Round 6 of the 2010 Lotus on Track Elise Trophy held at Cadwell Park on the 21st August 2010.
Returning for a third year, the Cadwell Park circuit usually provides the drivers with a series of challenges but on this occasion it presented even more, with rain showers giving a sharp contrast between the open and fast park section and the slow-drying and tight forest loop. With overtaking tricky, a good grid position requires commitment and bravery.
With last minute changes to the entry list, the most notable being Mark Speller taking over Tom Chatterway’s car, and a heats and final format, plenty of action was promised.
As a passing shower started to die out, group favourite Speller posted his fastest lap in the early moments of the session before further drops slowed his pursuers. Visibly on the limit and with the Toyota-powered cars benefitting from ABS in these conditions, it looked as though his pace would be too much for the rest.
It took a while but Pete Storey and Stuart Plotnek started to close the gap. Another driver expected to do well in this group was Steve Williams but he was propping up the top ten and many of the cars were bunched, not ideal on a narrow circuit.
Meanwhile Speller was making improvements to his time as he twitched his way round the Hall Bends but by session’s end Storey had pegged the gap to a couple of tenths. Plotnek was half a second adrift, with Williams fourth, but over two seconds adrift and carrying damage. Fifth to tenth was populated by Sean Nash, Adrian Beer, Steve Quick, Donald Canard, Andy Dolan and Stuart Mason.
An hour later the sun was making tentative efforts to break through in contrast to the pace being set by the three frontrunners. Gavin Kirby was the first to head the sheets but Craig Denman and Michael Edwards were not far behind and with this pair running nose to tail, they swapped positions several times as they overhauled the leader. Eventually Denman decided he wanted to pass Edwards, who was happy enough with his pace and unwilling to cooperate with this request. Denman then dropped back as Edwards passed Kirby on his way to ever faster laps. Meanwhile Gary Broad was catching Denman as he became a contender for the front row.
With times improving all the time on the drying track, Denman’s eventual pole lap was almost ten seconds quicker than Speller’s. Edwards was a third of a second behind, Kirby another half second, then Broad two tenths back. Hyland was fifth, after showing as an early contender, then we had Dave Carr, Greg Noble, Ken Savage, Nigel Hannam and Vitthal Chauhan in the top ten.
A poor getaway from Speller meant that it was Storey who was ahead into Coppice, followed by Williams, carrying the momentum to challenge for the lead. However, unable to sort matters between themselves gave Speller the perfect opportunity to make up for his error and it was he who entered the mountain section first, leaving the rest to rue an opportunity missed. Making an excellent start from ninth, Dolan followed in fourth place, holding back Beer, Canard, Nash, Plotnek, Bewsey and Quick.
In the early laps the leading cars made their own pace, respecting the limits and changing conditions of the track. Beer started to put Dolan under pressure and the pair were catching Storey, who was probably giving up hope of catching Williams as the second-placed driver was putting on a charge for the leader. A spin at the Gooseneck put paid to Dolan’s attempt, however, and the subsequent delay to Beer’s progress gave Storey some breathing space, right until he dropped back a few corners later.
Up front Williams was pressurising Speller – a moment at the Gooseneck gave him some hope – and the pair were some way clear of Beer in third. Speller was doing all he could to hold back Williams, the whole thing reminiscent of Castle Combe back in May. However, Williams was to succumb himself, a spin followed by contact with the barrier relieved him of his roof and a place to Beer.
As Speller crossed the line in first place, he was over six seconds ahead of Beer, with Williams another two seconds back. Dolan got himself back up to fourth place, from Nash, Plotnek and Mason. A fine and characteristically defensive drive from Matt Bartlett held the rest of the field behind and whilst they swapped places, leaving newcomer Seth Walpole ninth and Quick tenth, none of them were able to pass the experienced Bartlett.
Race summary – 18 starters, 17 finishers.
|1. Mark Speller||2. Adrian Beer||3. Steve Williams||4. Andy Dolan||5. Sean Nash||6. Stuart Plotnek|
It was another bad start for a Toyota-powered car as Kirby found himself swamped by Broad, Savage, Hyland and Carr. Whilst the latter two were unable to depose the third-placed qualifier, he finished the opening lap two places down with Edwards and Denman leading the field. The top three raced after each other whilst Savage was playing a more defensive strategy, rather robustly against Kirby who wanted to be with the leaders and also aware of Hyland, Carr and Noble sitting behind. Eventually he got past at Mansfield and it didn’t take too long for him to latch onto Broad’s tail.
