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03 August 2011

TVR Challenge - Donnington 2011
This is the big one. Donnie GP with several TVR GTs.

A fitting memorial to Tom Stewart on the WTCC package.

As soon as Donington was announced in the calendar at the start of the year, it was going to be the highlight for me and many other drivers. The birthplace of the TVR Tuscan Challenge in 1989 and a very difficult circuit to get onto (especially with the recent Grand Prix debarkall)  this was the first chance I’d had to race there. It was programmed for 2009, but as the track was still in bits from redevelopment, the race was pulled, so this was one race I was going to be at.

As many of you know, Tom Stewart, my old adversary in GpB and all round good guy, sadly died in 2010 and his son Dave (now racing in the family red Griff) thought Donnie would be a fitting memorial round to remember his dad. Turns out Tom still holds a lap record there in his V8 MG so as it was also going to be our premier 2011 event, everyone know it was the ideal opportunity. Well liked by all, builder of his own car and ace racer, there was a lot to like about Tom. Too fast for my liking I spent many a lap trying to catch his Griff but only managed it once. In the wet at Mallory when Tom only had road tyres due to his budget. I was on R888s but my aero saved the day. Anyway, his family were all there and had a great time with their friends in the paddock with many of the Big GTs coming out for the first time in years in Tom’s name. It would be a belter!

Nightmare! With only three weeks to go, the weekend was pulled once again. More problems at the track meant the whole weekend would be pulled. Both John Read (Guv’nor) and Mal Gwynne (Media Rep) fought hard to keep our race and shortly another weekend was offered. This was the full GP circuit on the WTCC (World Touring Car Championship) package. Only on the Friday, but still a great opportunity to race at a major International FIA Event.

With no-one having raced there in years, and only two who had raced there at all, Donnie would be a good yardstick for the Series. I had done half a Trackday there in 2002? before being thrown off for noise so it would be new for me too. We had done nothing since Brands as the car was running fine, so it was straight out for Qually to get our bearings. With plenty of room on the big GT circuit, I spent the first 4 laps breaking in new slicks before putting in a couple of quick laps. Only time for two as “Qually” was only 15mins. On returning to the Paddock I was amazed to hear that I was third on the grid after the GTs had moved to the pit lane with only GpA Hui  and Chevy Marcos up ahead. Another strong qually!

Race 1 and another strong start. I nipped inside the Marcos at Redgate and tried to stay there. I managed for a couple of laps, but on a big GP circuit it’s going to be very hard to keep the GpA cars behind my Rover powered Tuscan, especially if they have a Chevy onboard. The Marcos pushed past on the Dunlop straight and the pack closed at the Melbourne hairpin. As I turned in, Darren Smith taped me round and a full spin allowed several past. Second to twelfth in one lap and I had it all to do as the GTs and A cars had all made the most of the clear air. Keith and Graham my opposition were having a right go at it allowing me to gain on them and when Graham made his move I was right behind to rob second. A banging started from my transmission causing me to slow (slightly) but my new slicks gave me the pace to stay within a second or so of graham who only had 2 fresh ones. Second in Class…still in the hunt for B honours though Keith Vaughan Williams took GpB 2nd with a fastest lap by around 2/100ths from Dave Stewart in third.

Only time for a quick lunch and check over of the Ujs and we were back out. The boys from Dulfords had little time to deal with mine as Perry’s cars had both terminally expired. Still, it’s racing and you run what ya brung, so I’d have to take it easy. Yeah…right.

Race2 and I was a bit further back as the A cars were up ahead. Still another good start and I was 4th by Redgate taking 2 off the line. With the transmission banging alarmingly, I had a fantastic race with first Jamie Golby in his GpA Tuscan and then Keith in GpB. Lock ups and rubbing abounded for a good 10 laps before I managed to shake Keith off at Redgate, He disappeared in a massive dust cloud but rejoined taking a creditable third behind Dave Stewart.

The Race vids are on our Youtube channel TVRMonster and pictures from the day here Race 1 Race 2

We stayed over on Friday night to watch the wet racing on Saturday. Millions of pomds worth of WTCC cars, Maserati’s, Auto GP cars, Mini Milias were all out in very wet conditions providing some major spectacle so we blagged a Box at Turn 1 and had a very pleasant day enjoying the racing.
What a weekend. Next up…Rockingham 20.21 August

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