Snetterton 200 – Saturday 20th April 2024

Back To The Grid

2024 Silverline Championship – Round 1

The Entry

Had the long cold and windy winter taken the edge from our enthusiasm? Not a chance!

There were 23 entries of which 2 didn’t arrive – Chris Goodwin and Eddie O’Kane – that disappointed me – I drove this ex-Andrew Robertson Crossle as a 1500cc Formula Ford at Mondello in 1969 – another story for another day. A late entry was Nick Fennell with his well-known Ex Ford France Lotus 27.

It was particularly pleasing to see the wide number of different classes represented, with half the grid being rear engine drum braked, including Pierre Guichard in his Lynx, over from Denmark – gone are the days of wall to wall E1 Class cars. Looked like everyone had a chance of close dicing within their class – exactly what was intended with Historic Juniors.

It was also especially encouraging to have 3 Father/Son combinations running – Michael and Andrew Hibberd, Andrea and Eduardo Guarino, and Tim and Nathan Metcalfe, Nathan having his race debut!

I can’t ever recall such a very welcome statistic – perhaps someone will put me right?  meanwhile, for sure our beloved sport remains in good hands.

Readers will be astonished to learn that for the first time in decades, our Chairman Duncan was not present- for the very good reason of visiting grandchildren in New York – a most laudable reason – the best. I might add that at my very first FJ race was at Snetterton in 1999,e was fast aasleep in the back of his Vauxhall Cavalier having driven it and trailer solo from Paul Ricard where he had raced the previous afternoon – wow!

QUALIFYING

We were well reminded of the origins of Snetterton –an ex bomber airfield without trees to provide shelter from a bitterly cold North East wind – the sun may have shone, but no amount of layers seemed enough!

The grid resulted in few surprises, at least at the front end, with Fennel well clear of Hibberd Minor in the family class D2 Lotus 20, followed dutifully by Dad in the Lotus 27 class E1. Nic Carlton-Smith was 4th with his new mount – an ex USA Lotus 20 which with its livery looked like it had come straight from Qualifying for the 1962 Indy 500. Nic drove it as one might expect of a multiple FJ Champion, despite the engine being not quite “au point”

Other notable performance were by Tim Metcalfe, Stuart Monument, Chris Astley …….I’d better stop there – so many drove really well.

Andrew Hibberd was through the field best D2 runner, Stuart Monument (Lotus 18) just shaded (by 0.098) Keith Pickering (Britannia), for class C2, and Chris Astley (Elva 100) was streaks above the rest in Class B2, with Peter Fenichel (Stanguellini) the sole runner in Class A.

THE RACE

It was no surprise to see Nick Fennel’s sublime Lotus make a great start and thereafter it pulled steadily away – being smoothly and perfectly driven. Andrew Hibberd gave chase while fending off Nic Carlton-Smith’s Indianapolis refugee. Andrew ran wide on lap 3 allowing Carlton-Smith to get by – only for a couple of laps though, until his imperfect engine allowed Andrew to reclaim 2nd overall.

Sadly for Nathan Metcalfe, his first outing ended on lap 2 when the gear linkage failed. Nathan, by no means discouraged, is looking forward to the next race – Bravo!

Adrian Holey made a leisurely start but thereafter having placed 22nd after lap 1, fought his way to 10th by the finish.

Dice of the race featured Chris Astley, Andrew Turvey and John Hutchison Minor -  they passed and repassed throughout the race until Astley’s Elva shed a wheel when a rear upright failed.

Others not making the finish line were Justin Fleming’s delectable Lola Mk 2 which unfortunately lost drive on lap 4 and newcomer Garry Thomas Elva 200 expired on the first lap.

Everyone drove well – no bodily contact and as far as I’m aware not even a spin – well done all the drivers, the prefect season start.

EPILOGUE

Despite the constant risk of hypothermia, all the teams, families and drivers thoroughly enjoyed the meeting, with Sarah “ahead of the game” from the start – ie Friday – everything ran to plan. There was also the added bonus of the new HSCC Hub providing welcome shelter and hot drinks for our prizegiving to take place in. A delighted George Pickering collected the Commentator’s FJ driver of the day Silverline prize for Dad Keith, who thanked Nic for having moved up a class! Tools a plenty were given to all Class Winners, and with new friends made, it was farewell until Cadwell.

 

By Bob Birrell