Cholmondeley powers on

Rain disrupted play at the second Pageant of Power, but that hasn’t stopped the Cheshire event from gaining in stature
By Paul Lawrence

The second Cholmondeley Pageant of Power showed that the event is here to stay, with two days of competition on the tricky 1.2-mile speed event course in the grounds of the Cheshire castle.

Many things were improved over the inaugural event and visitor numbers were significantly up as 80 cars and 40 motorbikes made up the competitive field. Sadly, the weather did not change and heavy downpours made Sunday a difficult day for everyone. Twice the timed runs were halted due to standing water on the track and clerk of the course Dennis Carter wisely called time on competition midway through the third timed runs.

But that should not detract from an event that is only starting to show its true potential. Concentrating on cars based in the region, a fine entry was gathered with notable gems being the JCB-owned Lancia Ferrari D50 in the hands of Willie Green and the De Tomaso 505 of Rob Hall. Encouraged by running the Grand Prix car at Cholmondeley, Hall was due at Silverstone a week later to give the 505 its first race since Piers Courage crashed it in Spain in 1970.

But this is not just a speed event – there was action in the sky with a Spitfire flypast and helicopter display and agility test. Powerboats raced on the lake and a significant display of classic cars added to the sense of occasion.

With Saturday’s third run forming the first of four planned competitive runs for the weekend, the dry and warm conditions proved decisive once Sunday dawned damp and got progressively wetter. That played into the hands of the intrepid Justin Law, who emerged a worthy if slightly unexpected overall winner in the closed-cockpit Lister-Jaguar prototype. Sitting alongside the 1963 rarity in the paddock was the team’s Jaguar XJR9, but turning circle and ground clearance concerns reduced it to a static display.

Instead, Law took the Lister by the scruff of its neck and set the best time of the weekend in 68.40sec. “I saw that I was second-fastest after practice, so I pushed a bit more,” said Law.

Running Law close were the touring cars of Jan Van Nierop (Audi 80) and Jason Minshaw (BMW M3). Van Nierop’s ex-Xavier Lapeyre car took the runner-up slot from the Minshaw family’s ex-Roland Ratzenberger M3 by half a second. A typically banzai run from Nigel Bancroft pushed his 1-litre Chevron B17 to the top of the single-seaters class.

Once again poor weather struck the hard-working organisers at Cholmondeley. But the potential is clear; when the sun finally shines this will be a fabulous event.