The sun shone brightly for most of MG Live! – 2010 Event Report
By Martin Price. Photos by Ed Nix
The annual pilgrimage to Silverstone was again a superb three-day affair, with all manner of attractions for young and old alike. Indeed the weather was very kind for all but the last couple of races on Sunday and for the very first time we were racing on the historic Grand Prix circuit. This meant that for the opening and final quarters of each lap it was business as usual, as they left the startline and headed through Copse, Maggotts and Becketts.
However, instead of taking the tight right down to Abbey; the drivers headed to Chapel Curve, down the incredibly fast Hanger Straight, right through Stowe, then onto Vale, Club and back up the Farm Straight to Abbey. After this point, they would find the familiar Bridge, Priory, Brooklands and Luffield complex, before crossing the finish line to begin another tour.
Friday saw untimed testing and this gave drivers the opportunity to not only make sure their cars were well, but also to familiarise themselves with the longer course and by the time that qualifying began on Saturday morning, most were quite excited by the challenge. As has become the norm, there were a couple of races before lunch and the first of these was a combined affair which included both the Drayton Manor Park MG Metro Cup competitors and also Classes A + B of the Lancaster Insurance MG Owners’ Club Championship.
No fewer than forty-two cars took to the grid and the two championships proved to be very evenly matched and produced some outstanding racing. Pole position was snatched by reigning champion, Andrew Ashton, driving his Class C Metro GTi, with Mike Williams only 0.3sec slower. Row two found Simon White alongside the fastest MGOC driver, Will Sharpe. As the lights went out, it was Mike Williams who made the best get away, leading the pack through Copse and up to Becketts.
Andrew Ashton and Simon White were in close contention, less than a second splitting the leading trio as they began Lap 2. Jim Baynam was going well in fourth spot, keeping Sharpe and Dunkley behind him. On lap two, Williams was forced to retire with ignition problems and White took the lead; this started a brilliant battle between himself and Ashton. Next time round, Ashton made a slick passing manoeuvre to regain the lead, which he would hold until lap six, when White squeezed past again, but the battle was not over. These two scrapped all the way to the flag, often side by side and never more than tenths of a second apart.
A very relieved White slipped over the line just half a second ahead to secure victory. Sharpe grabbed a well deserved third place overall and won the Lancaster Insurance battle. One of the best fought scraps was between the MGB of Jim Baynam and the Metro of Tony Howe; these two crossed the line with just 0.011sec between them, a truly great dice. There was also a super fight for the Class B Metro honours, as Lee McNamara and Tom Sanderson exchanged blows for the class title; finally 0.4sec split them at the flag, in McNamara’s favour. There was amazingly close racing throughout the field and this was a great way to kick off the meeting.
Race 2 brought some fantastic machinery to the grid for the MG Car Club Historic British Sportscar event. Divided into five classes, we saw outstanding examples of Aston Martin, Austin Healey and MG, as well as a group of very interesting GT and sports cars. Qualifying had seen the superb Marcos GT of Chris Conoley and Allen Tice quickest by nearly a second, sharing the front row with the beautiful Austin Healey 3000 of David Grace; Bruce Montgomery, driving another big Healey was on the second row, alongside the MGB of James Cottingham.
From the start, the race was dominated by the Conoley/Tice Marcos; Montgomery and Grace tried valiantly, but could do nothing about the leading car’s pace, as it was gaining over a second a lap from its nearest rival. This was a pit stop race and some drivers began pitting early. However, the leading group stayed out and the order remained unchanged. On lap 5, Cottingham managed to get past Smithies for fourth place, with the MGB of Tom Smith not far behind.
From lap 8 to 13, most crews pitted and it was virtually impossible to work out the running order. However, by the time the Conoley/Tice Marcos came in, they were so far ahead that they rejoined, still in the lead. Although not the quickest on the track, the sight and sound of the Astons was incredible and they certainly were driving on their limit and providing great entertainment for the crowds. Unfortunately, on lap eight, we lost the big Healey of David Grace, elevating Smithies to third overall.
