29, Aug, 2017
Crash, Bang, Wallop!
I must admit we’ve had better days than Saturday 12 August. We were just two laps into qualifying for the Meteor Suspension Open Series race at the Classic and Sports Car Club’s Castle Coombe meeting when the engine of my Caterham C400 went bang.
As I came off the throttle for Tower, the internal components made a bid for freedom and then on the very next lap a Renault Clio dropped coolant on the track causing the session to be red-flagged. So that, short of a five-hour round trip back to Longfield for another car, which I really didn’t fancy, brought my week-end’s racing to a premature end. Even so, Colin Watson was credited with sixth fastest lap in the C400 we built for Spa, and Peter Hargroves, 30th. For what it was worth, my time was good enough for 14th on the grid.
The abbreviated session meant that the cars were jumbled up on the grid which may well have led to what happened soon after the lights at the start. Almost immediately, a Caterham C400 and a BMW M3 collided with an impact hard enough to slice the rear end from the Caterham and hospitalise the driver. The race was red-flagged and not re-started. Game over, Colin and I completing two laps in the whole day.
It could only get better. That said, qualifying for Sunday’s Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens race was fairly fraught. With just five minutes of the session remaining another competitor spun just as Tim Davis (C400) was passing him. Tim’s front end was knocked off in the ensuing crash. He’d still done enough to secure 4th on the grid. This became 3rd when the rapid Gary Bate was penalised for being too successful in previous races and sent down the grid. Jonathan Pittard lined up on pole in his Superlight R and Colin Watson 2nd. Peter Hargroves started 12th. Meanwhile, we had some repair work to do. Out came the welding gear and part of the vanload of spares we always take with us. In fact, we probably carry the equivalent of a complete Caterham in boxes! In addition to the welding work, Tim’s car needed a new steering column, two new wishbones and an upright. The car was looking a bit second-hand but at least Tim could take his place on the grid.
At the start Gary Bate had a miraculous start and shot up to second, while Jonny and Tim went backwards, dropping back to 4th and 6th respectively. As dust settled Colin led while Bate was coming under increasing pressure from Jonny and Tim which allowed Jonathan Mitchell to join in what was now a five car battle for the lead. However Colin held his nerve and led… until the pitstops.
The pit entry at Castle Combe is tortuous and Gary Bate attacked it in a fashion that Sebastian Loeb would have been proud of and this combined with other cars dawdling and holding up some of the Boss boys meant that Bate emerged form the pit stop period with a twelve second lead.
Tim drove his socks off to finish second to the inevitable Bate. But Colin was less fortunate. He was up to 2nd place and lapping another car for the second time that clearly didn’t see him and moved over. The resulting wallop took Colin out of the race. Peter Hargroves, though, was delighted with his 11th place, his best result yet.
The Boss Racing / Team Leos rivalry continues at the Brands Hatch Lotus Festival on 2nd September where Jonny’s brother Christian will be back with his CSR and the team will be looking for success on home turf.
As well as preparation and supporting our customers at race meetings, Boss Racing has also been busy setting up cars. Recently we’ve done a couple of Minis and a pair of Clios. We’ve also worked on Dean Halsey’s lovely Datsun 240Z and John Hilbery’s attractive Lenham GT. We also re-built the Lenham’s engine. Both these cars are running in the CSCC’s Swinging Sixties series and both are shared with Wil Arif, who has declared himself delighted with the results of our work.
We’ve also been setting up some other cars. As I write this, Paul Adams’ rapid Ford Focus is sharing our workshop with Rod Birley’s familiar black Escort Cosworth WRC.
Mention of Rod reminds me that at the BARC’s championship meeting on 29/30 July he very kindly paid tribute to Boss Racing’s efforts with the Peter Bevan-owned Honda Integra R. My dad, Dave Singleton, had rebuilt the Integra’s engine at the start of the season.
After coming second (and first in class) in the first of the two Cannons Motorspares Tin Top rounds, Rod said in his post-race podium interview that the car was “brilliant.” He added: “hats off to the team” and included Boss Racing in this team, which had helped him to the class win that represented his 613th victory. Thanks, Rod.
