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CBT Racing

CBT Racing – Tour Britannia 2013
Mallory Misfortune Ends CBT’s Winning Streak

The signs were all there to make this a memorable Tour Britannia for the CBT Racing duo of Stuart Scott and Steve Wood – a record of increasing success in previous Tours, a car that rarely stuttered, and a significant anniversary – but things, alas, didn’t go to plan this time and the memories would be of the unwelcome variety.

Things began well enough with the Camaro sailing through scrutineering and documentation checks of the Thursday afternoon at the Warwick Hilton hotel; even passing the usually-troublesome noise test at the first attempt.

With no prelude stage for this year’s event, all that was left to do was to meet and greet the competition over dinner and get a good night’s sleep ahead of the Day 1 stages. These included 2012 winners Phil Hindley and Andy Bull, as well as Rick Pearson, Sarah Bennett-Baggs, and CBT regular (and preparer of the team’s cars) Mike Jordan, who was drafted in to drive Philip Walker’s Jaguar E-Type Coupé at the last minute after Howard Redhouse had to drop out.

There was a Midlands-based route for this year’s event and the first of the two days would see the Competition runners heading out for Arbury Hall, where two runs along a challenging two-mile stage would begin the event proper. After this they would head to Mallory for two more stages and the first of the circuit races, before taking lunch at Gaydon. This would be followed by a Special Test at the Heritage Motor Museum and a stage on the Porsche Experience Track. A return to Arbury Hall for two more runs on a slightly different stage would be the final action before returning to Rally HQ for the night.

Stuart and Steve set off in high spirits, with the Camaro turning heads as it covered the 23 miles to Arbury Hall. They knew it would be quick - but also very narrow - in the Camaro, and they soon discovered that there were a lot more chicanes than they had seen on the previous occasion; meaning that the big car would be spending more time on gravel than tarmac. The stage was also lined with trees and also featured a lake, a canal and a very narrow hump back bridge with high stone pillars, so any mistake could have disastrous consequences. Throw in damp conditions and this made for a rather nerve-racking start for Stuart, who was in the passenger seat for both runs and who consequently found himself on the grass for most of the time.

Steve completed the first run without incident in 2:26.8 and got this down to 2:19.0 the second. The CBT Chevrolet was ninth-quickest overall (of 28) on both runs, but they headed on to Mallory leading Class 6.

Already, though, the (new) alternator was beginning to play up, but after the previous year’s dramas the team was prepared and a spare alternator and battery was on hand. The Camaro completed the 15 miles drive to the Leicestershire circuit okay and the battery was quickly swapped out. Tyre pressures were also checked and found to be a little high for what would again be a very quick stage, so were reduced accordingly.

The Mallory stage consisted of almost a full lap of the track, followed by a trip through the paddock  - the cars splitting right going down Devils Elbow and then taking a very sharp right turn into the paddock and taking the very narrow (with Armco on both sides) pit entry - and then a further lap of the track. Three 'Spa Bus Stop' style chicanes had been added to the circuit to make things interesting; the first being at the exit of Gerard's Bend, which was very tight, followed by another just before the Esses and a third between the Hairpin and Devil's Elbow.

The CBT Camaro tackled both stages with aplomb, completing the first in eighth overall and the second sixth. More significantly, the car had moved up to eighth in the overall classification and led Class 6 by 16.8s from the MGB GT V8 of Tim and Jim Bryan. The only issue during the Mallory stages had been locking brakes at some parts of the circuit and it was discovered that this was due to air getting into the system.

This was quickly rectified and both Stuart and Steve were confident of a good result in the forthcoming race. As a further incentive, Mike Jordan was lying second overall with an advantage of about 41 seconds over the CBT car, while Hindley and Bull were just 20 seconds ahead.

20 minutes had been allowed for qualifying, but Steve needed just six laps to put the Camaro thrid on the grid; after which he came in to ready himself for the race, which was likely to last in the region of 20 minutes.

A great start from Steve saw the CBT car pass Stephen Radcliffe's Porsche for second and immediately take the fight to the Hindley/Bull 911 SC.

For several laps the Camaro clung on to the Porsche's tail, but on the seventh lap.....disaster! The engine had failed and the big car coasted to a halt at the Hairpin; Steve stunned at what at just happened.

And that was it - game over! Brake and alternator problems can be overcome on the event, but when the engine goes, that's it!

With their Tour dreams shattered, Stuart and Steve retired to the bar at Tour HQ and drowned their sorrows. They woke with sore heads the next morning and, together with Mike Jordan - whose Jaguar had expired with fuel pump failure on the very same stage - headed to Silverstone to support Mike's son, Andrew, at the Britcar meeting being held there...only to discover that the Honda he was driving in the Production race had blown an engine during qualifying, and the Mosler he was due to race in the GT race was down on cylinders and had been withdrawn! A weekend to forget, all in all.

"We are absolutely gutted about our first DNF in five attempts," confessed Stuart. "I think we could have got another good result as the pace was definitely in the car on the three stages we did. We'd like to send our congratulations to Phil and Andy for repeating their win, but we will be back next year and are determined to make amends for what's just happened."

The Camaro was taken back to Mike's Eurotech workshops, where a post-mortem will be held. All being well, the CBT car will be back out for some Historic events later this summer, in preparation for another attempt at conquering the Tour Britannia in 2014.