Goodwood Revival Meeting 2016; Chichester Cup

Formula Junior returned to Goodwood for the first time since the March 2015 Members Meeting – it having been the turn of the 500cc cars at last year’s Revival and we were not invited to the 2016 Members Meeting either! This year the invitations went out to the front-engined cars, completing a stellar year with Monaco and Dijon.

The diversity of FJ in this period was amply demonstrated by having 21 different makes in the 30 car field. From Australia/New Zealand there were Nigel Russell (FMZ), Neil Tolich in the very distinctive Jocko, Anthony Olissoff’s now familiar Elfin, Paul Halford (Autosud) and Michael Gosbell’s Nota. Trans-Atlantic visitors were Nick Grewal (OSCA), Ned Spieker (Lola 2), the Sadler due to be driven by Bill Sadler, but replaced by Julian Majzub as Bill’s health was not too good, and the world’s fastest Stanguellini in the hands of Joe Colasacco – the current lap record holder. Most of these cars have, of course, been based in Europe this summer. From the Continent came Heinz Stege (Elva 100), Daniele Salodini (Taraschi), Jac Nellemann (Alfa-Dana), David von Schinkel (Malm’s Volpini) and Jan Bieken’s white Stanguellini CS 00129, ex-Wolfgang von Trips, and the only one of the marque actually to have raced at Goodwood in period, in the hands of Rob Hall. Of course most of the regular British drivers were present, although somehow the entry did not seem complete without the presence of a certain orange Alexis, which was on the high seas en route to Australia.

Qualifying was mid-afternoon on Friday when the weather was warm, with light cloud. For once the schedule was on time and the rather brief 15 minute session ran off without any major problems. Fastest was Stuart Roach (Alexis Mk2) with 1:30.304″ (Colasacco’s record is 1:28.979″), with Ray Mallock (U2) 1.14″ behind, followed by Chris Drake (Terrier), Andrew Hibberd, in Nick Grewal’s Lola 2, having its first ever race in Europe, having been exported to Australia, and Jonathon Hughes, whose run in the Lola 2 had been interrupted by points trouble. These were followed in close order by Robin Longdon (Lola 2), Mark Woodhouse (Elva 100), a surprisingly low Colasacco and Alex Morton, enjoying his newly imported Condor SII-01. Daniele Salodini only managed four laps, but otherwise the session was trouble free.

The Chichester Cup opened proceedings on Sunday morning under a blue sky with warm sunshine, showing off England at its very best to the vast numbers of foreign visitors in the spectator areas – very different to Saturday which had been dreadfully wet. Ray Mallock made a great start from the middle of the front row and led towards Madgwick but then the car was seen to leap up and do a wobble – a broken rear spring – so one of the front runners was already out. The Terrier led the field out towards the back of the circuit but as they headed back down Lavant Straight in to Woodcote Corner Stuart Roach was in front, with a small gap behind Drake to Hughes, Hibberd, Colasacco, Longdon and Woodhouse, these well clear of the rest. Roach stretched his lead to 1.2″ on lap two, 3.5″ after five laps and 6 seconds after 10 tours; the destination of the Chichester Cup seemed settled. Then after 12 laps of what turned out to be a 14 lap race, heartbreakingly, the Alexis pulled off when the points broke.

Behind second placed Chris Drake there was a battle for third involving Hughes, Hibberd and Colasacco. The white and red Lolas switched places several times with Andrew Hibberd being ahead from half-way. Hughes dropped out after 9 laps with clutch trouble, whilst the Stanguellini was around a second back. Simultaneously with Roach’s retirement, Drake’s lap times went up and Hibberd closed in and took the lead on the 13th lap, with Chris losing another place to Colasacco on the final circuit. So the final top three were Andrew Hibberd 1.1 secs ahead of Joe Colasacco with Drake a further 3.7 sec down. Chris explained “on lap 10 I had a half a lap fuel problem with a da-da-da thing going which then cleared; that cost me with Andrew, then 2nd to last lap I lost all rear brakes. I thought it was something to do with the fronts but when we looked in the reservoirs the rear one was completely empty, it was a slightly cracked brake line on the right rear so would have reduced the braking early on until all of it had gone which may explain why I started to lose Stuart. Of course, didn’t get the full consequences until it was all gone and needed brakes for Woodcote and the Chicane. I was lucky not to have to pull over as Stuart did, so rather than being gutted at no win, very grateful of a 3rd! Pretty sure I would have held off Andrew if no problems, but Stuart did have me beat”

Behind this leading group there was a close scrap between Robin Longdon and Mark Woodhouse which ended when Mark got a wheel on the grass exiting Madgwick and executed a dramatic spin which is featured on the Goodwood web site. So Robin placed fourth whilst Mark snatched back fifth from Andrew Tart on the last lap. The remaining unlapped finishers were : Mike Walker (Bond) 7th, only a second behind his team-mate; Alex Morton (Condor) 8th 34 secs behind after an off course excursion and Jac Nellemann 9th. Tony Olissoff put in a good drive after a slow start to rise from 18th to 12th and towards the rear Mike Gosbell (Nota) and Richard Bishop-Miller (Autosport) were never far apart.

Apart from those already mentioned, the only non-finishers were Nigel Russell, whose FMZ pulled up with overheating, having previously incurred the wrath of the officials and a 10 sec penalty for taking up his grid slot after falling to the back of the field, Paul Halford (Autosud) with a broken halfshaft and the Sadler which stopped after one lap when the carburettor fell off.

Although there was undoubtedly some luck “or rather others” bad luck – involved in Andrew’s win, it was nevertheless the result of a fast and well-judged drive to compliment his second place in Saturday’s Madgwick Cup driving the Lotus 23. Surprisingly, fastest lap went to Colasacco with 1:29.050″ – not quite a new record – which was almost a second faster than Stuart Roach’s best. In fact Hibberd’s best was also faster than the Alexis.

So Formula Junior had again put on a great show for the huge crowd, plus of course all those watching the live broadcast via YouTube, Facebook and no doubt other new-fangled media things.

Richard Page