Kutuka Motorsport NORTH





Started well, went Pete Tong thereafter.


We’ve been playing with the Jefferys Lister XJ40, and it’s had a healthy diet, so we were curious what it would achieve. With the 12 year-old pilot signed up for a trackday, and my pelvis broken to allow me to get in the seat too, it was all on for a fun Friday.













































The rolling road had, as usual, produced nothing but trouble, found nothing they could improve, and generally messed everything up. For Christ’s sake people, find one that works, and use it. Three different sets of experts have now had this car, and each of them has screwed it up in their own way. Standard Jaguar bits, which work as Jaguar intended, like a Kutukan runs, there is much to be said for it. The Bear proved that you can pull 311bhp on a Jag throttle, inlet and ECU, so why mess?


Letting the foetal Jefferys circulate for the morning we of course didn’t time him, it being a trackday, and the time we didn’t record wasn’t then compared to my first laps in it after lunch. I was annoyed that it took 6 laps to get under his time, I had hoped for three. In my defence, it’s a very odd car, the size, weight and roll of a fishing trawler. The appalling banging from the rear as the subframe tried to escape under heavy braking was also somewhat concerning.













































With the pre-school boy in the passenger seat she got a bit more of a throw, and as I got to grips with the car we had his tiny feet scrabbling for grip, and hands reaching for the door bar. A full throw at the old hairpin was the point at which I started to understand just how much abuse this car needs to really hustle it along.


Changing over I had two laps of education into the infant’s style before my mechanical sympathy took over and I slowed him down. No lack of bravery, Christ on crutches is he committed, but trying to get him to slow down for two minutes to offer a few thoughts is like herding cats. For the avoidance of doubt, changing from flat in 4th to third without discernable pause is not something I condone. No wonder the rear end was trying to get out.


With a little tuition, which consisted of screaming about corner exits and threatening to punch him in the balls if he hit the brakes in the middle of Kraner kerbs again, improvements were made. Getting out and sending him out again showed that the grey matter was clearly working, the times tumbled by a second per lap until he broke the target time set days ago.


Job done.












































As Saturday dawned, so did the rain. Sweet. Fresh rubber for both Comer and Jefferys, a last-minute plea to take things easy, and off to qualify. Having got them to quali early, and standing at the front of that grid in the rain, you are struck by the double line of cars, and what insanity this is. Fifty tonnes of car in twin rows of crazy. Some drivers you know can really drive, some you know are utterly useless, some who are reckless, some mean-spirited, some brave, some terrified, but all united on one damp, soggy patch of tarmac in steaming nomex.


The walk down the grid, acknowledging the nods, waves, smiles and V-signs, and it appears that at last I can put a name and a number to every driver. Only taken me 4 years. The look in the eyes of the pilots varies from intense concentration through complete insanity to cheerfully careless. There are some pairs of eyes peering through those helmet slots that I would pay good money not to be parked in front of in these conditions.













































Off they set, and I already know Stewert will take pole. It’s just obvious. I am most twitchy at this point because I have Helen aboard the truck, and in these conditions she could chase Stewert round here, even beat him, this is the sort of track and weather that she excelled at. I was asked before qualifying what an acceptable time and grid slot a class F would be in this lot. I said pole, and I meant it.


Quali from the pitwall is hard to call, but the lead group broke away from the pack quickly. Great news, because in that lead group were all our drivers, Stew, Roger, Matt, and Philip. Drawing each other on they pulled away, until Roger inexplicably came into the pits. Comer appears at the same time with damage to the nose, he’s clearly been off. Only afterwards do we find he hit Roger. Donut.













































Stew spins it at Redgate on the brakes, a trick he’s pulled before. Comer spins it missing him. Of the lead group Matt Jefferys is the wonder, because he hangs right onto them all, and in fact a chasing Gail is barely making inroads into him, as the flag falls he actually finished quali first on the road. It means nothing, but yet it does, because it means nobody was consistently faster than him over 15 minutes.


The timesheets reveal the amazing truth, Stew on pole from Gail, but half a second back and in third overall is the nappy-wearing Jefferys, with Philip 4th. Holy crap Batman. I’m not sure whether Terry wants to laugh or have the Lister taken apart, and his is not the only baffled face. Senior Jefferys is unsure whether to smile until his head fell in half or hide in the car until it’s all over.












































Comer is likewise looking at the timesheet and finding himself a dozen places clear of the class. I know that feeling, and I can also see that he’s a bit baffled by it too. My first time on the second row was Brands 2008, and I was terrified, the view on the grid is totally alien, directly ahead of you is clean air, and your first time seeing that is plain weird.


The results sheet is the usual topsy-turvy reading from a wet race. As the sun baked the track dry we knew we were in for an odd race. Could never have predicted just how odd.


