12 May 2007 Silverstone Stowe - Report by Richard Hollis
The bizarrely technical circuit of Stowe in the middle of the Silverstone Grand Prix track saw the 2CV Racing pack roll up for an impromptu meeting, thanks to a last minute Classic Touring Car Racing Club invite. On the Friday night a handful of cars arrived, in what was torrential rain and light flooding. Mechanic Keith, running the Silver Bullet car for Darren Baker would be the first of many to get soaked through by Silverstone’s micro climate of rain, rain and more rain. Around 8pm the gearbox locked whilst Svensson was at the wheel running round the paddock. Keith showed defiance in the face of defeat by working till 2am; eventually removing the gearbox and stripping it and re-building it, despite being a gearbox novice and having only finished the car at 4am the previous day! Come Saturday, the remaining cars arrived and similar stories of last minute car builds circulated. Andy Smith having some of the worst luck with a locked gearbox as he loaded the car on the trailer, thus requiring a last minute change when he should have been travelling to the race instead!
A super long qualifying session of 45 minutes meant some teams took it a bit too casually. Both Matthew and Richard Hollis lost 3 laps of the session when a fuel pump failed on Matthew’s car and necessitated a rebuild. Andy Smith and partner in crime and racing, Howling Mad Pete Cardell-Williams, dropped half the session as they polished the car and carried out other essential work. In rolled the clouds and heavy rain fell. Those late out set their fastest laps straight out of the pits, as the rain progressively got worse and worse and the lap times got slower and slower. Spins increased in frequency as drivers struggled to adapt to the constantly changing grip levels. Andy Findlay lost it backwards on the left hander at the end of the back straight. Richard Hollis also spun in the same place on his first lap out of the pits and then later overtook Sparrow backwards into turn one!
Rookie 2CV Racers were out in force. Sparrow teamed up with Richard Stringer in Francis Rottenburg’s old car and promptly took pole with Baker/Svensson starting 3rd in Car 90. Further back Helen Deeley kept it on all fours and was 9th sharing with Trevor Williams. Car 50, an ex-Irish race car, had timing woes after randomly fitting the cam nose. Drivers Karl Ellis and Shuter were happy to start from 10th and felt confident for the race having made improvements after qualifying. The Blue and Orange cars of Matt and Richard Hollis lined up promisingly in 4th and 2nd. Andy Findlay’s newly and hastily gaffer tape re-numbered 71 car took 8th in its first outing since Snetterton last year. Nick Grant, driving without team mate Paul Taylor, lined up 5th, just ahead of the lastest creation from Whitwell Motorsport, with Smith and Cardell-Williams at the wheel.
The following confusion at the start of the race proved an unhelpful distraction: Sparrow lined up on the wrong side of the track, the green flag lap was carried out with most drivers unaware and only realising as the lights came on and went off on the first line up. The cars varied in formation on the grid with some adopting a staggered approach and other the correct side by side pattern. Matt Hollis sat waiting for the green, more familiar with the traffic light climate of Northampton than the race track. Svensson dropped back along with Helen Deeley, certain everyone else would be black flagged for overtaking on the green flag lap, (when actually it was lap 1). Still Sparrow got a clean start and R Hollis slotted in behind, with his brother in tow. Further back multiple cars abreast and overtaking galore occurred as the field settled themselves down. Sparrow and R Hollis pulled away following nose to tail with Hollis fainting manoeuvres now and again. Matt Hollis pulled away from the battle for 4th between Smith and Grant. The track was now almost dry with the exception of Turn 1, where a large puddle of water remained. Braking early, selecting 2nd and turning in sharp seemed the quickest way through but on lap 9 Richard H skated wide after failing to engage 2nd gear and promptly lost the tow to Sparrow. The pits opened after 10 minutes with most drivers pitting around the half way point so their drivers got equal running. Sparrow’s co-driver Stringer sat on the belts whilst entering the car thus delaying an otherwise quick stop! The Hollis brothers pitted together, right at the end of the pit window, and rejoined in 1st and 2nd respectively, positions they would keep to the flag. Further back Trevor Williams picked up the pace but was too far back to threaten Baker in 6th. Meanwhile, Stringer was being caught each lap by Pete Cardell-Williams as he homed in for 3rd.
At the flag Mad Pete finished just seconds behind Stringer, after trying to use the tow from R Hollis, who had lapped everyone up to and including 4th by the end, setting fastest lap along the way. Findlay and Sharpley had a quiet race to 8th finishing 30 seconds behind Williams/Deeley. Ellis/Shuter took 9th and enjoyed it immensely, where as the luck ran out for Nick Roads partnered by Doherty, when the newly fitted but incorrectly calibrated Citroen CX fuel gauge lied to them about their fuel reserve 15 laps from the end.
A small prize giving ceremony presented Richard Hollis with his 2nd winner’s trophy, (having won an Endurance race at Stowe back in 2003, sharing with his brother). Refusal to remove the garland for the remaining meeting showed his delight at winning again, after such a long time. Matthew Hollis blagged the spare garland (aimed for the second driver of a winning 2 car team) and duly received the trophy for 2nd, much to his delight. The 3rd placed trophies for Sparrow and rookie 2CV racer Stringer were accepted with similar enthusiasm.
Many thanks go to Peter Edwards for his flexibility in organising the race and thanks to Trevor Williams for co-ordinating it, at the 2CV Racing end. Despite the expected wet weather everyone left with smiles on their faces, which demonstrates the draw of cheap, honest racing.