Following on swiftly after Cadwell the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge found itself at Mallory Park in Leicestershire. This popular little circuit is enjoyed by most with the extremes of its tricky fast first turn and slow uphill hairpin adding variety. Seventeen entries wasn’t too bad a turnout with most of the regulars in attendance.
In Class A we had James Dunkley, David Weston, Martin Morris and Graeme Adams to fight the honours. Class B had Carl Chadwick, Stephen Collier and Peter Kennerley. The Healey Class E cars were represented by Ian Burgin, David Morrison, John Hilberry, Richard Homer and John Collinson. Finally the Class D entries were Jon Simpson, Dean Stanton, John Tewson and Jim Prior.
We should have had Andy Southcott out as well but his car had fallen foul to the mandatory noise test and despite efforts to put it right it was still deemed to be over the noise limit, not by much, but despite Andy’s protestations he wasn’t allowed to take part in the event. Understandably angry Andy returned home to Southampton, a long way back and considerably out of pocket.
Lots of repairs had been made since Cadwell although Chadwick had decided to postpone fitting the new front to his car for at least another race, I suggested he should at least remove the magnets from under the wings. Homer reclaimed his car after loaning it at Cadwell and Hilberry was back for the first time since Brands. He had discovered that a broken shock absorber mount had caused his demise at Paddock Hill Bend and he hoped that repositioning stronger mounts and new shocks would help the car handle a little better.
Once qualifying got under way it wasn’t long before the Class A cars stretched their legs and we had Weston, Adams and Morris circulating together from the off. Morris only lasted for 3 laps before pulling up with what turned out to be a head gasket failure but not before he had set a decent time. Another to only complete a handful of laps was Kennerley who pulled in with front end braking/steering problems and Prior who had what turned out to be a terminal engine issue.
Meanwhile Dunkley, circulating alone, was fast enough to take Pole followed by Adams, Morris and Weston, all of them less than half a second apart. Chadwick was best of the rest and first Class B runner from Morrison Class E, Collier, Burgin, Collinson, Stanton Class D, Simpson, Hilbery, Kennerley, Tewson, Homer and Prior completed the full grid order.
And so, after the usual fettling and with no other major concerns other than all hands helping Martin Morris sort his head gasket and Peter Kennerleys guys sorting his handling issues we were ready for the race. I took position up at the Hairpin and the grid completed the green flag lap. We had 15 starters because of Prior and Southcott’s absences. With a lap taking well under a minute we were going to get around 18-20 laps in our allotted time.
At the lights the front row took off as one and they were all jostling for position, as they arrived at the Hairpin Dunkley had got clear of the fighting and was out front. Adams was in second from Morris and Weston as they all fell back in order. Behind, Morrison dived inside Chadwick with Collier close. Collinson and Burgin were next then a gap to Stanton, Simpson and Kennerley, then another gap to Hilberry, Tewson and Homer.
For the next couple of laps the order stayed the same but Weston was pushing Morris hard and Collier had got ahead of Chadwick. There were other battles forming further back between Simpson, Dean and Hilbery but it was up front that things were warming up.
Weston was past Morris and Adams was catching Dunkley rapidly and was soon right on his tail, and then Morris was back ahead of Weston before they swapped places again, eventually Morris would start to fall back as his engine was again giving trouble and Adams too would drop back behind Weston as his brake pedal began to get a little soft, not before he posted fastest lap of the race and not before both had provided some great entertainment for several laps, however Adams did manage to stay close to Weston to the end.
Meanwhile the scrap between Collier, Morrison and Chadwick was getting interesting until Chadwick got ahead of Morrison but faltered briefly out of the Hairpin allowing Morrison to run into the back of him. After that Morrison lost pace and although Chadwick would chase Collier for the rest of the race they would all eventually finish some distance apart.
Further back Burgin was keeping Collinson at bay and Simpson and Hilbery were in combat but the fight for second place had allowed Dunkley to pull further ahead and it was he who took the flag after 20 laps. Weston finished just ahead of Adams with Morris coming home fourth. Collier and Chadwick completed the top six with Morrison, Kennerley, Burgin, Collinson and Hilbery next classified a lap down.
Stanton was next, initially shown as DNF but a timing error accounted for that, with Simpson, Tewson and Homer completing the order. No retirements, not had that for a while, some repairs before Croft but a bit of a breather after the last hectic few rounds