Boss Racing client Chris Whiteman then won the second Tin Top blast after a demon start from the second row. Three cars went up Hailwood Hill and into Druids side-by side. Chris emerged in the lead where he stayed, just ahead of Rod. It was a great drive.
14, Jun, 2015
It may have started all grey and damp, but for Team Boss the last day of May ended with a nice drop of sunshine – and it wasn’t entirely to do with the brightening weather.
Two class wins and a memorable fastest lap wasn’t a bad day’s work and being at our home track, Brands Hatch, just added to the pleasure.
We were there with seven assorted Caterhams and a brace of TVRs to contest three events at the Classic Sports Car Club’s third meeting of 2015 and it’s first of two visits to the Indy circuit.
In the Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens Group 2 we had six cars running in three classes in a 40-minute race which also involved a mandatory pit stop. It rained during qualifying but our runners certainly didn’t disgrace themselves.
Christian Pittard had the best of it with sixth spot on the grid. Graham Charman started two places further back with Jonathan Pittard another two places behind him.
And it was Jonathan who did best in the race itself. He took seventh overall with his 1998cc Superlight R and first in class E for cars with up to 220bhp. Graham was 16th with his Superlight 400 and third in class D, while Colin Watson was 11th overall and third in class H with his R300. C400-mounted Mark Simmons also took a class third – in class E – on his way to 14th overall, while Hugh Coulter in his R300 was fourth in a class D.
By the time the group 1 cars came out to play the track was beginning to dry but it was still slippery as I was to discover. It was my first time in our number 90 Superlight and my first time out since I’d stuffed number 92 nose-first into the bank at Mallory Park a week earlier.
Nineteenth on the grid wasn’t much to shout about so I felt I should be able to improve on that in the race. The pit stop went OK – thanks, guys – but at one point during the race I made contact with another competitor while trying to pass. The result was a 360-degree spin plus a stalled engine. That cost me some time plus a wing.
Despite that I had a great time. I finished eighth and first in class A for the lowest power cars. At one point I thought I’d inadvertently held up the winning Roadsport shared by Wil Arif and Stephen Mansell. But after the race Wil – in his first ever Caterham race – was kind enough to say he hadn’t noticed. “We all have to drive our own races,” said the veteran Brands instructor.
In between the two Caterham races came the fast and furious New Millenium and Dunlop Puma Cup race. Another 40-minuter with mandatory pit stop, this event attracted a very mixed bag of quick cars including our two TVRs, the grey Tuscan of Tim Davis and the red Sagaris of Dean Cook.
Qualifying had been wet but Tim took fourth spot on the grid with Dean, a little unhappy with the conditions, down in 23rd. Indeed, the damp track didn’t suit the powerful V8s but Tim kept his well in contention until his pit-stop.
Thanks to his success at Silverstone earlier in the month Tim had a 30-second winner’s penalty added to his time in the pits. Once that had been counted down he rocketed back a lap down on the race-leading Porsche Boxter of James and Alan Broad. As the track surface dried, though, Tim’s race came alive.
You didn’t need a stop watch to tell he was the fastest out there. As the race wound down Tim had the big Tuscan well wound up as it rumbled round visibly quicker than anything else on the circuit. Tim not only got back on to the lead lap but hauled himself up to fifth by the flag – not bad for someone with a 30 secs handicap to overcome. Tim’s best lap was 57.463 sec: only he and the winning Porsche went round inside a minute.
Dean, meanwhile, was out soon after the pit stop window opened. The car trickled down the pit lane in a manner which, according to race commentator Mark Werrell, didn’t suggest “the body language of a car heading for a mandatory pit stop.” He wasn’t wrong: the wicked looking coupe with the bulge in the roof to accommodate its driver was suffering from fuel pressure problems.
But even that couldn’t dampen our spirits. And as we were packing up to go home the sun broke through the clouds. Next week-end we’re back at Brands for one of its landmark meetings of the year, the American Speedfest. See you there.
Tags: Boss Racing, Brands Hatch, caterham, Caterham C400, Caterham K Series, Christian Pittard, Classic Sports Car Club, colin watson, CSCC, Hugh Coulter, Jonny Pittard, Mag 7 Series, Mark Simmons, Racing, Robert Singleton, TVR, Winning
22, Apr, 2015
Phew! It was certainly an active week-end for Boss Racing and its customers.
