Historic racer: MGB Roadster

An over-exuberant manoeuvre threatens the entire race weekend just as the team hits its stride. Nick Trott takes up the story…

“You need to see the clerk of the course,” explained co-driver and BRX 855B owner Ed Foster after the race. Having felt drunk on the adrenaline and elation of a proper scrap – my first in historic racing – this news sobered me up instantly. The thing is, I couldn’t understand why. I trudged over to the clerk’s office, utterly baffled.

Rewind 24 hours. I had towed the MGB in its Moetefindt trailer to Oulton Park, and had settled down into a deep sleep in our Mercedes Marco Polo camper van with its auxiliary heater winning a battle against the cold Cheshire air. Ed had woken up freezing and damp from condensation having driven up from his workplace at Goodwood (a full 242 miles) and slept in a tent. One of us was more prepared than the other.

The Friday test went well. We chopped seconds from our lap times on every run, with me slightly quicker than Ed until normal service resumed at the end of the day and Ed produced some times that would have us within the top half in qualifying. With Roy of Chequered Flag Classics spannering the car and a new set of scrubbed tyres fitted, we felt more confident than ever of a good result.

Next day we lined up 14th of 35. I took the start, and once again I fluffed it (too few revs), losing four places. However, a rhythm came quickly and I clawed back to 15th. My pace hit a brick wall when I spotted David Russell-Wilks in another MGB ahead – I just couldn’t catch him. Then we had a safety car. This was my chance.

I was determined to avoid getting mugged at the restart (like at Snetterton – see last month’s report) and to find a way past David. Training my eye far ahead as we approached the last corner I saw the green flag and timed it perfectly. David had moved over to the right (I initially thought he was pitting, but he stayed out), so I zagged left and overtook. The next few laps defending against David until the mandatory pitstop driver change were my most thrilling in racing.

“Do you know why you’re here?” asked the clerk of the course. “No idea,” I said.

“You overtook under the safety car.”

“I did what?!”

“You overtook under the safety car.”

With that, the clerk showed me the timing data. Sure enough, I’d overtaken 0.3sec before the safety car line. Gulping humble pie, I apologised, explained it was a case of mistiming rather than an overt cheat and accepted any penalty that might come my way.

As it turned out, David battled ahead of Ed shortly after the pitstop and retained the position. Justice had been served – which is how the clerk saw it. We finished where we started – 14th – but with Ed setting laps 0.6sec faster than our qualifying best.

For a full on-board video of the race, visit motorsportmagazine.com and search ‘small screen highs’.

Next month: BRX goes for its winter refit, with some choice tweaks planned
Thanks to: www.chequeredflagclassics.co.uk, Ed Foster, www.equipegts.comwww.moetefindt.de