The farce/tragedy that was Donington Park 2009 meant that the classic season started late at the end of May, but in grand style at the majestic and incomparable (if eccentrically organised) Spa-Francorchamps. Classic and ‘Open’ raced together here and regular classic winners Gary Culver and David Tomlin preferred to race their ‘Open’ cars. Guest driver Nick Adcock (328/3) won classic in R1 from Nicky Paul-Barron (328/3) after a controversial Safety Car/yellow flag procedure. With no “guests” present for R2, NP-B disappeared into the sunset, but behind him there was a great battle involving Chris Butler (328/3) and Ben Cartwright (328/3), resolved on the last lap in favour of the former.
There was a six week break to repair the ravages of Snetterton before the traditional August Bank Holiday thrash at Castle Combe. Here, Culver was back, but NP-B and Butler were saving their cars for Zandvoort the next weekend. Nick Taylor appeared for the first time in his Group 4 Mondi t after the serious business of tying up the Club’s hillclimb championship. At the start Taylor got the drop on Culver and led for a three laps, but then Gary squeezed through and even though Taylor got past briefly, looked in control to take the win. Jim Cartwright was quick once again, but spun and Evers took a great third. Probably the most entertaining dice was down in mid-field, for 12th place, where an incredibly tight bunch was led by John Swift (308/2), with Richard Squire (328/3), Richard Allen (328/3), Paul Unsworth (308/2), Geoff Neal (328/3), John Day (328/3) and David Ward (308GT4/2) all fighting to get to the front. Swifty had a half-spin on the tenth lap and dropped to the back of this group who were eventually led home by Day. Away from the glamour of the front, this dice typifies classic.
Three days later our racers and their entourages headed off for Zandvoort at the Dutch seaside and on arrival were blasted by gale force winds and torrential rain! Happily it all calmed down for race day which started very early on Sunday morning. Race 1 saw NP-B lead all the way to win from pole followed by Butler and Ben Cartwright who were separated by just 0.3 secs at the flag. R2 was classic classic, with NP-B, Ben Cartwright, Evers and Butler basically on the same pace. For a few laps it was all very close and hard but fair, just what club racing should be. Sadly, Evers dropped out with an oil leak and Cartwright with clutch problems and at the flag it was an ecstatic Butler who took his first-ever race win from the veteran Paul-Barron, Nick Taylor taking his second podium of the week!
There was a month to recover from all this overseas excitement before the racers re-assembled at leafy Oulton Park in Cheshire. Practice was dry, but the weather had followed them from Zandvoort and circuit was blasted with strong winds and horizontal rain when the cars were in the assembly area for the race. This proved to be crucial because although treaded tyres are obligatory, the more serious racers run a set with more tread in the wet. Also, the 17” P Zero Corsas are better in the dry, but the 16” PZeroCs are better in the wet and even more serious racers swap between the two according to conditions. This isn’t a five minute job and at Oulton there just wasn’t time; this badly affected pole man Culver and Butler.
So ended a good, though somewhat unusual season, in that none of the regular winners did a full year and it was much more open than usual. Entries were strong and there was good racing throughout the field. Let’s hope for more of the same in 2010.
A Few Stats, Some Unofficial
Unlike our hillclimbing, neither of the Club's circuit racing formulae
is a championship, nor even a series. This does does make things tricky to analyse, so just for fun a couple of years ago we cut and pasted the classic race results into our hillclimb points
calculating engine. Here, back by popular demand, is the same for 2009. The system gives 20 points for a win, 17 for second, 15 for third,
13 for fourth with all subsequent places dropping back one point at a
time to a minimum score of one point, including one for just making a start. Disqualifications have not been counted. Unlike the hillclimb championship
we counted all 11 races.
Click here to return to the 2009 Pirelli Ferrari formula classic index page.