Ken Wharton Wins – 2 sec. Superiority in Special Tests.
Photographs will be found on centre pages – Motor Sport copyright.
The R.A.C. invited 45 drivers to compete in a trial in the “Prescott country” on October 15th, to decide the 1949 Trials Championship. In theory this idea was excellent, but the event was held early in the Trials’ season after a dry summer, and so easy were the eight observed sections that the Championship was decided on the two special tests held at Prescott Hill before the road-section had commenced. Some of the hills were shorter than those found in the Bagshot area and a few stop-and-restarts could have been profitably introduced as an emergency measure to stiffen things up, particularly as Juniper was easily climbable from a start line high up the hill, whereas it was formerly a “stopper” even when cars were started from the road. The dry weather made this Championship Trial rather a waste of time; a pity, because the R.A.C.’s organisation was first-class. [Consequently, we await the awarding of the B.T.D.A. 1949 “Star” with interest, for here is a real Championship based on outstanding performance in a number of trials.]
Cars from Ireland, Scotland and Wales, were scrutinised in Prescott paddock, one quite normal-looking Austin Seven being rather frowned upon by the R.A.C., although to us it looked less conspicuous than many of the other cars, some of which had names on their bonnets, bright colour schemes and in some cases were driven by types in funny headgear. It is significant that 20 of the entry had Ford Ten engines, seven of which were blown, five Mercury V8 engines, one oversize and one both oversize and blown, and four used Ford V8 engines, one blown. Morrish’s Frazer-Nash, Imhof’s new blown Ford Ten Special, Oliver’s F.M.B. and Merrick’s Dellow non-started. In the first special-test, involving reversing into a bay, Wharton made best-time in 18.8 sec., the runnersup being Rawlings (Vanguard-Special) and Corbishley (C.C.S.), who both took 20.2 sec. In test two, which was similar, Wharton clocked 15.0 sec. which Phillips (Fairley) equalled, while Corbishley clocked 15.2 sec. So last year’s Champion, Ken Wharton, was virtually champion again, before the road event started! He drove the same Ford Ten Special, with Austin Seven chassis and Ford non-divided front axle.
The first hill, Gipsy Lane, was a long, rather muddy grass-lane of easy gradient. Here, surprisingly, Corbishley lost 12 marks, the only other failure being Best (Ausford), but French (Austin-Ford) had already retired with clutch slip, Coates (W.S.) was also out, while Best had been seen to stop at a garage to check the oil-level in his M.G.’s engine.
Corndean was a short but very steep ascent with a left-curve at the top, easy in the dry, but the undoing of Brown (Ford V8 Special), Todd (Humber), Hughes (Axis), Wallwork (Standard), Bancroft (Bancroft), Wilson (Austin), Pritchard (ex-Ballamy L.M.B.), Goodall (Ford), Findlay (Ausford), Appleton (Allard), and Wootton (Austin-Ford Chummy”). Burgess got his Allard up, untidily.
At Cold Slad, after negotiating a turn through a gateway, a rough, later muddy, lane led round a r.h. bend to the gradient. Only Wilson’s unfortunate Austin Seven lost marks here, while it was the only failure on the preceding hill, Puckham. Green Street was another wash-out, as only the Girastro-Rover failed-it came from Scotland and is a 1939 Rover Twelve with radiator completely cowled over, Gibbon’s own transverse-spring and wishbone i.f.s., and a 1940 Rover Twelve engine with 8 to 1 compression ratio.
We had high hopes that the dreaded Juniper would stop most of the entry, but its treacherous leaf mould has vanished and only Wootton (Austin-Ford), the Girastro-Rover, Brown (Ford V8 Special), Todd (Humber), Wilson (Austin), Rawlings (Vanguard), the L.M.B., Findlay’s Ausford and Morrish’s M.G., the latter nearly getting up, failed through loss of power, although Thompson’s A.W. had a close call. Brown retired after this, as did Gibbon, but everyone else got up Catswood. The long climb of Longridge alone remained; it would be nasty if wet, but stopped no one on October 15th. At its summit, cars were checked-in under the eagle eye of Earl Howe, their fuel tested for methanol, their differentials for locks. Price seemed to have a very stiff diff. and Wharton was trailing a front wing.
R.A.C. Trials Championship Trophy. – K. Wharton (1,190-c.c. Wharton) no marks lost.
Special Award for Second Best Performance. – R. W. Phillips (1,488-c.c. Fairley) no marks lost.
Special Award for Third Best Performance. – R. B. Lowe (1,172-c.c. s/c Dellow) no marks lost.
Souvenier Awards. – Bold (Bold), Harrison (Harford), Wilde (Ford), Holt (V8 Special), Thompson (A.W.), Rogers (Rojah Special), Beardshaw (A.M.B.). Northern England Award. – Wharton (Wharton). Southern England Award. – Clayton (Clayton). Scottish Award. – Reid (Omega). Northern Ireland Award. – Todd (Humber).