Perfect Purdie powers ahead

The young Nissan driver was a double winner at Donington as a revitalised Group C wrapped up a successful season
By Paul Lawrence

The final pair of races this year in Group C headlined the last major historic race weekend of the British season at Donington Park, and delivered a dominant double win for Andy Purdie at the wheel of his father’s Nissan R90CK.

This has been a rebuilding year for Group C. After several seasons of organisational upheaval, Charlie Agg was brought in to sort the series out for 2008 and beyond. Out went management by ever-changing committee and in came just what was needed, a firm-minded dictatorship.

“We got rid of the politics and the baggage,” says Agg, always forthright. “Group C should be about getting the right cars on the grid a few times a year and I’m pleased to say we got there.” No one can argue with the results, for the 20-car field at Donington aside, grids have been in the mid-30s.

There is also no doubting the spectacle of a Group C car in full flight. Purdie, with up to 850bhp on tap, was hitting 165mph as he plunged down the Craner Curves and his sub-60sec pole lap around the Donington national circuit compares well with the fastest contemporary sports-prototypes.

In truth, Purdie was never seriously troubled in either the 90-minute enduro or the 30-minute sprint race. With team-mate Mark Sumpter consigned to a managerial and car polishing role for the weekend while his Porsche 962 awaits a fresh engine, Purdie’s closest challenge came from the Jaguar XJR9 of Chris Buncombe, but Buncombe was quick to acknowledge that he had no answer to his rival’s pace.

“It’s a phenomenal car and when the boost kicks in, you really just hang on,” said 24-year-old Purdie of the V8 twin-turbo machine. His major concern in the enduro came as three safety car periods forced him to push hard to rebuild his lead each time the race went green.

In the Lurani Trophy Formula Junior double- header, Edwin Jowsey won by an almost ridiculous margin in a class famed for close racing. In the opener, Martin Walford spun out of second place on the first lap and delayed the pack as Jowsey escaped, but in race two Jowsey needed no help to run away and hide at the head of the contest.

On a weekend when heavy rain on Sunday morning threatened to wash away the meeting, the Historic Sports Car Club did very well to get through its programme. Notable performances came from brothers John and Gary Pearson to win the GT and Sports Car Cup race, and Leo Voyazides who took a Saloon double in his Ford Falcon, while Ian Gray bagged the Classic Racing Car title by chasing rival Tony Keele home as Mick Lyons won the race.