Oulton Park Gold Cup Report
FJHRA/HSCC “SILVERLINE” UK CHAMPIONSHIP ROUNDS 3 & 4
A really splendid entry – 36 cars attracted by the recent famine and the truly inspiring circuit at Oulton Park – an additional attraction being that the aggregate winner of the Formula Junior races was to be awarded the famous Gold Cup – previous winners include Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, and John Surtees – and exactly 50 years ago it was our very own Howden Ganley who stood alongside John Surtees on the victory parade having won the F5000 part of the 1970 Gold Cup race – so quite an incentive to add one’s name to this list!
Notable entries included Tom Anstiss taking his turn in the family Lotus 20/22 from Peter, Stephan Jöbstl, who had escaped the new Covid 19 quarantine from Switzerland , by arriving early, but had to miss Race 2 to catch the flight back. Syd Fraser from Aberdeen and Adrian Holey in the familiar ex-Vern Williamson Ausper T3 were having their first races in FJ, while Anna Wilson was having her first ever race in the ex-Jonathon Hughes Brabham BT6, joining husband Richard in his Lotus 27. Chris Merrick was a most welcomed returnee after his horrific inversion at Dijon last year. Martin Aubert from Madrid was with his familiar Lotus 20 and Chris Chilcott was giving his immaculate Brabham BT2 its first outing for 2 years.
As is becoming customary, Brabhams set the standard, Cam Jackson’s BT2 a comfortable 1.6 seconds ahead of Mark Shaw’s BT6. Lotus (Loti?) were next up some way behind – headed by hard trying tree surgeon, Clive Richards, then Adrian Russell with Peter de la Roche in Pat Barford’s Class D Lola Mk 3 separating the Lotus Tribe. With Robin Longdon’s Lola Mk 3 following, it reminded old hands how long it must have been since two well prepared and well driven Lola Mk 3s appeared on the same grid.
Qualifying revealed a certain mechanical fragility with casualties including Martin McHugh’s North Star with a broken drive shaft and bent shocker, with unfortunately none of the sportingly offered replacements fitting. Adrian Holey’s Ausper had the same trouble but a replacement was fitted for Race 1, and Peter Fenichel’s cracked oil cooler was also fixed for him to start in Race 1. Iain Rowley had differential trouble with Ian Robinson’s Lola Mk 2 completing only 2 laps, putting him out for the rest of the weekend.
There were excellent drives however by Keith Pickering who had his Britannia going as never before, Jim Blockley showing his experience and skill in the Caravelle and Trevor Griffiths setting a great time.
Like all other races over the weekend, it was with a rolling start, and everyone came through on the first lap exactly as per qualifying times. De la Roche battled his way past Adrian Russell and thereafter the leading group spread out with increasing distances between protagonists. This remained the case until with 3 laps to go, Mark Shaw was missing – his gearbox had eviscerated itself – Sue Longdon heard a loud bang – the gearbox casing had exploded no doubt as a result of some internal Hari Kiri.
Further down the field, Tom Anstiss made up several places with neat decisive overtaking moves. Keith Pickering really had his Britannia on the move – executing a 360˚ spin at Old Hall on the last lap – he made contact with the movable barrier – astonishingly, the barrier was unharmed and quickly shoved back in position. The Britannia too escaped unscathed and continued on its way; however it left 2019 Champion, Andrew Taylor in his Cooper T56 to take the Class C win on the first outing for Team Big Shed without Peter Green, very much missed.
In the midfield disc braked pack, there was some close racing between recent newcomers Jöbstl, Fraser and Ferris, finishing with less than a second between them.
Of the front engine brigade, Graham Barron in his superb 1000cc Gemini led an initially close train including John Arnold’s Elva 100 and Justin Fleming’s familiar Lola Mk 2.
DCPR had an entertaining duel with Mark Haynes, recovering well after recent illness, our leader (peace and blessings upon his name) was able to keep ahead throughout, finishing 0.2 seconds ahead. The demise of Shaw meant de la Roche in the older Lola gained 3rd place and Robin Longdon in his similar car closed up on the much more sophisticated Lotus 27 of Richard Wilson.
Jackson set fastest lap on lap 6 – 0.9 sec faster than the long standing previous 2012 record set by Jon Milicevic.
Sadly there were a few more mechanical dramas – in addition to Shaw’s Brabham, Peter Fenichel suffered a broken gearbox selector fork on lap 3 in his immaculate Cooper T56, Rob Goodwin’s Kieft split its oil cooler (but he was back again going very well in R2), Trevor Griffiths retired his Emeryson with what was diagnosed as a plug lead adrift – but was later found to be more terminal engine dramas.
Race 2 was last of the day on Sunday, keeping our content to a preferable compact two days, however this time out de la Roche didn’t make it – his Lola Mk 3 succumbed to the prevalent transmission failure on the green flag lap so a potential podium place was lost. With no Mark Shaw, Jackson was under no pressure and cruised to another win. He really is a very special talent – he never seems on the “ragged edge”, never seems to be taking too much out of the car, ultra-smooth and extraordinarily fast – wins in plenty of other categories too.
Clive Richards drove extremely well in his new to him, immaculate Lotus 22 – driving on the limit – real “ten tenths” stuff and he narrowed the gap to Jackson to 1.6 seconds by the end – a great effort.
Robin Longdon in the surviving Lola Mk 3 was justifiably pleased with 4th place overall and an easy winner of class D2.
Team Wilson had a minor coming together on lap 9 at the Knickerbrook Chicane – Richard’s Lotus 27 suffered a broken steering arm while Anna’s Brabham BT6 continued to the finish.
Class C is certainly experiencing great support this season, and at the front end of their entry it was a real race again between Keith Pickering and Andrew Taylor, with Keith coming home ahead this time, delighted with his first FJ Class win, but not without another spin on the last lap, as a class E car closed the gap as he overtook, but still determinedly keeping ahead of Andrew.
Graham Barron again was on fine form being the first front engine car and winning class B1 while Justin Fleming got ahead of John Arnold to win class B2. Further back in class the Alexis, with its misfire from Race 1 now cured by Iain Rowley, saw Duncan chasing down John Hutchison Snr in his Lotus 18 to finish just under 2 secs behind.
Another wonderful weekend back on track together, with everyone pleased to be out once more, HSCC did a great job in organising everything in obviously difficult times – Motorsport Vision had done their usual excellent job producing a well-staffed and tidy circuit – there were plenty spectators (no paddock access however), although down obviously on usual numbers for a Bank Holiday.
So, Cam Jackson was the very deserving aggregate winner and will have his name added to the Gold Cup alongside Moss, Clark, Stewart, Brabham and of course last year’s winner, Marty Bullock.
By Bob Birrell