It started the week before with five Caterhams and two TVRs to prepare for the Classic Sports Car Club’s season opener at the Snetterton 300 circuit. Meanwhile, our old mate and neighbour, Rod Birley, was bringing his famous Escort in for set-up checks before racing at our local track.
At Snett we had the new number 91 Boss Racing Caterham R300 to be driven by Colin Watson from Barnehurst, Kent. The 56 year-old paint sprayer normally shares the driving with me but the plan for this weekend was for Colin to do the 40-minute race single handed. As it was, our own car was the last to be prepped so problems with the dash display, flat shift and ECU meant it wasn’t ready until late on Thursday night.
Hugh Coulter from Esher was having his first race in his new R300, number 10, while Jersey-based Christian Pittard was in the number 45 car he’s campaigned for the past four seasons. Somerset’s Jonny Pittard, in number 81, has also been racing for four years. Our own number 93 car was again hired out to Mark Rider who was successful in a number of events last year.
Tim Davis from Orpington had his well-known silver number 22 TVR Tuscan. He was still on a high from his earlier win at Donnington Park, while Dean Cook was our second TVR runner with his red number 20 Segaris.
Just three before the start of the season, Dean brought the car into our workshop for a pre-season check when we discovered that one of the V8’s cylinder heads was cracked. But with some late night working – of course! – We managed to get the TVR running on Thursday afternoon. It meant that Dean missed the booking-in deadline and had to miss out on Snetterton.
The Friday test day saw Hugh, Christian and Colin out on the circuit with Fulvio Mussi on hand to provide driver tuition. Hugh’s car ran faultless all day and made steady lap time gains in each session. Christian’s car suffered a misfire at high RPM but once this was sorted his lap times were impressive. Colin’s car, though, was plagued with an electrical problem which side-lined it for the rest of the week-end.
Saturday was race day for Tim, Jonny and Mark. Tim was competing in the new Millennium series but in qualifying on a very wet track the best he could manage was seventh out of 13 runners. Pole position went to the rapid Randall/Randaccio Lotus Europa, of which more later.
The track had dried up by start-time. It looked like normal service was resumed as Tim stormed into the lead on the first lap. He stayed there until his pit stop on the seventh of this 19-lap 41-minute race which Tim had elected to drive solo.
Meanwhile, the Europa, which had stopped two laps earlier to change drivers, had established itself at the head of the field. Randaccio was lapping 10 seconds faster than Randall and five seconds better than Tim. By the time the field had sorted itself out after the stops Randaccio and Tim were first and second. Tim drove as hard as he usually does but was still 51 seconds behind Randaccio at the flag. But he won class A.
Jonny and Colin were competing in the Sports V Saloons 15-lapper. There was a mixed grid of 24 cars ranging from Caterhams to Jaguars and including the very fast pole-sitting Randall/Randaccio Europa.
Qualifying was wet and Jonny Pittard was a little rusty and struggling to get some grip from the CR500 tyres. Consequently, he could manage only 19th and last of the 11 Caterham runners. Colin, now in the 93 car, had a much better run to qualify seventh overall and fifth Caterham.
After a good start Colin moved up to fourth, which he held until lap four. He made his pit stop on lap seven of the 15-lap event and emerged tenth. By the time everything had settled down Colin was running sixth, but on lap 11 Colin come into the pits for a second time after a mix-up with a black flag which wasn’t for him. At the finish he was seventh and second in class. Jonny, meanwhile, had also made a good start. He pitted on lap nine and moved up to 14th and third in class.
Hugh Coulter, Christian Pittard, Jonny Pittard and Mark Rider were out for Sunday qualifying on a dry circuit. Christian’s was the fastest of the Boss cars and posted a lap in 2:02sec, just 0.238sec off the pole time of Danny Winstanley. Still, it was a time that put him third on the grid and third in class H. Mark posted 2:05.368 for ninth and second in class E.
