THE 2017 GOODWOOD REVIVAL – CHICHESTER CUP RACE; 8th – 10th September 2017

It was the turn of the rear engined drum-braked cars at the 2017 Goodwood Revival. The 30 entries contained no less than 21 marques and two newcomers. Stuart Roach appeared with the Alexis Mk3, the product of many hours and late nights to be ready; it had not previously “turned a wheel in anger” as Stuart said. Andrew Hibberd had Nick Grewal’s newly restored Elva 300/01 ex-Chuck Dietrich car in white with very USA looking italicised 00 race numbers.

Qualifying was mid-morning Friday and although earlier rain had stopped, the track was wet and, by unanimous agreement, very slippery. No-one could suggest that Stuart Roach was at all tentative in the “new” Alexis – he seemed to find grip that eluded others. His first flying lap was 1’51.514” when most were the wrong side of two minutes. The next time through the clock registered 1’50.057” which was to stay the fastest time. Peter de la Roche (BMC Mk2) got down to 1’52.023” whilst next best Andrew Hibberd and Pete Morton (Ausper T3) were in the 1’55/1’56s in the early stages. Andrew cut his time as the rather short 15-minute session progressed and ended third on 1’52.645” followed by Morton (1’52.907”) and Andrew Robertson in the rarely seen Crossle (1’55.410”). Stuart commented; “The clutch stopped working on the first lap so I ended up using only third and fourth gears. Managed to qualify for pole by 1.9 seconds only for the gear selector finger to fail two laps from the end. Managed to find another and spent the day in the paddock sorting it out assisted by Dave Wall”. Remarkably, this meant that Stuart has had pole in all three Goodwood FJ grids – Disc 2011, Fronts 2016 and now Drums.

Despite the conditions there were relatively few problems. Peter Fenichel (T56) and de la Roche had spins at St Marys and Pat Barford (de Sanctis) also gyrated. Andrew Wilkinson (Lynx) stopped out on circuit with a broken throttle cable and Jeremy Deeley, back for a weekend from the World Tour in the USA for Goodwood, lost gears but this turned out to be just a 50p grub screw in the selector mechanism and he was able to race the next day. Sir John Chisholm in his usual Gemini 3A only recorded two laps so would start the race midfield.

Race morning dawned sunny for the 10 am race but the track was still damp especially off-line. At the first corner the order was Roach, de la Roche, Hibberd and Morton and by the end of the lap the first three had a small gap in front of Wilkinson, James Hicks (Caravelle) and Morton. On lap two Hibberd passed de la Roche at St Marys who fought back at Lavant, Hibberd then reasserting himself round the outside into Woodcote (!) but was now a couple of seconds behind Roach. Behind these three was a 4.5 sec gap to Wilkinson and Morton, who had passed Hicks.  On lap 5 de la Roche nipped past Hibberd at St Marys and unsettled the Elva which ran wide onto the grass and then spun back across the tarmac, falling to seventh. The pale blue BMC then closed on the leader and a tremendous battled ensued, one of the best of the weekend. Stuart held off Peter’s repeated attacks except that on lap nine Peter made a better exit from the Chicane and crossed the timing line 0.083” seconds ahead, but the orange Alexis was leading again at Madgwick. Lapping a big gaggle of mid-fielders at Woodcote and the Chicane really decided the race. Stuart looked to go wide round the outside but Crispian Besley had the same idea and Stuart ran wide across the grass strip onto the tarmac run-off, kept his foot planted and re-joined the track having lapped several cars! Peter, however, was baulked (inadvertently) at both Woodcote and the Chicane meaning suddenly there was a margin of over a second between the two, and so it ended. Stuart said afterwards that he had low oil pressure during the race and the engine had lost some of its crispness. Nevertheless, he set a new unofficial lap record of 1’28.123”, 0’221” faster than Andrew Wilkinson’s 2015 time.

There was also a nice scrap for third between Wilkinson and Morton but this ended when the Lynx halted with a broken rocker arm. So, Morton was third from Ivo Göckmann (Jolus) who had improved from ninth on lap 1, and then Hicks, Sir John Chisholm – another big improver – and a good duel between John Delane (Lotus 18) and Andrew Taylor (T56) that concluded that way round after several changes. Ninth, a lap down, was Frank Trouillard going well in new ownership of Nick Finburgh’s Envoy and the top-ten was completed by Colin Nursey (Lotus 18) who had come through from the back row of the grid.

Andrew Hibberd did not make up much ground after his spin and his race ended on lap 11. The cause was thought to be either a fuel pick-up issue or out of fuel. Rudolf Ernst (PBA DKW) was most disappointed not to complete the race when overheating stopped him on the final lap. Some consolation was that he had lapped 12 seconds faster than three years ago. Kevin Musson (Lola 3), having got permission to start after not making qualifying, didn’t make the end of the race either. Kevin saying “It turned out to be a broken throttle cable. After changing gear and trying to accelerate out of the chicane I had no forward motion and I simply coasted to a halt. I was in two minds about pulling into the pit lane, just leaving it too late and then pulled off just after the start-line and pushed back into the assembly area”. Other casualties included Pat Barford, Andrew Robertson, a very disappointed Noel Woodford who spotted smoke in his mirrors; “I could see smoke coming out in the mirrors so figured the previous oil leak had not been fixed. Not fair if I was dropping oil, so came in on the 4th lap”, Bill Hemming and Chris Alford. Chris had his engine go on three cylinders on lap 2, despite having run like a dream in qualifying and at the start. He pulled off and when he came to drive back to the paddock it was running normally – most frustrating! Jeremy Deeley had a first lap spin after being edged wide and Chris Wilks (Deep Sanderson) gave the spectators in the Woodcote grandstand some additional entertainment with a harmless spin, but both finished.

Overall it was an enthralling race that lived up to the very high standards set by previous FJ races at Goodwood.

Formula Juniorists are usually to be seen in other races at Goodwood, such as Alex Morton in his Lotus 21, Sam Wilson in both a Lotus 24 and Maserati 250F and Ralf Emmerling with an Elva MkIV Climax. However, this year also saw the racing debut of the younger members of the Rabagliati clan, Arto Rabagliati and Elena Mitrikaite in the Settrington Cup for Austin pedal-cars. They adopted the attitude of their Grandfather; enjoying the taking part, with no sight of victory. Emily Owen and Katherine Taylor were other Junior Juniors in action.

Richard Page