2013 SEASON REVIEW: ALFASHOP ALFA ROMEO CHAMPIONSHIP
Roger Evans comfortably retained his Alfa title. Photo: John Cooper
Every racing season has its own character, stand-out moments and peculiarities, and for the BRSCC Alfashop Alfa Romeo championship 2013 was no different. You can look through the archives and find many years where the outright wins were almost predictable before the season even started.
However, last season was refreshingly different. In the 14 races, we had no fewer than seven different overall winners and 18 names appeared on the podium. The season started modestly at Rockingham with a win for Chris Snowdon. Anthony George then took both races at the Silverstone double header in May. Neil Smith had his only 2013 win at Oulton, Bryan Shrubb doubled up at Cadwell and Anthony returned to the top step twice at Snetterton. Adie Hawkins came back to winning ways with his invitation class at Thruxton while Roger Evans took advantage of the absence of modified cars to take victory at Brands. And to finish the season we had Ian Stapleton on a three win streak at Donington and Silverstone International.
As far as the outcome of the Championship is concerned, this wasmore predictable with Roger Evans again dominant in Class C with his 147 GTA recording 10 wins. Had it been wet more often, we could have seen Graham Seager getting his GTV to the flag first to make Roger’s task more difficult.
Class E, of course, provided the largest chunk of the grid, and although James Ford was able to take a well-deserved first championship class win, he did have to face some strong opposition along the way, which made his success even more notable. He was able to keep Roger Evans on his toes at the top of the points table throughout the year and 2nd overall was a fine effort moving up from 4th in 2012.
There were several “stars” that stood out during the year and from the moment the red lights went out at Rockingham, Darelle Wilson was one of them. That’s not to say his season wasn’t what we might call adventurous! However, had he not suffered persistent turbo pipe problems he might well have finished closer to Roger and James. An accident at Cadwell and an “off” in qualifying at Brands didn’t help either. But, in the end, 3rd overall in his first full season was a great result, backed all the way by Proalfa and the boys from Team Hard. And then we had some great drives from a couple of our other young drivers – Matt Daly and Tom Eastwood, both of whom were class winners during the year in their Spur Motorsport 145s.
Looking at the classes individually –
CLASSES A1 & A2: For most of the year, the entry in both modified classes smaller than we had hoped and it took the final races of the year to bring it all to life. We were delighted to see Anthony George at last getting some reliability from the 156 Turbo and it is a testament to the Damico Team who have persevered through thick and thin, Anthony taking class A1 for the year. Barry McMahon tried to develop a unique Giulietta engine 156 but more often than not had to revert to his old friend the 3 litre GTV and it was with this that his best races came including a memorable the fight with Guy Hale at Oulton, only decided on the line. Finally, he was very feisty at the end season double-header at Silverstone. All this was enough to gain him 2nd in A1 with Chris Oxborough 3rd, just getting enough points in the year to hold off Ian Stapleton. Roger Evans made us remember his modified credentials with a pole position at Silverstone in his rejuvenated GTV and we were hoping for good things from Andy Robinson’s 3.8 litre 156 after a 2nd and 3rd at Silverstone but an accident at Cadwell unfortunately curtailed his season.
Chris Snowdon, Bryan Shrubb and Nick Anderson plus the not eligible for points Adie Hawkins showed there was still life in the 33 yet, taking five race wins between them. In the end it was Bryan Shrubb, largely due to his two Cadwell wins and a strong drive in the first race at Silverstone in October who took the Class A2.
CLASS B: B is a class that allows a wide variety of models and specifications without having to go overboard on bodywork lightening. Darelle Wilson was the dominant driver in Class B all year in the Proalfa GT Diesel, except when something went wrong to hold him back. At times, this allowed John Griffiths, Robin Eyre-Maunsell and Clive Hodgkin to take class wins to finish the season in that order in the points. It is surprising, given Darelle’s speed, that there are not more diesels racing – in fact his was only the fourth to appear in the 32 years of the Championship.
CLASS C: As I have already said, it looked pretty certain that Roger Evans would dominate Class C but we were all surprised when a great move by Graham Seager at Silverstone’s Copse corner in May on a damp track demoted Roger to 2nd. Graham was able to repeat the pass at Donington. But you can’t argue with those 10 wins and two seconds which took Roger to back to back class and overall championships. Graham Seager and Ray Foley enjoyed some good scraps during the year but it was Graham whoeventually took 2nd in classahead of Ray.
CLASS D: This class virtually disappeared again in 2013 and it was only at Donington that two 33s appeared. David Lambourn took the class win and therefore the class title after Tom Herbert had slid off into the gravel.
CLASS E: As is now the norm in the Championship, Class E produced the largest part of the entry at most meetings and also some of the best racing. Having lost out to Tom Herbert at Rockingham and Tom Eastwood in the first race at Silverstone in May, James Ford was into his stride by round 3 leading home Tom Herbert and Dave Peddie. Thereafter, there was little to stop James apart from Adie Hawkins at Oulton and a brilliant Matt Daly at Thruxton. 8 class wins and 4 second places would take him to a comfortable class win. No other driver in the class managed more than one victory, but these were all well-deserved, going to Tom Herbert, Tom Eastwood, Matt Daly, Adie Hawkins, Dave Messenger and Jon Billingsley. Interestingly, the 145 had quite a resurgence of form in 2013, taking two really good wins but the 156 still dominated.
Behind James Ford, though, the battle was intense, so much so that Dave Messenger, Tom Eastwood, Andy Inman and Dave Peddie all arrived at Silverstone in October with a shot at the runner-up spot. In the end, by virtue of two third places, it was Dave Messenger who edged out Tom Eastwood by just three points. Had he been able to start the season earlier, James Bishop would undoubtedly have been in contention too. Class E was also pleased to welcome the 25th lady driver in our history when Stacey Dennis ran at Silverstone in October and despite the atrocious conditions performed admirably. We hope she will be back in 2014.
INVITATION CLASS: Although this is not strictly part of the Championship and does not score points, it often provides us with some great entertainment. Most of the time it is populated by ex-Irish championship Fiat Punto Abarths, and on two occasions in 2013 we actually saw one in the race lead, with Fraser O’Brien at Thruxton and Alastair Kellett at Silverstone. At Thruxton Adie Hawkins made a successful appearance in his Radical gearboxed 33 while Neil Smith brought his SuperTurismo 156 to Donington, winning on the road before suffering a 30” penalty.
We also ran two races for pre-91 Alfas but unfortunately didn’t get the support we had hoped for despite Cadwell and Donington being the venues. Nonetheless, thank you to those who did enter and well done to the race winners Ted Pearson and Ian Stapleton.
A most enjoyable annual dinner and prize giving brought the curtain down on another successful year on November 23 at The Latimer House, near Chesham amid much talk of plans and projects being hatched for 2014.
Our thanks go to everyone who supported the championship during the year whether as drivers, preparers, sponsors or race organisers. In particular, we are indebted to long-time title sponsors Alfashop, Toyo and Tyres (South Shore), LMA, MMC Motorsport Insurance and everyone at the BRSCC, both at headquarters and in the various centres. We had more TV coverage in 2013 through Motors TV’s “Last Lap” with Bianco Auto Development, MPI and Damico Engines being generous in their support.
Sad news at the end of the year was that Graham Heels had decided to relinquish his role as championship co-ordinator for business and family reasons after two very successful seasons. He will be sorely missed and a replacement is still being sought.