Bonhams Lansdowne British Historic Championship
Round 6 - Donington Park - 8th, 8th & 10th August 2014

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The Donington Park round of the Lansdowne series was to be held at the Tom Weatcroft memorial event which is one of the biggest Classic events of the year run by the CRMC.

With no modern machines there it's the 'Mecca' for the Classic enthusiast and hundreds of competitor come from all over Europe to race there.

 

It was a three day event for the Lansdowne with qualifying and race one on the Friday, race two and three on Saturday and the fourth race on Sunday.

Additionally, I was going to have a run out on 'Geoff' Ian's Manx Norton that I'm racing with James Haydon at the Goodwood Revival.

Geoff has a long stroke engine and an open megga exhaust so testing is a rare opportunity because of the noise he booms out, so Ian thought it would be a great idea to enter him in the GP500 events with the aim of me getting used to his right hand gear change etc.

 

Friday morning and I had a quick run round on Geoff first and discovered just how different he was compared to Millie and Mork, low revving and only four gears to play with. Plus with the megga exhaust there is very little mid range power so I only had a 1500rpm power band to play with.

 

He handled very well but felt so completely different the Matchless with a high seat, low footpegs it was going to take more then a quick blast round to truly get the feel for him.


Action shots: sports-pics.co.uk

Next up was my first time on a race day with Mork. After winning 13 races, Millie was out of action for the weekend as she was well due a refresh.

 

The weather looked like it was on the turn from the sunny start as there were big black clouds gathering, we all kept our fingers crossed as we went out for qualifying but I needn't have worried qualifying in pole position over a second clear of Mike and from Duncan in third, so it was a good start to the weekend.

The race programme was very busy and they were soon calling our race over the tanoy but then it poured down with rain. Everything stopped for a while and then the sun came out again but would it dry the track in time for race one.

On the sighting lap it was clear there was a drying line but overtaking was always going to be tricky.

Flag start this time and we all roared down the Redgate for the first time, Duncan did his usual start and disappeared leaving Mike, Alex and myself in hot pursuit.

Poor Mike unfortunately high sided coming onto the back straight for the first time crashing heavily and was out for the rest of the weekend as it turned out.

This allowed Duncan to open a huge gap as I had to shut off to avoid Mike, also unknown to me Alex had fried his clutch on the start but I had a mountain to climb to catch Duncan.

I got my head down and slowly pulled Duncan back catching him with one lap to go, we jostled for a few corners passing and re-passing but I managed to hold him off to take the first race win.

I did notice on the last lap Mork's power would falter slightly towards the end of the straight and up to Mclean's but Steve thought it was probably the main jet being a bit big as the weather was a little 'muggy' for the race, so we discussed jetting down for Saturday's races.

 

Geoff was waiting for me in the awning for the GP500 race, I was first reserve and luckily was given the last spot on the grid for the start. I had forgotten just how far back the last row is - I could barely see the starter and his flag!

It wasn't about how fast I went - more like time on track to just turn laps and get used to not c*cking up the gear change on him.

 

But saying that, I simply couldn't help myself, mixing it up a bit with the other riders, having some fun - we actually ended up midfield at the end.

Saturday the weather was much better, the wind had picked up a bit but the main thing was the sun was out. Race two soon was being called and before we knew it I was blasting away off the line, Alex had clutch issues again so this left Duncan and me battling it out at the front.

I felt confident I had the measure of Duncan but you can never count on it. As we started lap three going over the start line Mork lost power and started to splutter, Duncan came roaring past then my engine picked up again. I managed to pass him going down Craner Curves to take the lead but on the run up to McLean's the power went again this time it spluttered all the way down to the chicane and Duncan broke away.

He wasn't looking back as I dropped further and further back and into the clutches of Glen, Keith, Gordon and the rest of the chasing pack. Then as soon as the power went it came back in, I was now in fifth place and more than cheesed off so rode like a man possessed and got back into second place over the line. I good recovery and I managed to score some good points but we had a big problem to cure. Back at the awning Steve and Rob pulled everything apart and discovered some masking tape in the left fuel tap, a big restriction in the fuel flow rate but Steve suspected it was more than that.

There wasn't more time to do anything more so it was fingers crossed that it would run cleanly for race three.

I managed to persuade the race organiser to let me have a few laps behind one of the other races to see if we had found a cure, but after a few laps the problem showed up again, not as bad but still there.

Before the motor had any chance to cool they called our race so it was flag down and away in to Redgate we went, this time I made a great start and was all over Duncan and Alex, exactly where I needed to be but once again while leading on lap three the power spluttered out in the same way and point it did the race before.

I managed to mix it with Alex and Duncan for the next couple of laps mainly due to the fact there was a huge oil slick from Redgate to McLean's.

 

Consequently, it took the edge off the pace through that section but when I needed full power it wasn't there.

So I had to settle to watch Alex and Duncan disappear into the distance.

 

I managed to finish third and bag some valuable points but was disappointed for me and the team that I didn't get the win.


Photo: Bryan Lancaster

That night we had the chance to measure the fuel flow rate more accurately and we found it was massively down on what it should be, Steve suspected the fuel needle valve was the culprit and after more messing about he was right.

 

After a lot of head scratching and measuring we came up with a modification that seemed to work but it would be Sunday's race before we knew if we had cured the issue.

 

Sunday morning and the weather had turned once again this time with monsoon rain and high winds.

Racing was postponed until there was a break in the rain, but by lunch time nothing was happening. As the Lansdowne class had already raced three times it was suggested that we forgo our last race to give up the time slot to allow another class to get out for their second or third race. Everyone unanimously agreed so that was it for us for this weekend, we were disappointed we had lost ground in the points table but it could have been so much worse.

I'm still leading the championship by 41 points which puts me in a strong position of the final round at Brands in October.

 

Millie will be back in action by then giving me a spare machine to fall back on so fingers crossed and hope to see you there.

 

Oct 4/5         Brands Hatch Indy BMCRC
                    - Final race double points