2011 UK Ford Fiesta Championship – Rounds 11 & 12 Snetterton
Round 1 – Class A and B
One of the biggest grids of class A and B cars seen for a while (we gather still more to come too !). It was good to see an even split between the classes and some new blood in to add to the mix. John Langridge had set a stunning pole time and the 2.5+ seconds cushion was quite remarkable in qualifying. As we know, the race is always a different proposition. The red lights went off and the seventeen car grid was off and running. Nine laps ahead and some retirements virtually straight away as both Zena Cooper and Ian Scruton went otl.
At the end of lap 1 the order was surprising, as we saw an elated Dave Elsom leading the field with the bad starting (missed a gear) John Langridge pressing him in his unaccustomed 2nd spot. Nick Peters and Jon Cullum were next of the class A cars and then Scott Baines and Ken Bateman heading the Zetecs (class Bs) with Nick Tiley then in the sandwich ahead of the other Bs of Keith Chapman, Claire Kemp, Nik Barton, Kevin Stirling, James Appleby who headed the A class cars of William Thoresen and Richard Beach. Elsom’s moment of glory wasn’t to last as Langridge sailed past into Riches in what Brian Jones (commentator) described as a ‘brilliant manouvre’ in the nip and tuck of the battle. They then had a bit of a gap to 3rd placed Nick Peters who in turn fending off Cullum. The lead Zetec was being driven by Scott Baines who I love to see battling with the Sis, but here the long straightrs kept the power advantage on the dry track firmly with the class A cars. Bateman and Edwards were holding their own and pushing Baines very hard. Barton had moved up into 8th o.a. (4th in class) and was looking very keen to make more progress. The progress of Baines was under more scrutiny as the rumour mill reported he was unhappy with his engine and it was now looking and sound slightly fragile. Indeed after completing six laps he retired with the irony of setting and keeping the fastest race lap on lap 3. Having completed four laps in second place Elsom was to see his race disappear into retirement. The order at the end of lap 5 was now Langridge, Cullum, Peters, Baines, Bateman, Barton, Appleby (now 7th from 13th), Kemp, Stirling, Tiley, Chapman, Thoresen, Edwards and Beach. At the end of lap 7, we had lost Baines and the new B class order was Bateman (4th o.a.), Barton, Kemp, Appleby, Chapman, with Stirling and Edwards filling out the class places. This all looked seemingly settled until the sting in the tale of the last lap saw Kemp drop down from 6th to 9th and Chapman in that 6th place on the road. The chequered flag came out and John Langridge headed the race and class A home with Ken Bateman enjoying a good run home to win Class B. The finishing order on the road was amended by the Clerk to that shown below.
Round 2 – Class A and B
After the first race, Scott Baines and his team worked like the proverbial beavers to swap engines in the Zetec. It would be touch and go whether this could be achieved. I was so impressed with the dedicated and systematic way Scott got his task in hand and strove to get it done in time. He did get his engine in and made the grid for the second race. The euphoria of some drivers would evaporate in this race as some incidents conspired to thwart the intended finishes. Off they went and Cullum challenged leader Langridge. Dust kicked up and was it two stationary cars? Some good close driving in this opening lap but we had lost Bateman as the safety car was deployed. Laps 2 and 3 saw the safety car out whilst incidents were dealt with as all cars took position behind as track officials cleared the problems. This also meant a rescue vehicle on track also. Once cleared and the safety car recalled the race got underway on lap 4 of 8.
Back with the racing the order at the end of lap 4 was Langridge, Peters, Cullum, Baines, Barton, Elsom, Kemp, Stirling, Thoresen, Chapman, Scruton, Tiley, Appleby and finally Beach. On lap 5 Stirling had got by Kemp and Tiley had taken Scruton. Lap 6 and leader Langridge had a near 8 second gap over Peters who was just over 8 seconds over Cullum. Baines was the head class B car and he was motoring really well. Barton was the nearest B Zetec, but some 5+ seconds in arrears. Lap 7 and Cullum was second and on the last lap (9) Elsom had split the two Zetecs for 5th place. Chequered flag came out and John Langridge took the win with a well earned B class win for Scott Baines. Into parc ferme and some drivers found themselves under the cosh for ride height checks.