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John Harrison – winner at Croft Nostalgia race August 2015

Croft Nostalgia Weekend – 8th./9th. August 2015
John Harrison took full advantage of Mark Charteris’s absence to dominate proceedings in both races, whilst honours were split in Class B between Adam Paterson and Clive Wood.
Although a little rain fell overnight, both days saw superb weather, with most people leaving the circuit on Sunday evening with a lot more ‘colour’ on their faces. This hugely popular event saw huge crowds on both days, not only to watch the racing, but view the static displays of classic cars and military memorabilia.
I’m not sure if the highlight was the aerial display by one of the last Vulcan bombers, or the Sherman Tank hurtling down the runway on full throttle. I’m not sure that met MSA noise regulations!
Sadly, after some last minute cancellations, the entry was down to eleven cars, with eight B’s and just three A Sport. On a positive note, it was great to see David Barnett travelling all the way down from Arbroath for his first outing in the ex- Martin Goddard Mallock Mk.18 and also Phil Bisgrove in the Dave Harwood run, Jeremy Banks Mallock Mk.20
Qualifying was combined with the Formula Ford 2000’s, so the track was very busy. Nonetheless, John Harrison put his car on pole by over six seconds, albeit some four seconds slower than would have been expected, had Mark been there! Joining John on the front row was Martin Halliday, gradually getting to grips with the Mk.20.
Adam Paterson secured B Sport pole and took the inside of row 2. He was joined by the remaining A Sport, Peter Carters Phantom.
Clive Wood was joined on row three by Phil Bisgrove, John Muirhead and Phil Hart took row four with Trish Hunter and David Barnett on row five. Adam Wheeler, learning the track, brought up the rear.
The lights went out and John Harrison pulled straight into a lead he was never to lose. Martin Halliday followed him into Clervaux and the superior power of the A Sport engine allowed Peter Carter to outdrag Adam Paterson into third. Clive Wood was quickly onto Adam’s tail with Phil Bisgrove keeping both of them honest.
At the end of lap one, John was already 3.5 seconds clear of Martin, who was also well clear of Peter Carter in third. Adam was keeping Clive at bay whilst Phil kept a watching brief. Phil Hart just had the edge over David Barnett and John Muirhead, this group being caught by Adam Wheeler, who had already found his way past Trish Hunter.
The battle in the middle of the B Sport field was hotting up. On lap three John Muirhead and David Barnett were side by side all the way through the Jim Clark Esses and Barcroft. Under braking for Sunny, David had to take to the grass, wiping out his nosecone and posting the first retirement of the day. The infighting allowed Adam Wheeler to catch this group and he swiftly found his way past John Muirhead.
The three A Sports pulled away at the front with John increasing his lead by five seconds per lap. Clive could make no inroads into Adam Patersons B Sport lead as his car started to overheat. He had to back off, allowing Phil Bisgrove up to second before finally retiring to the pits. The Aluminium floor section in the nose frame had become detached and folded up covering the radiator.
On lap six Martin Halliday retired from the runner up spot with axle failure, promoting Peter to second and Adam Paterson to third overall. Much of the interest now, was on Adam Wheeler’s progress. Having dispatched Phil Hart, he was rapidly closing on Phil Bisgrove for the B Sport runner up slot. On lap ten he found his way past and started to pull away, only for his front brakes to start playing up.
John lapped everybody down to third place and took the flag one and a half minutes clear of second. Peter Carter was second and the only other A Sport finisher, just five seconds clear of Adam Paterson, the B Sport winner. Second in B Sport was up for grabs right up to the last corner. With no front brakes, Adam Wheeler was doing a sterling job of keeping Phil Bisgrove behind him, but at the hairpin, he slid wide allowing Phil through.
John Muirhead had finally found a way past Phil Hart to take fourth in B and sixth overall and Trish Hunter was the final runner home.
Sadly Martin Halliday’s axle was not repairable at the circuit, so we were down to just two A Sports in race two. The grid was based on finishing positions from race one, so the anticipated highlight would be Clive’s progress from the back of the grid, having solved the flapping aluminium problem and had a full cylinder head overhaul as well.
Once again, John launched into the lead from the start, followed again by Peter Carter. Adam Paterson and Adam Wheeler held station at the front of the B Sport pack, but by the time the pack passed through the chicane, Clive Wood was already up to third. Behind him, there was promise of another great battle with Phil Hart, David Barnett, Trish Hunter and John Muirhead in very close company.
At the end of lap one, it was John already well clear of Peter, who was just managing to keep clear of the B Sport battle. Adam Paterson had built up a very small buffer ahead of Adam Wheeler, who in turn was keeping ahead of the charging Clive Wood. Phil Hart was ahead of David Barnett, followed by Trish and John Muirhead.
On lap two, Phil spun and dropped to the back of the field, otherwise the order remained the same. On lap four however, Clve dived inside of Adam Wheeler at Tower, to grab second in class and started his pursuit of Adam Paterson. David Barnett spun exiting the hairpin, promoting Trish to fourth in class, but managed to recover and outdrag Trish to Clerveaux to take the place back.
By half distance, John Harrison was already 46 seconds clear of Peter Carter in second. Clive had reduced the gap to Adam Paterson to less than a second with Adam Wheeler holding a watching brief just a few seconds behind. The four battling B Sports behind remained in the same order with David Barnett ahead.
On lap nine Clive grabbed the class lead from Adam and the race suffered its first casualty. David Barnett pulled off just after Tower, his long commute from Arbroath showing scant reward. A lap later, Phil Hart rolled down the pit straight and into retirement with another engine malady.
The battle at the front of B Sport was far from finished though. Adam Paterson grabbed the lead back on lap ten and just hung onto it for another three laps. However, on lap thirteen, Clive forced his way back past. Trish looked comfortable for fourth in class until a spin at the hairpin allowed John Muirhead to gain the place.
John Harrison took the flag some 1 minute, 20 secs clear of second placed Peter Carter. Clive hung on for the last lap and took the B Sport victory by less than half a second from Adam Paterson. Adam Wheeler crossed the line just before John took the flag and came home as the last unlapped runner for his first ever podium. John Muirhead took fourth in class ahead of a recovering Trish Hunter.
Despite the low numbers, a thoroughly good time was had by all (or nearly all! – apologies to those with mechanical issues). The weather was great and the spirit of cooperation throughout the formula was tremendous. Clive Wood was awarded driver of the meeting for his tremendous drive from the back of the field to take the B Sport win in race two. Dave Facer was awarded mechanic of the meeting for expediting Clive’s cylinder head overhaul on Sunday morning, helping him win race two!
I cannot sign off without a mention for our ‘stand in ‘ caterers, Kerry and Charlotte. They did an absolutely superb job all weekend, keeping everybody well nourished.
Look forward to seeing you all at Oulton Park. Let’s hope we can get set up before dark on Sunday!

Lots of love

Sue Facer
The Demonic Perm

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