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Neil's 2005 Racing

Classical Gas is an independent web site and is not affiliated to any of the clubs or organisers of the events featured. Words and Pictures by Michael unless attributed otherwise. Michael is a proud member of the MCC, ACTC, Dellow Register and Falcon amongst others, but does not represent their views nor the views of any other organisers or clubs.

Neil's 2005 Racing

What do triallers do in the summer? Some head for the beaches, some attend to the vegetable plot. Not Neil Bray, he goes circuit racing.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge them)

Neil preparing the Capri during the winter

The field streams round Graham Hill bend on the first lap after the restart.

Neil at speed on the back straight.

Neil and the team modifying the wheel arches to give more clearance.

Neil chasing championship leader Stephen Primmett.

Neil gets a bit close as the Mk1 Cortina locks its brakes.

David Thomas heads the queue waiting for practice.

Simon Groves and Mike Hayward fixing the plug problem after practice.

Chasing Stephen Primmett out of the Mallory hairpin.

Pembrey Donington Park Snetterton Cadwell Park Lydden Hill

Falcon Vice-President Neil Bray has competed in many forms of Motorsport over the years. Back in the 70ís Neil was a keen Autocrosser in a Mini. Then the Stock Car bug bit and Neil drove a Formula 2 machine until he had the accident where he lost his arm at Ipswich. Apart from an interlude autocrossing an Escort Neil has concentrated on trialling, with the ex-Derek Fleming Primrose and a number of Skodaís.

Then a couple of years ago Neilís son Chris started racing an Escort in the Classic Touring Car Racing Clubs Group 1 championship. His appetite wetted by Chrisís exploits, and a couple of outings in the car, Neil decided to go racing with his own machine and acquired a 3 litre Mk 1 Capri that had been prepared for Historic Saloon Car Racing.

The car arrived during the autumn of last year and over the winter, it was tidied up after 5 years of storage, but otherwise was mechanically left pretty much as it was apart from a re-spray.

The original plan had been to sort it out at a track day at Silverstone, but the designated one was cancelled, so the first time Neil drive the car was at practice at Thruxton on Easter Monday. The car went well and Neil was fifth on the grid of 21 cars.

Neil got away well and was fourth at the end of the first lap. Tony Crudgington got by Neil in his Triumph Dolomite Sprint but disappeared after a couple more circuits. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. David Howard won in his Jaguar XJ12, just in front of Nick Dann in a similar Capri to Neilís and Stephen Primett in his 2 litre Escort. Neil was around 15 seconds behind this leading group, a long way in front of the rest of the field. This was a pretty good result for the first event, especially considering Neil had arrived ďfreshĒ from The Lands End Trial in Primrose.

There was quite a wait until the next event. A double header at the CSMA Brands Festival. The twisty nature of the Brands Indy circuit didnít suit the Capri quite as much as Thruxtonís wide open spaces and Neil qualified 12th on a grid of 30, close behind last years champion, Nick Dann in his class leading Capri.

There was carnage on the start when five of the cars eliminated themselves in a pile up, including Nick Dann. After an agonising wait the restarted race got away cleanly, with Neil in the middle of the pack. He had several duels but managed to keep it on the Island to finish 11th overall and first in Class B.

Three of the cars in Neilís class had been eliminated in the first lap pile up. Two of them were irreparable but Neil and his team helped Peter Holton repair his Rover P6 for Sundays race. This was important as if he didnít make the grid there would only be two starters in Neilís class and maximum pointís wouldnít be available. Things werenít so eventful at the Sunday race and Neil finished 11th overall and first in class again which together with fastest lap put Neil 2nd overall in the championship.

Early June saw the championship circus travel north to Oulton Park. Quite a few of the regular drivers didnít make the journey, including last years champion Nick Dann in his Capri. So with only two starters in class D maximum points werenít available. Neilís rival was Peter Holton in his Rover P6, now fully repaired after the Brands Hatch incident. Neil didnít do too well in practice and qualified 12th on the grid, some six seconds slower than pole sitter Tim Fish in his Chevrolet Camero, but ahead of Peter Holton. After the usual melee into the first corner Neil had an uneventful race, coming home comfortably ahead of Peter Holton in seventh place after no less than six other competitors retired with mechanical problems.

Before Oulton Neil had been three points behind championship leader Stephen Primett but pulled back two points when Stephen only came second to Tony Crudgingtonís Dolomite Sprint. Neither Stephen nor Neil got fastest lap. So Stephen got 7 points (one for starting and six for coming second). Neil got 9 points (one for starting and eight for coming second in a class with two starters). So Neil was now only one point away from the championship lead. No pressure!

Chris Bray had his first outing of the season at Oulton and it didnít go very well. There were fuel problems in practice, which he had to curtail when his exhaust came adrift. Then in the race itself something horrible happened inside the engine and he retired.

Mallory Park came just a couple of weeks later, on what must have been the hottest day of the year. Again there was no Nick Dann, but the class was back to three starters with the addition of former champion David Thomas in his blue Capri, who was also driving in the Group One event.

The writing was on the wall when David Thomas planted the Capri firmly on pole, but Neil qualified well in ninth place out of 22, only a couple of seconds behind. Peter Holton was right at the back having arrived late and only did a couple of laps, putting him right at the back of the grid. This was a good result for Neil as he had to come in early when first the Capri went on to five cylinders and then had a small fire when Neil opened the bonnet. The reason for the fire remained a mystery but the engine problem was soon traced to a plug lead coming detached.

Back in the paddock Simon Groves had arrived and helped with the old banger racing trick of cable tying the plug caps in place. Chris had inserted a substitute engine from a Rally Car but once again hit problems in practice when the Escort lost all its water after one of the hoses became detached.

In Neilís race David Thomas disappeared into the distance in his very fast Capri, which has about 60 brake more than Neilís machine. Behind there was a real battle in class C and after a couple of laps Stephen Primett was back in third place, struggling to stay in front of a hard charging Jason Christie. Unfortunately Jason started to drop back and Tony Crudgington had to retire his Dolomite Sprint when the rear suspension came adrift. This gave both Neil and Stephen Primett seven points, as neither got fastest lap, so Neil is still one point behind in the championship with 44 points, one behind Stephen and four ahead of Steve Young from class E in his Mini.

Chris had more bad luck when after a lengthy wait, because of a bad accident in the previous race, his clutch disintegrated on the start line and he hurt his finger quite badly when it got trapped in the adjusting mechanism.

The next race is at Cadwell Park on 17 July and the plan is for the Capri to go faster and handle better after some very special attention before its next outing!

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Published 5 August 2005

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