Contest is oh so close
IT'S been a busy motorsport month for the Downend racing drivers. Straight after the sprint at Llandow, there was round 4 of the Vincenzo & Sons Bristol MX5 Challenge at Westonzoyland Airfield, near Bridgwater. Josh Long, Emily Long, Andy Laurence and James Hurford, from Downend, were joined by Martyn Boulton from Mangotsfield. The day consisted of four tests, each of which were contested three times, with the best two times on each course to count.
Andy took the initial lead, while Josh was 8th, James 9th, Martyn 14th and Emily 18th. On the second test, Andy made his first mistake, dropping to 2nd, whilst Josh was up to 6th, James into 8th and Emily 17th, whilst Martyn made a mistake and dropped to 15th. After lunch, the course was markedly different and churned the running order. Andy dropped to 4th and Josh to 7th, but James and Emily held their places, whilst Martyn put in some good runs to climb into 13th.
The final course was where it all counted and it was a mix of results again. Andy dropped to 5th, James passed Josh for 7th, Emily dropped to 18th and Martyn held firm in 13th. The end result put Andy into 3rd place in the championship with James just behind, both losing out to Nick Lear of Portishead. Josh was in 10th, despite only completing 3 of the 4 rounds, whilst Martyn was 18th, after only doing 2 rounds, and Emily 20th.
It wasn't long to wait until the double-header at Manor Farm Hillclimb, Charmouth: two days of competition up a steep and narrow track. Last year was pretty close, but this year was insane. Andy, James and Josh were the Downend interest, whilst Paul and Curtis St George of Staple Hill were also competing. After two practice sessions, everyone was getting used to the hill and Andy fell into 2nd place with James 4th, Josh 7th, Paul 13th and Curtis 14th.
The first competitive run was before lunch and rain fell during the runs. Paul made best of the conditions to drop into 4th place with Andy 5th, Josh maintaining 7th, Curtis 13th and James last after a penalty. Rain also fell before the second timed runs with the track drying through the runs. People running early didn't improve, yet those later made big strides. Andy dropped into 5th, James into 7th, Josh in 11th, Paul close behind in 12th and Curtis 14th.
It was all to the final runs with few people having had a properly dry run and the track was perfect. With just 3 MX5s left to run and the class split by three single seaters having their final runs, two of the single seaters crashed and one broke down. Whilst they were being recovered, the clouds burst again, dampening the track. Andy and Curtis were both caught out, not getting the opportunity to complete a dry run. James improved to finish 5th, Andy was stuck in a damp 8th, Josh 10th, Paul 11th and Curtis, picking the worst of the weather, in 14th. It was a disappointing end for some but the pub beckoned before round 6 the following day.
The second day was all down to the drivers and it was ludicrously close! In a change from the previous day, there was just one practice run before 4 timed runs. At lunch, Andy was 2nd, James was 9th, Josh in 10th, Curtis 12th and Paul 14th. By the end of the day, James had won the award for consistency, completing 3 runs with just 0.01 seconds covering all three! That meant he retained his 9th place. Josh closed in but remained 10th, whilst a last run effort from Curtis saw him pip his dad, Paul, by 0.04 seconds finishing 11th and 12th. Andy ran wide on the exit of turn 2 and was unable to improve, being pipped by two other drivers to finish 4th.
Demonstrating the incredible closeness of the championship, less than a second covered all five drivers. Amazingly, 1.5 seconds covered 13 drivers at the end of the weekend. After 6 rounds, Dave Greenslade continues to lead the championship, with Andy in 3rd, James 4th, Josh 9th, Paul 14th and Curtis 15th. If this sounds like your kind of weekend, Bristol Motor Club organise lots of events through the year to enjoy driving cars. You can find out more about them online or at Heathfest on July 6.