Donington Park Report; 8th June 2024

HSCC/FJHRA Silverline Historic Formula Junior Championship Round 4

Donington Park 08.06.24


The Silverline Historic Formula Junior Championship gathered at Donington Park for Round 4 of the UK Championship. A 36 car entry (minus James Owen, with broken ribs after a mountain bike accident) took part in the single qualifying for the event with the entry being divided into separate races for the Front and Rear engine classes.

It was a cold and gloomy morning with some heavy rain having passed through early before the event started. The promise of improving weather had to wait for the afternoon to appear. Three of the victorious Lotus 20s from Cadwell Park were featured but Andrew Hibberd had switched to his Lotus 22. The Metcalfe family were hoping for better luck for Nathan in the Lotus 20 and Tim Metcalfe in his Cooper T56. Gary Thomas was reunited with his Kieft after his two races in Mark Haynes’ Elva 200.

Charles Cook had his first FJ race in 10 years, replacing his previous rear engine Envoy, with his very recent acquisition, the Nike Mk1, in the front engine race. Later in the day Charles would be sharing with Andrew Hibberd in the Guards Trophy Race with Charles’ Merlyn Mk4 sports racing car, Andrew having shaken down the Nike previously owned by Simon Goodliff at Silverstone on the day before the Donington meeting.  Both cars Charles would be racing being very different from the mighty Attila Chevrolet with which Charles had competed previously.

Tony Lees was having his first run in the ex Winkleman Racing Lola Mk5a formerly owned by James Murray. Sam Wilson was entered in his Cooper T59 along with Nick Fennell in the Lotus 27 and Clive Richards in his Lotus 22. Whilst Mark Bates was running the Lynx Mk2 which J believed he had raced at Donington the previous year, and again at the Silverstone Finals.


As the cars left the assembly area, Andrew Turvey remained stranded, a broken gear linkage being the problem. He was pushed down into the pit lane where they managed to get the car into 4th gear and he was able to qualify his Lola Mk5a. It was not a good session for Lola Mk5a’s as Tony Lees encountered problems with his car when the rev counter stopped working.

5 cars were late starting, those being of Crispian Besley, Martin Aubert, Charles Cook, Charles Besley, and Justin Fleming. All presumably caught out by the club getting ahead of time.

The battle for pole was close with Nick Fennell being the first to top the timing sheets before Clive Richards moved ahead. Sam Wilson came to join the party being the first to go into the 1m 17sec bracket only for the time to be disallowed for exceeding track limits. He rebuilt his lap times before taking pole with a time in the 1m 16 sec bracket. Nick Fennell also got into the 1m 17 7/tenths to join Sam on the first row, and 6/tenths clear of Clive Richards in 3rd place on the timing sheets. Completing the second row would be Andrew Hibberd just 2/tenths behind Clive, with the three class D2 Lotus 20s occupying the next places on the grid, Nic Carlton-Smith being ahead of Nathan Metcalfe and Martin Aubert. Martin sharing row 4 with the first of the front engine runners Alex Morton in the Condor SII. Stuart Monument in his class C2 Lotus 18 was 9th and Robin Longdon this weekend’s stand in for Sarah & Duncan completed the top 10 in his Mk3, being the highest placed Lola. Crispian Besley in 11th would complete row 5 of the rear engine grid.

Charlie Besley in the family Elva 100 would share the front row of the front engine grid with the flying Alex Morton. Chris Astley in his Elva 100 would be on Row 2 with Nick Taylor in his Elva 100. Charles Cook breaking the Elva run with his Nike was joined by the Lola Mk2 of Justin Fleming. Graham Barron in Gemini Mk2 would be next from Mark Russell, having a storming debut for the John Arnold team, and Eduardo & Andrea Guarino all in Elva 100. Bernard Brock would be the final Elva runner whilst the two Stanguellini of Peter Fenichel and Peter Edbrooke completed the Front Engine grid.

Front Engine Race

Alex Morton led away from pole with the Condor taking flight into an ever extending lead he was not to lose. Bernard Brock’s race only lasted long enough for him to leave the grid and pull off onto the grass on the run down to Redgate. His core plug having failed.