No mechanical repairs of any kind to any car, the Comer machine was repaired with tank tape. Rumours and complaints about his driving leaked from the lower paddock, ironically not from the car he tagged, and to some degree you have to look at the results. 4th on the combined grid is on merit, not a trick. In those conditions he was able to push closer to the limit and make a lot of people look daft. That he exceeded the limit a couple of times is no reason to get testy, we’ve all seen everyone make some daft mistakes in these conditions, and I do suggest that finding a sin-free stone thrower may be tricky.














































To the race and a rolling start, it’s turn 1 where it all kicks off. The thing is, we predicted what would happen, almost to the second. Palmer round the outside of turn 1 to take third place, cuts in tight and gets an XJ40 in the door. Same as when a Caterham goes round one of us in a corner, they get squashed. 1.64 tonnes of XJ40 heeling into that corner doesn’t have a lot of choice about it, as the line tightened to apply the squeeze there was just no road left on the inside. Plenty on the outside, given two cars went round the outside of the mess. For those of us lined up at Redgate to watch it unfold this was as predictable as sunrise.

Round Palmer goes to dead last, Jefferys loses a couple of spots, but then both he and Philip lose places hand over fist. Driver guilt at work, you know you were out of position on the grid, and you almost wave people by until you get down to where you think you ought to be. Not how I play, I defend every inch of tarmac, but I’m a rotten sod and I always want a podium whether it’s on or not.


The spinning Frost (again) brings out yellow flags for lap after lap, until he inexplicably reappears on track. How that works I don’t know, he was out of the car?














































Class win for Philip saves something from the result, but he didn’t get fastest lap, and had Drage not broken the car I’m not sure it would have ended as well as it did, the pace was not there. I have diagnosed Philip as a racer, rather than a technical laptime hunter, he's here for a race, and without a target he just isn't as quick. It's not an uncommon trait.


They eventually come in 16th and 17th. I’m not pleased. I don’t have to be, it’s not my race, but they do rather carry our reputation with them and I’d want one of them in the top 7 or 8. At least Stew got the win to salvage some Kutuka pride.


Comer has a scuff on the rear bumper from a saloon having a go at him down the Kraners, which a quick review of the video suggests to be a rather dopey lunge that all went wrong, though rumours are of pointed fingers and angry drivers in race control. Not how I called it to be honest, it’s not what the tape says happened, but it’s not my problem, all I care about is if there’s any damage to fix. Mechanically speaking, no.










































With little to do in the paddock, all three cars intact and needing nothing more than refuelling and rearming, it’s a rather boring evening to be honest, cold, wet, and nothing to do but review the tapes. Why they don’t open the bar on a Saturday night is beyond me.


Race 2 is all very messy. Comer is blatantly torpedo-ed at the Kraners by the same idiot as yesterday, Stewert makes a right pigs ear of passing Gail and throws away the win, only Matt comes in intact, and he needs a slap for falling asleep behind the safety car. Palmer and Morrant both have huge damage, the latter wholly blameless, and the whole paddock seems somehow a bit bad-tempered.


It is interesting in such circumstances to be the bystander. I’m not involved in any of it, the outcome of any aftermath doesn’t affect me in the least, and that detachment is a new one on me, I can’t, for once, be in any trouble. I am struck by how much this all seems to mean to some people, and how easily some others shrug it all off. Tim Morrant, his car demolished through no fault of his own at all, just sheds the whole incident as easily as taking off a coat. For others it’s time to get out the blamethrower, and very quickly there are 4 or 5 people implicated in all manner of alleged shenanigans. Fascinating to watch from the outside, usually I’d be involved somehow.














































Damage assessment says I have two nearside front wings to panel beat, and a front and rear bodykit for Bear to fibreglass. Could be worse, but the damage from the saloon’s retaliation has rather broken the rear bumper.


Daft thing is, on points, we had a good weekend. Comer extends his class F lead, Stewert has won 3 of the 4 races he wasn’t meant to be doing this year, it’s not half bad.


No From the Pitlane for Oulton, as I will be racing it. Don’t start, I can’t be both impartial observer and participant, it doesn’t work. Thinking about it, there are a few others who could do with learning this.
















































An XJ40 on a diet does not whine about how hungry it is, or force its mates to listen to endless bleating about points.


We blue Philip Comer.



Late night tweaks at Kutuka North



Shiny Fiats abound, but the big blue barge is our toy for the day.


We got him moving much faster, which of course means  the tyres suddenly begged for mercy


A tank tape special for Philip after quali.


Fortunately he carries exactly the right shade.


"Yeah, I reckon whilst they're out playing with their Fiat we can probably nick their gazebo. Philip can be the lookout."



Nobody else thought it would be funny to disconnect the trailer in the night and park him 200 yards away.



A rare photo of Bruce Cologne-Brookes with his trousers on.



Fiat infestation still without a cure.


The red and black thing is the once-beautiful Steve Davis machine.


The white thing is something I intend to steal.



For me, the hero of Donington Park.


3rd on the grid in quali. 3rd!



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