Snetterton, 24-25 October 2009

Its been a bad year for us with no track action at all and the kappa still in pieces due to lack of budget. We did however attend the launch of the Trofeo Abarth 500 for 2010. We were able to test one of the cars, if only on a damp Silverstone Stowe circuit. It is not going to be a cheap series in which to run, reckon on a budget of at least 80k, but as details become more available we will look into finding some budget partners to help with this.


Photo courtesy of David Fuller

The car itself would probably be competitive with a Renault Clio Cup car. The 1.4 turbo engine develops 200bhp and the car weighs about 930kgs. Torque steer is a bit of a blight, certainly in damp conditions. Simply applying the throttle with the steering anywhere but straight sent the car skitting sideways and took a while to get the best exit from corners without understeering off. Rhys Lloyd, the 2008 LMA champion also tested on the day, as did celebrity and supermodel Jodie Kidd!

The final round, round nine of the 2009 LMA Euro Saloon and Sports Car Championship took place at Snetterton.

Qualifying:
A damp but drying track meant qualifying times were a little off expected race pace. Tony Soper in the Class A Harrier set the pole time almost a second clear of second placed (and Class B pole) Ilsa Cox in her Seat Leon. Peter Challis was 1/20th second behind Cox and would be hoping to extend his 100% win record for the season. Gary Furst (Mitsubishi Evo) and Richard Hawken (Nissan Primera) were also within 1/5th second of Cox on the grid. Kevin Wendt (BMW M3) was struggling and only managed 2 slow laps leaving Nick Hayes (Seat Leon) to narrowly fend off Mark Cripps (BMW M3) in the battle for Class C pole. Ian Craig's older BMW M3 took the Class D pole while David Pierce (Renault Clio) was well clear of fellow Clio drivers Jason Tarling and Stewart Calder in taking the Class E pole.

Race:
With the weather having remained bright, the track was now dry. Tony Soper got a bad start from pole and by the end of the first lap had fallen back to 7th place, and would indeed lose another place the following lap while waiting for the Harrier to properly warm up. Peter Challis had come through from 3rd on the grid to lead after one lap, his regular combatant throughout the season, Andy Harvey (Subaru Impreza), had blasted through to 2nd from 6th on the grid. Richard Hawken was a couple of seconds further back, closely followed by Ilsa Cox and Dave Cockell (Ford Escort Cosworth). Cockell passed Cox for 4th place on lap 3 and moved passed Hawken into 3rd the following lap. At the front, Harvey was tracking Challis just a second behind while further back, Soper was now on the move.

Harvey was gaining on Challis on lap 5 and brought the gap down to 0.6 second before Challis pulled off the track and out of the race. Harvey was now leading by three seconds from Cockell with Simon Deaton (Mitsubishi Evo) and Soper a further 6 seconds back in 3rd and 4th. Already (lap 6) Harvey was lapping the backmarkers which allowed Cockell to close up to within 1 second by lap 8. Soper moved up into 3rd place on lap 9 but was still 6 seconds adrift of Harvey. Soper set a new outright LMA lap record on lap 11 gaining three seconds on that lap alone, now Harvey led Cockell by a second with Soper just a second further back. Soper passed Cockell for 2nd on lap 13 and the gap was down to 0.7 seconds, on lap 14 it was 0.6 and on lap 15 just 0.35 with Cockell just 0.5 seconds further back. It was all down to the last lap, surely the extra power of the Subaru engine would be enough for Harvey to take the win? Coming out of Russell on the final lap, Soper got better exit speed. In the race for the line, both Harvey and Soper lapped Stewart Calder's Renault Clio and they were three abreast going for the line. Soper eclipsed Harvey by just 0.025 seconds, about 6 inches and took the race win by the narrowest ever LMA margin.

With the demise of Class B front runner Challis, Richard Hawken and Ilsa Cox were left to fight for the Class B win, Hawken eventually triumphing by just one second although he was never headed by Cox. Kevin Wendt was unable to take part in the race leaving Nick Hayes to earn enough points to seal his Class C Championship win, but Hayes could get nowhere near Class C race winner Mark Cripps. Ian Craig drove a steady race a little behind Cripps to take the Class D win while David Pierce took his second consecutive Class E win by 10 seconds from Jason Tarling.

All class champions except for Class C had already been decided prior to this race, Nick Hayes taking the title by virtue of still having his joker (double points) to play. Our congratulations to Nick, but we hope to compete for that title next year!

Visit the LMA site for details of the LMA Euro Saloon and Sports Car championship and standings so far.

Check out the current points standing.

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