Chris Astley came through in second place with Nick Taylor following in third. Charlie Besley was running in 4th with a noise coming from the car that was encouraging him to be cautious. Charles Cook in the Nike was 5th, Justin Fleming 6th Mark Russell, 7th Graham Barron 8th Eduardo Guarino 9th from Andrea in 10th.

On lap 4 Nick Taylor retired with gearbox problems. Charlie Besley having dropped back on lap 1 was now the second fastest car on the track, closing the gap to Chris Astley following the retirement of Nick Taylor.

Peter Edbrooke would be the next retirement with ignition problems on his newly restored Stanguellini.

Charlie Besley closed to within 1/tenth of a second of Chris Astley but was not quite able to make the pass. Charlie detected a noise in the car which was later diagnosed as a loose bearing. With a secure 3rd position Charlie gave up his chase of Chris Astley who closed a little on the dominant Condor of Alex Morton to finish just over 6 seconds behind the winner. Charlie Besley was 3rd, over 25 seconds back from his earlier rival. In the final lap Charlie lost several seconds to Charles Cook who finished 4th just 4 seconds down on the podium place ahead.

Graham Barron finished 7th to take class B1 honours whilst Peter Fenichel completed the top 10 in the Stanguellini to take class A honours.

Rear Engine Race

22 cars lined up for the Formula Junior Rear Engine race.  Conditions were still cloudy but the temperature had risen a little from the morning chill. Nick Fennell made a slow getaway from the front row with Sam Wilson leading the field into Redgate.

At the end of lap 1 it was Sam Wilson leading with Clive Richards in his wheel tracks. There was an almost 2 second gap back to Andrew Hibberd who had Nick Fennell glued to his gearbox. 5th would be Nic Carlton-Smith in the leading Lotus 20 with Nathan Metcalfe and Martin Aubert completing the top 7 places. Robin Longdon in the Lola would be next with Stuart Monument Lotus 18 leading his class in 9th place and completing the top 10 would be James Denty in the family Cooper T56. Paul Booth had an awful first lap dropping back to the very last place in his Lotus 20/22. Tony Lees had made a good FJ debut start from the back of the grid following his problems in qualifying to move up to 16th place.

On Lap 4 the Safety car neutralised the race, when Stuart Monument had the throttle stick open on his Lotus 18 taking him into the gravel trap at Coppice. The car was easily recovered with the race resuming for a lap. This gave Paul Booth an opportunity to pass Ralph Carter moving him to the penultimate position on the track. Unfortunately, at the restart Robin Longdon found his way into the gravel trap at Redgate and the Safety car had its second run of the race.

Once again, excellent work by the Marshals and the recovery team had the circuit ready for racing again two laps later with the race resuming on lap 9. Sam Wilson was never allowed to relax as Clive Richards chased him hard all the way to the flag. Clive did briefly snatch the lead out of the chicane on one lap but he was not able to hold onto it for when they crossed the timing line. Andrew Hibberd had an easier race holding a watching brief in third place with Nick Fennell not being able to close the gap.

John Hutchison Jnr would be the last of the retirements in the Envoy Mk1.

Tony Lees had moved up to 14th place just under a second behind the Lynx of Mark Bates. Andrew Turvey had a slow lap on the next circuit dropping him down the order after his recovery run from the morning problems, with Tony passing Mark Bates on the very last lap to take 12th overall from the back of the grid.

Nic Carlton-Smith finished 5th winning class D2 in his Lotus 20 being shadowed all the way to the flag by Nathan Metcalfe. Nathan having a much better race than dad Tim, who developed a misfire with overheating in his Cooper T56 forcing him to nurse the car in top gear to get to finish the race.

Martin Aubert in his Lotus 20 completed the all Lotus D2 podium. James Denty was 8th winner  of class C2 with Gary Thomas finishing 9th and second, whilst completing the top 10 and the C2 podium in his Cooper T56 was Crispian Besley.

Howden Ganley was on hand to assist Robin and Sue Longdon in the HSCC hub for the awards presentation. The UK championship now takes a short break before making the trip north to Oulton Park for the Gold Cup meeting, where the circuit will roll back the years when Formula Junior will be joined by their Grand Prix counterparts of Historic Grand Prix Cars Association for the next of five gatherings where the UK championship is on the same event programme this year.

By Alan Jones