No catching Ricketts

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With Oulton Park, the traditional home of the Richard Seaman Memorial Trophy races since 1956, no longer being available to the VSCC, an alternative, and in truth more appropriate, venue has been found in Donington Park. It’s more appropriate in that Donington was Seaman’s favourite English circuit and the one on which he scored all his home wins — most notably in the 1936 Donington GP sharing Hans Reusch’s Tipo C Alfa. Commendably, the programme carried notes highlighting the Donington connection including details of the part Seaman played in bringing the Silver Arrows to the 1937 and 1938 GPs.

A capacity entry for the Brooklands Society Trophy meant that a number of reserves failed to get a race which, in the event, became somewhat processional with Anthony Seber (Wolseley) leading from start to finish, shadowed all the way by Julian Bronson’s familiar Riley Special. Stephen Bulling’s Bentley was harried by Martin Stretton in Simon Bull’s Invicta until a couple of spins on the last lap, including one at the final chicane, allowed Adam Painter into fourth with his 1.5 s/c Maserati.

Sadly John Harper, with Vijay Mallya’s Sunbeam Tiger, was a non-starter in the Richard Seaman Vintage Trophy race, leaving Tim Llewellyn to take an unchallenged win with his ultra-successful 3/8 Bentley. It was his fourth Vintage Seaman victory. Spencer Flack (8-litre Bentley) tucked in behind the leader for a couple of laps before falling back, hampered when his engine cut out in the latter stages but able to finish comfortably clear of a lonely Freddie Giles (AC/GN). He also managed to set fastest lap. Stuart Harper proved to be best of the Morgans in fourth, from Simon Smith (Frazer Nash) and Peter Morley’s mighty Napier Bentley.

The Ron Flockhart Memorial Trophy race for pre ’60 front-engined cars was poorly supported, with no Maseratis entered and both ERAs non-starting. Phil Walker (Lotus 161 outdragged last year’s winner Rick Hall (Brierley’s Connaught C) into Redgate and, in spite of Hall’s concerted efforts, held the lead to the finish as the Connaught dropped back slightly on a circuit now very slippery due to an oil slick laid all the way from the chicane to Redgate in the previous race. Roger Friend, in Bill Friend’s rare Lotus 12, has found uncharacteristic reliability to finish third, with Rod Jolley, now running the Giron-Alvis on larger diameter wheels, the only other unlapped runner in fourth.

The Morgan Three-Wheeler race, under ACU rules, was run as a handicap which defeated the regular front-runners and resulted in narrow victory going to Alister Hibbert (Super Aero), less than a second ahead of David and Matthew Rose (Super Aero) followed by John Blower and Peter Kearney (F2). The quickest combination of Bill and Maggie Tuer could do no better than ninth.

The fastest three ERAs of Duncan Ricketts (ex-Seaman R1B), John Harper (Mallya’s R4D) and John Ure (Bill Morris’ ex-Bira R12B) were covered by 0.3s in practice. Harper led the first lap before Ricketts managed to control a wayward fire extinguisher rolling around beneath his feet and outbraked Harper into the chicane on lap 2. Harper maintained the pressure and made a number of forays under braking, including one on the final lap, causing Ricketts to run very wide though he just managed to hold on to win by the scantest margin. That gave R1B its first Seaman Trophy win, the first ex-Seaman car to win since Dennis Poore’s Alfa in 1953. David Morris (R1 1B) took third after an excellent drive comfortably clear of Ure and Mark Gillies (Brooke Special).

John Seber took the family Wolseley to its second win of the day in the John Goddard Trophy race, and yet again Julian Bronson had to play second fiddle with his Riley. Barrie Cannell prevented Stephen Bulling from claiming two thirds by beating the Bentley driver with his Alvis.

The 1950s Sports Car race assembled a low-key entry, mainly due to a round of the World Endurance Sportscar series being held the previous day as support to the Belgian GP. Gary Pearson (who had finished fourth at Spa) and David Pennell were to be congratulated, therefore, for rushing back to take part. Pearson looked to be a fairly predictable winner with Paul Vestey’s D-type, but as the flag fell Gary found that his throttle movement was restricted and was beaten into Redgate by the Farrellac Allard of Tony Bianchi. Bianchi consolidated his lead, the rev-restricted Pearson being unable to get within striking distance. The Farrellac reeled off the remaining laps to take an unexpected win, only to be told, once he had crossed the line, that his start had been adjudged a ‘flyer’ and that honours were awarded to a surprised Pearson, who had the grace to acknowledge that Bianchi deserved the win. Pennell’s Lister held a race-long third, well clear of Jim Woodley’s Lotus 17, and Ron Gammons, unusually mounted in a Lotus 11.

Barrie Cannell had a consolation win in the final scratch race, challenged all the way by Derek Robinson’s Riley, while handicap wins went Keith White (Riley), Bill Mahaney (HRG) and the ever youthful Tom Delaney (Lea Francis). A.S.D.C.

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