11 June 2012

Historic MGs battle for Diamond Jubilee Trophy

Veteran racer Andy Newall hangs on to win in works MGB, 8DBL, but stirring battles take place throughout the competitive field

After a soaking wet Jubilee weekend, the skies cleared on June 4 for the Bank Holiday Monday Motors TV meeting at Mallory Park. Thirty-one Historic MGs qualified for the HRDC Queen's Diamond Jubilee MG Celebration race, which was the featured event.

Historic ace Andy Newall qualified Sir Anthony Bamford's JCB works MGB roadster 8DBL on the pole, but only half a second in front of a determined Andrew Bentley in his FIA MGB roadster. Mark Ashworth and Marc Campfield (the latter in his father's newly-restored works MGB rally car BRX854B) took the second row.

Interrupting the FIA MGB closeout was the surprise of Adam Gitting's diminutive MG Ashley GT and Jim Baynam in the Willhire 24 Hours MGB prodsports racer. Further down the grid were the 1965 works Le Mans MGB of veteran Barry Sidery-Smith and the sublime Counes coupe MGB of Bob Ridgard.

The 'Four Magnetteers' of Graham Bryant, Bruce Chapman, Julius Thurgood and Richard Dodkins made MG history by entering their veteran Z-Series Magnette racers — with a combined total of some 120 race seasons between them!

Rarer sights awaited spectators: two MG1100 racers of Shaun Rainford and Steve Atkinson, plus five MG T-type racers, this latter genre of MG racers sadly now seldom seen at historic events.

The race proved to be the crowd pleaser of the day, with superb battles ranging throughout the field. The opening lap was not easy for Newall in the JCB works MGB, who out-braked himself into the hairpin and let a determined Campfield by in his similar works MGB. But Campfield ran into overheating problems and was passed by both Newall and Ashworth. Eventually both Campfield and Ashfield  pulled out with engine troubles. After that, Newall was never headed for the remainder of this 31-lap MG bonanza.

Special mention goes to the stirring drive of Stuart Dean, in the unique Dick Jacobs MG YB Special coupe. Dean's super-smooth driving style picked off arguably much faster cars — and he finished a superb 12th overall from a ninth-row start, earning a convincing class win and fastest lap in the process. A gritty drive by Adam Gittings in the works-built MG Ashley GT saw him climb as high as third place, until he accidentally flipped his ignition switch going through the tight Mallory hairpin; but he still claimed fifth overall, first in Class and a Fastest Lap for his efforts.

HRDC Race Director Julius Thurgood was delighted. "We worked hard to bring all these elements of historic MG racing together for this special televised event and the reception received was unanimously positive — so much so that we intend to repeat this format at Donington on 28 July at the COYS-sponsored HRDC COYS International Trophy Meeting," he said.

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