One super dice which developed in the second half of the race, was between the ex Works Midget of MGCC Competitions Director, Dave Saunders, being driven by John Palmer, and the Dick Jacobs Midget Coupe of James Willis. Both cars only had 1293cc A series engines, but they were flying and finished in the top half of the field of much more powerful vehicles. As the 50 minute race drew to a close, the Conoley/Tice Marcos took the flag 48 seconds ahead of Montgomery, with Smithies third. The best MG was Tom Smith in his MGB; Mike Thorne took the Austin Healey 100 honours and Andrew Sharp was the quickest of the mildly modified Astons, whilst Jim Campbell won the Feltham Standard division.
Next out was the first of the weekend’s encounters of the Moss-Europe BCV8 Championship, they were out with the MGCC Cockshoot cup contenders and this meant a highly diverse collection of machinery, from standard cars on road tyres to the mighty slick-shod V8s. Paul Sibley easily claimed pole position from Joe Parrington, with the V8 of Bernard Foley on the second row, alongside the quickest of the Cockshoot brigade, the LE 500 of Mark Humphrey. As the lights went out, Sibley made it look like a one horse race, as he rocketed into an immediate 4.5 second lead at the end of their opening tour. Despite the V8 muscle of Foley and Tilly, Sibley was in a class of his own.
Parrington had enjoyed a very disappointing first lap, crossing the line back in tenth place. Further down the field and heading the BCV8 Class B battle were the Wheelers, James getting the better of Jonnie in the opening few laps, but these two were having serious competition from Simon Cripps and Ian Prior. Samuels and Hall were going well in Class C but both dropped out after five laps, leaving the class honours to Phil Walker. Sibley continued to press on and as the race was red flagged, he was twenty-two seconds clear of Tilly, with Parrington, having made a brilliant recovery, finishing in third place.
Meanwhile, the Cockshoot race was a very tight affair at the front; Mark Humphrey having to battle hard to keep Dave Coulthard’s Trophy ZR 190 behind him; just 0.5sec split them at the end. Sean Peters took Class B from Peter Bramble by over twenty seconds and Jeremy Toes beat Ian Wright in the Class A Midget scrap.
Race 4 was a real cracker, I admit that I am biased, but the T Type and MMM races have always been my favourite events since my first visit to an MG Car Club Silverstone weekend, back in 1971! However, predictably, it was the quick MGAs which claimed the front row, with Steve Smith and Colin Jones. Behind them were Alan Kyson, in his MGA Twin Cam, and George Edney’s TB, driven by his son, Peter. Forty-two cars took to the grid for the Hamilton Classic race and a wonderful sight they made. Right from the start, Steve Smith stamped his name on the silverware; as he pulled dramatically away form his fellow MGA opponents.
However, a great battle developed between the MGAs of Cody, Kyson and Bob Lines, as lap after lap just tenths split them. Sadly, a number of the usual T Type front runners were forced to retire, leaving Edney to have a fairly comfortable drive to the flag. However, the MMM battle was far from a walk in the park as Annie Templeton, great to see you out again in the KN Special Annie, slugged it out with the pretty PA single seater of John Bishop; Annie taking the flag by just 0.8sec.There were other fantastic duels throughout the field, but one of the best was between the super Dick Jacobs Special of Stuart Dean and Shaun Bromley’s MGA, they crossed the finish line only 0.011sec apart.
Next out was the first of two encounters of the Luffield MG Trophy Championship and this always provides some excellent and very close racing. They were out with the Lancaster Insurance MGOC Classes F and Z. Reigning Trophy champion, Chris Bray, just managed to pip Colin Robertson for pole, with the rapid LE 500 of Paul Luti alongside Andy Raine on the row behind. As the lights went out, Bray managed to hold off Luti into Copse, but only just, with Robertson only a fraction adrift; Raine was holding on to fourth and Ben Jacques was doing his best to keep with the leaders, in fifth, at the end of the opening tour.
Raine scrambled into third place on lap two and Luti was all over the back of Bray, looking certain to pass. Next time round he did just that, but it was not to last, as Bray pressured the LE 500 and regained the lead and in so doing, Luti dropped to third behind Raine. On lap 6, Luti squeezed back into second place and was just a second off Bray. These two had a fantastic dice for the remainder of the race, Bray taking the flag by just half a second. Colin Robertson was third but only by a whisker, as he had Graham Ross, now back on form after his Brands Hatch drama, right behind him. Newcomer, Paul Streather, easily took the Class C honours from Daniel Molloy.
