Benn Tilley and Nigel Lingwood shared the wins in the Luna Logistics Classic FF1600 races at Cadwell Park.
The weekend got off to a dramatic, and wet, start with qualifying being abandoned after a multi-car collision in the rain.
Robin Haslam hit standing water on the run to the first corner and spun in his Royale RP24, collecting Rick Morris’s Royale RP29 and Stuart Kestenbaum’s Crossle 16F. The session was stopped instantly, and the damage to the two Royales was significant enough for both drivers to be eliminated for the weekend, while Kestenbaum’s car needed overnight repairs.
The grid for the first race was set by the best free practice times, with Ted Pearson taking pole in his Merlyn Mk11A/17 from Mark Armstrong and Tilley.
It was fourth place starter Lingwood who took the initiative at the start though, moving into the lead. Tilley also made progress, climbing a spot on the second lap and then taking the lead from Lingwood a lap later.
Tilley immediately pulled away, with poleman Pearson moving into second, having briefly sunk to fourth. On lap six Lingwood reclaimed second, with Pearson dropping down the order after going off track at Chris Curve.
Armstrong moved into third, ahead of Kestenbaum and Alan Williamson.
Pearson set to work climbing back up the order, taking Williamson and Tom Roark in successive laps. Meanwhile Lingwood was coming under pressure from Armstrong, and delivered his usual line of defence through the Hall Bends.
Armstrong briefly looked like he had a way through at Coppice but couldn’t make it, and finished a few tenths short of second place. Tilley was almost 20 seconds up the road, with his seventh win of the season.
“It was a bit tricky at the start,” he said.
“I got a reasonably good start but the slipstream down the back straight paid its part, and I was overtaken. I had to fight back past them. Then I was just thinking about the championship up front.”
Kestenbaum was the next driver on Pearson’s radar, and they overtook each other several times before fourth place was decided in Kestenbaum’s favour.
Tilley looked to repeat his victory in the second race, but coasted to a halt from the lead of race on the second lap after “the stub axle in the upright sheared” and Tilley lost drive.
Lingwood inherited the lead, ahead of Kestenbaum, Armstrong and Pearson.
Lingwood initially looked comfortable up front, with Armstrong taking four laps before finding a way past Kestenbaum. He then came under pressure from Pearson, and he dropped back even further after being overtaken by the race one poleman.
Armstrong started to close in on Lingwood once in second, but shortly after challenging for the lead found himself back down in fifth after an off at Chris. Pearson took up the challenge to Lingwood next, and he too found himself losing significant time after going for the race lead.
On the final lap Pearson went for an overtake, but ended up on the grass at Chris Curve and had to make do with second, three seconds further behind the winner than he had been at the start of the lap, with the two protagonists exchanging words in the pit lane after the race.
It was the first win of a part-season for Lingwood, who acknowledged that if his rival was unhappy with the last lap move then so was he.
Kestenbaum finished third, holding off Roark’s Van Diemen RF78 and Armstrong’s RF80.
“It was a lot tighter than it should have been, I am having dreadful problems with the gears,” explained Kestenbaum.
“I was missing third every time exiting Barn. I was stirring it like a pudding and feeling like one as well.”
In spite of his race two retirement, Tilley is almost out of Kestenbaum’s reach in the Class B championship standings while Armstrong took the lead in Class A as erstwhile leader Steve Pearce struggled with clutch issues on his Van Diemen.
1 Benn Tilley Merlyn 13 laps
2 Nigel Lingwood Van Diemen +19.598
3 Mark Armstrong Van Diemen +19.739
4 Stuart Kestenbaum Crossle +25.219
5 Ted Pearson Merlyn +25.524
6 Tom Roark Van Diemen +27.339
7 Alan Williamson Van Diemen +29.306
8 Steve Pearce Van Diemen +58.666
9 Graham Terry Van Diemen +59.016
10 David Lowe Lotus +1 lap
Pole: Pearson, 1:37.322
Fastest lap: Tilley, 1:35.865
1 Lingwood 13 laps
2 Pearson +3.240
3 Kestenbaum +8.655
4 Roark +9.793
5 Armstrong +9.899
6 Williamson +24.889
7 Terry +45.285
8 Pearce +1:03.266
9 Simon Clews Elden +1:09.197
10 Lowe +1:09.684
FL: Armstrong, 1:35.985