Sunday morning 2nd October saw everybody bright and early for the final round in the Lackford Engineering Midget and Sprite Challenge and whatever happens today would see confirmation not only of the overall winner but all the Class battle final results as well. It’s verification of the closeness of Spridget racing that everything has come down to the wire. Not many championships can say that I reckon.
There had been activity in the Paddock during the previous evening when Richard Wildman had set about changing the gearbox of his car. The job was completed before dark with the help of many hands, which as you may be aware involves engine out, great stuff.
There had been some other repairs going on, Dave Weston discovered what was going on with his electrics and it seemed that as he switched his headlights on so it blew something in the fuse box, hence the issue showing up at both the last two wet races. Jim Prior sorted out his temperature gauge which now showed a reading, he hadn’t wanted to risk a possible boiling engine the day before. The only car not here from the day before was that of the despondent Carl Chadwick.
The grid was decided as usual by the second fastest time from qualifying and so was in the order James Dunkley on pole, from David Weston, Ed Reeve, Chris Southcott, Richard Wildman, Stephen Collier, Nick Day, Sam Healey, Andy Southcott quite a way back, Stephen Pegram, Pippa Cow, Nigel Lackford, John Collinson, Ian Burgin, Ed Easton, Martyn Clews, Richard Homer, Jon Simpson and Jim Prior.
So, 10 o’clock was the scheduled start time, and guess what?, back came the rain, with the sun out as well, but definitely it was another wet race.
At the lights Dunkley and Weston went off as one with Reeve slotting into third with the rest of the field filing through up to the hairpin, we had a spinner in Collinson who was stranded momentarily in the middle of the track whilst meanwhile Southcott A. was charging through and taking third place from Reeve at the Esses before everybody was forced to slow as race control had decided a pace car was necessary because of the spinner.
We had a couple of laps before the race could restart with Collinson getting going again and when racing resumed Dunkley once again went into the lead with Weston in second, Southcott A. got ahead of Reeve again with Collier in front of Healey and Wildman who was pushing Day. Next came Lackford, Pegram, Cow, Burgin, Southcott C., Simpson, Clews, Easton, Homer, Prior and Collinson.
There was a great class battle brewing between Southcott and Collier and neither were hanging about, both challenging Weston and getting ahead of he and Reeve. Collier had to finish ahead of Southcott though.
More Class front runners further back were Lackford and Cow who were circulating together and doing just what they needed to do to stay in front.
Meanwhile by now the rain had stopped but the track was still wet and Burgin had his intermittent misfire back, after battling with Southcott C. he fell back behind Pegram. Wildman passed Healey and Collinson was making great progress passing several cars finally getting up to fourteenth place.
Just on twenty minutes the flag came out and we had the winner of the race and the Championship in Dunkley. Southcott A. came home in second place with Collier a fighting third, Collier had done all he could and initially with Southcott recording fastest lap it appeared he had just done enough to take the class but on countback and dropping rounds Collier did make it, by one point.
Reeve came in fourth ahead of Weston and Day with Wildman ahead of Healey. Lackford finished ahead of Cow, both as mentioned doing enough to win their Classes. Southcott C. was ahead of Pegram from Burgin, Collinson, Simpson, Easton, Clews, Homer and Prior.
So after 12 rounds it had all come down to the last race and for as long as I can recall we had every starter make it to the flag..no retirements!!
James Dunkley had won the overall Championship after a convincing season, Stephen Collier had won Class B on his return to racing, Nigel Lackford was Class D Champion after fighting hard all season and Pippa Cow won Class E with some superb performances this season.
It has been a long trek this year with some great battles and this Championship continues to be a crowd pleaser with the usual close racing down the field at every round. Let’s hope this continues next year when hopefully we all meet again.
It just leaves me to personally thank everyone who has supported me this season and to add I do have a few copies of my 2017 calendar available for anyone who may be interested.