no-one seemed too concerned about results, just worried about the condition of Jerry and Andy, but the results stood as they crossed the line after 6 laps, Chris Acklam winning yet again both race and Class D, with Philip Goddard taking second overall.

Jerry Knight leading Simon Cripps

Jerry Knight leading Simon Cripps

Simon Cripps had been pressing Jerry Knight quite hard before the accident and picked up 3rd overall and first in Class C.  Mike Hazlewood picked up the Class B win and Peter Hiscocks won Class A.

A disappointing end to the race but thankfulness all round for the lack of serious injuries to both drivers involved in the crash and a reminder that even at the best of times these things can happen.

An enjoyable meeting and atmosphere nonetheless and back to Silverstone in a few weeks for a proper dirty old car meet with the Bentley Drivers Club.

Stuart Dickinson

Photos by Dickin Siddall – www.dsdigital.co.uk

Points position to Round 5 – Silverstone Int.

Class A
Peter Hiscocks 12
Barry Proud 3
Brian Playford 3
Class B
Mike Hazlewood 33
Roy Chamberlain 17
Colin Jones 17
Class C
Jerry Knight 32
Simon Orebi Gann 20
Simon Cripps 19
Class D
Chris Acklam 39
Tony Lees 27
Philip Goddard 14

Overall
Chris Acklam 39
Mike Hazlewood 33
Jerry Knight 32
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