Linton Stutely earned his first HSCC Historic FF1600 podium last weekend, just a year after his debut historic race and following a stop-start season with his new car.
Stutely followed Richard Tarling and Cameron Jackson home in the first race at Brands Hatch, having had a highly competitive qualifying session and a strong race.
His Royale RP3 broke an engine mount early in the second race, but he is keen to prove himself again.
Stutely is the boss of regular National FF1600 team Enigma Motorsport and former competitor in modern FF1600 and club Formula 3. And it’s somewhat by accident that he now is reviving his driving career in historics.
“It was never in the grand plan to do any historic racing, but we [Enigma] rebuilt the Jamun for Richard [Tarling] in the middle of last year, and that was quite a big bill,” explains Stutely. “So he decided that as part-payment, I could drive the car at a race.”
This was the penultimate Brands Hatch HSCC round at Brands in 2018, where he ran as high as second in Tarling’s Jamun T2 before retiring due to accident damage.
“I hadn’t driven for a while and I was building a modern car, a Mygale, for myself,” Stutely continues.
“I’ve driven a lot of modern cars, I know how they handle, I know how the paddock works and what the general driving standard is like.
“And then I drove a historic for the first time, and it was basically just like a sideways machine, and you have to really think about where you position the car on the track all the time because the radiator’s at the front, you don’t want to overheat the car.”
Stutely was so impressed with both the Jamun’s handling and the more relaxed atmosphere of the HSCC paddock that he sold the Mygale and went out looking for a pre-’72 car.
“I didn’t want to buy the Royale. I wanted to buy a Hawke, because my dad raced Hawkes back in the ‘70s and he started off with a Crossle 16F, but there weren’t any available, so the Royale was a good option.”
Later Royales from the late ‘70s early ‘80s are reasonably common sights, but the RP3 is a very early model and not at all familiar.
“My car is a bit like rocking horse poo, as they say. Very rare.
“It’s an RP3, so it’s 1970. There’s not many RP3s about, there were only twelve ever built. Four of them were in the UK and the rest went to America.”
Rebuilding a car like the RP3 comes with considerable challenges. As well as the broken engine mount, Stutely and the Enigma team were struggling with a leaking fuel tank during qualifying. The car’s first outing at Snetterton earlier this year also preceded a lengthy engine rebuilt.
Stutely himself remains sanguine though. “When you take a car, change absolutely everything on it like I did to try and get some good performance, things are always going to go slightly awry now and again,” he adds.
“We’re getting there, touch wood. We’ve still got one or two little issues that are far from ideal, but luckily, so far, they haven’t caused me too much trouble.
“I think the engine’s coming out after the weekend, that’s for sure. But yeah, it’s good to be up there, and hard work all pays off.
“It just goes to show that you can get something that’s a bit of an unknown and develop it into a potentially race-winning car.”