In the Lancaster Insurance battle, Martin Wills made the best of the opening laps in his MGF, but on lap 6, Andy Campbell surged ahead in the ZR and began to amass an unassailable lead, eventually crossing the line over eight seconds ahead.
It was the turn of the Equipe GTS racers next and we have become used to great battles in this series and we were not to be disappointed on this occasion. It was an all MGB first three rows, with Mike Harris and James Cottingham at the front, Brian Lambert and Jeremy Stock on the second row and David Beresford and Adrian Johnson behind them. Cottingham made a great get away and headed the pack into Copse and up to Becketts, with Lambert, Harris, Stock and Beresford close behind. Next time round, Beresford forged ahead of Harris and Stock to hold third place.
The leading two were almost swapping paint, they were that close and on lap 3, Lambert managed to take the lead at Copse. However, this was very short lived, as next time round the order was restored, with Cottingham back in front, following a fantastic pass on the outside at Bridge. Lambert was having none of it and fought back to retake the lead at the halfway point. This time he was not going to give the place away and despite a very serious challenge for a few more tours, he took the flag with a healthy three seconds to spare. Beresford hung on to claim third place, well clear of Harris and the Class 5 winning TR4 of John Andon. Peter Barnard beat John Yea to claim the Class 4 spoils and a brilliant thirteenth overall by Brian Arculus, in the Lotus Elite, was good enough for the Class 2 win.
Race 7 saw the second of the two Drayton Manor Park MG Metro Cup races, with the Lancaster Insurance MGOC classes A and B. From the Start, Mike Williams looked in fine form and there seemed to be nothing wrong with the car’s ignition this time, as he took the lead on the opening tour. However, Andrew Ashton made a successful bid for the lead on lap 2 and began to put daylight between himself and the rest. On lap 4, Paul Ashton, who had risen to fourth place, was forced to retire. Next time round, Simon White put Williams under extreme pressure and stole second spot, where he would remain for the rest of the race. Up to a superb fourth place was the leading MGOC driver, Will Sharpe, who had his Midget flying. Lee McNamara took the Class B honours in the Metro race and the Maestro of Henry Sharpe claimed the MGOC Class B spoils.
The last track action for Saturday was the second of the two Moss Europe BCV8 Championship races, run again with the Cockshoot Cup. It was a very similar tale to round one, with Paul Sibley rocketing off the line as the lights went out and then beginning to build an impenetrable lead. Chris Tilly and Joe Parrington did what they could, but on the day, they were no match for an on-form Sibley. On lap three, Tilly dropped back, gifting second place to Parrington, who was eager to accept. At the halfway mark, Foley and Walker moved up to third and forth respectively, amidst a great deal of lapping slower cars.
This leading order was to remain unaltered to the flag; which meant that Walker won Class C, as well as ending up a superb fourth overall. Mark Humphrey drove a brilliant race to win the Cockshoot honours, finishing in an excellent sixth place overall, ahead of David Coulthard in the ZR 190. Russell McCarthy claimed the BCV8 Class B honours, with a splendid seventh place, whilst Class AB was won by Christopher Forrest and Robert Croft was best of Class A. Peter Bramble took his faithful MGB home to win the Cockshoot Class B battle and Steve McKie beat Jeremy Toes to the Cockshoot Class A victory.
There was some doubt about the weather for Sunday’s racing and the morning dawned cloudy, overcast and cooler. However, after morning qualifying, the racing began in the dry with the first of two events for the Surveying Devon and Cornwall MG Midget Challenge. We haven’t seen anything of William Smallridge and his pristine maroon Class A car this year, but he was there today to remind the rest just how quick he is, as he placed his car on pole, with Paul Sibley alongside him. David Weston and Richard Perry shared row two, with Gil Duffy and Edward Reeve occupying the third. As the lights went out, the Class A boys predictably shot off into the lead, but an opening lap mistake by Smallridge at Brooklands, dropped him down to sixth at the start of their second tour. Sibley was in front, forging a lead over Perry and Weston, with Duffy and Reeve another couple of seconds further back.