With the leading qualifiers now the focus of the race, Kirby passed Broad into Coppice as Denman was tracking Edwards’ every move. A lap later he was off and with a battle-scarred car rejoined way down the order. No rest for Edwards however, as Kirby quickly replaced Denman in his mirrors and after following for a few laps made his move at Mansfied and just a few corners later Edwards was held up lapping Chris Mayhew, which looked to have settled the race. Perhaps frustrated, Edwards spun in the closing laps, ending up sixth behind a race-long fight between Hyland, Savage and Carr. Savage was holding them back after losing out to Kirby early on, then the trio began swapping places, joined at the time by Noble, who looked to have cleared them before he came to an early halt.
Behind the unfortunate Edwards was Nigel Hannam and Hans Baumhardt before the recovering Denman, who finished in ninth ahead of Stu Malt.
Race summary – 16 starters, 14 finishers.
|1. Gavin Kirby||2. Gary Broad||3. Ben Hyland||4. Ken Savage||5. Dave Carr||6. Michael Edwards|
A sudden and heavy downpour started just as the cars were on the grid and there was no let-up during the consolation race. Quick made up for his fellow Toyota runners with a good start to lead Denman, Bewsey and Stothert.
Chauhan, Malt, Dan Plant, Canard, Noble and Paul McNeilly provided the early entertainment. Chauhan was very defensive in tricky conditions whilst Noble worked his way past the following cars and put the pressure on after Malt retired from the proceedings.
Denman started to catch the leader and wrested the lead in a move that started at the first corner, only to lose it a few yards later. Keeping the pressure on, we would not find out if this would be successful as a high-speed spin from Simon Jones on the straight ended in contact with the barrier. Jones was fine but the car was stranded and the race was brought to an early conclusion.
Behind the leading pair, Bewsey was being caught by Stothert but ran out of time, whilst Plant had been the one to clear Chauhan, who held off Noble, Canard and McNeilly. Mark Yates was the final finisher in the top ten.
Race summary – 17 starters, 12 finishers.
|1. Steve Quick||2. Craig Denman||3. Adam Bewsey||4. Neil Stothert||5. Dan Plant||6. Vitthal Chauhan|
With a considerable delay resulting from incidents in a previous race, there was a perhaps a sense of urgency that, combined with a few hesitations at the front of the grid, conspired to remove the final of several competitors, including Nash, Dolan, Baumhardt, Stothert, Canard and Bartlett, who found himself pirouetting right in the middle of the track. It took a while to clear the debris and recover the cars and with the curfew drawing near, the lights went out one last time.
Speller left the line well enough, but became bogged down once more and this gave Kirby the chance to steal the lead but whilst he is an experienced racer, so is his rival and the order remained; this in contrast to Broad, who asserted himself over Beer just behind. Williams made a poor start and was passed by Savage and almost Carr, with Plotnek, Hyland, Edwards, Denman and the rest following.
Unwilling to settle back, Williams quickly found his way past Savage, who was by now driving by his mirrors, then Beer and set off for Broad. But once again a moment of over-exuberance arrested his progress and he rejoined behind the train of cars queuing up behind Savage. With Hyland falling back in this group, Edwards was first to break free after a manoeuvre round the outside at Coppice, repeating a move he pulled on Plotnek earlier. Denman later followed, as did Williams, but Carr, Hyland and Plotnek remained behind Savage.
Kirby looked as though he may have had the legs over Speller on the straight, the lack of drag-inducing wings on his Elise assisting his overall velocity but he couldn’t get close enough to the leading Exige and began to fall back, the gap over five seconds by the end. Beer drew closer to Broad but half a second was enough to retain the order. Both were, however, ten seconds behind the leaders.
Race summary – 19 starters, 18 finishers.
|1. Mark Speller||2. Gavin Kirby||3. Gary Broad||4. Adrian Beer||5. Michael Edwards||6. Craig Denman|
Cadwell has a reputation for rewarding the best drivers and Speller certainly reminded everyone of his driving abilities this weekend. Brands Hatch winner Williams was close on pace but not consistency, with Kirby keeping the winner honest throughout the final. With the expected close-quarter action in the pack, Gary Broad and Adrian Beer’s reliability paid dividends and contrasted with the more mercurial Edwards and Denman.
With a return to Brands Hatch in a fortnight’s time, will Williams return to his dominant form or could the Indy layout and a returning Marcus Jewell spoil his weekend in front of a DTM crowd?Kevin Ritson Press Officer LoTRDC Ltd