Words courtesy of DTH Motosport Blog
The weekend of the 15th and 16th June 2019 took the 750 Motor Club to the picturesque Welsh coastline on the island of Anglesey. This would be the first time that the Armed Forces Race Challenge (AFRC) had visited the gusty, narrow and fast Anglesey circuit.
The Royal Navy Royal Marines Car Racing Team arrived at the circuit with six of the established cars and drivers. The striking blue, green and red gazebos situated en-masse in the centre of the paddock could be seen from most points of the circuit, giving a real impression of purpose and team cohesion.
The weekend would begin early on the Saturday with the practice and qualifying session, for many, this would be the first time behind the wheel on the Welsh circuit. After just a couple of laps, disaster quite literally struck the Ford Fiesta of Lt Rich Beaumont (RNAS Culdrose). On the back-straight, the fastest stretch of the coastal circuit, the lightweight bonnet ripped away from the car at 100mph, shattering the windscreen and damaging the roof. Once the car had arrived back in the paddock it was fairly obvious that it was out for the day. The bonnet could be reused with some repairs, but the screen would need replacing; being a remote location, a long drive for a replacement filled the remaining hours of the day for Rich.
Elsewhere in qualifying, CPO Steve “Hutch” Hutchings (Devonport) was disqualified for passing a car yellow flags but was permitted to start the first race at the back of the grid. The penalty seemed unjustified as the car had slowed due to a mechanical issue but, frustratingly, the penalty couldn’t be overturned in time. Every other RNRM car completed qualifying without incident. Mne Adam Dewis (RM Poole) qualified in 9th, followed by CPO Gareth “Stirling” Moss (RM Poole) 14th, Lt Cdr Keith Attwood (NCHQ) 15th and Hutch in 27th. AET Lewis Pemble (846 NAS) Mini’s timings were not recorded due to a transponder issue, but he did qualify for Race 1.
Race 1 would soon prove to be one to forget for a lot of the team. Adam’s Vauxhall Astra sheared a driveshaft at the start, similarly to an issue at he had at Brands Hatch – presumably an underlying problem behind both failures. This meant a quick retirement for him. In addition to that, Stirling’s Astra began leaking oil onto hot engine parts halfway through the race, resulting in a large plume of smoke temporarily engulfing Parc Ferme after he pulled off the circuit to retire.
Lewis’ Mini had to retire with a throttle issue, which was later diagnosed as a seized EGR and broken vacuum hoses. The scale of the issues with the Mini sadly meant that rest of the weekend’s racing would be missed entirely for Lewis. Keith thankfully finished the race in 11th but not without contact from an Army Motorsport car, which affected his Mini R53’s wheel alignment. Hutch, in the Peugeot 106 had a fuelling issue that saw him have to reduce speed towards the end of the race, but he still came a respectable 16th.
A disappointing race for the team with only two official RNRM cars making it to the chequered flag.
Sunday would begin with the whole team having had time to forget the dramas of the previous day. With a fantastic effort from the drivers and support crews, the remaining five cars were fixed overnight – and some were even freshly polished! Race 2 would be the last of the weekend’s races that counted towards championship standings, so a good result for all drivers would be essential after the Saturday’s results. However, there was an almost immediate retirement a lap or so after the start. With more smoke pouring from under the Astra’s bonnet, Stirling drove into the pits and out of the race. Fortunately no damage had been done; residual oil stuck in some lagging had been burning off.
However, the team had reason to be happier with the results of this race, with twice as many RNRM cars finishing. Adam crossed the line in 8th followed by Keith in 10th, Hutch was in 12th and Rich finished in 21st, with the newly repaired bonnet and fresh windscreen allowing him to start the race at the back of the grid in 27th.
Late Sunday Afternoon at the Anglesey Circuit would play host to a non-championship event of the Armed Forces Championship – the ‘Handicap Race’ – in which all competitors’ best lap time from that morning were used to calculate a staggered start, with the idea that the slowest and fastest cars should all finish at about the same time!
After a few laps, unfortunately Hutch was forced to retire with a loss of pressure to the clutch master cylinder in the Peugeot 106. However for the rest of the team, the only disappointment was that the handicap race didn’t count for championship points, as it was the RNRM team’s best race by far. Keith was 6th, Stirling 7th, Rich 9th and Adam 10th. With 4 RNRM cars finishing in the top 50% of the 23 car grid, an excellent performance overall.
A weekend of highs and lows for the RNRM Car Racing Team, with breakdowns and mechanical failures hampering the team’s capacity to put cars on track and finish races. However, hard work and determination allowed most competitors to overcome major problems and still race. With team manger Keith and his steadfast Mini now 6th in the championship standings, the rest of the team will need to put some hours in in the garage to try and improve their reliability and give overall team performance the boost it needs! Next up is Donington Park in early September.
RN Driver Standings
RN Novice Driver Standings
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