Results > June 5th - 6th 2021 - Cadwell Park
Benn Simms takes both Wins
JUSTIN HALER TROPHY
Historic F3 Races
June 5-6, 2021
Ten years after Autosport’s period 1000cc Formula 3 reporter Justin Haler died in South Africa, his memory lives on in the hearts of Historic F3 competitors who race for his memorial trophy over a double-header at the HSCC’s Cadwell Park Wolds Trophy event. After an absence of a season - 2020’s fixture was postponed by COVID-19, ongoing travel logistics around which sadly prevented the enthusiastic and sociable overseas contingent from coming this time - a 19-strong field of screamers spanning nine chassis marques was back at MSV’s spectacular Lincolnshire switchback. A new winner emerged in Benn Simms, who aced both races in Jim Blockley’s sportingly loaned Chevron B17-70-8, now back in its original yellow livery.
“It’s a lovely car, so well put together [by Jeremy Bennett of Nemesis Racing],” said Benn, no stranger to the top step of the podium, having previously won Historic FF1600, Historic FF2000 and Classic F3 championships. He hadn’t exercised the ex-Ken Sedgley machine properly until qualifying, when ignition timing problems left the MAE down on power. Nonetheless, Benn qualified fourth, behind Jeremy Timms (ex-Reine Wisell Chevron B15), former champion Simon Armer (ex-Tom Walkinshaw Petonyer March 703) and reigning titlist Ian Bankhurst (ex-Terry Ogilvie-Hardie Project X Racing Alexis Mk8).
In beautiful warm and sunny conditions Timms secured pole position for Saturday’s race with a 1m35.940s (82.06mph) best lap on the demanding 2.18-mile circuit, as fine a test of driver and car as any in the UK. Armer was second, 1.453s adrift, with Bankhurst and Simms claiming P3 and P4 on the staggered 1-1 grid. Jason Timms, Jeremy’s cousin, sat fifth in his Brabham BT21, with Devonian Mike Scott (ex-Erkki Salminen BT28) also inside 1m40s. Behind them Steve Seaman (BT21), Andrew Tart (ex-John Fenning Merlyn Mk9), Wirral warrior Barry Sewell (ex-Derek Bell Lotus 41) and sometime vintage Frazer Nash chain-ganger Paul Waine (ex-Claudio Francisci De Sanctis F3 69) created a red patch.
Five more Brabhams then lined up, with Mark Linstone (BT21) ahead of retired soldier Simon Etherington (ex-Manfred Mohr BT15), Gil Duffy (BT21B), Paul Booth (ex-Tetsu Ikuzawa BT21) and Mike Walker (ex-Mike Knight BT21). Astonishingly it was 51 years since Walker started his first contemporary F3 race, in a BT21 with an adjacent chassis number!
Welshman Tony Wallen returned with his very pretty ex-Carlos Pace Lotus 59 and qualified ahead of the troubled Peter Hamilton (Tecno), Andrew Thorpe (Lotus 31) and Keith Messer (ex-Peter Colborne Vesey VF3). Keith hadn’t travelled more than 300 meters from the assembly area when he hit gear selection problems, thus coasted to the pits where Ewen Sergison whipped the back off the box and diagnosed a snagging selector finger.
Everybody made it out for Saturday’s opening 20-minute stanza, in which Simms - having re-timed the Chevron’s engine, unlocking more MAE power and another 10-12mph through TSL’s speed traps in the Park Straight’s dip and at the timing line - streaked through to seize the lead from Jeremey Timms and Bankhurst before the quick left-handed uphill sweeper at Coppice.
By the end of lap one Simms was clear of Jeremey Timms, with Armer, Jason Timms, Bankhurst, Scott, Waine, Tart, Linstone and Seaman completing the top 10. Messer and Hamilton were making up places apace when Peter retired his pale blue Tecno with ignition problems on lap 2.
Jeremey Timms sat around a second behind leader Simms for several laps, then ratcheted up the pressure. With a straight-line speed advantage exacerbated by the tow (he recorded 117.9mph on Park Straight and 104.6 on the start line) Timms dived ahead into Park on lap nine, whereupon it all went wrong. “He went wide to lap somebody before the Gooseneck then appeared to hit oil,” recalled Simms. The red Chevron didn’t make the downhill left but crossed the kerb, bounded over the grass, spun and smote the bank backwards. Simms raced on as Jeremey clambered out to survey heavy damage. Fastest lap in 1:33.670s (84.05mph) was little consolation.
Bankhurst and Jason Timms were thus elevated to second and third but Jason wasted no time in sweeping round the outside of Ian at Coppice to annex second. A minute behind runaway winner Simms, Timms passed the chequered flag second, clear of Bankhurst. Tart, Linstone and Scott - who gyrated grassily at Charlie’s - also on the lead lap. Seaman, Messer (struggling with his pedal placement), Duffy, Etherington and Walker, slowed by an obstinate misfire, covered 12.
Sadly Sewell went off at Park, pranging his Lotus comprehensively. “A good proportion my own fault,” he rued at the evening social, although rivals blamed oil. Waine missed a gear, giving the De Sanctis’ engine a big over-rev, 11,200rpm ending his run. Armer coasted forlornly into the pits with a broken rocker shaft in the March and was out for the weekend. Not so Waine, for Sergison and his AVIT! crew - bolstered by young motorsport engineering apprentice Jess, who got stuck-in impressively, adding to her practical knowledge - stripped the ‘baby Ferrari,’ flushing its oil system while Paul returned home to retrieve his spare engine. It arrived at 0730 on Sunday and was craned back in.
Apart from Jeremey Timms, Sewell and Armer, Booth withdrew with engine issues, leaving 15 competitors to form race two’s grid. Polesitter Simms made a poor start, getting swamped and arriving at Coppice only sixth, but was fourth within a lap behind Bankhurst, Waine and Jason Timms. Having slipstreamed the red Brabham to Coppice second time round, Benn shot boldly round Timms up the cambered incline. He was leading by the end of the lap.
Bankhurst and Waine battled in his wake for another four circuits, but neither was to finish. Paul found his car darting left alarmingly under braking and, after a hairy slide out of Charlies and a grassy spin at the same place, called it a day. Ian slowed in the hope that his water temperature would reduce, but peeled into the paddock when it didn’t. Already out were Linstone who parked safely after Mansfield with gear selection bothers and Seaman with a broken tappet.
Meanwhile Simms screamed on to the finish unopposed, with Timms again his closest pursuer. With remarkably similar margins of victory - 1m00.899s and 1m00.832s respectively - Benn deserved the Justin Haler Trophy for 2021, an accolade shared with veteran car owner Jim Blockley at home in the Cotswolds. Scott was third with Tart, Messer and Hamilton blanketed by 1.75s in a squabble over the minor places. Peter had passed Keith a couple of times, only for the Tecno to spin like a top on the grass.
Walker, finding his Brabham much more agreeable with its engine running sweetly on four cylinders, and Duffy who also found big lap time improvements, finished seventh and eighth, ahead of Etherington, Wallen and Thorpe, circulating quicker than before in the oldest car in the race.
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