Thursday, 1 October 2015

‘Dougal at the Double’ at the Vintage Sports-Car Club’s Snetterton Race Season Finale

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‘Dougal at the Double’ at the Vintage Sports-Car Club’s
Snetterton Race Season Finale

This past weekend saw the VSCC celebrate the end to a successful 2015 Race Season with a triumphant Seaman Memorial Trophies Meeting at Snetterton on Sunday 27 September, where another strong turnout of Spectators was on hand to witness a fantastic day of Pre-war and Historic motorsport.

Amongst the day’s success stories was a double-victory for Dougal Cawley in his popular Ford-engined GN Special ‘Piglet’. After a disappointing season of non-finishes, the Longstone Tyres Chief’s persistence finally paid off as he held off a battling Patrick Blakeney-Edwards in the Frazer Nash Super Sports by less than 0.3 secs to claim the Club’s prestigious Vintage Seaman Trophy, ending a 10-year wait for success in that particular competition. This was followed by victory in the Sports-Car ranks, as he led home a ‘Chain-Gang’ 1-2-3 in the final race of the day.

Also celebrating multiple achievements on the day were Austrian father and son, Martin and Niklas Halusa. Driving his Bugatti T35C, Martin scored two podium finishes from his three races whilst Niklas put on a stunning debut performance in the family’s Alfa Romeo 8C Zagato, with three top three placings, including victory in the day’s opening ‘Set 3’ salvo for Standard & Modified Pre-war Sports-Cars.

A drama-filled race saw pole-sitter, Andrew Mitchell forced to start from pit-lane after issues for his HRG in the Assembly Area; a heroic charge through the 26-strong field saw the perennial front-runner momentarily capture third place, but the car finally gave in and forced his retirement on the penultimate lap. Despite the disappointment, a strong 2015 season had already assured him top billing in the series’ celebrated ‘Owner-Driver-Mechanic’ standings.

Another highlight of the day was the Williams Trophy, which saw a fantastic line-up of Bugatti machinery take to the grid – again in honour of Grover-Williams’s famous victory at the inaugural Monaco Grand Prix – with Type 13, 35B, 35C, 39, 51 and 59 models all on show. An impressive getaway for Julian Majzub’s T35B saw him take an early lead before Charles Knill-Jones took charge in Charles McCabe’s T59, who was able to hold off the Blockley Tyres man to repeat his 2013 victory. Behind, Simon Diffey and Stephen Shoosmith    enjoyed a titanic race-long battle in their T51 cars, with the former just edging the contest for third in Richard Collier’s impressive machine.

Calum Lockie was victorious once more as he claimed a third consecutive Snetterton victory in Sean Danaher’s Maserati 6CM. Starting from pole for the Club’s finalPremier Cru Racing event of the year, the Pro GT Racer took a lead he was never to relinquish, with Nick Topliss unable to stay with him, settling for a runner-up spot in R4A, the sole ERA survivor after supercharger issues for the unfortunate Paddins Dowling’s R10B. Following top three finishes at all events, including victory at the opening round Silverstone in April, the result was enough to see the Bicester-based Topliss claim top spot in the Premier Cru season standings, with Lockie the top Continental entrant and Chris Hudson’s Bugatti T35B the leading Pre-1931 Vintage car.

There was to be more success for Topliss later in the day as he defended his Historic Seaman Trophy crown, bringing R4A home in third place and top Pre-war finisher in ‘Set 2’ for Pre-1961 Racing Cars. The same race saw Fred Harper bring a triumphant season in the Kurtis Indy Roadster to a victorious end, repeating his Flockhart Trophy win of last year, ahead of John Ure in Peter Mann’s Cooper Bristol T24/25, making his first VSCC appearance since 2010.

The versatility of the unusual 1953 2-seater machine was on full show, as the experienced pilot also scored a fourth place finish in the preceding race, the Hawthorn International Trophy for 1950s Sports-Cars. Despite a slow start, Majzub’s mighty Sadler led the way as expected, with Darren McWhirter’s Tojeiro Jaguar hounding him all the way before a spin at ‘Riches’ on the final few laps for the Scotsman finally relieved the pressure and assured Majzub his fourth win of the trophy.

There were also exciting Handicap Race victories for Club Director, Dennis Johnson in the Frazer Nash Colmore, and David Seber, the youngest of three generations of the family competing in their Wolseley Hornet Specials on the day, whilst Eddie Gibbs took home the spoils in an All-Comers Pre-war Scratch in his Frazer Nash Monoposto.

Away from the track, we said farewell to Chief Timekeeper, David Morley, who retires after 50 years of motorsport timekeeping, whilst the Paddock was again busy with fascinated Spectators getting a close look at the competing machinery, as well as a terrific 80 car gathering from the Fressingfield Oily Rag Club. The circuit’s Cream Tea Tent, Jazz Band and an inspiring aerial display along the Start/Finish Straight during the Lunch Break by an historic T6 Harvard Trainee aircraft all contributed to another spectacular Vintage Festival.

The Club extends its thanks to all those who supported the day, from the Competitors and Spectators, to the Snetterton Circuit Team, who again made us feel most welcome, and finally the loyal band of Marshals and Officials who ensured a safe and enjoyable day for all involved. 

‘Chain-Gang’ pilots Patrick Blakeney-Edwards and Dougal Cawley thrilled the crowds
with their wheel-to-wheel battle in the Vintage Seaman Trophy.

Photo: Simon Arron

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