Browne’s Manor Farm Double Top
Stuart Browne drove his 1300cc OMS SF2 to a memorable double victory at the Three Clubs Manor Farm hill climb at the weekend, setting FTD by just over half a second on Saturday but having to contend with more determined opposition on Sunday. Co-promoted by Torbay, Taunton and Burnham-on-Sea Motor Clubs, Friday’s overnight torrential rain posed significant problems for the organisers with the last 50 metres of track failing to clear of water by the start of Saturday’s practice. After a few tentative exploratory practice runs, event officials and drivers agreed to re-start the event on a shortened course and action resumed mid-morning just as the sun emerged to further dry the track. Stuart Lillington, on his first outing at the Dorset track in his new-for-2015 Radical SR4, set the first benchmark at 24.28 seconds, which Browne swiftly swept aside with what proved to be fastest time of the day, stopping the clocks on 23.44 secs. Torbay Motor Club Chairman David Sims split this pair with a 24.11 second run in his 2-litre Ralt RT33/34 SRD, leaving Chard-resident Browne with a 2/3rd of a second advantage. The gradually improving track conditions gave both pursuing drivers the confidence to push harder on their second runs, Lillington shaving eight-hundredths from his previous time and Sims dipping below the 24 second mark with a fine run to post 23.89 secs., still nearly half a second shy of Browne’s first effort, who had emphasised his dominance with another spirited run to 23.67 secs.
Following overnight efforts from the hard-working organising team and venue staff, the morning inspection revealed a fully-dry track and action resumed early, with practice completed without incident on either side of the mid-morning church-service break. Battle was re-joined between the previous day’s top three contenders although this time Browne was not to have it all his own way. Lillington set the pace on 26.72 secs but Browne failed to match this by a tenth of a second whilst Sims uncharacteristically lagged a further 4/10ths behind. With track conditions improving all the time, and the prospect of a 1200cc Sports Libre car eclipsing the specialised racing cars, Browne dug deep and summoned up an event-winning effort of 26.57 seconds, closely followed by Sims posting a half-second improvement to 26.72 secs, missing out on FTD by just 15 hundredths of a second. Just a quarter of a second covered the top three at the finish to complete one of the closest-ever battles for FTD at the venue.
The two-days of action saw eight other drivers complete the ‘double’, with David Foster (Mini 1275 GT), Colyton’s George Koopman (Honda Integra), Simon Neve (Mitsubishi Evo 6 RS), Honiton-resident David Gardner (Caterham 7), Andy Cawsey (Westfield SE), Ben Bonfield (Austin Mini), Dean Gammon (Peugeot 106) and Mike Egan (Leyland Mini) all taking class victories on both days.
Saturday (shortened course):
A1 David Foster (Bristol) Leyland Mini 1275GT 27.10
A2 Neil Catling (Upper Hartfield) Lotus Elise 26.43
A3 George Koopman (Colyton) Honda Integra 27.27
A4 Simon Neve (Yeovil) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 RS 25.92
B2 David Gardner (Honiton) Caterham 7 26.94
B3 Andy Cawsey (Westward Ho!) Westfield SE 24.76
C1 Ben Bonfield (Taunton) Austin Mini 26.58
C2 Dean Gammon (Plymouth) Peugeot 106 25.12
C4 Geoff Blake (Weymouth) Westfield SEiW 24.64
E3 David Sims (Newton Abbot Ralt RT33/34 SRD 23.89
G1 Mike Egan (Chard) Leyland Mini 26.65
FTD Stuart Browne (Chard) OMS SF2 23.44
A1 David Foster (Bristol) Leyland Mini 1275GT 30.57
A2 Jon Langmead (Exminster) Lotus Elan 30.12
A3 George Koopman (Colyton) Honda Integra 31.62
A4 Simon Neve (Yeovil) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 RS 29.79
B2 David Gardner (Honiton) Caterham 7 30.42
B3 Andy Cawsey (Westward Ho!) Westfield SE 28.37
C1 Ben Bonfield (Taunton) Austin Mini 30.36
C2 Dean Gammon (Plymouth) Peugeot 106 28.38
C4 Ben Wheeler (Kilmington) Westfield 29.37
E3 David Sims (Newton Abbot) Ralt RT33/34 SRD 26.72
G1 Mike Egan (Chard) Leyland Mini 31.46
FTD Stuart Browne (Chard) OMS SF2 26.57
The events were rounds of:
The Bridge Tyres and Wheels Point S 2015 Association of South Western Motor Clubs Hill Climb Championship,
The Top Performance Services 2015 Association of Central Southern Motor Clubs Speed Hillclimb Championship,
The 2015 Torbay Motor Club Speed Championship.
The Downton Engineering Social Club (DEWS) 2015 Speed Series.
The event supported the Devon Air Ambulance Trust. Web-link: www.daat.org
Photographs attached (please credit Terry Thorne, Tel T Motorsport Photography, www.teltphotography.com):
Stuart Browne – OMS SF2 – FTD
Ben Bonfield – Austin Mini – 1st in Class C1.