Incident packed Mallory Park

Twenty-one assorted Jaguar’s were entered for the August Bank Holiday weekend double header at the very fast and challenging 1.35-mile Mallory Park circuit. No less than nine cars were in Gail’s class so it was expected to be a close race. The XJ-S cars and drivers were expected to be occupying the front few rows of the grid as they are generally more powerful and lighter but the midfield would be dominated by the class B saloons.

So it proved to be with Kevin Doyle’s XJ6 coupe in 7th, then Gail’s XJ40 in 9th just three tenths slower. Ian Drage in his road going XJ-S was next to Gail on the grid followed by seven Class B saloons most of which had the ability to get on the podium.

Most frustratingly on what was a really nice sunny day a V12 XJ-S dumped all his oil during the green flag lap. This caused such a delay before being cleared up that the race got scratched until 9.30am the next day, Bank Holiday Monday. The errant XJ-S driver was not the most popular person in the paddock that afternoon.

Race 1

All the cars lined up promptly the next morning and when the lights went out Ramm’s XJ-S bogged down just ahead of Doyle who had to go round the outside. This was enough opportunity for Gail to slide her car, which she got off the line extremely sharply, up the inside of Doyle and as Ramm finally got his car into motion, stranding Doyle on the approach to Gerrards, Gail was able to make up two places and put another XJ-S; Rod Frosts, between her and Doyle.

leading_the_saloons_Mallory_2012On lap two Doyle went into Gerrards far too quickly, got onto the marbles, and then the wet grass with the inevitable result that it was the tyre wall that finally stopped his momentum. A badly damaged coupe and top threat to Gail gone early doors!

This allowed her to pull away from the majority of the pack with Frost hot on her tail pipes. For six or seven laps the XJ-S’s of Webster and Ramm were part of a four car train but they gradually began to extend the gap as Gail fought off Frost, knowing that the saloons of Bye, Lewis and Pearce were not too far behind. At two-thirds distance Bye was a threat just behind Frost, after Gail had backed off a little to try and preserve her tyres. She was soon back up to full throttle and drove very consistently to pull out a two second lead, cross the finish line 7th overall but 1st saloon and with fastest lap of 56.116 to boot! A good mornings work and her second saloon win of the season.

With the weather looking like it might even stay dry for the second race at 4pm all looked well for a double win later in the day.

Race 2

This really was an incident packed race. The Doyle saloon had been patched up and would start from the back of the grid but as the cars went out onto the track to form up the errant V12 dumped its oil again! This time in the pit lane and just on the turn in to Gerrards though he pulled over before the oil slick got worse. The delayed start was most frustrating especially as the race was ultimately cut by ten laps.

When things finally got going Gail got a cracking start once again, this time she had to go round the outside of Ramm giving Bye the opportunity to do to her what she had done to Doyle earlier in the day. It was not to be; she held on all round the outside of Gerrards and slipped in behind Ramm and ahead of Bye as they sped down to The Esses. Things didn’t go to plan as Gail tried to follow Ramm up the inside of Webster on the run up to Shaws hairpin. Webster blocked, forcing Gail to back off and giving Bye the chance to go round the outside and take the top saloon spot.

When Gail tried once again round the outside of Gerrards her windscreen got covered in fluid from a blowing head gasket impairing vision somewhat and making such a manoeuvre even more difficult.

On the next lap things got even worse. She was moving up inside on the approach to Gerrards when Bye turned in as she was a third of a length alongside. Inevitably contact ensued and both cars ended up on the grass where secondary contact was made this time causing damage to Gail’s front offside bumper. Bye retired his car but Gail kept going, having dropped three places to Connew, Doyle and Drage.

She quickly got past Drage as Doyle made a move on Connew and then spent a couple of laps behind him as he defended well even though she much quicker. She made a run inside on the main straight that Connew blocked and as she moved to go outside on the run up to Gerrards with just inches between the two cars, Connew braked hard!

A huge collision was avoided by millimetres and as Gail shot past she saw the reason: Doyle’s bonnet had parted company from his car and was 50 feet up in the air and heading to earth right in front of Gail. She swerved and missed it by about a foot, still travelling at well over 100mph.Hill-Pearce_Mallory_David_Stallard_Photography

Somewhat startled whilst all this was going on, Pearce had caught up and renewed the battle that had entertained people at Coombe a few weeks earlier, both drivers were steadily hauling in Doyle, now minus his bonnet and front grill.

Gail defended ‘manfully’ and was more than a little frustrated when the race came to a premature end with ten laps to go. “I felt that Derek and I were definitely going to catch Kevin and whichever of us was still in front then would have a good chance of winning the saloon race”, ultimately 7th overall once again and 2nd saloon would have to do.

With damage to her car it was not the best end to the day and there needs to be a bit of work done now before mid September and the next double header at Donington Park.