However, Smallridge had regained his composure and was coming back through the field and at the start of lap three; he was back up to second place and reducing the margin between himself and Sibley. In Class B, Dominic Mooney was getting the better of Nigel Pratt, as one of their close rivals, Mark Turner, had started at the back of the grid following qualifying problems. In Class C, Ian Langford was having it all his own way over Dave Pymm. By lap eight, Smallridge was right up behind Sibley and challenging for the lead. They scrapped throughout the final few laps and crossed the line to begin their final tour side by side. Smallridge then sailed past at Copse and just hung onto the lead until the flag fell. Weston was a fairly distant third, with Duffy fourth, following the demise of Reeve on the final tour. Mooney had built a great advantage over Pratt to claim Class B and Langford was untroubled to win Class C.
Next was a thirty minute round of the Aero Racing Morgan Challenge and this brought thirty-one cars to the track. Matthew Wurr claimed pole from Andrew Thompson, with Philip Goddard and Andy green on the second row. For the opening couple of laps, it was Thompson who made the running from Lees, Wurr, Acklam and Green. However, by the end of lap, Phil Hollins had progressed from the third row of the grid to third place and next time round a mistake by Thompson promoted him to second spot just behind the new leader, Matthew Wurr, with Lees in third place. There was little change until lap nine, when Hollins snatched the lead, but Wurr was not giving up. He hounded the leader so much that there was often only a tenth between them. On the final lap, Hollins mounted his final attack at the complex and squeezed by at Luffield, to take the flag by just 0.09sec. This had been a fine race and great entertainment for the crowd. Steve McDonald and Philip St.Clair Tisdall had a super scrap for the Class C honours; whilst Simon Orebi Gann won Class R.
It was the turn of the Peter Best Insurance Challenge next, which always brings a great selection of MGs to the grid. Simon Cripps, MGB GT V8, and Alan Brooke’s Metro had the best of qualifying and were on the front row, with the BGT of David Brooke and the Midget of Simon Hutchinson on row two. David Brooke headed the rest on the opening tour, with Hutchinson almost touching his tailgate, Barry Holmes was a couple of seconds adrift, but he was keeping ahead of Ollie Neaves. However, further down the field there was opening lap drama at Becketts, as the spinning Austin Healey of John Moon was collected by Richard Wilson.
To make matters worse, David Brown, who did all he could to avoid Wilson’s MGB, collided with Moon and the Healey caught fire. Brown and Moon were taken to the on-site medical centre, but Wilson was unharmed. Hutchinson and Holmes swapped places on lap two and two tours later, Hutchinson took the lead. On lap five, Cripps stole second spot and began to attack Hutchinson, so much so, that on the penultimate tour, he swept into the lead and just managed to hold onto it to the end, but only by 0.143sec as the flag fell. Ollie Neaves claimed third place from Barry Holmes and David Brooke. The class A battle was superb, with Lew Bergonzi, James Walpole and James Darby trading places throughout, Bergonzi finally taking the class honours; James Brice brought his TF 160 home to win Class F.
Race 12 was the second encounter of the Equipe GTS series and James Cottingham made the early running, holding off the challenge from David Beresford. Brian Lambert was only a whisker adrift and he had John Andon and Peter Barnard breathing down his neck. On lap three, Lambert moved into second place and began an attack for the lead. Sure enough, on lap ten, he managed to pass Cottingham to scrape a very narrow victory. Beresford was third, with Andon and Foster fourth and fifth. Brian Arculus took the Elite to the Class two victory ahead of Tony Wilson Spratt in the pretty WMS Sprite.
Next we saw the second Luffield MG Trophy race, again out with the Lancaster Insurance MGOC Classes F and Z, but to make things a little more interesting, this was a reverse grid race. As the lights went out it was Doug Cole who made the best of it, but Paul Luti was on a mission and rocketed down the straight and into copse, rising from tenth place to second. He then passed Cole and stayed in the lead despite his tyres going off towards the end. Chris Bray had a torrid opening lap, following a poor start and then being baulked by spinning cars.
However, he soon got into his stride and ploughed up the field to second spot with a lap to go. The leading three fought hard and there was less than a second splitting them, but the order remained unchanged to the flag. Robertson, Raine and Ross were equally close for fourth, fifth and sixth. In his first season in the championship, Paul Streather sowed up another class win to dominate the series overall. In the MGOC race, Martin Wills had a titanic battle with Andy Campbell, taking the flag just 0.8sec apart. The rest of the field was relatively strung out, apart from an interesting duel between the ZR 160s of Olsson, Philps and Sullivan.