Jonny did 2:07.609 to place 12th and third in class E, while Hugh recorded 2:08.626 to be 14th and second in class D. Other Caterham runners using Boss engines were Graham Charman (11th and first in class D), Richard Carter (13th and third in class G) and Paul Browes (16th and fifth in class E).
After a rolling start there was plenty of action at the first corner so much so that the safety car had to sort things out. Fincham and Oreilly failed to complete the lap. Christian’s right front wheel had made contact with something solid, knocking the tracking out and pushing him down to fifth. Mark slowed down for the safety car boards and waved yellow flags coming round Hamilton (the bend, not the driver) but in the excitement six drivers failed to see the yellows and overtook Mark, pushing him down to 15th.
Although he’d made a good start, moving up to ninth, Jonny was one of the errant drivers, as was Hugh who’d made it up to 12th. After the safety car pulled in at the start of the third lap Christian discovered driving a Caterham with the front wheels pointing in different directions isn’t that easy yet moved up to ninth by lap five.
Hugh, meanwhile, had overtaken Graham Charman at the restart to lead class D. The pit stops started on lap five and had been completed by lap nine with Christian in sixth, Mark seventh, Hugh 10th, Graham 12th and Richard Carter 14th. Christian
move up to fifth on lap16 and stayed there to the flag. Mark had an epic battle with Green for the last seven laps, the pair trading places every lap for class E honours and seventh overall. But Mark lost out on the last lap and had to settle for 8the, while Jonny was ninth – and third in class – just 5-sec behind the Green-Rider duel.
Hugh was holding the class lead until lap 11 when his car slowed and Graham passed him. In the pit lane it was discovered that Hugh’s alternator mounting had failed and, with loss of drive to the coolant pump the resulting overheating had prompted the ECU to go into safe mode and cut power. This left Graham Charman to take the class win.
Meanwhile there was plenty of action at Brands Hatch. In preparation for his outings in the two rounds of the Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship, Rod Birley had brought his all-concerning number 44 Ford Escort WRC into the workshop for four-wheel alignment and set-up.
It obviously paid off. In qualifying Rod took pole despite the wet conditions. Glen Rossiter’s number 7 Clio Cup car also made good use of set-up work in our shop to grab fifth and first in class D. Daniel Palmer, racing his number 8 Mitsubishi Evo for the first time, missed qualifying but Bernie Baxter put his number 39 Audi S3 on 15th slot and fourth in class C.
In the first race Rod had a turbo pipe problem, forcing him to settle for the runner-up spot with Ian Butler taking the win in his rapid Ford Focus. Glen crashed heavily on the opening lap and took no further part in the proceedings, while Bernie Baxter moved up to 12th overall and third in class. Although he started from the back of the grid in his first-ever race, Daniel Palmer took eighth overall and third in class.
The second race saw things back to normal with Rod pulling away from Butler to win. Despite a first lap spin, Daniel fought back to take sixth overall and class second, while Bernie’s Audi managed 13th and fifth in class.
So it was quite a weekend and I’d like to thank everyone who make it such a success. To them I say: there’s too many of you to list but you know who you are. Thanks for all the hard work, boys.
Boss racing results summary for the weekend
New Millennium Series: Tim Davis, 2nd overall and 1st class A
Sports V Saloons: Colin Watson, 7th overall and 2nd class H; Jonny Pittard, 14th overall and 3rd class H
Magnificent Sevens Group 2: Christian Pittard, 5th and 4th class H; Mark Rider, 8th and 2nd class E; Jonny Pittard, 9th and 3rd class E, Graham Charman, 11th and 1st class D, Richard Carter, 14th and 4th class G
Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship Race 1: Rod Birley 2nd overall; Daniel Palmer, 8th overall and 3rd in class; Bernie Baxter, 12th overall and 3rd in class
Race 2 Rod Birley, 1st overall; Daniel Palmer 6th overall and 2nd in class; Bernie Baxter, 13th overall and 5th in class.
Tags: caterham, Caterham C400, Christian Pittard, Classic Sports Car Club, colin watson, CSCC, Dean Cook, Fulvio Mussi, Hugh Coulter, Jonny Pittard, Mag 7 Series, Magnificent Sevens, Mark Rider, new millennium, Rod Birley, Snetterton, snetterton 300, Tim Davis, TVR