Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Number 12 - Croft

From the rolling hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds and the many changes of level at Cadwell Park it was off the flat expanses of Croft the next day for a meeting headlined by the Formula Renault Championship. Also in support were the Michelin Renault Clios, BMWs, Mini 7s and Mini Miglias, the Junior Saloons and the local Northern Sports and Saloon Car Championships.

The main issue of the day was the small number of entrants in many of the classes. Even the Formula Renault Championships could only muster 9 starters while the BMWs were combined into one race when there were only 5 Class A cars and 9 from the other 3 classes. Even the two Mini classes were struggling with just 10 Mini 7s and 9 Miglias.

And so I come back to my old hobby horse - combining all sorts of different cars, in the way that the Northern Sports and Saloons Cars Championship does, gives bigger fields and more variety for the spectator. Their first races of the weekend on the Saturday (before I got there) were for different classes (A and E in one and B, C, D and H in the other) but on the Sunday we had a combined field of 28 cars - there were dices going on through the field (though there was an easy winner) and something for nearly everyone to support. Here are a few of the entrants in this Championship.

Jeff Wilson's "Lotus Elise" was a dominant winner (overall and Class A1) finishing 51 seconds ahead after 12 laps but it is a beautifully prepared car and follows his previous creations such as the VW Beetle which is still around and appearing at occasional Special Saloon rounds.

He was chased initially by Nigel Moore's Ginetta G50 until its engine expired.

Class A2 contained just 2 starters and was easily won by David Brewis's amazing Suzuki SC100 Super Saloon, who pulled off immediately after the flag from 6th place overall.

One of the best battles was between the two leading cars in Class B - Michael Cutt's BMW M3 and Andrew Morrison's Seat Leon Cupra, the former eventually beating the latter by just 0.362secs and also winning the Championships by so doing. There are plenty of BMW pictures elsewhere so here is one of the immaculate Seat.

Class C was won by David Cox's Peugeot 306 and Class D by Paul Moss's Citroen Saxo. Class E (for Caterham type cars) was poorly supported but E1 was won by Neil Finnigan's Caterham and E2 (for the smaller engined cars) by Alan McPherson's MK Indy - both winners pictured below.

Finally Class H was won by the 1.4 Austin Mini of Clinton Ewen - another variation on the Mini theme.

Two other cars stood out for me - Colin Simpson has been driving his Marcos Mantis for the last 14 years - and I can remember the days when he was driving a turbocharged Escort Mk 1 around Ingliston, while Ian Blacklin turned up in a gorgeous Mark 1 Capri when his Fiesta was not available!

The Mini Miglias were the highlight race of the day with 7 cars fighting in a leading group for the whole race - here you can see all 7 of them as the race approached the closing stages.

The Formula Renault Championship has never excited me over the many years I have been watching them - probably because I have rarely seen an overtaking manouevre in their races. This time two of them contrived to clash on the first lap and reduce the field to 7 for the restarted race but sterling work by the respective teams got the two damaged cars out for the second race where the most excitement was caused by the Cliff Dempsey Racing team mates running side by side into the first corner from which they both emerged intact!

A fairly small crowd at Croft meant that good viewing was easily obtained on the bank at the first part of the Complex with views of more than half of the circuit in between the trees. I can imagine that on other days, for example when the BTCC visit, that many of the views are blocked by the crowds but I enjoyed what was just my second visit to this Northern outpost of English motor racing. From here it was on to Scotland for a few days before returning South to the first of the three circuits which were new to me - Oulton Park, with Anglesey and Pembrey to follow.

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