Race 14 was the Motoring Classics Thoroughbred Sports Cars event, in which Roy McCarthy had dominated qualifying in his familiar yellow BGT V8. He had the rapid Morgan Plus 8 of Chris Acklam for company, with Eike Wellhausen’s Lister Jaguar Knobbley and Andy Green’s Morgan Plus 8 just behind. At the start it was McCarthy who headed them round for their opening tour, with Simon Garrad and Chris Acklam in close contention. Josh Files’ TR6 was going well, as was the similar machine of Jon Ellison. The order of the leading four remained until lap 5, when McCarthy made a slight error and slipped down the field.
This elevated Wellhausen to the front, with Garrad in second. McCarthy began to pedal harder and moved back up to third place. Further back, Colin Jones, MGA Twin Cam, was embroiled in a super dice with Peter Barnard’s pretty little Elva Courier for Class B. Garrad briefly took the lead on lap 7, but it was not to last, as Wellhausen put the pressure on and slid back into the lead, where he would stay until the flag. On the final Tour, Roy McCarthy pulled off a great move to pass Garrad for well earned second place. Those who had been enthralled with the racing could be forgiven for missing fact that the sky over the far side of the circuit was looking decidedly dark and ominous. Could we have the last two races in the dry? Sadly, the answer was to be – NO!
The penultimate event of the weekend was the second MG Midget Challenge encounter and as they made their way out onto the grid, there were a few spots of rain falling. Paul Sibley made a good start and led the rest into Copse and up to Becketts for the first time. He had Smallridge just behind him, followed by Dave Weston and Edward Reeve. As the race progressed, the rain became heavier and drama ensued. Classes A and B run on slick tyres and by the time they had done their opening lap, they were struggling to keep their cars on the track let alone trying to race.
On lap 3, reigning champion, Dominic Mooney, blew his engine to pieces and we lost Moore, who spun at Copse and was subsequently collected by Henderson.; Pratt and Stagg also dropped out on this tour. The rest continued to tiptoe round, survival being their objective. Smallridge passed Sibley to take the lead and Weston moved up into second spot. Sibley then went into the pits for wet tyres, but they were not ready for him and he rejoined the race only to try again a lap later, but his wets were still not ready, so he soldiered on to the end on his big slicks. Considering the state of the track, Smallridge and Weston pushed on at a great pace, leaving the others way behind. After seven laps, they took the flag and gratefully returned to the paddock. Reeve ended up in third place, with Martin Morris in fourth. Ian Langford brought his Class C car home in a fine fifth place, easily winning his class, having passed the Class B car of Andrew Actman on the final tour; treaded tyres played a great part in his success! With eight Class B drivers failing to finish, Andrew Actman took the class victory from Stanton and Bilsland.
The final action of the weekend was a forty minute pit stop race for one, or two, drivers. The rain was still falling and the track was extremely slippery as they made their way out onto the track. Indeed, one car spun into the pit wall on the green flag lap, such were the conditions. Charles Hazel, in his ZR 190, made the early running, pulling out a clear lead over the ZR 160 of Penfold and Surridge, who just headed the ZR 220 of Walker and Wahlgren. Predictably, the K Series powered Midget of Ian Staines and Rob Griffiths was going well and by the end of the second tour, it was up to third.
By lap four, some drivers were opting to take their pit stop and little can be made of the overall order, as people come in and go out. However, Hazel stayed out until lap 8, building a great lead in the process. He rejoined in second place, behind the Penfold and Surridge car; which had also pitted, but he could do little about their advantage and had to settle for second spot. Staines and Griffiths hung on to a great third place, a long way ahead of the MGB of Prior and Jones. Cottingham and Gardner were next to cross the line, beating the BV8 of Joe Parrington and Adrian Beer.
So ended a great weekend’s racing, on a superb circuit, spoilt only by a couple of accidents and the rain at the end, not bad really for two days of competition and sixteen events. We are all off to Cadwell Park next in early September, I’ll see you there.