Pembrey Saturday 20th October 2007 - A Report by Richard Hollis
2CV Racing and Truck Racing at the same event makes for great entertainment and at Pembrey this year there would be no exception. Sixteen cars lined up in the newly enlarged pitlane with the sun shining. Two 15 minute qualifying sessions were laid on to allow for each driver to set a time prior to the start of this 2 hour endurance race. Despite the track being dry, it was still slippery after the trucks had deposited various amounts of mud, water and oil onto the surface. New boy Martin Hindley had teamed up with Mark Turner and took a storming pole after the times had been averaged between the two sessions. Steve Panas started alongside, further illustrating the pace he has had this season. Trevor Williams took 3rd on the grid from Sammy Fritchley and David Sullivan. Lining up last was the unlucky Matt Riley and Nick Grant. Nick had completed his necessary 3 laps before the shock absorber sheared, leaving Matt without a functioning car for his session.
The start was frantic as the field merged in turn at the hairpin, which is also the first corner! Amazingly all the 2CVs got through ok but they used all the track and more to fight for the positions, regularly running 3 or 4 abreast! The first 30 minutes of the race was sensational with the lead positions changing multiple times. In fact there was little in it as the field approach the first pitlane open period. Three pit stops would need to be made to account for teams running 4 drivers. In this race only Car 40 contained that many drivers, with the 24 hour race team of Roads, McCurrich, Gue and Doherty reforming for this end of season outing.
At the first quarter point of the race it was series regulars Greg Wheeler and Andy Pirt in a surprise lead, from the flying Simon Leith/Darren Baker, and Wayne Cowling/Simon Turner. Further back Paul Robertson, who was sharing with newly crowned 2007 2CV Champion Phil Myatt, was playing a waiting game hanging on to the lead pack in 9th. Out of contention now however was front row man Panas, having been black flagged for a debatable pit lane speeding incident. He was allowed out again but was now down to 15th.
After one hour, Cowling/Simon Turner lead from Mark Turner/Hindley and the amazing Derek Coghill who had climbed from 10th but had yet to pit. Myatt/Robertson had now risen to 5th and were threatening to climb higher.
The race became a little harder to follow now as drivers varied their pit strategy. Indeed, Derek Coghill proved to have one of the fastest, completing all three stops in successive laps. He was however not to reap the rewards as on lap 49 a huge off at the fastest corner Honda saw Coghill bounce through the grass, hitting the large ruts left by the truck racers running wide earlier in the day. This, unbeknown to Derek, cleanly snapped the track rod in half and disabled any steering on the passenger side wheel. With the lack of steering not obvious on the low fiction grass, Coghill kept his foot in and rejoined the track, only to wish he hadn’t. Cars were approaching fast down the start/finish straight and Derek struggled to turn the car in any direction. Heading back to the grass to get out the way, Simon Leith saw it all flash before his eyes as he skimmed just millimetres from Coghill’s sideways car, taking to the grass in avoidance. In the end Derek parked it out the way and the race carried on as normal.
Three quarters into the race it was now Myatt at the wheel and impressively ahead of the field, holding off Turner/Hindley, Cowling/Turner, Wheeler/Pirt and Williams. An amazing recovery drive saw Panas now sitting in 6th and on the same lap as every one up to 2nd. Long since departed were Christian Callander and Aubrey Brocklebank driving Car 12. A bizarre incident with the accelerator pedal snapping put pay to any success on lap 45. In fact the positions remained unchanged to the flag, with just Panas managing to climb up a position at the expense of Williams after a great duel together.
So Myatt and Robertson claimed a fantastic victory, finishing off Philip’s year superbly, after taking the crown at the previous round Mallory. Wheeler and Pirt were overjoyed at 2nd, their best result for a very long time (possibly ever? We’ll need to do some research!), Cowling and Turner were very pleased with 3rd, confirming 2nd in the Championship for Wayne.
Few series can keep the action alive over 2 hours of racing but the 2CV Championship proved it was possible. With such close competition and the move back to shorter races next year, this race series looks to simply become the best club racing in the UK. Time to sign up for next season I think!