Ferrari Club Racing day at Donington

Report by William Moorwood

Photography by Simon Cooke

 

The inaugural Ferrari Club Racing day at Donington was a great success and it was good to be part of it with the two Pirelli Ferrari formula classic races. The entry list was healthy with 22 cars listed despite the late withdrawal of Len Watson and this was made up for with the entry of Ben Cartwright with his familiar 328 GTB in his first race for 5 years. Also flying the Scuderia Cartwright flag was Pauline Goodwin (No.33) in her group 3 328 GTB and Nick Cartwright in his Group 4 328 GTB.

The weather was near perfect and the circuit is a pleasure race on, in fact the only negative point about the day was the unreasonable number of retirements caused by mechanical failures ranging from trivial to possibly quite serious, i.e. expensive. The first of these was Atul Saini  whoonly just managed to have his 355 Challenge registered and prepared in time for his first ever race only to be side lined by an electrical fire in the first free practice session. Let’s hope that he has a better time at Brands Hatch.

21 cars went out on track for the qualifying session in which the best two times would set the grid for the two races and heading the timesheets was Wayne Marrs in his 355 Challenge who despite completing just two laps put his car on pole but sadly had to retire from the meeting with a seized engine. This meant that effectively Nigel Jenkins (355/Ch) was on pole for both races and alongside him was Tris Simpson also in a 355 Challenge.

On the second row for both races were Gary Culver in his Group 4 328 GTB and starting his first race of the season Richard Cook  (355/Ch). Towards the back of the grid this season’s run of bad luck for Pete Fisk continued when his 3 litre Mondial showed no signs of oil pressure forcing him to withdraw. Simon Rossinelli, hoping to compete in his first ever race in the ex-Ray Ferguson Mondial T, was struggling with minor issues but at least he qualified and was hoping to be ready for the first race.

Race 1

When the lights went out Nigel Jenkins made a good start to be followed by Tris Simpson, Gary Culver, Richard Cooke and Tim Mogridge (355/Ch), all in the order in which they qualified. At the back of the grid it was all a bit more interesting. Colin Sowter having competed in the previous race only just got into his 348 Challenge in time and followed the grid round at the back and appeared to be lined up on wrong side of the grid but at least he got away cleanly, but no such luck for Charlie Ugo whose 308 GT4 had a clutch failure and he just managed to stagger round the first corner and then retire.

Rossinelli’s woes continued as he managed to start from the pit lane but he too retired after two laps. In the middle of the of the pack there was some close racing as Nick Cartwright (328 GTB) was put under pressure by Nick Taylor (Mondial T) and Chris Goddard’s 308 GTB. Cartwright made a mistake on Lap 7 losing two places but caught and passed Goddard three laps later.

At the front it looked for a while that Tris Simpson could put the leader under pressure but that came to an end on lap 8 when a red warning light caused Simpson to retire, followed by the retirement of Tim Walker (355 GTB)  on the same lap and on Lap 10 Tim Mogridge had his gearstick break clean in two causing him to retire as well.

It all ended with a clear win for Nigel Jenkins with Gary Culver and Richard Cook joining him on the podium. In 4th place Chris Butler impressed with a trouble free drive in his Group 3 328 GTB. Nick Cartwright finished in 6th place overal, 2nd in his class.

Race 2

Before the start of the second race it a time consuming business to check on who was still running and when the grid lined up there were only 15 cars following the late withdrawal of Tris Simson, Simon Rossinelli and Nick Taylor.

Once the grid was formed and the lights went out it was another good start by Nigel Jenkins followed by Tim Mogridge. This time there were no issues at the back of the grid with everyone in place and all getting cleanly away to complete the first lap. On lap 2 Colin Sowter failed to even turn in at the Old Hairpin and went an enormous distance into the gravel trap to stop just short of the barriers and, need one add, retire. Still this was notable as being the only retirement not caused by a mechanical failure in the two races.

On lap one Carl Burgar also retired due to an electrical problem with his 328 GTB. Despite this diminished grid there were two race long battles do keep the drivers and spectators interested. Nick Cartwright had an error free race with Chris Goddard hounding him from first to last and the two finished less than a second apart.

Similarly William Moorwood got his 308 GT4 ahead of Pauline Goodwin (328 GTB) at the start but was put under a lot of pressure such that PG got by on lap 6 but she was chased hard for the remainder of the race and these two also finished less than a second apart.

At the front Tim Mogridge lost second place on lap 2 to Gary Culver and eventually retired on lap 10 so the race finished with the same top four as the first race.

The chequered flag at the end of the race also signified the end of the track activity for the Ferrari Racing Day and it has to be said that it was a very well organised and enjoyable event, so thanks very much to all those who made it happen. At the post race prize giving the race commentator, David Goddard, who had done a great job all day and clearly understood the class system used for the competing cars, made his well informed choice of Chris Butler to be the RnR Driver of the day.