BPR International Brands Hatch 6/7/8 Sept.
Whilst Morgan Challengers were preparing to do battle at Cadwell Park on the weekend of 8th Sept, two other Morgans were at Brands Hatch - the "works" Morgan, taking part in a round of the BPR Endurance GT World Sports Car Championship and XOV 555, which was entered in the BPR Historic GT Endurance - her second of that series, having already come 6th at the round at Silverstone earlier this year.
An International meeting is always very special. In the Historic GT race there were only 5 British amongst 30 entrants - wonderful continental names such as Fabri, Benti, Raimondi, Trichet, Hafner - Chris and Rick decided they should change their names to Phillipo and Bournetti! There was a strong German contingent, as the race was also a round of the Porsche 356 cup.
Friday morning scheduled free practice for all who wished it, followed by FIA scrutineering and official signing-on, before 2 timed qualifying sessions in the after noon. As before, the race would be run over one hour with 1 or 2 drivers and a mandatory 60 second pit-stop to be taken between 15 min. and 45 min.
Slight hiccup in the proceedings when Chris realised we'd left the vital FIA papers at home in Cheshire in the rush to get away on Thursday night (having a morning meeting in London, flying back to Manchester at lunch time, doing a week's work in the afternoon was insufficient excuse for the race officials!) - without these papers, technically, they would be unable to race. Having persuaded the "powers that be" to let them practise, we initiated "plan B" which was to get a neighbour (who was, incidentally, just leaving to go on holiday) to gain entry to our home to find the papers and leave them in the capable hands of another near neighbour Mandy McDermott (Simon was testing at Cadwell at the time!) who would organise an overnight courier to get them to Brands for morning in time for the race! Panic shelved, Chris and Rick went out to qualify on the testing Grands Prix Circuit. Both went well and, thanks to a terrific time from Rick, they gained 3rd position on the grid for Saturday's race (much to the surprise of some of the Porsches).
On Saturday morning (the FIA papers having duly arrived - thanks a million Mandy !) there was a little gentle fettling done and some concern over an apparant recurrence of XOV's engine problems which had caused such traumas at Coys it was decided to cross fingers and hope for the best.
We all then went for a walk and watched the "big" cars playing on the far side of the GP circuit. It's amazing how blase' one becomes about watching 25 Lamborghinis whizzing round! The CT cars were impressive and the "works" Morgan seemed to be doing well.
After a drivers meeting, we practised the all-important driver change and at 5.20 pm the cars assembled for the race.
Chris was doing the first stint and XOV looked great amongst the E-types, Elites, Porsches, Ferrari etc as they came round to take the rolling start. Red lights turned to green and they got cleanly away Chris had a very nasty moment round Druids bend when he was squeezed by an accident between a Lotus Elite and a Porsche 356, narrowly escaping incident himself. Unfortunately, a few places were lost, but he set about keeping in touch with leaders and consoled himself that an hour's a long time in motor-racing!
On they went - previous lap times were reduced and racing was fast and furious. The 2 leaders - F-type and Elite were well ahead of the rest of the field. Chris was gaining on and passing another F-type and at lap 14 came in to hand over to Rick. Rick stormed out and proceeded to reel in more cars. Towards the end of the race XOV was starting to overheat and Rick was willing her to last the race. Last the race she most certainly did, finishing an amazing 4th overall and 2nd in the CT? class. Jubilation in the pit lane and we watched proudly as Chris and Rick were invited to take their place on the podium to receive their trophies.
(c) Beverley Phillips 1996